The Fantasy of the 'Jack of All Trades' Employee

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Banks, as well as investment and asset management firms, seem to want it all from their job applicants. Don't even mention hedge funds and private equity. In their search for the "perfect" and well-seasoned candidate, the list of job requirements is becoming longer than the Brady Bunch's grocery list.

Steven Pincus, managing director for TTI of USA, an executive recruiter, notes, "Client job descriptions, more often than not, do have a long laundry list of 'must-have' skills. Our clients tell us they want to see best of class candidates who are fungible across the enterprise." Midcareer professionals are the target, more so than lower level and senior personnel.

According to Anne Allen, head of recruiting and talent acquisition at Butterfass-Pepe, a boutique executive search firm, C-level searches are much more focused, and the job requirements are short and sweet. Senior level professionals are spared the run around. For those in the middle, much of the problem comes from employers looking to get more done with less heads. Allen adds, "The work load has increased, and the challenges are growing exponentially given the market conditions."

So, what's a person to do? Pincus says not to fret. The emphasis on the long, long list of skills often changes during the interview cycle. He notes, "Our financial services clients are very motivated to hire at this time, as projects that were on hold over the past three years have now been green-lighted and headcount restrictions have relaxed. The list of "must-have" required skills often diminishes as the open requisition ages."

Plus, Pincus says that clients are pulling budgets away from hiring managers when jobs remain open for more than 90 to 120 days. As a result, the longer the job remains open, the greater the appetite to compromise. He adds, "We have seen clients reject a candidate in the beginning of the interview cycle because they lacked expertise in a particular skill, only to reconsider that same candidate later on in the search."

Interestingly, hiring managers also seem to settle for a bit less than required when they learn that a candidate has multiple opportunities under consideration. He notes, "If a candidate is close to an offer from one client, a second client is more inclined to take less than what is originally desired in the job description or risk losing a strong candidate to the competition."

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