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Banks have become far too fussy to interview anyone

If you manage to make it into an interview this year, you may not get far. In May, the chief of staff at UBS wealth management in the UK revealed that they were only offering 6% of the people they interviewed a job. Later that month, one fixed income headhunter suggested that only 2% of interviews were being closed.

But what if you don't even make it to interview stage? What then?

According to recruitment firm Ambition, which specialises in middle and back office vacancies, there are plenty of jobs around in financial services in London right now but banks aren't interviewing people for them because the candidates available to fill those jobs aren't precisely what the banks have got in mind.

"Businesses would find a lot more candidates available to them if they were prepared to invest time in refining a candidate's skill-set rather than searching for a perfect fit," suggests Simon Lynch, managing director of Ambition UK.

Accordingly, Ambition says the number of jobs has risen 9% year on year, but the number of interviews has fallen 7%.

Is this true, have jobs really proliferated wildly?

Yes - if you're talking about change management (which Ambition identifies as an area of particular fussinesss).

"Most of our live roles right now are for change and regulatory reporting," says a consultant in the banking operations team at a rival recruiter. "Banks always want like-for-like experience, which can be hard to find."

But are banks being unreasonably prescriptive in other areas? Maybe not.

Mike Hartwell at recruitment firm Hartwell Buck says most hiring in investment banks is now either about upgrading or about filling niche positions. Where possible, jobs are being filled internally. This inevitably limits banks' willingness to be flexible when they're looking at external candidates.

"Banks are only hiring the best people and people with particular skills," he says. "If agents are moaning that they can't get their candidates interviewed, it simply suggests they're not putting forward good enough people.

"A lot of recruitment firms have expanded very rapidly and have employed armies of graduates who can't identify a good candidate," he suggests.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Wi
    Wizard of EC1
    18 July 2011

    The regulators are driving the agenda now, and they won't care how precious middle management is about getting the "right fit", they just want is compliant.

    Like people bragging about how much their house was worth four years ago and naively planning on that - a house is only worth what someone actually pays for it and likewise candidates - you can look for the perfect fit forever, but you should be focussed on solving the business issue by getting the best candidates in to start doing stuff. If you can't hire into a role within two months, you really don't nned that person and any decent COS should drag the budget and re-apply it.

    So UBS are having trouble attracting candidates - evidenced by the appalling closure rate ...... maybe the problem is with them?? What a waste of managers time ... their HR needs gripping if theses rates are anywhere near the truth.

  • Si
    Simon
    18 July 2011

    I would advise career seekers for financial /investment banking jobs to spend as much time as possible to do research to increase their chances of security an interview rather than simply applying as many as recruitment agencies as possible. It is not about quantitiy any more as competition hots up. Prepare your self well and know what you can offer in return for a decent career.

  • Tr
    Trader
    18 July 2011

    Banks are asking for too much because they can afford to in the current job market. When the market improves, it will be candidates asking too much. Banking is a cyclical business, bring your expectations in alignment with the cycle.

  • Jo
    John
    18 July 2011

    Cynic's got it right. Talent? Yeah, right........

  • cy
    cynic79
    18 July 2011

    What is all this nonsense about bankers have to be 'talented' and have the right 'skill set' these days?

    Whatever happened to the good old days when back office was run by brainless essex boys and the traders and corporate financiers where either daddys or grandaddys nephew once removed with a pinky ring and a large quiff...

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