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Change is a Four-Letter Word for Bankers on the Job Search

Bankers are generally seen as a rationale crowd. But when it comes to a job search after a layoff or firing, banking professionals often find it very hard to use that same logic to approach a job search. So says Jack Heyden, founding partner of Performance Mentors, a performance and leadership coaching firm.

“Commercial banking simply isn’t the way it used to be, and many people need to come to grips with that.” Heyden, a former corporate banker and co-author of Winning the Job Race: Pathways Through Transition.

Heyden has personally coached many senior bankers through a transition out of banking, and he finds that many are prone to emotional decision-making. But if your banking job search has gone on for too long, Heyden says it just may be time to consider your options outside of the sector.

Let Go of the Past

It can be hard for top banking professionals—people accustomed to being treated well—to simply move on. “They’ve been rewarded and recruited from one place to the next,” he notes. These are the same people who are now being forced out.

Heyden acknowledges that the fear of switching sectors or positions is natural, and very few people are happy when they’re taken out of their comfort zone. “Change is a four-letter word,” he says. “But you have to ask yourself—do you want to stay where you are, where the potential for success is low?”

Quantify Your Worth

When you come to terms with the idea of moving on, it’s key to figure out your value. Heyden says, “I see people in this situation, and the first thing I say is to tell me your two most recent top accomplishments—something I can get my arms around. They can talk about it, but they can’t talk about it in the terms of measureable accomplishments.”

He adds that it pays to sit and figure out how your professional skills can be applied to some of the biggest problems out in the marketplace—things that you’d be good at resolving. Then, look for a financial services firm that has the problem. “You need to be the solution to someone’s problem, and you need to list the problems and how you are the most qualified to fix it.”

Live For the Moment, For Now

After working with financial professionals, Deborah Brown-Volkman, a professional career and life coach, says that it’s “not uncommon for overachievers to fall hard.”

Any job loss requires an acknowledgement of the pain and fear that comes along with it, says Brown-Volkman.

“It’s important to take a step back and reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses and what you can do in an industry that’s changing," she adds. "People don’t like to feel bad, so they try to avoid the pain and the difficult notion that nothing will be the same.”

But you can’t fix something, she says, unless you acknowledge your present situation, and then move on and focus on the future. “You can’t be stuck. There are simply less jobs and less money in banking. There’s more automation. You have to deal with the reality of it.”

Avoid Lying to Yourself

If you’re reinventing yourself, make sure you don’t conduct a lackluster job search or set unrealistic career goals.

“If you’re only searching online for a job, then you’re passively looking," says Brown-Volkman. "You need to be online, networking with peers and mentors, and dealing with recruiters and executive search.”

The job search has to be focused, and that focus means picking who you want to work for so you can network appropriately. ”You’ve got to get the confidence to go on and get back on the horse again,” she says. “Focus on what’s good, focus on your strengths, and develop an action plan to get the job you want.”

AUTHORMyra Thomas Insider Comment

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