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The Art of Landing Un-Posted Jobs on Wall Street

It's typical, isn't it? You hear that a private equity firm or hedge fund is hiring, but can’t find the job posting on their career site. Welcome to the club. Many job openings in banking aren’t posted online, particularly for higher-level positions.

When facing this predicament, don’t take the easy route and email your resume to some generic company inbox. It’s time to delve into your network and start sleuthing.

Find a Name

Most career coaches and hiring managers in the securities industry advise the same thing: Avoid the human resources department when looking for a job. Your resume will often get lost, even if you're fit for the opening. In addition, HR isn’t always kept abreast on every department's hiring needs.You need to find the name of the hiring manager for the position in question. It’s easier than you’d think.

Search on Google, comb through profiles on LinkedIn. If you have access to a Bloomberg terminal, use its people search function. Names of top bankers are also listed on public disclosure forms filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. If a quick search fails, reach out to your network and find a connection – even if it’s not a close one – who can provide you with a name and contact information.

“It’s a simple and painless request,” said Jane Cranston, a New York-based career coach who works with Wall Street executives. “Most people are happy to do that.”

And in some cases, they’ll be more than happy to help. “Many companies offer an internal referral bonus, so the secondary contact you reach out to very well might have a financial reward for pointing you in the right direction,” said Peter Laughter, chief executive at New York-based Wall Street Services.

Cranston suggests joining LinkedIn groups tied to your target company.  One client she worked with wanted to meet a managing director of a particular group at Credit Suisse and inquired through LinkedIn if anyone knew them. Three people responded yes, including the MD in question.

“Most jobs aren’t found through your network, they’re found through networking,” said Charles Moldenhauer, founder of Executive Transitioning, a career coach focused a C-level executives and senior managers. Don’t be afraid ask for help from people you don't know personally. Alumni networks can be particularly useful, said Cranston.

Making Contact

Once you find the name, don’t just fire off an email or phone call.

Many experts suggest writing a targeted letter introducing yourself, how you heard about hiring plans and what you can deliver to the firm. Even if you have a connection who knows the manager personally, do the heavy lifting on your own, said Roy Cohen, a finance-focused career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professionals’ Survival Guide.”

“No one can position you as well as you can position yourself,” he said.

Experts offer differing perspectives on whether email or snail mail is the best way contact a hiring manager. Email is quicker, but less personal and too easy to ignore, said Cranston, who encourages clients to print, sign and mail personal letters along with their resumes.

“Everyone opens snail mail because no one gets it anymore,” she said. This strategy is also helpful if you can’t find the hiring manager’s email address.

Moldenhauer said 20 of 120 clients who earned $300,000 annually during their careers wrote personal letters to top executives and "they all got jobs faster." One woman got a private equity job by writing to the CEO even though the job was posted online.

Cold-calling a hiring manager at work or at home is a bad idea, experts agree. “If that person is not prepared for your phone call, they may shoot you down immediately,” Cohen said. Give them advanced notice; tell them in your letter or email that you’ll follow up with a phone call at a specific time, he said.

Alternative Approaches

If you can’t find a name, or don't get a response to your letters and emails, try to meet the hiring manager face-to-face.

“Show up at events they are running, go to conferences, show your face,” said Jesse Marrus, founder of Wall Street career search firm StreetID. “It’s a competitive market, and Wall Street wants competitive, fearless people.

If all else fails, go to HR and -- this is key -- contact a junior person in the department. Less experienced HR reps pick up the phone, are willing to chat and often give away information, like names, Cranston said. “When you contact them, tell them you know there is a job opening.

Get Offensive

The hard truth is that many openings – whether public or private – are filled before they’re posted, especially in closed communities like hedge funds and private equity firms, said Bob McKiernan, president of Mack Group, a career advisory firm that works in the securities industry.

Managing directors often have a short list in their top drawer in case a need arises for another hire. “Be proactive,” McKiernan said. “Identify firms that you would like to target and begin networking before they’re ready to hire.”

An investment banker at Barclays said that he and his colleagues have mailed signed letters to smaller companies – newly-launched hedge funds or private equity firms – just to stay on their radar.

“Do some research, tell them you’re interested in what they’re doing and toss in a business card,” he said.

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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