The one simple mistake that could crush your chances of clinching a banking job in Asia Pacific

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Are you applying for banking jobs based overseas – be they in Singapore, Sydney, London or New York – and are you continually failing to get a positive (or any) response from recruiters? There may be a simple reason for your lack of success, as I shall explain.

I have worked as a financial-markets headhunter for well over a decade, in London and now back home in Australia – and in both locations I’ve always been inundated with CVs from across the world. The one thing that strikes me about these candidates (for example, Western bankers looking for work in Asia Pacific) is that so many of them think an international move will “just happen”.

The problem typically lies not in their skills and experience, but in their desire to move to a foreign financial centre. They fall at the first hurdle by not telling me why they want to work in the city where the job is based.

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Let me give you one example from a Sydney-based buy-side equities job I worked on recently. I was impressed by the quality of the CVs I received – more than 40% of the 80-plus applicants were from global funds and bulge-bracket banks based all over the world. But whether these foreign candidates were from London, New York or Frankfurt, not one of them bothered to attach a covering letter or write a brief paragraph stating: “I am seeking a role in Australia because...".

Have you ever applied for an overseas job without even offering an explanation to justify your move? If so, why? Are you lazy? Are you so arrogant that you think an international relocation will just happen? Or are you a mediocre candidate, endlessly applying for jobs in the hope that eventually some recruiter or financial institution will happen to like the look of your CV?

Whatever the reason, if you are serious about a global career, you have to change your mindset. Like it or not, you have to play by the rules set by recruiters and hiring managers, who invariably treat overseas applications differently from local ones.

As an overseas candidate, you first need to work out why you want to leave your current city. Then instead of spamming your CV globally – identify exactly where in the world you wish to work.

When you’ve done that, but before you contact recruiters, research that country’s visa process and familiarise yourself with its investment markets and job market. For example, if you work on the buy-side, understand which financial centres have the investment activities that you are seeking and research the highest-performing funds.

Once you properly understand your desired location, you will be far better able to apply with conviction and recruiters will treat you more seriously. Instead of just sending your CV, take time to explain your story. What visa processes have you already fulfilled? How long do you plan to stay? Perhaps add some personal and/or family reasons for the relocation plans, if they complement your professional rationale.

In summary, if you are going to apply for overseas career opportunities, at least show some conviction in your application.

Warwick Peel is the managing director of Search360 in Melbourne.


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