You're looking for a new finance job and you're not finding one. What's going wrong? It may be the time of year. It may be market conditions. Or it may be...your technique.
Research into job search techniques is big business on university campuses, where it's an academic discipline in its own right. Reams of academic literature suggest there's a right and wrong way to go about looking for a job. If you want to get hired, the following traits and features should work in your favor.
1. Psychological capital
[efc_twitter text="Successful job searchers are psychologically healthy "]- they have 'psychological capital' to use the vernacular. A 2012 study in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour found that job searchers who were hopeful, optimistic and resilient were more likely to see themselves as employable. And that employees who perceived themselves as employable were, unsurprisingly, better at looking for jobs.
The 'intensity' of your job search will also determine its success. A study of university graduates found (also unsurprisingly) that an intense active job search (ie. applying for a lot of jobs) predicts job interviews, that job interviews predict job offers and that job offers predict new jobs.
A separate study found that people who procrastinate before sending in job applications are less likely to be successful - no matter how intense their job search. Getting a new job is all about timeliness - if you delay applying for a job that's appropriate to you, it's possible that an employer will have filled the position by the time you send in your resume. This is particularly the case for analyst and associate positions in investment banks, which are often filled on a first come first serve basis.
4. A long term goal
Self-control has also been found to be highly correlated to job search success. A study just published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour suggests that self-control is more more important than mere motivation in finding a new job. Self control is defined as, ' the ability to control one's thoughts, actions, and response tendencies in view of a long-term goal.'
5. Focus and exploration
Unsurprisingly, finding a new job is positively correlated to flexibility - the more flexible you are, the more jobs you will consider and the more likely you are to be successful in finding one. However, flexibility alone is a bad idea. A 2010 study into career adaptability found that candidates who only have an 'exploratory' job search strategy have a lower quality of employment eight months later than those who pursue a strategy that is both exploratory and focused. In other words, know what you want to do, but be prepared to think around that.
6. Channel maximization
The more channels you use to look for a new job, the more successful you're likely to be. Don't just respond to job advertisements, network. Don't just network online - network in person. Don't just network with former colleagues, network with acquaintances. Don't just apply through agencies, apply direct. Don't just wait for recruiters to come to you - upload your CV or update your profile on LinkedIn. A 2010 study found that the greater the number of channels you use to apply for a job, the more successful you're likely to be. However, the study also found that some 'low value' channels can be detrimental to job search success. In the sample used, those channels were 'public employment agencies'. If you work in banking, they may be recruitment firms with bad reputations in the industry, for example.
7. Correct use of search firms
Finally, if you're looking for a high level finance job and you're using a search firm, you need to know what search firms are good for and what they're not. A study published earlier this year in the International Journal of Human Resource Management found that if you're an executive whose move is mediated by a search firm, you're more likely to obtain a promotion or to move to a larger and more reputable employer. However, you're less likely to get a 'developmental assignment' or to move to a new function or industry. Remember that before jumping to attention each time a headhunter calls.