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Why banking recruiters are ignoring you

There's a reason finance recruiters are avoiding you

Trying to speak to a finance recruiter can be a bit like communing with a teenager: they respond to messages infrequently and then only when they want something; their phones often seem to be switched off or go straight to voicemail; they ignore you for weeks on end.

However, recruiters are not unreasonable people. If they're elusive, they have their reasons. If you've left six messages and you haven't had a response, you might not want to call again. We spoke to some top finance recruiters about the candidates who hound them. This is what they told us.

1. You will be ignored if you're panicking and applying for anything and everything

"On a regular basis, we get the same people applying for five or six jobs a week," says the head of one finance recruitment firm in London. "They just look at the job title and hit 'send' without even considering that their experience isn't applicable at all."

Candidates in this category are "disheartened" suggests the empathetic recruiter: they haven't had a response to previous applications and therefore they start to send in more and more in a frenzy - without thinking that they're further damaging their prospects in the process.

2. You will be ignored if you misunderstand the recruitment process 

There are two kinds of recruitment firms. Headhunters (or 'executive search consultants')  and contingency recruiters. You can send your CV to contingency search firms. You can't send it to headhunters. Headhunters don't advertise jobs and only approach the candidates they're interested in.

"A lot of people call us up," says one headhunter. "But we don't place just anyone. We're always instructed to find specific types of people by our clients and if someone doesn't fit that profile we can't help them. It's a different way of doing business."

3. You will be ignored if you think a senior job title is a ticket to any role

Just because you're a managing director (MD) or you've already spent several years in a banking role, you don't have a licence to apply for all MD roles. "Right now, I'm looking for a head of M&A, paying £3m a year," says one recruiter. "The applicants include an MD in Treasury, an investor relations analyst who graduated six years ago and a global head of operations who's spent his career working on reconciliations. People think that just because they're an MD they can apply for anything."

4. You will be ignored if you're applying for a job at a first tier bank and haven't worked for a comparable brand since the crisis

Banking is a very brand-conscious industry. If you worked for Morgan Stanley in 2007, you will not have a free pass to work for J.P. Morgan in 2015. "There's an MD who calls me all the time and asks me to put him forward for bulge bracket banking jobs," says another recruiter. "I have to point out to him that he hasn't worked in the bulge bracket for eight years and they won't be interested in him."

5. You will be ignored because recruiters are overwhelmed

Often, finance recruiters are simply exhausted by the volume of applications. "80% of people are totally inappropriate for the jobs they're applying to," says one. "Around 5% are right, and the other 10-15% are people we might keep on our database. We'd like to talk to everyone but we just can't. Anything more than an automated response is impossible."

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Bi
    Big Biller
    16 November 2015

    I've worked as a financial headhunter for the past 20+ years, and I rarely return unsolicited messages from "candidates" who think they are a fit for the retained searches we work to fill...I'm simply too busy to waste my time.

  • Ja
    James Munroe
    3 June 2015

    You don't pay. The client does. You remain the product.

  • Je
    3 June 2015

    Job Seekers:
    if you're looking to move areas or work for a particular business apply directly and enjoy being ignored by the HR/talent teams.
    Also, businesses work for the person who pays them. Unless you pay, you're merely the product. Just look at Facebook.

    Recruiters: Well done on achieving the lowest common denominator.

    Directors of Agencies
    By hiring illiterate wideboys and promising them riches without teaching them values, you've created your own mess.

  • Bu
    3 June 2015

    There is a range of issues in recruitment caused by both candidates and recruiters.
    For example:

    Recruiters -
    A lack of respect for candidates means some basic courtesies such as calling with feedback when an application has been unsuccessful aren't adhered to.

    On the flip side...

    Candidates -
    Misleading recruiters claiming they haven't been submitted for a role or not replying to recruiters' messages if they've accepted another job.

    Unfortunately, there's a lack of respect between internal talent teams, recruiters and candidates.

    Given how stressful job hunting can be, everyone should work harder to improve this.

  • de
    31 March 2015

    4. You will be ignored if you're applying for a job at a first tier bank and haven't worked for a comparable brand since the crisis.

    I have experienced this first hand. I'm at the point of giving up because I have been looking and doing some project work after the crisi when I got laid off. I have put in 20 years in OTC market but now I find myself out of it and nobody cares. The recruiters put more emphasis on "currenT" rather than a good fit for the job. The person who can accomplish a lot is being ignored and the work gets messed up. Then we hear about "shortages" I'm really frustrated at this process and the markets.

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