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Seven candidate mistakes that Asian banking recruiters really hate

Candidate mistakes

If you’re looking for a banking job in Asia, or if you’re just keeping in touch with recruiters in case an opportunity arises, it pays to play by recruiters’ own rules.

What should you avoid saying or doing? Banking recruiters in Singapore and Hong Kong have come up with this list of pet hates.

1. Don’t demand an interview

“The thing that annoys me is when candidates call about a role and just demand an interview with the bank, thinking they are a godsend – the best guy in the market,” says Angela Kuek, director of search firm The Meyer Consulting Group in Singapore. “They forget that recruiters are paid by the client, so we work to get the best-fit candidate for them.”

2. Guilt trips won’t work

“Sometimes candidates are desperately looking for a role and keep hounding the recruiter to get them a job, heaping on the guilt and making us feel like a failure when nothing happens,” says Kuek. “We are not obliged at all to get them a job, nor responsible for their employability. Each person is responsible for their own careers; candidates who expect to be just served up jobs by recruiters get my goat.”

3. Avoid the catch-all CV

Too many senior finance professionals in Asia are being overlooked for specialist roles after submitting unfocused, generalist CVs that don’t hone in on niche skills, says James Incles, Singapore country director at recruiters iKas Group. “This is an understandable mistake as they’re attempting to profile their diverse skillset to gain a competitive advantage. However, in today’s hiring market, banks are more interested in specialists – for example a fixed-income product controller – who can hit the ground running immediately.”

4. Too many applications to the same recruiter

There are fewer banking vacancies in Asia than 12 months ago, so candidates are increasingly applying for roles they’re unsuitable for. The theory is that if you send your CV to a recruiter for a relevant role, why not hedge your bets and apply for other (less relevant) jobs at the same agency at the same time. “But multiple applications make it seem like you don’t know what you want,” says Ben Batten, country general manager at recruiters Volt in Singapore. “Many candidates when I contact them don’t even remember what they’ve applied for. It really takes away from the strength of their CV.”

5. Too many applications to different recruiters

Applying for the same role via another agency will also make recruiters’ blood boil. “A candidate recently told me that his CV hadn’t been submitted to a bank, but in fact he had let two other recruiters submit it and had an interview arranged,” says a Hong Kong recruiter. “He thought the hiring manager seeing his CV more than once would help him – but the opposite is true. Candidates seem oblivious to how CV duplications affect their application and how much of a problem they cause recruiters and HR.”

6. Bypassing a recruiter during salary negotiation

“Sometimes candidates are rejected for being too aggressive when they disregard my judgement and ask for a salary that is over my clients’ budget,” says Damian Babis, managing director of recruiters Capital People in Hong Kong. “That’s really annoying because it appears to our clients that we were not professional, when in fact we had told the candidate what their reasonable expected salary should be.”

7. Taking a counter offer

Recruiters naturally hate counter offers because their fees are put at risk, but they also says that counter offers are bad for candidates. “Most people who take counter offers end up leaving within a year anyway,” says Winnie Leung, a director at Pure Search in Hong Kong. “And hiring managers at the new company often take note of indecisive candidates and may not reconsider you in the future. Anyone who decides to leave their firm shouldn’t look back – don’t ruin a future relationship for the sake of a current relationship that doesn’t work.”


Image credit: bee32, Getty

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