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Guest Comment: Why my personal experience makes me a great candidate and why my paper experience stops me getting a job

Just what is “relevant experience”?

“Your CV looks good but you don’t have the relevant experience for this role. There are other candidates that are a better fit for the position” is the typical dismissive answer I get when speaking with headhunters.

But when I say I have already been interviewing with three large financial institutions, I get a slightly more positive response: “We will keep your CV on file and let you know when an opportunity comes up.”

Because another firm has opened a door, others will follow. Obviously the candidate has something that is not very visible on the CV and only emerges at interviews. And that something could well be personal experience.

I have worked for about three years in banking and insurance as an analyst and salesperson. I had to take some time out recently for health reasons and I’m now looking for work.

But the interviewing process has been frustrating. No one bothers to ask why I think I would be a good fit for that role because they are only considering those with the so-called relevant experience.

What about people who are switching sectors? What about people whose university education isn’t relevant to the job? I thought banks in Asia were suffering from a talent shortage and needed to broaden their scope.

I was recently told by a director of a headhunter firm that a particular position required (you guessed it) four years’ relevant experience. But did he consider my candidacy carefully enough?

I am someone who has lots of life, or personal experiences. My background means I am a confident person who doesn’t mind telling others what they have done wrong.

Living with a father who was a former high-profile CEO and a brother who is a buy-side analyst equals a candidate who has relevant experience as a person, even if she lacks work experience on paper. How so? Well…

· I know about marketing because it is linked to products I’ve sold at my previous firms. I know which presentations and marketing materials are good because I know which sort of campaigns have enhanced sales.

· I know client service (other than being trained on the job) because it’s a crucial skill for salespeople too.

· I know a bit of PR and IR from listening to my dad at road shows and seeing how he handled crisis management.

· I know the importance of good research because I’ve read many bad research reports.

· I know about business strategy and competitor analysis because this is all my dad talks about when I try to have a decent lunch or dinner with him.

And what don’t I know? Well sadly it’s the administrative stuff that most entry-level candidates are supposed to be doing. When you are slow on the scanner, forget to ask who called, or take a bad message, your boss thinks you are stupid and spoiled.

My job search continues, wish me well…

Comments (19)

  1. You want to know why you’re not getting a job? It’s because of your arrogant “know-it-all” attitude and your sense of entitlement.

    Why don’t you get off your high horse and get realistic.

  2. You sound like a young chap… maybe in your twenties.
    The reality is: all of us have some stumbling block or so — me included.
    Eventually, you’ll find something…. otherwise, why don’t you leverage on the network of your highflying CEO dad, or sales side brother?
    People in the banks like to hire people they know, or know indirectly.

  3. you know a lot of things but have you never done some of them? that was make the difference…..if my dad is a good swimmer does this make me a good one as well?.no necessary. good luck with your search

  4. Is this article for real or flame-bait? You have great experience because your daddy was a CEO? C’mon. Headhunters don’t care about people changing sectors and nor should they. Their jobs are to find banks the most relevant, successful people for a specific role – not help you change your career. Who is their client? The bank is.

    “We will keep your CV on file and let you know when an opportunity comes up.” – Does not mean they value that you are interviewing with othre banks. It means, “Can’t do anything for ya because I don’t see any real specific path of success here, but don’t want to be that blunt but this CV is going into our black hole.”

    This article shows a very immature and entitled idea of what the working world is. You need to learn those entry level things you dismiss in your last paragraph and get on a specific path. You sound a bit unfocused.

    Tellsitlikeitis Reply
  5. Well… from what I read, I have my opinion to share….
    A fellow is being considered for an appointment is not because he has a close or immediate family member who is/was in a senior position in some place.

    Neither is a person being considered because he knows from hearing a bit here or many bit there from someone there. That does not means u are able for the position less to say a good fit.

    A person is employed or offered an interview because of the perceived value that he/she is going to bring to the orgainisation. And where does that value comes from? Definitely hearing is not sufficient. He has to be in it to gain the experience to know what is going to happen before it even happened and to mitigate the risk of adverse happening.

    I had been working for my current field for many years started out from scratched.I had received formal training for my current field. I am able identify an issue and see the problem before it happened. and that is because of my experience in this field by being in it!

    The only thing I can say is keep trying and when disappointed, bite the bullet, be humble and keep trying again. that is the only route to achieving your goal.

  6. You say you know from hearing from here and there… but ask yourself so what? So what if you know? How much do you know you know?

    How can you contribute from what little/much you know? There are many more who knows what you know and even know more than what you know. So why should it be you? What is so great about you? Why should you be offered an intereview/ a job just because you know? Why not the next person who also knows?

    Be humble my friend…

  7. I agree recruiters sometimes seem to pedantically tick the boxes (we need someone with 5 yrs experience in banking but sorry you only have 4) rather than looking at your experience on its merits.

    But from recruiters point of view – if a CV doesn’t convince them the candidate has the minimum required skill set, there’s no reason why they’d assume the candidate has hidden qualities and still interview them, right?

  8. go work for your dad then, why bother looking for a job you snob.

  9. Banking jobs are boring. These tie clad people in hot singapore are full of show off and hypocratic mindset. They are just in money chain Making no real contribution to society.

  10. You may be better off working for your dad instead of banging your head against the wall finding a job.
    I for one wish for a dad whom I can work for, but I ain’t that lucky!

  11. Oh Dear, please forgive headhunters! After all they are not the only mean. headhunters are also like any other professionals, Some of them are good and some still learning (or may be not good at their job). Some of them do analyze transferable skills and if they think you can contribute to the new team, they would go to hiring manager and would try to convince hiring manager to meet you.

    Well, from my personal experience (I have been actively looking for job for last 3 months), I have seen many headhunters who doesn’t seem enthusiastic about their job & just doing word matching (from your CV to JD). On the other hand, I am also working with few headhunters who are regularly in touch with me and show me jobs wherever they see my skills are transferable and they have convinced hiring manager to meet me even when I am less experienced than demanded in JD.

    I won’t question about your capabilities or skills or your attitude towards work (as others are doing) as I don’t know you; so just one suggestion, be positive and show flexibility in your attitude when you meet hiring managers and headhunters. Wish you good luck and plz wish me luck as well :).

  12. yes, you might think that you know a bit of stuff here and there. but in this competitive society, A LOT of people knows A LOT of stuff. you have to always know that there are so many people out there in the market that is more eligible than you. any normal human can perform a job, but maybe you should add in your CV how you perform a job better than others. this might help you land a job.

  13. …sounds like she thinks work is play.

    its like i am a banker/teacher/chef/etc play that my 4 yr old gets into. Hope mine doesnt grow up to say “Oh my daddy is so big and strong, he can beat the S*** out of your daddy”

    It would be a good idea darling, to learn that people pay you because they think you add value, not be talking but by making them or help make them money.

    try selling an average dockyard worker an insurance policy to start with and come back here and brag about it, if and when you succeed.


  14. Well I did like to share my own experience too. I myself are also facing the same problem. I have worked in the banking industry for 12 years, after that I did my first degree followed by my MBA studies in overseas. Back in Singapore, the first lesson I learned from those so call headhunters – give that same excuse and worse,they said I’m too old for it! Apply for junior post, they said I’m too experience when apply for higher position, they cam e back and said you may not have the experience. They only want the easy fit scope so that they dont need to mitigate the factors.
    Yet they call the labour market tight without suitable people.

  15. No offense, but after reading through your post, I agree with most pple here – its your attitude that is hindering you. I am sure your high and mighty attitude has shown up during the series of questions during interview.

    To be honest, there are so many pple of your profile and better than you. Being a son of a former CEO or brother of buy-side analyst is not convincing at all.

    Unless you re-look at your own attitude, I believe you are better off somewhere else. The last person anyone would hire, is someone who thought he or she could change the world…with nothing else but a snobbish attitude.

  16. Let’s be realistic. I was in a similar situation as you not so long ago and had been looking for suitable positions for the past 5 months before I had an offer for my choice position – low pay but I accepted it since I believe I would love what I am doing.

    Having been through interviews, I come to understand that if personal experiences is what you are selling, then do it with passion and drive – which I did as I switched from BO to FO with no relevant work experience. Obviously, you didn’t try hard enough. Hence, you aren’t as persuasive on surface. Those interviewers don’t know you for life, they won’t know how determined/productive/diligent you are after rounds of interviews. It certainly takes skill to strike the right cord.

    Ms. Finally Employed Reply
  17. ha, listening and doing is completely different. if you had any real “life” experiences, you should definitely just leverage on your father’s network with either their company’s corporate bankers or the bank that took them for an IPO.

    That’s real life. Either you have superb academic results for a great school, or you’re connected. Most likely, given your lament, you’re probably not on the dean’s list. So do leverage on your dad’s connections. All the great leaders have done so before you.

  18. Why don’t you try SCB lol…

    Enjoyingthearticle Reply
  19. .i don’t have much regard for banking recruiters whom have no banking experience and really no clue what a certain banking role entails. That said those with banking background would have a recruiting job which feature in terms of respectability in the banking totem pole. To those in recruiting you might well get a second job as a taxi driver so you can learn to be more service oriented as well as a better listener. you know nuits about banking and pretend to know it all and your hiring at best is a game of chance.

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