Financial services firms are being urged to be more flexible with who they take on. After years of demanding a 100% fit, recruiters are now calling for banks to be more open to less direct experience or consider those who don’t entirely fit the job spec.
Unfortunately for candidates, however, this mentality has yet to shift significantly. Instead, banks are still insistent on only hiring candidates who are exactly right. It is, therefore, imperative for candidates to convince employers that they can do the job, even if their experience doesn’t directly correlate with the role or if it is a step up from their current position. How can you ensure that you’re considered?
Tailoring your CV for an individual role is an obvious tactic, but candidates looking to make any sort of switch or move up the career ladder should not only emphasise their relevant experience, but be brutal with excluding anything that could count against them, says Victoria McLean, managing director of careers service City CV: “Thoroughly research the role and emphasise your experience in those areas, but also minimise the less relevant information. When recruiters have a few seconds to review your CV, they’re looking for key words, but also anything that will rule a candidate out.”
Your CV has the potential to become laden with clichés if you target key words like ‘strategy’, leadership’ and ‘innovation’ if you want to highlight your management credentials. What employers want to see are not the key words themselves, but solid examples of this, says Jeremy I’Anson, a careers coach who works in the financial sector. “Lead with your achievements and not your job description,” he says. “90% of people send off the same CV for every job. Go through the job spec and really think what you have achieved that could be applied to that and give solid examples, citing your specific involvement.”
A brief, informal conversation with the hiring manager or recruiter is the best way to get the point across that your skills are transferable to the job you’re applying to, or that your experience is relevant, even if it’s not immediately obvious, says John Lees a careers coach and author of Knockout CV.
“It’s very difficult to convey your experience for a job you’re not obviously suited for purely through your CV,” he says. “Call up the company and explain where the overlap of your skill-set is, and why your experience really is suited to the role. Then follow it up with a great covering letter and CV.”
Drastic action, but something that will make you really think about both the structure of your CV and how your skills and experience can be applied to a job currently out of reach. “Most people just rehash the same CV they started at school,” says Linda Jackson, managing director or outplacement firm 10 Eighty. “Stop with the backwards chronological list of your employment history – outline a tangible list of your achievements that shows the true scope of your skill-set and provide evidence of your success.”
If you’re moving from a functional role into a leadership position, but have little experience of managing people, it’s best to supply evidence of managing processes and projects, which would have necessitated interaction and initiative, says Lees. “In the current climate, banks want people with experience of downsizing, restructuring or process improvement. These keywords will ensure that the recruiter takes notice.”
“Your CV should be an indication of how you want to be perceived, rather than necessarily who you are,” says McLean. “You experience may imply one thing, but you have an opportunity to challenge this by highlighting your relevant achievements. One example we’re seeing a lot of is project management. People are trying to switch into this area, but have only managed some projects as part of their broader job description. They need to really highlight this experience.”