If you're a finance recruiter who's been twiddling your thumbs since March, you've missed out. It seems Jeanne Branthover at DHR International in New York hasn't been the only person putting in crazy hours the pandemic: other recruiters say they've been working doubly hard too, and in some cases it shows in billings.
"I've billed £150k ($188k) in the past month," says one London recruiter who specializes in electronic trading technology. "That's twice the amount I'd do normally." While many recruitment firms have "held up their hands" and decided there's no work to do, he says he's actively chased niche mandates. "Buy-side firms, high frequency trading shops, mid-sized tracker funds have all been hiring, and it's been easier to approach and interview people when they're sitting at home without their bosses looking over their shoulders."
If you're a recruiter for major banks that have been hiring more hesitantly and pulling back from their use of external agencies since the lockdowns, you might contest this version of events. However, there are also other recruiters for whom it rings true; even if billing hasn't doubled, they say it's been a busy time.
One senior recruiter said her clients are leaning more heavily on her ability to source suitable markets candidates than ever before. Because traders have had less time to thoroughly interview new hires over Zoom during volatile markets and because the two parties aren't meeting physically (unless in a park, which has happened on occasion), she says her judgment is now indispensable. "The process for validating people has become far more intense," she says. "Clients' expectations of the recruiters they have relationships with has been much higher."
If you're a candidate, this means you're most likely to find a job using a recruiter with whom you have a long term relationship, especially if you're comparatively senior. The recruiter said her role has increasingly become that of the cultural gatekeeper and arbiter of fit, and that she's hesitant to volunteer candidates unless she already knows them well. "If I'm working with a senior candidate whom I've never met, I can't put that candidate forward to my best clients. The risk is simply too high when clients are relying on me to understand a candidate's personality and the extent to which the candidate will fit with their environment."
When the fit does happen, however, clients are willing to pay - even if some are simultaneously trying to squeeze fees. Recruiters who cut corners during this time do so at their own risk. "Client relationships are going to be very easily made or broken in this period," says the senior recruiter. "If you try and rush something through with a short term vision , your relationship could come under fire in the future. Clients are really trusting your word."
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