Before the current crisis, candidates had it easy and could jump from one firm to another, sometimes after only six to 12 months’ experience with a particular employer and sometimes for only an extra S$500 – S$1k a month.
It became the norm in Singapore that just six months’ experience qualified candidates as experts in their given discipline, open to offers from large global banks. And before the downturn, there always seemed to be a hiring manager in the marketplace that was desperate enough and would take someone with such little experience.
Candidates here have a lot to learn from their counterparts in London and New York, where no financial services firm would even consider someone unless he/she has a minimum of two years’ experience from their last employer. Candidates must understand that developing a career and moving up the corporate ladder is not all about earning that extra buck every six months by moving. Growing with your current employer is a better strategy.
As a candidate you should not be looking for new opportunities so soon after joining an organisation. You need to show commitment and dedication, a willingness to be the expert in your field and movement through the ranks internally.
From my point of view, becoming an expert in a discipline takes the following:
· Six months to learn the culture of your new employer, how your team operates, and the new systems and processes.
· The second six months should be spent consolidating relationships and building on your experience and understanding of your duties.
· The second year is when you really get to know your organisation, how to work the relationships you have built and improve the processes you have learnt. Then, once you have become the “go-to” member of staff within your discipline, I would claim that you might have become a subject-matter expert.
It is at this point (two years-plus) that candidates should take a step back and look at their career and their time spent at an organisation. If they are a career-minded and can see progression and opportunity within their company, they should choose to stay and move up the value chain. If, however, there appears to be limited career progression, no internal transfers and limited exposure within their company, then this is a suitable stage to look at other opportunities.
An employer likes nothing more than dedicated members of staff who want to build and develop a career with the firm: people who get to know the key stakeholders, make a name for themselves within their function or department, or even better, make a name for themselves within the market as a whole.
As a candidate you don’t want to be out there every year looking for that new job. You want the people in the market to come looking for you, but you will only achieve this if you are dedicated and committed to your employer, and a subject-matter expert in your field.
My argument to new and young candidates in financial services is this: if you want to get into a position of responsibility and become one of the hiring managers that you meet so frequently, then you need to stick with an organisation and become part of it.
Kyle Blockley is a director at KS Consulting.