Job-seeker mistakes that Asian banking recruiters really hate

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Candidate mistakes

If you’re looking for a banking job in Hong Kong or Singapore, 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 Asia have come up with this list of pet hates.

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'e 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 person for them.”

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're 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.”

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 a Singapore-based recruiter. “This is an understandable mistake as they’re attempting to profile their diverse skills 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.”

Too many applications to the same recruiter

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, managing director at recruiters Volt in Singapore. “Many candidates don’t even remember what they’ve applied for when I contact them. It really takes away from the strength of their CV.”

Taking a counter offer

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

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 duplication affects their application and how much of a problem they cause recruiters and HR.”

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 the Hong Kong recruiter. “That’s really annoying because it appears to our clients that we weren't professional, when in fact we had told the candidate what their reasonable expected salary should be.”

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com or Telegram: @simonmortlock

Image credit: bee32, Getty

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