The festive season is upon us and banking professionals are finally taking a break from the stresses of deal-making and regulatory updates.
But if you plan to look for a new banking job in 2018, don’t get too relaxed over Christmas. The next week could be the only time-off you have before banks start ramping up recruitment in the first quarter – so spend some time preparing for your job search now rather than waiting until you’re bogged down with work in January.
We’re not suggesting you focus your whole holiday on your career, but try to do some of the following:
“Use the holiday and the symbolism of the new year to reconnect with your purpose in life,” says Fabrice Desmarescaux, a managing partner at search firm Eric Salmon & Partners Executive Search. “Many went into finance because it was glamorous and paid well, but other industries are overtaking it now. So if you’re going to stay and be actually happy, make sure banking connects with your values and gives you purpose beyond pride and greed. Take a quiet morning walk in nature and think: how am I helping my clients and colleagues? How am I helping to build an institution that I’m proud of? Who benefits from me doing a great job, and do I like the thought of them benefiting?”
Don’t just focus on formal preparation – use the break to organise informal catch-ups with your industry contacts in the early new year, says Anton Murray, director of search firm Anton Murray Consulting. “January is an excellent time for coffee meetings or quick catch-ups for a beer. Everyone is gradually getting back into work, so calendars are often more relaxed. And in January managers are considering who in their team is likely to move on, and how they will grow their business in the year ahead. You could end up meeting your next boss.”
It’s the first thing recruiters will ask you when you meet them early next year: which banks do you want to work for, and why? Don’t fall into the common trap of being unprepared – start your employers-of-choice list over the festive season. “Take time to investigate your competitors and potential new employers by reading up online,” says Nick Lambe, group managing director at recruitment company Links International. “Only once you’ve done your due diligence can you begin your target list and, more importantly, explain why you want to work there.”
“The last person in will be the first out when banks change their strategy, so when you’re researching banks over the holidays, look at their employment numbers for the last few years – see whether they’ve increased or decreased in your region,” says Kyle Blockley, managing partner of recruitment firm KS Internatonal. “I always get frustrated with candidates who’ve had, say, three roles in five years all due to restructuring. This shows a lack of research and commercial awareness.”
Expecting banks to poach you in 2017 on the strength of your online profile? Recruiters say candidates sometimes miss out on roles because their profiles only include job titles. “Your work history should also have a brief description about your role,” says Dylan Pany, head of sales trading at recruiters Selby Jennings. “For example, instead of writing just ‘equity derivatives trader”, write ‘equity derivatives trader: trading single stock options in the telecom, media and technology sectors.’ This allows recruiters and banks to see exactly what you do and makes it much easier for them to target you.”
If you plan to contact people in potential employers directly rather than through recruiters next year, don’t pester them with holiday-season emails – but do research their names and contact details. Market mapping now will save you valuable time when your job search heats up in Q1. “Always send your email and CV to a specific person within the bank,” says Blockley.
Don’t get too narrow in your job-search preparation over Christmas. Briefly free from the daily grind, you now have a chance to develop a long-term career plan to cope with that inevitable ‘where do you see yourself in X years?’ question. “Establish where you want your career to go longer term,” says Ben Batten, a managing director at recruiters Volt. “Banks you talk to next year will want to see you have a plan and goals, and are not moving for overly fickle reasons like money or not liking your boss.”
You may already know a few recruiters, but are they really the best ones in your specialist field? Now is the time to find out. Do your research online or by talking to industry counterparts who’ve recently moved jobs using a recruiter, says Vince Natteri, a director at search firm Pinpoint.
“Counter offers are increasingly common – retaining good staff is higher on banks’ agendas because it’s hard to get headcount approved to hire replacements,” says Pany. “Taking time to consider whether you’d accept a counter offer if you were presented one is important. If your answer is ‘yes’ then potentially your motivations for a move are not the correct ones.”
“One of the best ways to build your professional brand online with potential employers is to share and develop your own content that is relevant to your part of banking,” says Chai Leng Lim, a director of banking at recruitment firm Randstad. “This could be sharing your thoughts about an industry update or creating your own content to position yourself as a thought leader. Make it a goal for 2018 to create a list of articles you’d like to share or write about.”
“Come up with a new year resolution to join a certain group or initiative that would benefit your career and your contact base,” says Richard Aldridge, a director at recruitment company Black Swan Group. “Over the break research industry forums or groups of like-minded people. If you can’t find something then look up at friends from different banks and form your own group.”
If you do everything on this list you probably won’t have much of a holiday – so prioritise the preparation you think will be most helpful to your job search.
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