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How busy Wall Street bankers can find a new job

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Make time for networking, but keep these in-person coffee meetings to a minimum.

How do you look for a new job when you’re working over 70 hours a week? Sneaking out to job interviews, updating your resume and meeting recruiters is hard when you barely have any time out of the office. This is what recruiters and career consultants suggest.

1. Get your friends to help you out

Most firms have internal employee referral schemes, so it’s worth asking friends and former colleagues to put in a good word for you. There’s a referral fee involved if you end up landing the job, so it’s not simply a case of people helping you out of the goodness of their heart.

“Generally all they will need is a resume and an idea of your interest, and they will be required to fill out the necessary forms,” says Janet Raiffa, career coach, the former head of campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs and the former associate director of the Career Management Center at Columbia Business School. “Their incentive, other than helping out a friend, is a referral fee that can be very generous for a small amount of paperwork.”

2. Use your vacation time

Interviews don’t generally happen outside of regular office hours, and there are only so many dental appointments you can pretend to have.

“When you must meet elsewhere from 9 to 5, take the day off, or take a half day off,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder and career expert at SixFigureStart. “Don’t expect to be able to pop in and out.”

3. Get the competition to notice you 

The best way to focus on your next career move is also the key to ascending in your current role: Do your job well.

“Become the best person in the seat, and perform like a rock star. Period,” says Julia Harris Wexler, a career coach who works with Columbia Business School. “People notice those around them who are stars at what they do.

“Those people change firms, become sources for recruiters when they call and have the ear of senior management,” she says. “Be authentic: Master the task at hand and be the type of leader who gives credit to others.”

4. Avoid face to face meetings

Be very selective with scheduling face-to-face meeting. Perhaps calls are good enough. And sometimes email exchanges are all that you need.

“Save the face-to-face [meetings] for really important conversations, [for example] people who can hire you or those who are otherwise incredibly important to your search and career,” says Robert Hellmann, the founder of Hellmann Career Consulting who previously worked at J.P. Morgan and American Express.

5. Use headhunters

Headhunters are usually more interested and successful if they are representing clients who are currently employed in a similar role.

“You’ll have to spend time meeting with them, but once the relationship is built they will have a strong financial incentive to arrange interviews for you,” Raiffa says. “Generally all you’ll need here is a resume. The headhunter will write up a summary of you as a candidate so no cover letter is required, and they will be active in preparing you for an interview,” she says.

6. Block out time during evenings and weekends

Related to making time during the workday, you need to make time for your search outside of work – the research, updating your marketing and networking. You make time for your search by ruthlessly cutting out other things, Ceniza-Levine says.

“I coached a bulge-bracket investment banker with a large family, and since he couldn’t slow down at work – it would be too noticeable – he had to drop one of the few nights earmarked for his kids to get his job search moving,” she says. “He couldn’t do it during the day so something else had to give. You will have to make time for your search – you won’t just find it.”

Hellmann agrees that you have to budget your time throughout the week – have a schedule, with weekly time goals, and stick to it.

“Try to spend 15 hours a week on their search if they’re working full time,” he says. “That works out to two hours a day Monday through Friday, and two and a half hours a day on Saturday and Sunday.”

7. Tap your college alumni

This isn’t just asking for referrals and introductions from Wall Street professionals who share your alma mater. Employers advertising on universities’ job boards will be more focused on certain populations and will likely have fewer applicants.

“You’ll be part of smaller applicant pools so your hit rate in terms of applications to interviews will be higher,” Raiffa says.

8. Put yourself out there…

Make time for extracurricular events that help your community, mentor more junior employees and make yourself available to help your firm in areas outside of your current expertise, Wexler says.

“Not only will these accomplishments get you noticed within your own firm and promoted over your peers who simply put their heads down, but you will be noticed by others,” she says. “It won’t be long before recruiters and offers are presented to you.”

9. Use the most effective channels

The top two channels are networking – getting an introduction – and cold calling or emailing the person who can hire you.

“Spend 80% of your time on these ‘active’ approaches to your search and 20% on job postings and search firms,” Hellmann says. “The latter two are the ‘passive’ approaches, the front door that everyone uses, so the competition is toughest.

Photo credit: shironosov/GettyImages

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