Trying to speak to a finance recruiter can be a bit like communing with a teenager: they respond to messages infrequently and then only when they want something; their phones often seem to be switched off or go straight to voicemail; they ignore you for weeks on end.
However, recruiters are not unreasonable people. If they’re elusive, they have their reasons. If you’ve left six messages and you haven’t had a response, you might not want to call again. We spoke to some top finance recruiters about the candidates who hound them. This is what they told us.
1. You will be ignored if you’re panicking and applying for anything and everything
“On a regular basis, we get the same people applying for five or six jobs a week,” says the head of one finance recruitment firm in London. “They just look at the job title and hit ‘send’ without even considering that their experience isn’t applicable at all.”
Candidates in this category are “disheartened” suggests the empathetic recruiter: they haven’t had a response to previous applications and therefore they start to send in more and more in a frenzy – without thinking that they’re further damaging their prospects in the process.
2. You will be ignored if you misunderstand the recruitment process
There are two kinds of recruitment firms. Headhunters (or ‘executive search consultants’) and contingency recruiters. You can send your CV to contingency search firms. You can’t send it to headhunters. Headhunters don’t advertise jobs and only approach the candidates they’re interested in.
“A lot of people call us up,” says one headhunter. “But we don’t place just anyone. We’re always instructed to find specific types of people by our clients and if someone doesn’t fit that profile we can’t help them. It’s a different way of doing business.”
3. You will be ignored if you think a senior job title is a ticket to any role
Just because you’re a managing director (MD) or you’ve already spent several years in a banking role, you don’t have a licence to apply for all MD roles. “Right now, I’m looking for a head of M&A, paying £3m a year,” says one recruiter. “The applicants include an MD in Treasury, an investor relations analyst who graduated six years ago and a global head of operations who’s spent his career working on reconciliations. People think that just because they’re an MD they can apply for anything.”
4. You will be ignored if you’re applying for a job at a first tier bank and haven’t worked for a comparable brand since the crisis
Banking is a very brand-conscious industry. If you worked for Morgan Stanley in 2007, you will not have a free pass to work for J.P. Morgan in 2015. “There’s an MD who calls me all the time and asks me to put him forward for bulge bracket banking jobs,” says another recruiter. “I have to point out to him that he hasn’t worked in the bulge bracket for eight years and they won’t be interested in him.”
5. You will be ignored because recruiters are overwhelmed
Often, finance recruiters are simply exhausted by the volume of applications. “80% of people are totally inappropriate for the jobs they’re applying to,” says one. “Around 5% are right, and the other 10-15% are people we might keep on our database. We’d like to talk to everyone but we just can’t. Anything more than an automated response is impossible.”