I do not pretend to be an expert in this field, but what follows below are consistent observations that hiring managers share with me when they view a candidate I am working with. While some of these flaws are not correctable, others are. These apply both to Investment Banking Firms as well as Bond Counsel practices.
The first area they look at is your current situation. This entails your current employment status, the firm you are with and the length of time at that firm. Let’s look at each one of the above in a bit more detail. First, the adage that it is easier to get a job when you are currently holding one (or the appearance that you are still holding one) holds true today now more than ever. Here’s an example of “by appearance”: if you have been RIF’d but your last day is not officially for thirty days, show that you are still employed. Because theoretically you are still an employee. The same thing applies if you are on a garden leave. If you are still getting paid by your old firm, you are still employed. Remember the sole purpose of your resume is to get you the interview and that is all; when it comes to the interview you must be 100% truthful of your status. If you are working with a recruiter, you can rest assure the recruiter filled the hiring manager in on the “real situation”.
The next area is your firm. Hiring managers have their existing mind set about certain types of firms. For example, regional firms very rarely hire Bulge Bracket bankers since the culture is very different. Some firms shy away from MBE firms, as they believe the bankers are getting their business only due to the minority status of the firm and not the bankers’ abilities. Some firms that specialize in a boutique area may be harder to get a new firm to look at a banker who wants to expand his area of expertise. I think you get my drift.
Length of time in your current firm is crucial. Firms do not like to hire employees that have not been at their current firm for a minimum of five years, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Along this line of thinking is also the candidate that has been at numerous firms. That too is a cautionary mark that will be addressed thoroughly by a hiring manager if you are fortunate enough to get an interview. If you do have numerous firms, be prepared with a solid explanation of why so many firms in your career. For example, if firms got acquired and you just followed as the new firms merged with the old ones, that is very plausible. But on the converse, if there are different firms and no relationship between them, know this will have to be addressed. The best way to address any concern is for the candidate to bring them up in their opening conversation and try to explain it away. If the hiring manager brings them up, it may be too late for you to explain it and have it resolved in their mind.
This strategy should also be applied to other areas. For example, a break in the continuity of the years you worked, leaving the industry and returning to Public Finance, switching from FA to IB or vice a versa, etc. By working with a professional recruiter some of these areas can be significantly minimized. I personally treat the good candidates that have these issues as a story bond. Sometimes I am successful and other times I am not, but at least my hiring managers know the story behind the resume “flaws”.
If you would like to discuss your current situation, please reach out to me for a confidential conversation about your career options.
About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, and Bond Counsels. He can be reached on LinkedIn, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-477-1284.