Practical analysis for investment professionals
19 October 2015

Insights from a Recruiter

When is the right time to reach out to a recruiter?

If you are being recruited for a particular job, how long can you realistically expect the process to take?

This past June, I sat down with Debra Brown, a New York-based recruiter for Russell Reynolds Associates’ asset and wealth management practice, who shed light on these and other questions, offering career management advice tailored specifically for investment professionals. Brown has completed searches for CEOs, chief investment officers (CIOs), portfolio managers, and senior sector analysts, among other positions, so she has plenty of wisdom to share, with insights on assessing leadership trends as well as strategies for re-entry into the industry and tips for women on managing their finance careers.

I would like to share several points I took away from our conversation that I think might be interesting to career-minded finance professionals.

Who Recruiters Target

Companies engage recruiters to find candidates they cannot easily find themselves. For better or worse, this leads recruiters to look for professionals who are content in their jobs and successful at other companies. After all, individuals who are actively promoting themselves for job openings or otherwise obvious about their interest in other opportunities would theoretically pop up on the radar of the hiring company without the help of a search firm. Still, recruiters are interested in building their networks of talented professionals, so they aren’t inclined to ignore proactive attempts to connect. They recognize that eventually you may be exactly the person they are looking for.

When You Should Include Recruiters in Your Network

So then, as a professional, when does it make sense to reach out to a recruiter? That varies depending on the specific recruiter’s perspective, but Brown estimates that 10 years of experience is probably the minimum point at which conversations with an executive search professional will have more immediate impact for either side. She also notes that for the economics to be mutually beneficial, the roles for which a potential recruit would be coming from and going to should be compensated at or above the threshold of US $300,000.

Of course, reaching out to recruiters for immediate job opportunities is not the same thing as incorporating recruiters into your professional network. That’s something you should you do long before you need their help.

Time to Hire vs. Time to Hired

On the employer side of the equation, for the types of positions that Brown recruits, it currently takes an average of three to five months to complete a search and hire someone into a role. Brown says this time frame hasn’t changed much over the last several years. What has changed though is that recruiters are identifying potential talent earlier, while the process of interviewing and making, negotiating, and accepting an offer now takes up a greater amount of that time. If you are tapped by a recruiter, it’s worth noting that you may be in for a long hiring process even if you are on a very short list of potential hires.

For the job seeker, Brown reports that, on average, she’s seeing it take more like six to 12 months and potentially longer for senior professionals to get hired during an active job search. Obviously this has implications for someone planning to change jobs. For example, while you need to keep assessing whether your search strategy is really working for you, there is no need to panic if you haven’t landed a new job within a few weeks of launching your search.

Career Paths

In terms of what skills and talents are in demand in the finance sector, one trend Brown has noticed is that greater value is being placed on experience in multi-asset class investing and a holistic, global understandings of risk. What this means for managing your career is that while a typical path might tend toward continued specialization, Brown recommends that you be on the lookout for opportunities outside of your asset class silo. In other words, specialize enough to legitimately claim a particular expertise but consider taking steps to gain experience working with other asset classes as well.

If there are additional interesting points you’d like to highlight or expound upon, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image credit: © Jane Waissman

About the Author(s)
Julia VanDeren

Julia VanDeren, manager, career services at CFA Institute, serves as the subject matter expert in career management skills, curating and developing career resources for members and program candidates. Previously, she served CFA Institute as career services representative, managing the CFA Institute JobLine (now Career Center) and Career Centre (now Career Tools) resources. VanDeren holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MPA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

3 thoughts on “Insights from a Recruiter”

  1. JMD Partners says:

    Very very informative and knowledge sharing post, people concerned with this must do something. Thanks for posting.

  2. Is it a bad thing for recruiters if you have changed job three times in a year??

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