Practical analysis for investment professionals
25 July 2016

Three Job Market Insights from Executive Recruiters

How do you stand out in an increasingly competitive global career market?

We asked a panel of headhunters to share their insights on the state of the job market and the job search process during a recent Twitter chat hosted by @CFAcareers. Our panelists included Deon Brenner, CFA, (@DeonBrenner) of Efficient Frontier Recruitment; Chris Bisenius (@ChrisBisenius) of PointOne Recruiting Solutions; and Sanjeev Sharma on behalf of Michael Page US (@MichaelPageUS).

Each participant has extensive experience in finance and investment management recruitment and together they have a wealth of collective wisdom to share.

There was a lot of thoughtful information, so the full Twitter conversation is well worth a look, but three useful points, in particular, stood out:

1. The most technically qualified person doesn’t necessarily receive the job offer.

What are the most common misunderstandings or misconceptions finance professionals have about the job market? One at the top of the list is the expectation that employers will offer the job to the most qualified candidate. But that isn’t always the case. As Sharma noted, employers seek the person with the best combination of technical and communication skills, compensation requirements, and cultural fit. The most experienced applicants with the best resumes may not seal the deal if they fall short as communicators, come with too high a price tag, or wouldn’t mesh with the company’s culture. This point was confirmed by Brenner and Bisenius, who agreed that employers look for candidates who demonstrate higher emotional intelligence, a passion for the profession, and are a good fit culturally.

You may find this state of affairs frustrating, but it’s a great reminder to make sure you can demonstrate a record of strong soft skills when preparing for a career transition. You should also be able to articulate your values and style and how they fit within an organization’s culture. Have realistic compensation expectations and a preset strategy for negotiating.

2. Don’t bypass recruiters.

If a legitimate headhunter contacts you about an opportunity, it is in your best interest to proceed with them rather than going around them and approaching an HR department directly. In an email after the chat, Brenner elaborated on this point, one he had made during the Twitter forum, and explained:

“In my experience, many candidates are under the impression that it is better to contact employers directly rather than work through a recruiter. On paper I can certainly understand why candidates could think so, but in the real world it is more beneficial for candidates to make use of a reputable recruiter. The chief reasons are:

  • “The investment industry is one of the most sought after industries to be employed in, so their HR departments are inundated with unsolicited emails and other communication from job seekers. A typical HR department simply cannot go through each and every email and CV. If, however, a candidate’s CV is presented by a reputable recruiter with an established relationship with the firm, the probability is far greater that it will be viewed and considered.
  • “Specialist recruiters build a reputation and relationship with their clients {employers} spanning many years, which benefits the candidate. Clients know that whenever recruiter X presents a candidate, a lot of thought has gone into the decision and it is a candidate they would want to consider.
  • “Recruiters not only present candidates to employers, but they also help prepare candidates for interviews, assist with salary negotiations, and ultimately ensure that both candidate and employer are smiling when the process is concluded.”

This should not preclude eager job candidates from calling their network contacts  for advice, information about the company, or even a recommendation to the powers that be. Just remember that if a recruiter has been awarded the search or has a good reputation with the organization, you want to keep that channel to the decision makers open.

3. Recruiters notice hiring trends in the investment industry.

Bisenius explained that there has been a consolidation at the portfolio manager level in the US private wealth space. Also, hiring has increasingly moved toward a succession planning track as retirement looms on the horizon for many in the industry.

Brenner noted a few trends and growth opportunities he’s observed in South Africa: For equity research, employers like to see young professionals combine the CFA charter with the Chartered Accountant designation. Socially responsible and impact investing are growth opportunities, he says, as are emerging markets, especially those in Africa.

Sharma observed that:

This reminds me of Ben Carlson, CFA, asking “Are the Private Markets Getting Too Crowded?

Michael Page offers a wealth of data about global recruiting trends, including a UK paper, “The Outlook for 2016: Front Office Banking and Asset Management.”

For more insights, check out the Storify summary of the Twitter chat, and if you’re interested in seeing CFA Institute host additional Twitter chats on career management topics, please feel free to email careermanagement@cfainstitute.org with your suggestions.

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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: ©iStockphoto.com/Meriel 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.

4 thoughts on “Three Job Market Insights from Executive Recruiters”

  1. Observer Joe says:

    Summary: be a dumb, slavish, cow ready to be slaughtered by the industry and You will be hired/slaughtered.

    I want a different world, so I refuse to participate at that process. It is precisely the matter of what kind of world we want to live in.

  2. Surya Ram says:

    Provides excellent information about the job market insights from the Executive recruiters. I am really impressed with the steps provided in this blog.

  3. Surya Ram says:

    Excellent information provided in this blog about the market insights for the executive recruiters. Please update this kind of information

  4. New-Horizon says:

    It was good reading the blog. It was very good in terms of understanding the concept. Looking forward to read more. Thanks!

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