The more time you spend in investment banking, the more likely you are to work with executive recruiters. They may not play a big role with your initial job search, but sooner or later, you’re going to be contacted by one or initiate a relationship on your own.
This is good because even if you aren’t currently looking for a new investment banking job, recruiters often have access to information and job openings that may not appear anywhere else. It pays to identify, approach and develop a good working relationship with at least one or two top recruiters early in your career. How?
First, keep in mind there are two types of recruiters. Some recruiters are retained by an established investment bank and paid on commission. If these recruiters have worked for the firm for a number of years, they tend to be better informed about the firm’s culture, personnel and the type of candidates they are looking for. However, these recruiters have the firm’s best interests in mind. They are more concerned with finding a candidate that matches the firm’s criteria than representing you.
The other type of recruiter works on “contingency,” meaning they only get paid if they find a candidate who is eventually hired. The upside is that if they believe in your background and skills, they may promote you more aggressively than a retained recruiter. The downside is that they may only want to work with candidates with the best chances of being placed, such as candidates from “name brand” schools and well-known investment banking firms.
Although you can find recruiters by doing Internet searches, you’re better off asking friends, relatives and colleagues in the industry and networking to find a topnotch recruiter to approach. Check with industry associations to see if they have recruiters among their membership or have any formal relationship with search firms.
You should learn about the recruiter’s experience and specialty before you meet him, too. Check out his website, LinkedIn or Facebook profile. How well does he know the industry? How long has he been in the business? Find out whether he works on retainer or on a contingency basis; you’ll often find you get better information from those who work on retainer. If you are actively looking for a new job, you may want to work with one of each type of recruiter.
Try to meet in person with the recruiter so you can present yourself and give the recruiter a sense of your personality. Some experts suggest an in-person meeting can also help overcome a recruiter’s reluctance to work with a candidate with a weaker financial background or someone without a name-brand school or organization on their resume.
The recruiter needs to know a lot about you to promote you to prospective employers. So expect a broad discussion in these interviews, ranging from your experience, salary expectations and skills to more personal matters such as you goals, family background and major influences.
Recruiters can be very helpful for opening doors and sourcing new opportunities. But do not rely on a recruiter to make the final decision as to whether or not to accept a position. They have a vested interest in your taking the job (their commission), so they may not be as objective as you in evaluating whether the job is really right for you long term.
Next time, we’ll talk about some tips for building your relationship with an investment banking recruiter, and making the relationship pay off.