We all tend to share job woes with spouses and partners. But deciding what can and cannot (or should not) be shared could be critical for your investment banking job.
So says career coach Sonal Agrawal in a Livemint article. She cites one candidate she successfully placed in a new job. His wife, whom he met in business school, worked for a rival company. He disclosed it openly in his job interviews and it wasn’t an issue. But then his new boss called his wife’s boss at the other company and demanded a detailed reference check on the wife. There was hell to pay, at both the office and home.
An increasing number of power couples meet in business school and work in the same industry, say Agrawal. Company policies are all over the map, and there’s very little guidance for senior executives for managing the delicate nature of sensitive information. In investment banking jobs, where a win for one company could result in a loss for another, it can be “minefield.”
In this particular candidate’s case, he did the right thing. He flagged the potential conflict right away in his interview. That was the time the hiring company should have checked out any concerns they had, before extending the job offer to him. They could have discretely called in a consultant to conduct background checks as well. The candidate’s wife could have informed her employer that her spouse was considering joining a competitive firm, rather than risk having her boss find out from the competing company. And those working for recruiting firms could have (and should have) checked out these issue as part of the recruiting process.
The whole point is that job candidates need to recognize that these issues have to be brought up in advance, however hesitant you may be. Otherwise they can blow up in your face after a job offer has been extended.
What’s more, says Agrawal, power couples have to set some clear ground rules at home. While some general talk about business is expected, it should be clear ahead of time that certain topics are off-limits. Simple housekeeping such as not leaving confidential papers or laptops lying around and being discreet when on conference calls is another rule.
“Of course, a cohabiting competitor needs to display understanding when the partner can’t share details of what’s happening at work,” writes Agrawal. “Equally important is knowing when and how to step away from a discussion or project at the workplace, if one feels that the conflict is not manageable—or even taking the mutual decision for one spouse to remove oneself from a long-term job conflict situation.”
What about you? Have you ever been involved with someone in the same profession and ran into potentially sensitive issues or conflicts of interest? Add your comments below.