Creativity and Recruitment

Good morning monkeys.

Have you guys ever had the (mis)fortune of reading generic HR posts for positions? I'm not necessarily talking about ones that you see through OCR, as those are more "tailored" toward students, but ones that you find on your own through Monster, LinkedIn, etc.? I'm sure most folks on this site, save those who were _very_ fortunate and networked into a job right off the bat, have read through far too many HR job postings.

As a current job hunter, I really can't stand reading these things. Every once in a blue moon, I start looking for jobs outside of finance, and the arbitrary parameters set out by HR postings is laughable. "We are looking for a freshly-minted college graduate with 1-3 years of managerial experience"...what? "A motivated self-starter". And my favorite "a passionate, creative individual blah blah blah".

But seriously, this concept of "thinking outside the box" has become a staple of the ideal candidate for almost any job. What the heck does thinking outside the box even mean? Every job I have worked - yes, including banking - doesn't give you a whole lot of autonomy at the junior level to think outside the box. Indeed, most of the time everything you do at the junior level is obsessively scrutinized and double and triple-checked by someone who is watching their own ass. But hey, every position - from grocery store clerk to nuclear engineer - needs someone who can really think outside the box.

But what about thinking outside the box when it comes to recruitment?

The other day I had an informational interview with someone at a boutique that I'm really interested in. It went well, but I got the ubiquitous "I'll let you know if anything opens up" response when I asked the big question. No surprise, as breaking in off-cycle is a pain in the ass (I know I have some commiserates out there), but still not the response you're really "hoping" for when you have an informational. But this really got me thinking: what are some creative ways to follow up on this conversation?

Here's the thing: breaking into high finance, IBD in particular, has pretty much been "solved". There really are very few secrets these days, with sites like WSO and a plethora of resources on the internet that tell you how to network, how to answer interview questions, how to prepare for everything from what cut suit to wear to exactly what questions to ask. Anyone who knows the formula and is competent should break in; anyone who doesn't know the formula is way behind. Otherwise, it's a pretty simple numbers game in which at some point you will succeed, and whether it happens early or later for two identical applicants is arbitrary and often luck-based.

But what about being creative during recruitment? You guys all certainly remember Paul Nawrocki, right? You can find a refresher here if you don't. This was the guy who famously went on a homeless-like plan of walking around NYC with a sandwich board ad saying he was "Almost Homeless" and looking for work. He eventually landed a pretty sweet gig, based on the BW article. Or how about Kelly Kinney, who famously created the "resume shirt"? To what degree will this type of creativity and outside the box thinking help people during recruitment for consulting, PE, and investment banking?

I think everyone's initial reaction, and indeed my own, is that trying any stunts like these would be pretty absurd when looking for a banking gig. But on second thought, and knowing how badly people want to break in, I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone out there has done something similar, and I'd be interested in hearing whether they succeeded or not. Just the other day I was talking to my friend about the aforementioned informational interview I had with said boutique, and how I wished I knew how to capitalize on it. He said, I think jokingly, "just show up to work on Monday, they probably won't notice that you don't actually work there". In my confused, doubting, unemployed state, this actually sounded like a great idea.

And then I started to really think about this type of plan, and why it _could_ actually be effective. Most importantly, my guy told me that there is a good chance that the firm will be adding an Analyst in the next month or six weeks. If this is true, why wouldn't just showing up to work be a reasonably okay, albeit very rash and potentially dangerous, idea? Come on, I'm sure SOMEONE on WSO has done this or at least thought about doing it, and if you have, I want to hear about it.

What are some creative methods you've used during recruitment to get an edge? We know about informational interviews, networking, and following up; how did you guys break the mold to break the barrier? Or am I just delusional and creativity will never yield results in an industry as conservative as finance?

And let's not forget that there is room for creativity even when in finance, a la Michael Terry.

Thanks for reading.

Comments (2)

Jun 4, 2012

plan actually doesnt sound bad you should go for it. if anyone asks, youre working on the penske file

    • 1
Jun 4, 2012