Job search tactics for mid-career banker

Kruel's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 13

So here's my story - I had a run of several years in equity research at a BB, but wasn't happy with my career progression (worked for a selfish star analyst) and resolved to leave. A couple years ago, I took a role in regional management at another BB working on a new market entry initiative and various strategy/cross-divisional projects. This bank ended up in some turmoil (and the "new market" became less attractive) so my position was made redundant amid a wave of recent cuts.

It's a challenging situation and I'm imagining the following possibilities:
- Go back in the direction of research (not easy at this point)
- Another strategy/group management role in financial services somewhere
- Some type of buy-side role (but research, distribution or product?)
- Corporate development/strategy in another industry

The difficulty is that my background is now mixed up, whereas most roles call for specialists. Also my network isn't in great shape, since my last role was quite internal. Some questions on my mind:

I'm advised by people to cold email/call hiring managers and it's a matter of connecting with the right people over a coffee. But I'm quite wary of this approach. In my experience, I've found a lot of senior bankers to be non-responsive even to colleagues, so the odds seem low. There are only so many sizable banks or asset managers around, so I don't want to be "snubbed" by the relevant senior ppl across the street in case there's a chance later to apply for a job more conventionally, or be introduced via headhunter. Any tactical advice?

I see some hiring for positions that are a great fit for my background, but at a level that is too junior/senior. Is it a good idea to apply anyway and hope to talk up the position? So far I'm not getting responses from this approach, so the HR screening seems strict. I've also considered - i) applying, then figuring out who the hiring manager is and making a parallel introduction via LinkedIn or email (becomes harder to talk up the position when you've applied at the junior level?), ii) not applying through the system, but approaching the hiring manager with a general expression of interest.

Which of the following is the most acceptable way to approach people cold? i) LinkedIn Inmail, ii) Send a LinkedIn invite and only follow up with a message if they accept , iii) directly email their work account

Can a headhunter really help someone in my situation? I've met a bunch who name-dropped this and that bank where someone like me would fit, but there's been no follow up. It's no mystery who the decision makers are at different firms, so maybe it's advantageous to approach cold without the headhunter's price tag attached? Or do they still value the headhunter's service screening for appropriate candidates?

Any thoughts appreciated!

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Comments (5)

Best Response
May 17, 2017

I hear you, I'm in a similar point in my career. I left banking 2 years ago (where I was in LevFin, as the alias implies) to move to a corporate and the hiring process could not be more random. My conclusion has been:

1) head hunters can definitely be helpful but only for jobs where you have 100% chance of getting in (i.e. for you, another equity research gigs)

2) personal connection obviously are the most helpful path I found. I've had good referrals for family offices/small funds but after this you're on your own and obviously very dependent on whether they're hiring at that particular point in time, which is impossible to tell since by nature nothing is structured in small outfits

3) cold emails - I've done a ton of those, generally finding them very unhelpful and like you I was/am weary to look like an idiot and burn bridges (not applicable if you're looking outside your immediate sector)

4) random - believe it or not, while I was (very) actively looking, my current gig came from Linkedin where the CFO contacted me directly..... It was the 1st time it had ever happened to me

Good luck! Timing is everything and the good news is that now is not a bad time to be looking

    • 2
May 17, 2017

Just to add to the above: even if cold emailing is generally speaking a high volume affair generating very very few leads, I would still do it....

A good friend of mine secured his gig in corporate development for a junior miner this way, but his CV was very natural resources-heavy so I would say it's important to know your strengths

May 18, 2017

Thanks for the feedback. The cold emailing approach seems quite useless, but then again I more or less got my last job this way (approaching a newly-hired functional head via LinkedIn to express interest). I guess if I didn't spend time on all the low-probability avenues, I may never work again!

I do find myself wasting a lot of time mulling over whether it's a good or bad idea to approach certain people. For instance, I saw some hiring by UBS in a particular area, applied through the system and never heard anything. Then I figured I should try my luck contacting the division head directly with a LinkedIn InMail. Never got a reply, though I saw that he had checked my profile. Later I saw additional positions within that division, and one headhunter mentioned exploring that area of UBS. At that point it seemed like a dead-end, now that I've been snubbed by the guy in charge. I could just try the same thing with every bulge-bracket and find the doors closed everywhere in short order. Is there a smarter way to approach all this? And if you've already applied for a position somewhere, does it negate the possibility of being introduced by a headhunter?

May 17, 2017

yes I've done that as well (applying via linkedin/HR site) and then following up via an inmail or cold email. It's also a very low probability avenue I would say.

Obviously the best approach would be to identify someone who could connect you or better yet know someone in the team who's hiring and recommend you.... at the end of the day hiring is a high risk event and people want to mitigate this so if someone they know vouch for someone else then you're halfway there

One think which I found worked quite well for me is a sales guy who's a very good friend of mine and who's recommended me several times to clients of his. For him it's a win win as if I ever get across and become a client of his then I'll definitely be sending business his way

    • 1
May 18, 2017