Window shop your way to career success

MORGAN McKinley reported a nine per cent rise in the number of people seeking new employment opportunities in financial services last week. But with tales of redundancies covering the financial pages, ensuring you hear about the best opportunities first is ever more important. Indeed, recruiter Astbury Marsden, who also had a report out last week, says that the market trend has led bankers and fund managers to “window shop” for roles at rival companies. This diagnosis got us wondering how one goes about this. Here’s what three recruitment agencies had to say.

1 KEEPING AN EYE OUT
Keep skimming your eyes across the jobs boards and recruitment websites to see who is hiring even if you’re not interested in moving on yet. Not just for opportunities that suit you, but to get an impression of which sectors are growing. James Callander, the managing director of FreshMinds Talent, says: “Have a look at the business press too. Commercial awareness is vital when you are considering a new role.”

2 NETWORK
The power of networking can be extraordinary. Laura Beavis, a director at Hays Financial Markets, says: “Even if you’re not actively looking for a new job now, making sure that potential employers are familiar with you by attending networking events is key to ensuring you hear about new opportunities when they arise – and when the time comes for you to move on from your job you’ll have made vital contacts to help with your job search.” That goes for those in and outside your friendship circles too, says Callander.

3 GET A MENTOR
“Get a mentor,” says Callander. “This should be someone about 10-15 years older than you who you look up to career-wise. It could be a former colleague, client or perhaps even someone you approached over LinkedIn.”

4 GET LINKEDIN
If you don’t already have it, get it. Recruiters spend half their lives on the site. Don’t stop there though, track down all of your industry’s groups and keep an eye on them. Quite often, jobs will be posted there. But be careful, Callander warns: “Managers can see your activity and something like asking for a lot of recommendations suddenly is quite a clear indication that you are looking to move on.”

5 PLAN AND PRIORITISE
As the old adage goes: you can’t hit what you don’t aim at. You really need a plan. Beavis says: “Think about where you want to be in the future, and make a plan to help you get there. This may mean looking beyond a promotion and salary increase for your next role.” This can be an uncomfortable process, but it will hopefully draw your attention to the skills and industry exposure you need to reach your goals. If you’re not sure, think about what motivates you, what you enjoy and what you’re good at. It will help guide you to your plan eventually.

6 DEVELOP SKILLS
When you’ve worked out what skills you need to get you that perfect job, you need to start working on them. This could mean investing some of your spare time.

You might also need to heighten your awareness of the skills you already hold. Nader Bawany of specialist financial sector recruiter Fairway Partners says: “I strongly advocate that you keep an updated ‘CV diary’. Every three to four months, record your work achievements and any skills and strengths gained or developed. You can edit and amend as necessary, but at least most of the CV slog will have been done and captured. This will save you having to produce a CV under stress, from scratch. Senior executives, in particular, will have CVs containing vast amounts of information that needs to be distilled to highlight the most relevant bits.”

7 FIND A RELIABLE HEADHUNTER
Get networking to find a good headhunter. It’s good to find one or two in your sector to form a strong relationship with. Bawany explains: “They should act as your eyes and ears on the market and will ideally have dealt with you throughout your career progression, understanding your objectives and how they evolve. With your permission, they can conduct a confidential search on existing and upcoming opportunities and report back on what may be of interest to you according to specified criteria.”