You’re doing it wrong: banks hire like this now

This article was originally published on the eFinancialCareers website, written by Sarah Butcher and is reproduced here because it features, at the end of the article, a quote from our CEO Michael Moran on the power of networking.

Getting a job in a bank

If you’re spending this autumn looking for a new banking job, and you haven’t done this for a while, you’re in for a shock. Quietly, but dramatically, banks have been changing the mechanisms by which they recruit. If you want a new banking job for 2017, the process by which you find one is probably going to be very different to last time.

Banks want to hire internal candidates

The easiest way to find a new banking job in autumn 2016 is to look within the bank you’re already working for. Internal mobility programmes are the new talent pipeline – why look outside when you have thousands of people under your roof already?

As a measure of internal mobility programmes’ importance, UBS said it filled 34% of its vacancies internally last year. This year, that’s likely to be higher still. Other banks are traveling the same path: Barclays’ indefinite hiring freeze doesn’t preclude it from moving people into new roles within the organization; Deutsche Bank just launched a programme called ‘Move Talent,’ which it describes as mandated to, “facilitate internal career mobility at much higher levels than currently experienced.”


The emphasis on internal hiring is bad news if you’re out of the market. If you’re out and you want a new job now, you’ll need to offer something special which banks can’t find internally – and this is tough, given that most banks employ tens of thousands of people and are willing to give internal hires the benefit of the doubt. “The emphasis here is on giving people ‘stretch assignments’,” says the head of recruitment at one bank in London. “It’s all about one career with the firm, and many jobs within that career.”

Banks take ages to sign hires off

If banks are prepared to compromise on internal hires, the opposite applies to hires they make externally. “There are now very stringent processes in place for external hires,” says Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley in London. “Banks often require a senior person to sign-off a role when it’s first advertised externally, and may then require another senior person to sign-off the hire when a shortlist of candidates has been put together.”

Chad Lawson, associate director in the finance team at recruitment firm Robert Walters, says far more due diligence is now applied to external hires: “With increasing pressures on cost, banks are scrutinising hires more closely, adding extra layers of interviews and then numerous levels of sign-off for hires which cause processes to be drawn out.”

Don’t expect to move into a new job soon

Banks only use external recruiters and headhunters for very specific roles

Once upon a time, banks turned to external headhunting firms and recruitment firms to fill a lot of their open positions. Cost constraints mean this has changed: nowadays, recruiters only get the trickiest jobs to fill – and they’re expected to find candidates who fit banks’ remits exactly.

“When banks engage an external agency, they’re usually demanding a specific skill set that they can’t find internally or through their direct channels,” says Lawson.

In other words, it’s no good using a recruiter if you’re applying for a role that you know you could do but have never done before. The only way you’ll get this kind of job nowadays is by moving internally.

Most banks also have established teams of internal headhunters whom they use to approach senior candidates for roles they don’t want to advertise and can’t fill internally. External headhunters complain that these internal teams are rubbish: “They’re staffed by failed headhunters who couldn’t hack it in an agency,” is the standard detraction.

Banks want to hire temps

In London at least, 2016 is turning into the year of the temp, or contract worker. When recruitment firm Hays reported its results for the six months to June last week, it said permanent UK recruitment activity was down but that contract recruitment activity was up. Enver at Morgan McKinley agrees: “Temp hiring in the City has been very busy since the start of the year. Permanent hiring has been more impacted by the economic environment.”

Temp hiring might be expected to benefit further from uncertainty over likely Brexit negotiations. However, Enver says this doesn’t seem to be the case: “Permanent hiring has actually recovered a bit since the referendum,” he tells us. “It’s as if hiring managers are realizing that negotiations might take some time and deciding to take the plunge.”

If you’re out of the market and trying to get back in again, banks are most likely to hire you if you network

Lastly, if you’re not currently in employment and therefore can’t move internally, and your applications to advertised roles are coming to nothing, you need to network.

Michael Moran, chief executive of 10Eighty, a careers advisory firm which helps laid off bankers, says 80% of the people he works with find new jobs through their networks. This presupposes that you have a network, of course. Most people don’t spend enough time networking outside their organisations, says Moran. For networking to work, he says you need to have around 35-50 people with “power of influence” (meaning that if they make a call on your behalf the receiving party will take it) who owe you a favour. “Most people struggle to get to 20,” he adds.

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.