You want a new banking job. How should you go about it? Make 750+ applications, or be more targeted in your approach?
Whilst there are certainly people in some sectors of the economy who partake successfully in the spray and pray approach, I would strongly argue against it for Financial Services or any other professional service industry. Here, a more subtle and targeted job application strategy is required.
Whatever your role or level of seniority the best course of action is to have a targeted job search strategy. You need to include a variety of channels (online, recruitment agencies, search firms and networking), but to focus on a small number of role types which are realistically viable (based on your research), and that reflect your skills, experience, personal strengths and motivations. These different role types will effectively make up your plan A, B and C of your job search.
As tempting as it may be (especially if you’re out of work and have no income), a spray and pray approach to applying for jobs rarely works because:
- You waste valuable time and energy that could be spent applying to the right roles,
- You dilute your brand and/or appear desperate, which isn’t a good look when seeking a new opportunity,
- You can easily fall into the trap of getting confused about which roles you are applying/interviewing for and why (recruiters and employers will be able to see straight through this),
- Ultimately, you could end up with a role that doesn’t overly interest/motivate you - meaning you could be back on the job market sooner than you think.
If you've been at a senior or executive level in finance, it is highly unlikely that you be able to even identify more than a small handful of relevant roles to apply for. Many opportunities at this level are handled by search firms and/or aren’t even in the public domain, which is why finding a new role when you're senior can take far longer than it should. If you're currently employed and are considering the spray and pray approach, remember that there is a high chance of word getting back to your employer and your network if you're indiscriminate in how you apply and who you apply with.
Instead, therefore, you need to stick to your targeted strategy. Always avoid applying for more than one role (certainly no more than two) at the same employer. Over time, it's likely you'll end up having multiple recruitment conversations with different companies and will be in a situation to compare opportunities and packages.
Most importantly, if you're targeted in your approach you are also far more likely to be having the right conversations with the right companies. This will give you the best chance of success in your job search over the short, medium and long term.
Dan Whitehead is founder of City Career LAB (a career coaching company) and a 20+ year veteran of recruitment and corporate Talent Acquisition in Financial Services.
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