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"I was an MD in an investment bank. Now headhunters ignore me"

Two years ago, I was a managing director at a major international bank in London, running a team of multiple in MDs. It was the culmination of a three decade career in finance during which I worked across major European and major U.S. investment banks. 

Now, headhunters won't talk to me.

I walked away from my past job following a difference of opinion and a mutual parting of ways. In truth, it was a kind of half-cocked business which made half-cocked revenues. They were able to hire a lot of bankers cheaply after the financial crisis, but wouldn't pay adequately later on. We did a lot of pitching but had a very low hit rate for M&A - only 1% of our pitches came off in EMEA, far below the bank's success rate of closer to 5% or 10% in the Americas. I always pitied our juniors: Europe is a horribly over-banked market, and we weren't really positioned to compete. 

Banking has been very kind to me and has provided me with a very nice lifestyle, but I'm not ready to retire yet. I've spent much of my career building teams in the bulge bracket, and am keen for a new challenge. I'm open to the buy-side, and I'm open to going back into a major bank. But it's becoming apparent that headhunters probably won't help me at all.

Despite my experience, I'm finding it impossible to get headhunters to talk on the phone. Maybe it's because I've been out of the market for 18 months? Who knows. My perception is that headhunters don't really want to talk to individuals: they're only interested in talking to their clients, the companies that are doing the hiring.

I'm still hopeful that I'll be able to get back into the industry, especially if roles offering three or four days at home become available. In the meantime, though, I've been helping my partner with a manufacturing start-up that I've invested in. Last week, she needed a forklift truck driver, and so I took a forklift truck accreditation and spent a day offloading pallets from a truck. I don't intend to be a warehouse worker indefinitely, but I am more than happy to roll up my sleeves.

Stefan Gardner is a pseudonym

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Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

AUTHORStefan Gardner Insider Comment
  • Da
    4 May 2021

    With 30 years experience surely your personal network is the port for call for finding jobs?

  • da
    29 April 2021

    Salute to you for still finding something while you wait a turn. Most people in the US just wait for government handouts if they can't find the job they want.

  • Ry
    Ryan Duran
    29 April 2021

    You admittedly have 30 years of experience, have been unemployed for nearly 2 years and from what it sounds your last role was with a less than impressive place. Head hunter clients are not interested in paying a fee for this type of profile. You're going to have to either pound the pavement or rely on your professional contacts

  • Og
    29 April 2021

    Thanks for sharing your honest experience. I'm fairly certain that you'll get what you want eventually. Kudos for getting as far as you did, wanting to continue and rolling up your sleeves.

  • Ra
    29 April 2021

    In the past, head hunters found me a great investment banking job. Being an HR in banking professional, I guess it is the type of head-hunters you are referring to, plus the region in which the banks operate. Generally speaking, my colleagues told me banks are currently laying off many senior employees. However, upon searching for roles online, I found a few very interesting roles with moderate requirements. So my advice is it all depends on the head hunters / recruitment agencies / sites and the region... .

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