How to Use Headhunters and Find Finance Jobs

Don't cold-call recruiters, but return their cold calls and feed them information. Package your experience as a compelling story and build a big network of references.

Is this really a good time to be looking for a job?

That depends on individual circumstances, but at the very least, return recruiters’ calls. It never hurts to take a look at an opportunity. “It always surprises me when people say they’re not interested, almost before I describe what I’m doing,” says Boyle.

What if I’m out of work? Is there a “taint” to having been laid off, even in this economic environment?

Not necessarily. Boyle notes that there are many reasons why people are in transition: high turnover among CEOs, with new ones often preferring to bring in their own top finance people; shifts in companies’ strategic directions; and, yes, the economic conditions. “We like to meet all kinds of new people,” he says.

How much of a factor is the length of my unemployment?

The longer you spend in transition, the worse off you are, says Eldridge. Resist the urge to take a long vacation. “You need to get going the next day,” he stresses. “I know it’s difficult, but creating your own marketing plan and getting into the market is first and foremost.” You can always negotiate a start date after you have secured an opportunity.

If I am laid off, what should I do when I’m still at my old job?

Hold your head high, comport yourself as a professional, and finish out the job. People who do that will always get stronger references and be the kind of person that companies will want to associate with, Boyle says.

How important are references?

Very important, and increasingly so. The days of providing three references are over. Recruiters will call at least six, and the hiring company may go further still. Eldridge tells of one client that makes a note of every name a candidate mentions during the evaluation process, and makes a point to contact each person.

Develop your network of references continuously, even if you think there is no chance you’re going to be out of work. “That’s more important today than it was even a year or two ago,” says Kelly. Written references, though, are considered mostly pointless.


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