Now is not the time for a career change in financial services: employers are demanding an exact match to the job description and are rejecting candidates who can't hit the ground running.
This is a common sentiment among Australia’s financial services recruiters and was highlighted by the Ambition Market Trends & Salaries Report released this week.
With tight hiring budgets and a large talent pool to draw from, HR managers are increasingly only accepting candidates who tick all the requisite boxes.
The briefs that employers give recruiters are becoming more explicit. “The expectation of candidate calibre is through the roof,” says Grant Movsowitz, director, T+O+M. “Banks are a lot less flexible, and in order to justify an external hire, candidates need to be demonstrably stronger than internal candidates and offer a unique skill set that does not already exist.”
Most employers need a lot of convincing before they will even consider candidates without an exact skills match. Many are risk averse and reluctant to take a chance on someone looking for a career change. Tim Carroll, director, 325 Consulting, says this makes it difficult to manage the expectations of candidates who want to change sectors or job functions. “It is a buyer’s market, and a very hard time to reinvent yourself,” he adds.
The Ambition Report states that the emphasis on finding perfect candidates reduces the chances of new recruits not adapting quickly to the job. However, “it is a conservative approach and the risk is that it often also precludes employees with different skills and approaches that may be preferable”.
But even if you are lucky enough to make it through to the first round, there are still hurdles ahead.
At a recent eFinancialCareers roundtable in Sydney, several HR professionals expressed frustration with internal delays in the recruitment process. “There is more scrutiny from head office and we are being asked to justify each hire at the final approval stage,” said one attendee from a global investment bank. “It can take weeks to receive final sign-off from the top level overseas, causing frustration for all involved, including recruiters and, ultimately, the candidate.”
The Ambition report found that: “This lack of decisiveness then spreads to employees who interpret a ponderous hiring process as a lack of intent. This creates a challenge in keeping employees engaged in the process and receptive to a move”
Carroll agrees: “Unfortunately if the hiring process loses momentum then there is also a danger of losing the candidate.”