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Getting a Job in UK Banking

Aug 18, 2007
Getting a job in banking can be a drawn out process as recruitment cycles often take up to 6 months and the top banks may look at hundreds of candidates for a single post and go through 2 or more interviewing stages often in addition to a competency assessment. If you already work in banking or the finance sector you may be familiar with the recruitment process and if you're looking for a change of career within banking this article will discuss briefly the best approach to successfully finding a new job.

Agency or direct

At the start of your journey to find a perfect banking job you will usually be faced with 2 routes (although you can take both simultaneously). Whether you should use a recruitment agency to source suitable opportunities for you or go direct to financial institutions with your applications.

Using an agency

Agencies are widely used in financial recruitment particularly for skilled banking jobs as the recruitment process is a labour intensive one often comprising of weeks of processing under qualified or inappropriate candidates before arriving at a list of high quality potential employees. The banking sector more than most appreciate the added value of dealing with an agency for some or all of their recruitment rather than managing their own extensive human resources based recruitment programme.

Recruitment agency consultants are driven to match the best candidates to the clients banking jobs, usually more so than the person to whom responsibility falls within the client institution- often the HR department or busy heads of department who may not have the required time to properly process high volumes of applications.

For the candidate, using a recruitment agency can also offer some distinct advantages over applying directly to individual companies in response to banking job vacancy advertisements. An agency will be working closely with the banks with a range of vacancies both current and upcoming available. If an advertised vacancy does not prove to be suitable your recruitment consultant will often be able to recommend an alternative position to apply for.

If you have the skills and experience that an agency is looking for they will actively seek out new opportunities for you as they become available, this can take much of the time consuming work out of applying for a new job in banking as agencies will only put candidates forward for positions they feel they are well suited for and capable of obtaining. Agencies can also deal with the initial contacting of the financial institutions and get interviews arranged on your behalf.

Going direct

Many applicants prefer to go direct to recruiters rather than going through a specialist recruitment agency as this allows them to make direct contact with the companies they are applying for and pick their applications based on job vacancies posted by the banking institutions.

The easiest way to find job vacancies if you want to apply straight to a recruiter are to search job listings on online job boards, newspapers and corporate websites. The downside of applying for jobs this way is the time it can take to find appropriate advertisements, approach the recruiter, submit applications and arrange interviews often based on limited information about the position you are applying for.

Choosing an agency

If you choose to use an agency to find you a new job in banking it is important to approach an agency who understand the unique and often specialist nature of the banking industry and have direct relationships with the banks themselves. Banks will often not deal with recruitment agencies whom they do not have a working relationship with due to their HR procedures. So make sure the agency representing you are talking to the banks or financial institutions directly and are on their preferred suppliers lists.

The main advantage of an agency is having an agent working on your behalf so make sure you get on with your agent and you feel comfortable with them representing you in front of potential employers- if an agent expects you to lie about your skills or experience on a CV its unlikely they're working for your best interests.

Writing a CV

The CV is a critical part of successfully applying for banking jobs as its all an employer has to go on when deciding whether or not to invite you to interview. As the people up against you for banking jobs are going to have often very similar skills and experience due to the nature of the industry your CV has to not only be watertight in terms of the information it gets across but also make you stand out from a crowd of other financial experts. Banking is still a formal institution and you resume should reflect this, but some creativity will help to show your character and the effort you've put into your application- think about ways of presenting your CV with a unique personal touch, if you're photogenic a picture of yourself is often a good start (don't forget to smile!).

Again a recruitment agent should be able to help you get your CV up to a standard where they are confident it will be acceptable by the banks and financial institutions whom will be recruiting. There are lots of template CV's and CV writing advice available online by searching for 'banking job CV'.

The interview

Interview skills are a subject in their own right and beyond the scope of this article. There's a lot of things to remember you should and shouldn't be doing in an interview but most of these are common sense things about the way you want to present yourself. The best advice ultimately is make sure you do yourself justice, listen to the interviewers and think about the sort of things they want to hear from you. They want to find out about your personality and character as much as anything else so show you are a person they'd like to work with.

Again a Google search for 'interview tips' will give you plenty of helpful advice and a recruitment agent will also help to prep you before setting you up with interviews.

Good luck finding your dream job in banking.
About the Author
John McElborough writes for Commercial Finance People, a specialist financial recruitment agency specialising in banking jobs, asset finance jobs and factoring jobs for top financial institutions across the UK and worldwide.
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