5 Don’ts of Looking for a New Job in Finance

Nobody ever said looking for a job was easy.

And in fact, it can be a minefield for potential disasters: you could take a role you don’t enjoy, your current employer could find out, or you could move to a company that doesn’t turn out to offer you the career path they offered at interview.

The reality is, career moves need careful, and tight, planning right from the start – far more than a cautionary “test the water” approach. What can you do to avoid a disaster? Well, we’d suggest you don’t do the following things, for a start!

#1 Don’t start making applications without a clearly defined strategy

Like anything, preparation is key. Firstly, you need advice from somebody who knows on what your best options are –and if you don’t know this, you’re likely to get frustrated applying for roles that might not be right for you. Additionally, this can lead to a situation where you saturate the market. Unsure of what is the best course of action, over a period of time, if only gradually, you could apply for 10s and 10s of roles. Rather than becoming an in-demand applicant, you risk creating an impression of someone who is actively seeking work, which can devalue your standing, and limit your eventual outcome.

Secondly, you need to keep yourself on course. Once you’ve developed what you consider an achievable strategy, remind yourself of your objective and the list of ‘must haves’ a role should have before sending off your applications. Don’t be tempted to digress until you’ve fully tested your initial approach.

#2 Don’t do it half heartedly, commit.

If you’re unfocused, and only ‘testing the water’, there is a risk you could alienate or deter the very people you might need to provide you with the next opportunity. Aside from recruiters, if you meet with companies regarding roles you are not ‘serious’ about, people may begin to assume you’re not committed, and not take your applications seriously enough. It’s absolutely acceptable to decline a job opportunity for a valid reason, but dipping your toe in the water without considered thought may cause more harm than good to your reputation.

#3 Don’t answer unknown calls at a social event. Make yourself professionally available, all the time.

When you’re in job search mode, you need to be ‘on’ 24/7 – recognising that any point, anyone could call you. Think about it – you’ve applied to numerous recruiters, in-house talent acquisition departments and hiring managers, all of which could be based anywhere around the world. Applied to a US head quartered company? Expect a call in the evening. So don’t pick up a call when you’re out for dinner. Set up a professional voicemail that asks for a return call number and email, and rearrange a time to talk – where you can concentrate, and find a quiet spot.

#4 Don’t mention your plans to anyone in your current workplace

As a finance leader, you’ve worked hard to build a credible reputation that is based on integrity. You may want to be open, either with your boss, or with your co-workers, about your plans, in the interest of fairness, but consider that this can change your position overnight. Not only do you risk the repercussions of a boss who may now question your loyalty, and see you in a different light, but overnight, people you may need to manage and influence may not take you as seriously. Likewise, never tell anyone ‘confidentially’ – remember, however much you might get on, the people you work with all have their own agenda.

#5 Don’t ‘threaten’ to leave or use a new job as a bargaining tool with your current employer

Being offered a pay-rise as a counter offer to a new job opportunity happens quite often. In a similar way, some people use the threat of a new opportunity as a way to ‘bargain’ an improvement in their current position. Even if a new job, or a threat of a new job gets you a short-term outcome, think about how this might change the dynamic of your employment moving forward. You’ll always be, at best, regarded as a potential flight risk, and at worst, moved out of the circle of trust you need to perform your role.

Above all, make sure you consult and plan before embarking on anything that resembles a career move. In the short term, it might cost you time, but in the long term, it will ensure you retain your brand, reputation and standing within the finance community. Not to mention get you better results.

Good luck!

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