The global financial crisis has affected nearly every industry, but few areas have been hit as hard as the banking and financial sectors. Surviving can be tough and it’s hard not to get discouraged. But take heart – all is not lost, and often what is required is a change in focus and attitude. Jane McNeill, a senior Regional Director for specialist recruiter Hays Banking, offers the following advice on how to adopt a strategic approach to advancing your financial career during these challenging times.
Now more than ever, your choices should be directed towards establishing long-term job security and career stability, rather than short-term fixes.
The more value you can bring to your employer, the better. People with strong business development skills, as well as relevant banking experience, are in high demand – especially those with a strong sales focus and the ability to develop a healthy portfolio.
In today’s market, it is those with the most diversified skills who will thrive. For example, a relationship manager who also has strong credit experience will have more opportunities in credit- and risk-related roles than in mainstream relationship management. Or someone with both mortgage- and business-lending skills will have more options than someone with experience in only one of those areas.
With hiring freezes being implemented in many financial services organisations, employers are increasingly asking their employees to take on extra responsibilities in the short term. Embracing these different duties with a positive attitude will give you an opportunity to diversify your skills, impress your employer, and help justify your position in the process. You may even find that you enjoy the learning and variety.
With a greater pool of qualified job-seekers on the market, it pays to have a flexible and realistic approach to salary expectations. Those with the greatest skill sets will generally secure the highest salaries, but accepting slightly lower rates may pay off in other ways – such as flexible working hours or career advancement – that are offered in place of salary increases.
As less hiring is taking place these days, there are gaps that need to be filled – often by contractors, and this is a trend that is set to continue. For contractors themselves, advantages include greater variety and depth of experience, and skills development and diversification.
With more candidate choices on offer, employers now have the luxury of taking their time – so don’t be surprised if the recruitment process takes longer than it did in the past.
The glut of eligible candidates also means that employers have the luxury of being more specific in their wishlists. So while it may take a little longer to receive a job offer, it will hopefully result in an offer from a company for which you are the best fit – which means that everyone’s a winner. Getting to that point, however, requires determination and persistence.
Be confident in your abilities and win them over with your positive, can-do attitude.
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