Sunday, January 29, 2012

Taking Recruiter Calls

As a banker I receive phone calls, emails, and linkedIn requests from recruiters on a fairly regular basis. This activity has picked up in the last year as the economy has improved; apparently banks are hiring again. I find it interesting that most employers seem to be seeking to hire only those who already have jobs at competing firms; it seems that banks at least rarely hire those who are unemployed.

Usually I ignore these solicitations, or if I accidentally answer one I politely let them know I'm not looking at the moment. Of course I always tell them I'm "open" to hearing about other opportunities, but I make it clear that I am happy at my current job.

A few weeks ago I received a phone call which appeared to be an internal one. I recognized the name on caller ID, and the area code was from the city where our corporate headquarters is located. So of course I answered. It turns out that the person calling is no longer with our company; he is now working for a competitor bank, and they are starting up a Private Bank team in my city (they have a commercial bank presence, but not a private bank in my particular city), and he'd love to talk to me about what they are doing. Thrown off guard, I congenially agreed to learn more. He said he'd let me know the next time he was in town and maybe we could meet to discuss.

I told my mentor and colleague about the call, and she urged me to meet with him. She advised me to always keep my ear to the ground about alternate opportunities, and she also pointed out that it's good to know what the competition is up to regardless of whether you're actually interested in a new job.

So when he called me again a week or so later and asked if I could meet on a Wednesday, I said I was free that whole day (assuming he'd want to do either a breakfast, lunch or happy hour). "Great," he responded. "Why don't you plan to be at our main office from 8am until noon."

So basically I stumbled into a full on first round of interviews. I went, and I was introduced to the CEO, several other executives, the chief credit officer, and a few others I can't recall. I was confident and guarded and open because I wasn't really looking for a job. For future reference this is the best frame of mind in which to interview for a new job.

I liked what I heard, but I still held the recruiter at arms length. However I wasn't leading them on; part of me would relish a new challenge, but the new job would in fact be a challenge. I'd be starting a private bank team, creating a new portfolio from scratch, getting to know a whole new corporate culture and working to impress a whole new group of colleagues. As a comparison, at my current job I have more clients than I know what to do with, a team and extended team who love me, and the security of having been at the company for nearly 6 years - longer than any of my team members including my boss and my boss' boss. Plus I've been basically promised a promotion and raise at my next review.

In the back of my mind I'll admit that I was hoping to simply get an offer from this new firm to use as a negotiating tool with my boss as he is trying to decide what kind of raise to give me in a few months at my annual review. But things got a LOT more interesting than that.

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