30 December 2014
The holidays are a fantastic time to look back on the year, celebrate our accomplishments, and reflect on areas of improvement. However, when the season is through, we’re met with the new year—often abruptly, as it can be easy to forget about the near future amidst the hectic holidays. So, before you let the last few days of 2014 get away from you; take some time to assess your personal brand: how do others perceive your professional image? Are you being effective in your networking attempts, or are there areas for improvement? Especially if you plan on job searching in January, the holidays are the perfect time to assess your personal branding strategies before the January hiring rush begins. Even if you aren’t planning on actively searching, there is always room for improvement—regardless of how diligently you’ve branded yourself this year; after all, you never know when a great opportunity will come your way. The following are a number of goals to tackle over the final days of 2014 that are sure to get your personal brand into gear for the new year: 1) A Redefined Image. Look back on what you have achieved this year. Have your accomplishments lined up with your goals thus far? Whether the answer is yes or no, consider revamping the message of your brand by creating an elevator pitch (or reworking your current one). Having to relay your brand in such a short snippet of time forces you to get down to the bare bones of your image and how you want to be perceived, and can often help you redefine current goals and establish new ones. As an added bonus, you’ll have an updated pitch ready to go for any possible networking opportunities at all those holiday parties. 2) Resolutions for the New Year. Forging new goals is a great way to round off the year and begin anew. With 2015 in mind, take some time this holiday season to establish concrete, measurable goals that will keep you on track for the new year. Ensuring that your goals are detailed (for example, “make X new connections by 2016” rather than “improve my networking tactics”) can help you measure your progress throughout the next 12 months, gauge the effectiveness of your current methods, and create new strategies for success. 3) A New Face on Social Media. The internet is a vast area to cover when attempting to reach potential employers and professional connections of interest. To cast your brand’s web a bit further, try out a new social media platform—maybe one that isn’t as expected in your field (like LinkedIn or Facebook) or that others may not yet have tapped into (such as Instagram or Tumblr). Finding a creative way to build your brand on a platform that isn’t typically utilized in your field can establish you as a creative and adaptable thinker, in addition to creating a whole new source for connections. 4) A Cheerful Message. By sending your contacts a jovial professional message to wish them a happy holiday, you can achieve a number of beneficial perks. Firstly, you’ll be reminding them of you and your brand; in today’s busy times, even the most memorable can go forgotten when out of sight. Second, you’ll be reinforcing your values by spreading the holiday cheer and making an effort to reconnect. Networking is one of the best things you can do for your career, and by doing it well, you can show a lot about yourself as a professional and even garner new opportunities as a result. While it may be the last thing you want to do as we tick down the days to our New Year’s Eve celebrations, taking the extra time to prepare your brand for the year ahead will only improve your chances of success. It’s best to make these changes now, before January, when you’ll have to hit the ground running with whatever your 2015 goals are.
29 December 2014
Since the 2014 fiscal year ended on such a positive note, employers in the Accounting/Finance industry are now bracing for an active new year as the economy continues to strengthen. In fact, at the time this article was written in December 2014, The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the general U.S. unemployment rate of 5.8% was at the lowest it had been since the Great Recession began– something that implies a positive 2015 for accountants. Why? An increasing number of employers have used this positive trend as a reason to reevaluate their attraction and retention strategies in order to secure top talent for their organization. According to results from a recent survey we conducted with our clients for our 2015 Regional Hiring Outlook, one way employers are attracting and retaining talent is through increased compensation. In fact, 80% of respondents from the Accounting/Finance sector stated that they plan on increasing compensation in 2015. “In an attempt to remain competitive in light of the current marketplace where the demand for accounting professionals is greatly outnumbered by the supply of qualified candidates, employers are extending strong offers to top prospective candidates as well as offering their most valued employees nice raises, and in some cases, counter offers to dissuade them from leaving,” explains Samantha Parris, Senior Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “In this sense, it is truly a candidate-driven market where the most skilled accounting professionals can receive multiple offers.” In order to position yourself as one of these top candidates, Samantha recommends emphasizing the technical skills that you have attained from your area of specialization. To demonstrate your ability to make a strong contribution to a prospective employer, Samantha advises accountants to stay up-to-date on industry trends and proactively take the steps necessary to attain any certifications relevant to your specialty. “Certifications – such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) – demonstrate your commitment to the field and that you hold yourself to the highest industry standards, which can mean the difference between you and another candidate who doesn’t have any applicable certifications.” However, though they are certainly important, employers aren’t only looking out for your technical skills. “The technical skills and experience that you list on your resume will get you an interview, but the soft skills that make you a good personality fit for the role and the organization as a whole will get you the job,” says Samantha. As a result, during an interview, it’s important to let the prospective employer see your personality and emphasize how your soft skills (i.e., communications skills, ability to multi-task, organizational skills, etc.) have allowed you to contribute and succeed in past roles. Finally, to negotiate the best offer possible, know your worth. Take the time to educate yourself on the types of compensation packages that accountants with your level of experience and similar skills are making in order to leverage an offer that is comparable with the current strength of the candidate-driven market.
22 December 2014
Experiencing a bit of stress is common for hard-working professionals, regardless of their career path. Anyone who cares about what they do is bound to feel a bit frazzled when things go awry or the workload piles up. However, when stress reaches dangerously high levels or lingers at an uncomfortable level for too long, there can be a number of ramifications—with decreased productivity and physical health at the top of the list. Stress is a vicious cycle that, when left unchecked, can be both the cause and effect of a professional’s declining work performance. It seems that, once it gets started, it’s almost impossible to break its circular motions; you make a mistake at work, which causes stress. The stress then causes you to make further mistakes, which only heighten the stress, and so on. But rest assured, there are ways to break the cycle and discourage it from starting again! Here are seven great ways to minimize your stress levels and get back to your productive, happy self: Cut down on unnecessary decisions. It seems the further we progress in life and work, the more decisions we are met with each day. However, putting too much emphasis on every small choice we make can bring on a wave of stress that’s hard to deter. Instead of focusing on each small decision as a unique obstacle, develop routines that can help you cut down on the number of choices you have to make daily. Taking a half hour on weekends to pack pre-made meals for the week instead of deciding what to bring for lunch during your weekday morning rush, for example, is a great way to take your attention off the small stuff and free up time for the important choices ahead. Keep your eyes on the track, not the finish line. Having a career goal is wonderful and can give us a sense of direction; unfortunately, when that goal seems far away, it can also provide us with a lot of stress. Instead of focusing on a far-off dream, set manageable goals you can address and track on a monthly or weekly basis. The more successes you have in the small goals, the more confident and successful you will feel, which will help you be more productive in your future goals—all of which will eventually add up to that long-term reward. Give thanks. This one may seem like an homage to our recent celebration of Thanksgiving, but it’s important to give thanks year-round rather than one out of the 365 days per year. Many of us often spend our time focusing on the things we want and need to improve on rather than taking the time to appreciate what we have. By acknowledging what you have and what you’ve accomplished on a regular basis, you can chase the worries away with a boost of confidence and a renewed sense of purpose that stress usually serves to diminish. Just say no (when you can). We’re taught from early on to be pleasers: do the extra credit assignment to bump up your grade, take that extra class to include on your resume, put in that overtime to finish a project early. But while going above and beyond is a great way to add to your success, everyone has their limits. If you find yourself getting stressed out, try to say no to any extra favors or requests that you feel comfortable turning down. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re more relaxed and productive as a result. Keep the “balance” in “work-life.” There may be work to do and your schedule may be filling quickly, but always leave time for yourself! If you have to, pencil a specific block of time into your schedule for some R&R and treat it as a non-negotiable activity, like brushing your teeth. You’ll be much more productive when rested and healthy than stressed out and frazzled any day. Avoid perfectionism. “Perfectionism” was once a common answer to the tricky interview question “what is your greatest weakness?”, as it was originally seen as a strength disguised as a weakness. However, perfectionism is actually a problematic flaw you’d do best to avoid, as it often leads to an influx of stress upon even the most minor of accidents or failures. Accept that things will happen and that you’re on a continuous road to improvement, and you’ll be much happier for it. Gauge your stress levels and adjust accordingly. If you’re serious about cutting back a great deal on stress, take a week to track your activities and the stress levels you experience as a result of them. For example, you may feel relaxed when staying up late binge-watching your favorite TV show on Netflix, but how does that affect your stress levels in the morning when you oversleep? Keeping a chart of your major activities throughout the day and a 1-10 rating of the stress levels they produce could help you pinpoint what’s causing you the most stress and what you should potentially minimize or cut out of your day altogether.
19 December 2014
If you are one of the many that made the popular resolution to find a new job in 2015, there’s good news! According to a recent survey we conducted with our clients, hiring is projected to be strong across the board in 2015. For financial services professionals, 2015 job growth looks especially promising, with 89% of clients within the sector reporting that they expect to increase staff headcount over the year. Our study also found that employers plan on hiring staff at a variety of levels, ranging from entry-level to 11-15 years of industry experience. Though the majority of hiring managers are planning on hiring professionals with 3-5 years of experience (68%), there are opportunities for everyone. The key to landing one is learning how to capture the attention of a hiring manager or recruiting professional. To help put you on the path to success, here are the areas that hiring and recruiting professionals look out for when evaluating candidates at different levels of their career: Entry-Level Internships: Since many recent graduates pursuing jobs in the financial services industry leave college with similar degrees, it’s important to do all you can to set yourself apart from your competition. An easy way to do this is to highlight your internship experience and any technical skills you acquired during your tenure there on your resume. Demonstrating that you have real-world corporate experience and possess knowledge of basic excel skills (pivot and v-lookups) can go a long way. Soft skills: Entry-level employees typically require a great deal of initial training, so showing employers and recruiters that you are worth the investment is a key component of getting hired. To do this during the interview, give prospective employers examples that explain that you are a motivated individual who is willing to put in the hard work to learn about the role and company. Mid-Level: Specialized expertise: By this point in your career, you should have begun to fall into your professional niche. As a result, hiring professionals will be looking for mid-level hires who have a specific area(s) of specialization, and can demonstrate any relevant systems knowledge. Strong references: Though references are important to have at any stage of your career, if you’re a mid-level professional looking to take the next step in your career, they become even more critical. In order to hire financial service professionals hoping to acquire more responsibilities and step into a higher level role, prospective employers will need to do their due diligence by performing reference checks. Senior-Level: Leadership: A major component of holding a senior-level position involves not only managing your own projects, but supervising the work of your direct reports as well. Hiring managers and recruiters will evaluate your leadership ability during the hiring process, so make sure your resume includes any leadership experience you may have, and you can talk about how your leadership has helped accomplish impactful or measurable results. Certifications: Acquiring a certification that is relevant to your specialty shows that you are dedicated, hard-working, diligent, and committed to holding yourself to the highest industry standards. These are 3 things that all hiring managers and recruiters look for in candidates – especially in senior-level talent.
18 December 2014
This holiday season, The Execu|Search Group’s Women’s Network partnered with Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center to help provide toys for children in need. The Women’s Network aims not only to ensure that women at all levels of The Execu|Search Group are meeting, supporting and helping one another to move forward in their careers, but to also function as a unified collective that supports related nonprofit organizations together. Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center, a Yonkers-based facility founded to provide specialized medical and rehabilitative services to medically fragile children with complex clinical conditions and disabilities, was an easy pick for this month’s initiative. Participating members of the Women’s Network were each assigned one of Elizabeth Seton’s over 130 children who reside at the Center, with a corresponding wish list of suggested gifts. Some examples of desired gifts included clothing, gift items like DVDs, bedding, hair accessories, and gift cards. Gifts were collected and shipped to the Center on December 18th, and all of the Center’s children received gifts. “The Women’s Network of The Execu|Search Group was happy to give back this year to the children of the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center and to provide gifts to the medically fragile children who reside there,” says Katie Niekrash, one of the Women’s Network’s founders and the organizer of this event. “Elizabeth Seton is both a client of Execu|Search and an organization that we greatly admire. What they are able to do for the children they serve and their families is truly remarkable. We are happy to do our part to make sure all the kids have an enjoyable holiday season!”
16 December 2014
Whether you are a recent grad with a few internships under your belt, or a seasoned professional simply looking to focus on a different area of your career, missing out on an opportunity because an employer deems you as “overqualified” is a problem you might experience at some point. Believe it or not, employers are apprehensive to hire overqualified candidates because they often feel those employees will leave the organization once they find a better (maybe higher paying) opportunity. Since this isn’t always the case, if you’ve ever been rejected for a role because you were overqualified, these tips may help you fine tune your approach to land the next job you’re considered overqualified for. 1. Simplify your resume If you are applying to a position and you have more years of work experience than is required, simplify your resume/cover letter to ensure employers don’t develop preconceptions about your qualifications before meeting you. For example, we recommend using a functional resume format, which highlights the skills you’ve acquired through your career accomplishments. Ultimately, this should help the hiring manager focus on the specialized skillset you possess and how it can help their organization, rather than the number of years you’ve been in your field. 2. Be enthusiastic about the role Hiring managers look out for prospective candidates that are excited about the role(s) they interview for because it shows a genuine interest in the organization. On the other hand, a prospective employer is less likely to hire a candidate who may have a robust professional profile, but shows no enthusiasm about the opportunity during the interview. However, if your interviewer sees that you are enthusiastic about the role throughout the interview, it may help the interviewer realize that you will bring the same passion to the work you produce if you are hired. 3. Speak to the longevity of your career with the prospective employer One reason why employers might choose not to go with an overqualified candidate is because of their concern that the applicant might only take the position temporarily, and move onto a higher paying opportunity as soon as they get the chance. To prevent them from making this assumption, make sure you speak to your desire to share a long-term relationship with the organization. Keep in mind that just because you are overqualified doesn’t mean you should undersell yourself. Instead, let the interviewer know that you have the skills to hit the ground running starting on day one. In the end, try to leave an impression that you’re not just looking for a position to attain a career goal and leave, but you are trying to take your career in a different direction and this opportunity is a great step in the right direction. 4. Be honest One of the easiest ways to set yourself up for failure during any interview is to be dishonest with the hiring manager. Lying may result in the employer finding out that you are being dishonest and could damage your professional reputation in your field. To avoid any misunderstandings, you should be honest with your interviewer about your reasons for pursing the role. For example, if you have been in a managerial role for a number of years and now seek less direct control of business operations in order to focus on a different area of your profession, let your interviewer know. The more open you are throughout the interview process, the easier time the hiring manager will have understanding your interest for taking a role you seem overqualified for.
11 December 2014
While many of us strive for our best in the workplace, the same isn’t always the case for everyone, supervisors and employees alike. In most cases, not meshing with a supervisor is simply a case of different work styles or personalities, but there are some out there that simply don’t foster a healthy and encouraging environment to work in. Here’s how to identify red flags in an interview that could mean you’re better off moving on. Be wary of a potential manager if he/she… Keeps you waiting. We know—accidents happen. Alarm clocks don’t go off, traffic accidents clog highways, important meetings run later than expected. But if a hiring manager shows up late to an interview without notice or even a brief explanation or apology, this could mean a number of things, the foremost being that they don’t respect your time. Other possibilities include a disorganized work style and professional values that may not line up with your own. While a chance lateness to your first interview is by no means reason to toss aside a potential opportunity, it could be a red flag if combined with any of the following signs… Is unprofessional. Like punctuality, professionalism is vital during an interview, and not only on the part of the interviewee. Hiring managers are representations of their company when interviewing potential candidates, so if he or she acts unprofessional or inappropriately during the interview or displays lazy or uninterested body language, these can be red flags not only regarding the supervisor but the company as a whole. Makes the interview feel too “routine.” Of course, there are common interview questions that get asked by nearly every interviewer, such as “where do you see yourself in five years” or “why should I hire you,” but an interviewer should be attempting to challenge and engage with the interviewee in a number of ways. Whether they use traditional tactics or the infamous Google-style questions, they should be invested in your answers and digging further, rather than reading off a script with little interest. Can’t or won’t answer questions about the job. Whether you want to know why the previous employee left or what a typical day in the job is like, it should raise warning signs if the employer doesn’t provide a satisfactory answer. It’s good practice for a candidate to ask questions about the position during or at the conclusion of an interview when prompted, not only to show interest but to discern if they would work well there. This can help eliminate a poor match and the resulting waste of time and money for both parties involved, so if an employer can’t or won’t answer these questions, it should definitely raise a red flag. Doesn’t address vital information. Likewise, if you leave with more questions than you arrived with, you may want to consider why the interviewer failed to discuss key aspects of the position. For example, if there is no talk about who you’d be directly working with—a major aspect of the position that many interviewers should at least discuss, if not display by introducing you to potential teammates—it could be a bad sign regarding that team or the supervisor. These blunders may seem like no-brainers to job seekers who have had good luck with past supervisors or to employers who employ best practices. But these are all real possibilities when interviewing, so be on the lookout and know what they mean!
10 December 2014
On December 9th, Nicole Soler and Adam Bottorff of The Execu|Search Group’s Physician Recruitment division presented to the Family Medicine residency program at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.
10 December 2014
As we pin up our 2015 calendars and move one more year past the economic decline of 2008, compliance efforts in the financial services industry continue to evolve. With these evolutions and new regulations come the inevitable shifts in hiring: firms in the financial services and banking industries are reactively working to reinforce and build out their compliance departments and put more proactive systems in place, and their hiring activity is reflecting that. Since compliance is such a rapidly-changing field, many have been choosing to opt for consulting and contract hires as opposed to long-term placements, especially in regards to high-level positions within Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Client (KYC) compliance efforts. Managers, C-level executives, Project Managers, and Business Analysts are amongst those in highest demand in AML and KYC compliance roles, and many are now being hired on a short-term basis. In fact, two of The Execu|Search Group’s major global financial services clients have indicated that they plan to increase their project-based hires by 50% over Q1 and Q2 of 2015. Our internal stats also point toward an exponential growth in temporary hires in compliance, with a 118.6% increase in job orders quarter over quarter from Q3 to Q4. According to a recent survey conducted by The Execu|Search Group for our annual Regional Hiring Outlook whitepaper, 34% of financial services employers plan to utilize temporary/contract staff, while 32% plan to utilize temporary-to-permanent staff in 2015. One way to obtain one of these positions is through working with a recruiting firm, which candidates typically find more beneficial than working as an independent contractor. “When working through a recruiting firm, job seekers have greater freedom and flexibility in their assignments and can often extend them to work long-term for the company if desired by both parties,” says Erica St. Pierre, Managing Director of Corporate Accounts at The Execu|Search Group. “In addition, recruiters can act on the candidate’s behalf when negotiating pay, and ensure their skills are well-compensated based on market value.” Working on one of these temporary assignments yields a number of benefits, and compensation is first and foremost on the list. “The compliance marketplace is candidate-driven right now and employers know that,” says Alex Wright, Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “Candidates are in demand and many companies are often willing to let their offers reflect that in order to attract top talent for the position, as well as negotiate when necessary.” In addition, these professionals typically enjoy greater scheduling flexibility, allowing them to achieve a better work-life balance—something that’s becoming more and more desired amongst working professionals. Beyond compensation and flexibility, candidates can use these opportunities to build up their resumes, keep their skills fresh, and stay on top of new policies and procedures—all vital necessities to working in the compliance field. In fact, many employers are now looking to fill these positions with candidates coming from varied backgrounds, opening up opportunities to job seekers who have worked on a variety of these permanent and short-term assignments. “Since compliance will continue to evolve in the foreseeable future, these firms need candidates who have remained on top of recent developments,” says Wright. “While longevity with a company is typically a valued trait in a candidate, hiring managers are no longer looking for a compliance professional who has stayed at the same bank for 20 years. They’re looking for someone who is up-to-date on industry changes and can hit the ground running.”