It is a sign of the times as recruiters are losing ground to the Internet. Having a large, active network via LinkedIn turned out to be quite valuable, but still there is something missing.
Back in the 80's and 90's, if you wanted a Wall St job, you went to a headhunter. If you had experience, you called other people in the business and networked your way to a new job.
Following the old model. I reached out to recruiters. I even met with a few. The first question is "do you have clients?" if Yes, then next question is "can they travel with you?".
If you have large institutional clients, it doesn't matter how well you know them, if the company recruiting you doesn't meet their "preferred broker" standard, you aren't getting paid.
This is the dawn of the middle-management auditor. This goes back to the late 1990's and the DOJ monitoring broker-dealers. Both buy-side and sell-side firms began to promote people from risk and auditing departments. These guys (not having any trading or customer service experience whatsoever) decided that a system of broker selection would be necessary to prove to regulators, shareholders and auditors that they were using the utmost care in selecting a broker that would achieve the nirvana of "best execution".
It has also lead to the rapid erosion of profit margins on the institutional brokerage side of the business.
When commissions were 1/16, there was enough to go around. Commissions now are reduced to as low as $0.002 per-share and most of that is subject to soft dollars.
So - recruiters and heads of sales continue the charade that Institutional Business will travel regardless of RFI and margin. That's the sell-side.
The buy-side trader has more cards stacked against them as many buy-side firms are turning towards self-execution. Man being replaced by machine in many aspects. Even the execution process is almost 100% algorithm and automated.
Fixed-Income - Emerging Market and Frontier Markets require a middle-man to an extent. Eventually that market will go full-automated too. There are still "broker's brokers" in the fixed income market (these are broker-dealers that make a gross-credit between dealers and or clients). If the Manning Rule was applied to all markets, there would be a lot of unemployed bond-traders out there.
The one aspect of the Wall Street that is rapidly expanding is Compliance and Control. There aren't enough qualified people to meet the current demand. I threw my hat in the ring since I have the licenses, and more than 5-years experience with supervisory / regulatory review.
I went into recruiting offices with this knowledge in mind. I was told by more than one recruiter that I didn't meet their minimum requirement. I actually asked a recruiter if she read my resume. She got insulted, but I went over my resume with her line-by-line and explained to her why I had more than the requisite experience. She insisted that I required another (lesser) license and that would satisfy the client. I explained to her that I was over-qualified based on my CV, and she was essentially mis-representing the client. Needless to say, I have yet to get a lead from any of the 6 recruiters I spoke with...
One recruiter was honest: Sh explained that the client wants to see a "magic number" of applicants (lets say 25) before they pull the ad or start the interviews. Thats why you see ads on LinkedIn or other sites where the posting remains, over 50 people applied, but the job does not exist. It was either filled or it is a method of sampling the talent pool in a given metro-area.
Do it yourself recruiting:
I answered a few internet adverts for Principal positions and had some good luck - If you told me 15 years ago to swap trading for compliance I would have balked.
My resume shows a solid career as a sell-side trader. I was called into a few interviews and the first question was usually about why I wasn't seeking a trading position.
Getting the interview was not as difficult as I expected (having licenses and a clean U4 helps!). I had an interviewer tell me "I will be your supervisor, but my career doesn't hold a candle to yours."... I was flattered. In other words: the interviewers all agreed that I was over-qualified!
I told them about the outside recruiters and they got a good laugh.
Internal Recruiters are hit or miss:
In an effort to validate Human Resources, many companies have expanded their in-house recruiting.
HR is almost as big as Compliance on Wall Street.
I applied directly to a few corporate websites: again, better than using third-party recruiters.
Most Wall Street Internal-Recruitment is reduced to a cookie-cutter process. Very few resumes make it past the process to the desired eyes. Go to any career page for a large bank an commence the process. It doesn't matter who you know at this point, but you must hit the right buttons on the recruitment algorithm. Most internal recruiters began their career as external recruiters (third-party). They are all fairly young and approach the internal job the same way they did on the outside: "let the algorithm do the work!"
Following up on an application, I decided to contact HR at a big bank. I was given to a 26-year-old girl for support. She claimed to have reviewed my CV and told me I was under-qualified.
I was floored. Undaunted, I re-drafted my resume to hit the "buttons" and re-submitted by creating a new profile with new email address.
Almost immediately I get a phone-call from an internal recruiter saying I am the guy they are looking for! Needless to say, I think I have this system licked.