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I recruit for a big bank in Singapore. Here's how to keep me happy

It’s still the busy(ish) season for hiring in the Singapore banking sector. Finance professionals have their bonuses and some are sending resumes to recruiters.

But if you want to change jobs via a recruiter in a place as small and interconnected as Singapore, you typically need to do more than just email them your CV (however good it is). You need to establish a strong (and possibly long-term) relationship with them.

How do I know this? Well, I’ve been on all three sides of the recruitment process myself: as a candidate (when I worked as a banker); as agency recruiter (I worked for two firms in Singapore); and now as an in-house recruiter at a US bank in Singapore.

Based on this experience, here are six steps to getting on the right side of recruiters.

Get referred

There are now hundreds of banking recruiters in Singapore. This may sound like a good thing, but it’s not – it makes it quite difficult to find the right one. Instead of trawling the internet, try to get a referral from a friend or colleague who has recently changed jobs.

Simply ask them who they eventually used (and/or who impressed them along the way) and ask for an introduction. Things to keep in mind: the recruiter must specialise in your area, have a client list that suits your needs, and have a strong track record of successfully placing people into banks in Singapore.

Choose three or four

Realistically, banking recruiters in Singapore probably place just two or three out of every 10 people they meet. So it’s important for you to have a working relationship with three or even four recruiters. These relationships need to be managed carefully to avoid you applying for the same role via more than one recruiter.

It’s best to be upfront with the consultants you meet and tell them who else you are working with. Ideally, each recruiter compliments the others by having a slightly different client list. There’s no point in registering your interest with three recruiters who all work with the same banks. You may have to speak to quite a few people before settling on your top three – but it will be worth it.

Come prepared

Given the tight market conditions in Asia it’s best to have your affairs in order before you meet with a recruiter. Make sure your resume is up to date and that you have recent salary and bonus details on hand when you first meet, even if you’re not applying for an actual vacancy at that stage. Also, ensure that you are being realistic about your job search before arranging the meeting. One of the best ways to put off a recruiter is by having unrealistic expectations around a salary increase or a guaranteed bonus.

It’s a two-way street

If you want to stand out as someone who your recruiter will want to help, you should think about what else you can offer them apart from simply being able to represent you. Who else could you refer to them (both as a client or candidate)? What market gossip do you have that they would find interesting or helpful (nothing confidential about your employer of course)? This way you will build a two-way relationship that will benefit you both in the long term.

Keep your recruiter informed

Just because you change jobs doesn’t mean that you should lose touch with your recruiter network. For starters, send a thank-you email to your recruiters once you have found a new role. Even before you move, let your recruiters know what stage of interview you are at with other banks to ensure that they keep you on their radar. There’s nothing like the news that you are headed to the final rounds of an interview to speed up the interview process with another bank.


You know the song? Well it applies here. You certainly deserve to be treated with respect by your recruiters and in turn they deserve yours. The relationship should be on a peer-to-peer basis. Return calls and emails from recruiters promptly, particularly if they're about a potential role or further interviews. Your recruiter is much more likely to want to help you if they actually like you. This works both ways of course…

The author has been recruiting for the banking industry in Asia – in both agencies and in-house – for more than 10 years.

Image credit: gawrav, Getty

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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