If it is on your radar to be moving jobs, whether it be for a similar role within a different company, or a change of career altogether, the chances are you will be working with a recruiter.

There are 2 main channels in which your professional relationship with a recruiter will likely begin. That is to put the feelers out that you are looking for a new role and to ensure you are on their books, and applying or reaching out to them about a specific job they are advertising.

Reaching out to partner with a recruiter directly

When reaching out to a recruiter not relating to a specific role, first and foremost you must ensure they have your CV. It will give them chance to have an overview of your current and previous roles and experience which in turn will give them the tools to best help you.

Whilst you may have an understanding of what market the recruiter is working with based on the jobs they are advertising, make sure you seek confirmation about the type of market and clients they work with, and the kind of roles they take on, to be absolutely certain they are the best agency to help you align with your goals and help with your search. It would be a waste of precious time to converse with an agency that specialises in Operations when you are looking for a Front Office role as example.

It is important to make sure you are as transparent and open as possible with them regarding what you are looking for. Explain the types of roles, companies, whether you are wanting permanent or temporary opportunities, and which direction you are trying to take your career. Being as specific as you can be is the key to help a recruiter decide who are the best companies to reach out to on your behalf.

Whilst it is important to discuss what you are looking for, it is equally important to be open about why you are wanting to leave your existing role (if this is relevant). This will naturally give a clearer picture about what you are NOT looking for in your next role. And of course, make sure you know your notice period with them, and how soon you can start your next assignment.

Make sure to be honest and open with the recruiter about your current remuneration, bonus and benefits. Remember, they are there to help you achieve your financial goals and exaggerating your current salary (as example) won’t necessarily mean a higher offer for your next role, especially as any future employers will see your P60 and will observe if you haven’t been entirely honest!

When it comes to applying for roles, a good recruiter will always seek permission from you before sending a CV so you know what companies are in receipt of your information. Equally, it is important to keep the recruiter updated on your own search, who you have reached out to and roles you have applied for, to make sure there are no duplications.

Before getting knee deep in job hunting, be absolutely certain that a move to a different company is what you are looking for. Candidates often overlook speaking with their current employer to see if there are any changes they could make to their existing role, that would be in line with what they are potentially looking for in their next role and that’s aligned with their future career goals. If your current employer could make these changes (as example) would you consider staying put?

Lastly, ensure they have all your correct contact details and understand how you want them to communicate with you – sometimes the processes can be time critical so communication is key!

Applying for a specifically advertised role

When it comes to applying for specific advertised roles, the first port of call will almost always be ensuring they have your CV, however, it is important to only send your CV for roles that you are suitable for. By applying for roles that you don’t meet the criteria for you could end up being overlooked and missing out on an opportunity that is potentially much more suitable for you. Whilst it is your choice, it is not recommended you apply for the same roles with multiple agencies and well worth noting that in most cases you only get one chance to send your CV to a company – so make sure it is for the right role!

Ask the recruiter to go through with you details about the company, including their culture, policies such as flexible working, what they know about the team, and more specifically the hiring manager and their work style. They might even be able to talk through the candidates they have hired through their services historically. A lot of recruiters offer tenured relationships with their clients, so use this time to really understand how they can best help you through an interview process with the client.

Make sure you have spoken with the recruiter so they understand your strengths and skillset, why you are relevant and suitable for the role and company so they know how to sell you! It is equally as important that they understand what are developmental areas for you within the opportunity – most companies hire people who meet 70-80% of the criteria they are looking for!

It is important that before sending your CV the recruiter shares the relevant job specification and any hints or tips on what they may be looking for so you can tweak or amend your CV accordingly. Once your CV has been sent ensure you have written confirmation from them.

Once you have secured an interview ask your recruiter to share what questions may be asked during the interview process to help you be as prepared as possible. Do not be afraid to ask them for a phone or video call before hand to run through this with you, or even ask for some example interview style questions. Also request a copy of the CV they have sent to the client.

As mentioned previously, make sure you always have realistic financial an benefit expectations that are relevant to your experience and what you are able to offer a company. Do not outprice or undersell yourself! And remember, clients will always see your P60 or P45 if you’re successful so always be honest about remuneration!

If at any point during the process you decide not to proceed and take it any further it is important to explain these reasons to the recruiter so they can understand why for next time they work with you.

Finally, it is always best to be open with recruiters about other roles you are looking at, clients often wish to know what they are competing with to make sure they are giving you the best possible offer and opportunity. It also helps the recruiter gauge genuine interest and helps them help you consider all possible options for the best outcome for you and your career.

We welcome the opportunity to talk to all potential client’s and candidate’s surrounding their needs. On our website you can find dedicated sections on how best to partner with us or other recruiters. You can also see all of our vacancies, some further guidance, intelligence, and advice in our resources section. We are always willing to help with tailoring your CV, preparing for interview or discussing new vacancies.

CassonX are a specialist operations and middle office recruitment firm based in London. We are a boutique specialist agency, privately owned, giving you friendly and bespoke advice and support for all your staffing and recruitment needs. You can always contact one of our friendly, experienced, and talented recruiters directly via the website or on +44(0)2030565545.

As our leader James Manders celebrates 20 years as a specialist recruiter in the Financial Services sector, he was asked to share his thoughts and guidance in a series of interviews with the wonderful team at eFinancial careers, as part of their Talent Conversation series.

It goes without saying that James has seen a lot in the last 20 years, and he is immensely proud to be a trusted partner with many candidates, clients, service providers, and vendors, and loves talking about his market knowledge and experiences throughout his tenure.

Should you wish to review these talent conversations, then please see below links:

Mastering salary negotiations in 2024: https://vimeo.com/917965752

Navigating the impact of hybrid working: https://vimeo.com/917965537

The early careers dilemma; challenges & solutions in today’s job market: https://vimeo.com/917965456

Exploring in-house vs. recruiter hiring teams: https://vimeo.com/917965291



Please do take the time to review our other blogs, market intelligence, advice, and all things recruitment in the Resources section of our website

There is no definitive template on how the perfect CV should look. What suits one role, company, hiring manager, or industry, will probably be completely different to another. It really is different strokes for different folks, but consider everyone does want you to be as accurate as possible. However, there are general rules of guidance that can be followed to ensure you’re given yourself the best chance of getting maximum interest from your resume.

We must understand what is the purpose of a CV? It is your first impression. Maybe even your “elevator pitch”. It is the chance to showcase to the employer that they should meet you to discuss the role in question.

Your CV should include a comprehensive summary of your experience, industry knowledge and relevant background. It should show someone, with no prior introduction to you, what you have been doing with your career to date, and the suitable skills and knowledge you have gained along the way. Where you are looking to apply for a role of interest, and demonstrable to your experience and desires, it’s a chance to sell yourself as the best possible candidate for the position. Again, it is your first impression.

The trick is knowing your audience and getting the correct level of detail down. There’s a fine line between exaggerated detail and unnecessary waffle when writing a CV. Getting the balance right is crucial, use an available job specification to your advantage, making sure your CV could mirror the spec’s requirements and responsibilities. Your focus should always be in your daily tasks from your current and previous roles, this is where you’re showcasing your suitability for a position. Clearly define the coverage of your role, breaking the processes down to emphasize the scope of tasks performed, but be careful not to over-dwell on the points. Your CV needs to look clean and clutter-free, and without using first- or third-person perspective. Bullet points are the easiest way to achieve this, it individually highlights tasks you have performed, not forgetting it is easy on the eye. Long paragraphs will likely give the opposite effect. As example:

In our specialist recruitment world of Operations and Middle Office, asset classes are becoming an essential requirement and a must for any CV. These should be prominently seen in each role, as close to the top as possible. Letting these get lost in daily tasks is risking them being missed altogether, in a product focused space, that’s key detail which could be costly if left out. Also showcasing different types of trading strategies (e.g., high frequency, algorithmic, new issuance) or fund strategies (e.g., high yield, emerging markets, credit, long/short, arbitrage) are essential too. This gives a wider understanding of the type of businesses you have supported.

Should you be able to offer leadership experience of people, processes, controls, or change, then certainly do highlight. Demonstrate if you are “hands on” manager, strategic dictator, or a combination of both. Indicate how large your teams are in terms of staff numbers. If you are a departmental head, then indicate which departments you are responsible for, and how many managers directly report into you, and number of subordinates.

Include achievements and any kind of processes improvements or project work; CassonX believe these are great ways of adding extra kudos to your experience, but shouldn’t be the focal point of your CV. It’s deemed noticeable “value add” if you can further back these up with tangible examples of the impact this has made to the team or department. This can be in the form of cost savings, automations / STP improvements, hours of work reduced, directly supporting regulation changes etc. The extra context is the difference in adding weight to the information.

Hiring managers want to see the systems you have used, but these don’t necessarily have to be added for every role, but a summary towards the end of your resume showcasing all systems used is always advised. However, if you are technically very savvy with programming languages (VBA, SQL, Python alike), then adding how you have used these under each role is encouraged. We are living in a world where many Operations or Middle Office hires requires candidates who offer those capabilities and is hugely sort after skill set in today’s market. The more you can mention this, the better your CV will look.

Education should always be included, both via schooling and professionally, although arguably it doesn’t carry the weight it previously has. This doesn’t need to be much more than place of education, courses and grades achieved. On rare occasions will you be asked for more detail than this, noticeably when applying for work in companies that as example require Russell Group education. The same can be said for professional industry qualifications, they are unlikely to be the reason you are hired for a role in Operations or Middle Office functions, but you have worked hard for them, then they should be included on your CV. Consider accountancy or regulatory qualifications as example.  

A summary at the start of any CV is always nice, but most companies and their managers reviewing the CVs tend skip over it most times and go straight to your relevant experience. However, the summary section is a perfect opportunity to detail information such as key skills and personality traits, which are nice to see, but are unlikely to get you an interview. Be careful dedicating too much time to the detail, if you are going to do so then make sure you use competencies, adjectives or character traits that can be found in the company’s values statement on their website, or even taken from the job spec provided.

A big question often asked is how long a CV needs to be. Whilst no one wants to read a 6-page resume, keeping it to just 2 pages at the detriment of valuable relevant expertise is counter-productive. Keep as much detail as possible in your most recent 2 or 3 roles (or previous 8 years’ experience), as this will be most recently relevant to the role you’re applying for. Make sure company names, dates and job titles are clear, with your most recent role first and in reverse chronological order. Give reasoning for any gaps that appear in the flow of dates on your CV, aiming for 2 pages with a maximum of 4 (unless necessary). You can see another blog we wrote about the length of your CV in the resources section of our website https://cassonx.com/resources/

At CassonX we firmly believe in leaving nothing to assumption, thinking a hiring manager will know the wider tasks you’re performing based on your job title could be the reason you’re not called to interview. You can always reduce the content for specific roles if the detail isn’t needed at that time. Constructing a good CV doesn’t need to be difficult, it’s a chance to flex your muscles and show your experience as much as possible. One size doesn’t fit all, so be prepared to adapt, and adjust your CV for each individual role you are applying for. If working with a recruiter, then seek their guidance on how best to propose a tailored CV for the role, in accordance with the guidance they have received from the hiring manager. You’re looking for maximum impact to stand out in a competitive market.

Our final thought, and the most important advice that CassonX has to offer, is to make sure that you send a CV that clearly demonstrates that you are suitably experienced to be considered for the role. This is essential in giving you a chance to meet the hiring manager accordingly.

Should you require free consultative advice on how to construct your CV for any specific role you are applying for, then please do reach out to our friendly team here at CassonX.

We are approaching that time of year, where the Financial Services recruitment market springs into life. Largely because it is bonus season for many institutions, and that starts the merry-go-round of individuals who have waited for their financial reward to hit their bank account, before handing in their notice.

Here at CassonX, we are proud to say that the start to 2024 has seen substantial job flow, in hindsight where clients are preparing for the above-mentioned eventuality. However, many candidates do not know how to proactively plan and execute a thorough search to make sure they are obtaining the most suitable opportunity available.

First, should you have a “significant other” in your life, take the time to discuss this with them, and understand why it is you are looking to move roles. Decipher what it is that you are lacking in your current opportunity, and how a new role can satisfy anything absent. The most common drivers for wanting a new opportunity are the role itself, a lack of learning, your leader, team / culture, the company, or even renumeration.

Then take the time to make sure that your CV is ready. Even if it is a starting point, having this ready will get you thinking about what it is that you know, capable of, and being able to explain how you go about your day-to-day responsibilities. Remember to include your contact details, typically a mobile number and personal email address.

Also, make sure your Linked In profile is up to date. You can even adjust settings to say you are “actively looking for work” but, be warned(!), this will announce your status to all your network and connections. Regardless, many institutions now have sophisticated internal hiring teams that not only advertise roles on Linked In, but also do searches for relevant profiles, and with an updated Linked In profile you are then more readily identifiable.

Take the time to research and contact relevant staffing firms and create a partnership with recruiters who specialise in your area of expertise. As example, there are a handful of Operations recruiters in the market, but most specialise in an industry or specific role. Here at CassonX, we are London’s Only Specialist Operations and Middle Office recruitment firm, and if you are an Operations or Middle Office specialist then we would love to hear from you so we can help identify a relevant opportunity across the whole spectrum of industries and sectors that our market has to offer.  

There are many portals and career websites, like efinancialcareers as example, where we recommend you create a profile, search opportunities, and even be added to their databased for recruiters and organisations to find you. It is also recommended that you do the same for specific companies that you want to work for. Nearly every company has a careers section on their website, or an ability to share your CV and cover letter at least. You can showcase your interest directly with that organisation, and sometimes set up relevant passive notifications of opportunities that may arise. This is a CassonX Top Tip because in fact it eliminates any agency spend for the firm but offers a huge advantage as it flatters said company with your direct interest.

Don’t forget to talk to current and previous colleagues for any hints, tips, and recommendations for your search, but to also see if they can help identify any institutions or opportunities that could be deemed appropriate. Even in the firm they are currently working for as example.

Most importantly, keep a log of all your searches. Make a note of the firms you have contacted directly and introduced to by friends or recruiters too. Keep a progress report of all potential opportunities so you can timely and respectfully follow up, but also to make sure that you are not duplicating any applications also. There is nothing worse than a company or hiring manager receiving your CV multiple times. In fact, this could look rather detrimental – so make sure your CV is submitted to a role you are genuinely interested in, and that is also suitable to your skillset, because with some organisations you could only get one chance to be considered with them within a specific timeframe.

For a tailored search, please do reach out to our talented, enthusiastic, and experienced team of Operations and Middle Office recruiters.

You can find more details of some of our open vacancies, who CassonX are, and ability to contact us on our website.

Last year witnessed a significant surge in hiring across our specialised recruitment market. In 2023, attrition rates slowed, companies were focused on retention of important team members, acknowledging the challenges of attracting talented individuals who can handle the demands of an Operations role within Capital Markets. It was a busy start to the year for Senior level hires, Q1 and Q2 is where the higher volume of roles at Director level (and above) came to market, ‘BAU’ hires have been more active throughout the year. There has been a focus from hiring managers on finding product specialists, largely with a view of automation in mind, this has driven the need for specialist recruiters to step-in as LinkedIn/direct advertisements are often failing to return suitable profiles.

Candidates with under 3 years’ experience are still the most requested profiles. A desire to attract talent with Excel VBA or Python skills is becoming increasingly popular, making this hire incredibly difficult, with demand showing a noticeable increase in salaries and total remuneration. I believe this has resulted in making this end of the market lack value, as demand is outstripping the supply. We still have to remind many firms that few graduate schemes were run in 2020 and 2021, which has impacted the candidate market at this level. The rising cost of living has also nudged potential candidates, across all degrees of competence, toward seeking new roles with better packages.

Salaries have seen an increase across all areas, albeit the difference wasn’t as significant as that seen through 2022. The most noticeable area of change this year has been within Controls and Transaction Reporting, where there has been high demand for candidates with broad regulatory scope, strong reporting coverage and an ability to mitigate potential risk within a standard BAU role. We have placed candidates with 2-3 years’ experience on salaries in the £70,000 – £80,000 with many not entertaining a conversation regarding a potential move without seeing a minimum of £10,000 salary increase. The contract market has been busier for FTC (vs PAYE), although many companies have struggled to find candidates quickly, this is often as the salary is reflective to match a permanent member of staff, and not incorporating the added risk of the incumbent taking on a contract position.

It is worth noting that working conditions are changing. We are seeing many companies now moving from a 3&2 hybrid working model, and now implementing at least a 4&1 or more noticeably a 5-day onsite working environment again. We get many candidates on a weekly basis, who have become accustomed to the hybrid model, now approaching us for a new role as their companies are enforcing a non-hybrid model. Largely because it is realised that employees do a lot of non-work-related things during the working hours and consequently distracts from hitting targets and cut-offs as example.

More companies are also holding face-to-face interviews instead of video, and this is why some recruitment processes have slowed to accommodate suitable interview times outside of standard working hours. Many companies are now enforcing a 3-month notice period across Operations staff.

We are delighted to let you know that CassonX has produced its annual salary and total compensation survey for the Capital Markets sector and separates the detail via role type and experience levels. Should you wish to see a copy then please go to our contact page, click on client@cassonx.com, select salary benchmarking and fill in your details accordingly. We will be happy to send you a copy via email, or even catch up over a coffee or lunch to discuss further.

Last year we declared that there were astronomic levels of hiring across our specialist recruitment market, and certainly considering the market resurgences and volatility following the COVID-19 pandemic. 2023 has not slowed, yet the industry now appreciates that the ability to attract talented individuals who can cope with the demands of working in an Operations type role in a hedge fund is challenging. Especially when considering that their is a lack of suitable candidates available following the aggressive hiring that has taken place in 2021 and 2022. What is clear is that whilst this all understood, expectations of hiring managers have also risen too, and where many have tried to hire directly, they have returned to using the services of us skilled recruiters because as example, Linked In is just not returning suitable profiles and causing a lot of administration of unsuitable applicants.

The buyside is still competing for the best talent, with strong education and Excel VBA or Python skills still top of the agenda. We still have to remind many firms that no graduate schemes were run in 2020 and 2021, making the identification of a candidate with 2-3 years’ experience almost an impossible task, and when identified, many have already found new careers. With the consequential increase in demand for candidates with under 2 years’ experience, it is obvious that those salaries and total remunerations have increased, not also forgetting that cost of living has influenced potential candidates to look for a new role so they can earn more to pay for their increased bills, and making the very junior market lack value because demand is outstripping the supply. More details of these experiences can be found by reading this short blog: https://cassonx.com/the-difficulties-with-hiring-a-less-experienced-operations-or-middle-office-candidate-in-the-current-market/

It is also worth notice that working conditions are changing. We are seeing many companies now moving from a 3&2 hybrid working model, and now implementing at least a 4&1 or more noticeably a 5-day onsite working environment again. We get many candidates on a weekly basis, who have become accustomed to the hybrid model, now approaching us for a new role as their companies are enforcing a non-hybrid model. Largely because it is realised that employees do a lot of non-work-related things during the working hours and consequently distracts from hitting targets and cut-offs as example. Not forgetting the reduction of camaraderie in the workplace too.

More companies are also holding face-to-face interviews instead of video, and this is why some recruitment processes have slowed to accommodate suitable interview times outside of standard working hours. Can you also believe that whilst three months’ notice periods are deemed “normal”, some hedge funds are now enforcing six months’ notice period to their Operations staff! Thankfully, we are seeing more hedge funds now starting to give opportunities to those coming from Investment Banks again, especially those who have worked in technical Prime Brokerage type role.

We are delighted to let you know that CassonX has produced its annual salary and total compensation survey for the Hedge Fund sector and separates the detail via company size and type of role too. Should you wish to see a copy then please go to our contact page, click on client@cassonx.com, select salary benchmarking and fill in your details accordingly. We will be happy to send you a copy via email, or even catch up over a coffee or lunch to discuss further.

If I had a pound for every time in my tenured recruitment career, that I have heard the words, “I have to fit my C.V. onto one page” muttered, then I would be a very rich man. However, I struggle to understand why this is acceptable and become the norm. If you need to use two or three pages to make sure you display all of the salient information you should feel relaxed in doing so.

It is like posting a picture on a social media or dating site – you don’t choose the worst picture of yourself! Sending your CV for a role is very similar. The C.V. has the sole purpose of convincing the hiring manager/HR that you should be called for interview. You should therefore send the C.V. which provides the decision maker with the tools and information to decide that you are one of the people they should interview

We live in a recruitment world where too many decisions on candidates are made from a two dimensional piece of paper – aka your C.V. So why would you want to omit key facts that will help you convince for an interview, Surely not because you are worried you might be a few sentences too long?

Here is the fact – There is no rule that says your C.V. should only be one page long! In fact when asking most hiring managers one of their biggest frustrations is receiving too many non-relevant C.V.’s. However when probed further, it often transpires that actually it’s not necessarily that the people aren’t relevant, it’s just the hiring manager hasn’t been able to ascertain whether the person’s experience is relevant for their hiring needs.

A similar thought processes can be applied to when you are applying to an advert. Why use your generic CV to just be quick? On average over 80 candidates apply on-line for each job in the Operations and Middle Office sector. So you need to make sure your C.V. is as relevant as possible in order to draw the attention of the recruiter, how else will a recruiter know you are applicable if it doesn’t say somewhere it on your C.V.?

Returning to the dating site analogy; when you are just about to message that person, you would look at their profile and structure a message that will be relevant to their interests. Applying for a job should hold similar comparisons – take a little longer to read the spec and send a CV that includes the requirements of the role. As clients look to hire experienced hires through recruiters – that’s what they pay us for- If you apply for a role and you don’t have the relevant experience disclosed, you will not be considered further.

On the flip side, your CV should not be the length of War and Peace. You only really need to detail the last five to ten years of your experience, because this should be the part that is relevant for the role you are applying for. You don’t need to add multiple points to a role much past the ten year mark, because this forms less relevance in your application, keep those roles to just a couple of points will do.  

So, how long should a C.V. be? Long enough to ensure you have all relevant experience to get an interview and don’t make it so short you miss valuable information. However there is a rule of diminishing returns, and as you get onto that third and certainly the fourth page if you were to find yourself there, you should be asking the question, is this next point adding to my application?

There are three main qualities you need to have to succeed in a job in the City: a corporate mentality, determination and a strong work ethic.

Having a corporate mentality is very important if you want to succeed in this environment. Many people come to work in the City because they want to earn significantly more money, but you have to appreciate that you are working for a conglomerate and that, fundamentally, thriving in that environment takes the right kind of individual coupled with the right attitude.

The City is renowned for hiring the crème de la crème of the market – and indeed that’s the way it should be. To get there, having the determination to succeed should go hand in hand with also having the right work ethic.

To be better than everyone else in the City, you have to be relentless.

You have to try your best and make sure that you surround yourself with good people. You are only as good as the people around you, and having a good boss who you believe in is crucial. 

The most important lesson I have learnt over the years is: look after yourself.

To do this, work with a manager who will give you clear and measurable goals that are in line with your expectations.

The best piece of advice I could offer to anyone who wants to work in the City is: don’t try and run before you can walk.

It is highly unlikely that you will land your dream role straight away, so the first job that you have in the City is not the job you’re going to be doing forever. Whilst many people want to land the perfect role immediately, sometimes to achieve your goals you have to do things you don’t really want to do to get there, especially when you’re starting out.

When trying to get a job in the City, it’s really important to ensure that you can clearly communicate why you should be hired above other people.  

Competition is fierce. What are your unique selling points? What it is that makes you stand out when hiring managers are looking through countless CVs? 

Fundamentally, the City is a great place to work, and the financial rewards can be great. 

People who work in the City are paid, on average, 40% more than someone doing a similar role outside of London. However, in order to get here, you need to be at the top of your game. The things that will make you stand out are your personal traits and your ability to you fit into a firm’s culture. So if you want to get a job in the City, don’t be disheartened if you do really well in the interview, but then get feedback that says they don’t think you’ll fit into the team. You have to trust that those managers are making their decisions based on the current make up of their environment. Keep going at it, don’t give up, and do things that other people are not doing. David Beckham didn’t become the best free kick taker by just training with his team mates and kicking a ball all day – it was because he used to do all that work and then stay behind after training every single day to practice 100 free kicks. You need to be doing that.