Do You Have What A Good Candidate To Be Hired Needs?

Rock stars in our industry and good candidates to be hired have this one thing in common.

As the first month of the year slowly rolls to a conclusion, I think about the people that have already reached out to me this year.  Similar to last year when the calls were coming in on a regular basis, 2021 is demonstrating that it is going to be similar to 2020 for hiring in the area of public finance.  As many of you know there are people already being RIF’s at the same time as firms are definitely building up their employee count.  Who is it that they want to hire?  Of course, the standard answer is the “rock stars” of our industry.  Besides the rock star, who else is a good candidate to be hired?

Qualities The Non-Rockstar, Good Candidates To Be Hired Must Have

Rather than answer who that rock star candidate is, I want to look at the most important requirement of the non-rock star candidate.  This is the good candidate to be hired that hiring managers may overlook because they are not a direct fit.  Candidates that have been in our industry, but in a different role.  Those are the candidates that I politely refer to as “story bond” candidates.  If you have been in our industry for any length of time, this term should resonate with you.  A story bond, for those that are not aware, is a municipal bond that on the face of it does not look like a good investment for your retail or institutional clients.  

However, once the salesperson (better known as the trader or underwriter) shares the background on that particular issuer, they go flying out of inventory.   What makes a good story bond? It is the details behind the deal.  That is what makes a good candidate to be hired; the ones Russel Conwell would refer to as “Diamonds in the Rough”.  The answer is their ability to transfer their current skills with their current database. These are the candidates that a good recruiter can share their impressive background with the hiring manager, even though there might not be a current book of clients.

Good Candidates To Be Hired Have What Matters Most: The Database

The key to that new hire is their database, or if you are old school their rolodex.  Who can they call and get on the phone without seeing today?  Who can they talk to and find out if there is an immediate financing need? Who can they reach out to as a center of influence (which in our case is the non-issuer) that can introduce them to a potential client? In our world that is either a bond counsel or a financial advisor for the public finance bankers.  For the bond counsels, that could be the financial advisor, banker, trustee or other participants in the financing of a project.  It is the database that hiring managers, after cultural fit, need to focus on when deciding if the person sitting (or zooming) in front of them.  Are they a good candidate to be hired? Can they really bring over deals if they are that rock star? If they are that diamond in the rough, can they get on the phone and start to generate future business?

Do You Have What It Takes?

The database is the key.  When a person calls me and wants to transition from a top-notch municipal researcher (as one did the other day), I immediately drill down on the value of their contacts.  Contacts in public finance are crucial. If you can clearly share the value of your contacts, you will definitely have the ability to show that you can be the diamond in the rough. Without them, stay where you are and do not try to transfer to a new position as your highest and best use is where you are now.  However, if you feel that you can get the business to come to you, then you are a good candidate to be hired for a transitional position.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs so you never miss one. 

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.