Empathy Infuses Work Culture & The Hiring Process

Capital markets recruiting and others say that empathy and work culture are playing a bigger role in the hiring process.

Empathy is an interesting word. It’s not a word you’d think to use in reference to capital markets recruiting or anything else related to public finance. Should it be though? What exactly does it mean? By definition, it means “to feel what someone else is feeling or concerned about.” I wrote about this subject back in 2017, and I wanted to address it again as it relates to our candidate-driven market that we find ourselves in.  Firms are taking a much stronger look at the fit than they did in 2017. They also want culture to be the dominant reason why someone would join their firm, almost as much as platform. When the culture does not match, candidates are now speaking with their feet to leave their current situations since they know (in the current market) they are in demand.

What Recruiters (Like Those In Capital Markets Recruiting) Have To Say About This New Development

It is happening more and more in both bond counsel and public finance banking.  I do not know why, but it is much more apparent. In my capital markets recruiting experience, it’s not only if you are a likeable person and productive member of an office.  Candidates are currently lining up even for political reasons. When management has a differing political view is even raising heads. This can become evident as to where an employee can donate his time, or a company decides to put their money or effort behind.  Without the empathy between the interests of the employee and the firm, there can be rising dissension among the ranks. It’s something for all to think about and be wary of when you select your next firm.

2017 to Now: What Capital Markets Recruiting & More Have Noticed

Allow me to further explain my comments back from 2017 with an update. Firms and hiring managers are caring as much for their employee’s success as they do for their own continuing bottom line. That sounds good from the outset, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to go to work for a firm that is just as interested in their success as you the candidate is? When a smaller firm adds one person, they could be increasing their head count by at least 20% or more with that one individual. Knowing this from my experience in capital markets recruiting and the like, it’s no wonder why they are more cautious when going through the hiring process. They do not want you to fail, as it reflects more on them sometimes than on you. If a firm does not see that, then that is not a firm you should work for.  I have hiring managers frequently tell me that candidate perceived success is paramount in their hiring decision. If they cannot support a candidate platform, they are not trying to force a hire because the number of employees no longer matter as to the quality of candidates hired.

How Much Thought Went Into This?

For a firm to feel like they are not making a misjudgment in the hiring process, the more you can validate and quantify your projected business, the more comfort the hiring manager will have going to bat for you with their partners, upper management, etc. What I’m seeing as the concern (in my experience with capital markets recruiting and such) is not necessarily the amount of business that you are projecting to bring over, but the thought that has gone into where the business is going to come from including the deal revenue projected from each transaction. 

In addition, now is not the time to be a clandestine individual. What do I mean by this? Do not be afraid to name names, not just Issuer A or Issuer B. Here is the time where you truly show your future employer your complete trust in them. Now is the time to demonstrate through your work product this is the place I really want to be. By being aware of the above, even if the process is slower, you can now empathize with your future employer. What better way to start a new relationship than that?


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out to me for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email me at [email protected].

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. He can be reached on LinkedIn, at [email protected] or 760-477-1284.