Q1 Reflections: Passive Candidates, Timelines & More

What do passive candidates have in their favor that active candidates don't? Find out more.

The following blog will differ from most other formats that you have gotten used to.  With the advent of Chat GPT – I am making this disclaimer: these are the thoughts and words of Harlan Friedman, and they only reflect what I as a Senior Recruiter in the space of public finance have seen over the first ninety-odd days of 2023.  Other respected individuals in this space may see otherwise; however, I wanted to share my personal reflections, not an AI-generated commentary on the public finance world of 2023. Let’s explore the active and passive candidates. 

Passive Candidates Versus Active Candidates

With issuance being down, you would expect a lull in hiring but that is not the case at all.  The people that are getting hired are still the best of the best – the passive candidates, not the ones that are actively looking for new positions.  With this as a premise, let’s look at how hiring and logistics have changed now that COVID is not as prevalent. Plus, we have just concluded the first quarter and are in the midst of the second quarter of the year.

In no particular order, here are my thoughts:

1.    Remote work is coming to an end for anyone other than very seasoned professionals.  Firms and hiring managers are requiring all people to come back to the workplace.  This is especially true for junior public finance professionals.  For the road warriors, this is not as true.

2.   Working remotely also requires that you be an OSJ (Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction)  which requires some senior professionals to go back and get a new license, either the series 24 or 53.

3.   As for hiring timelines, it is taking much longer for a firm to complete the hiring process.  Background and fingerprinting checks are taking longer to get processed.  Technology packages are even taking longer for them to be delivered to the new hire as well.

4.   Approval for new hires is certainly taking much longer.  In the past hiring managers were able to hire as they see fit. The Board of Directors and senior management are starting to curtail that “carte blanch” approval that has existed in the past.  This has become especially prevalent in publicly traded companies like commercial banks for instance rather than the smaller firms and investment banks.

5.   Guarantee periods and dollar amounts are being lowered as well. The good news? Payouts and bonus structures are moving completely away from black box models, at least with the firms we are fortunate to represent, and they are greater now on a sliding scale than I have seen in quite a while.  Firms want to reward professionals for their accomplishments, not what they say they were going to do.  So, a producing professional in the long run does not care as much about the guarantees as they did in the past.  Also, sliding scale guarantees are becoming more prevalent than before, where first-year guarantees are higher than second-year guarantees to cover the immediate ramp-up time.

6.   Salaries are tending to be lower with the advent of the increased bonus payout plan that we are now seeing. Again, this is due to reflecting on production rather than vain promises that were not able to be kept due to market conditions, etc.

7.   Candidates have been slower to accept offers and make the move. Mostly out of concern that the movable business they may have presented is not as movable as interest rates are still the major factor in deals coming to the market, or not.  This is not as prevalent with specialists in their niche but definitely a concern for generalists.

8.    Hiring managers are getting more unsolicited resumes as there are more RIF’s taking place.  The benefit to you Mr. or Ms. Passive Candidate, you continue to be in great demand.  Do not be concerned about the plethora of unsolicited resumes out there.  Passive candidates are today as every day in great demand.  If you are confident of your ability to bring over business, there is a place waiting for you.

Finally, even though trends have certainly changed, public financing hiring is still robust.  It should be readily apparent that the successful passive candidates that get hired are ones that are confident in their abilities to have business follow them.  There is no need for a current resume to chat with us.  Call today for a confidential chat about your career plans.


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. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

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 levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.