The Importance Of The Story Vs. The Name Of The Firm

What's more important? The name of the firm or the opportunity and future of the firm?

Continuing with the theme of new firms reaching out to us, I must share an observation that will shed some light on what opportunities really exist. When I talk to a potential candidate about a firm, I try hard not to share the name of the firm until I have told the story of the firm. I would say most, if not all, of our current clients that we are privileged to represent have back stories that you cannot find on their website, internet searches, or even conversations with other individuals about that firm. It is the story behind the name that I want to address.

A Recruiter Doing Their Due Diligence

As an experienced recruiter I am extremely aware of the firms that I want to represent. I do my due diligence just as I ask my candidates to do theirs before taking the first interview with any of my new/prospective clients. However, what I am finding now is that due diligence does not necessarily disclose the story behind the name of the firm. It is only through my relationships with senior executives at the firm that I am able to know more and to share where a firm is coming from; but, most importantly where they want to go. The hiring managers that we work with, usually the head of capital markets or CEO of the firm, have been transparent with us. They share their vision and are honest with their assessments of their current status of the firm.

Opportunity For The Future Versus Hearsay On The Name Of The Firm

I, on the other hand, have changed my initial impressions as new firms reach out to us.  In the past, I would be making my decision to represent a firm based on hearsay and other rumblings heard in the marketplace – right or wrong. There is misinformation circulated about firms that will tend to sway a candidate one way or another, resulting in their taking that first interview with a new client. For this reason, I have opted to share the back story with any candidate that I feel is qualified. Only when I have piqued their interest do I share the name of the firm. It is not that I am not proud of the firms that I represent, but I want them to hear about the position, responsibility, and most importantly growth capabilities by joining that firm. I have found the candidates, whether working with us or going on their own, have a conception of a firm based solely on their name. I think for both public finance bankers as well as bond counsels this is a mistake.

The Importance Of Knowing Where The Firm Is Going Versus Just The Name Of The Firm

Only by hearing the story can you make an intelligent decision if you want to hear more and potentially interview with the firm. Similar to story bonds that bond brokers sell based on the story rather than the credit, I ask my candidates to do exactly the same. It is the story behind the name that makes these opportunities wonderful. If you can tell where a firm wants to go, not necessarily where they are, you will be way ahead of the game. The great hockey player Wayne Gretzky when asked how he scored so many goals was, “I go to where the puck is going to be not where the puck is.” I apply that analogy to this situation; you go to where the company is going to be, not where they are today. To reiterate, I have found a way to know where a company is going to be. You are not going to find it on their website, nor talking to anybody else other than having that first interview. If some recruiter calls you, do not immediately ask the name of the firm. Ask for the back story. Ask where they are going to be, not where they are. Most importantly how you could help them get there.


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. 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.