From Your Old Bank Job to Something Better

By Fitzgerald, James F. | American Banker, April 26, 1994 | Go to article overview

From Your Old Bank Job to Something Better


Fitzgerald, James F., American Banker


By James F. Fitzgerald

You are leaving the bank. It could be for many reasons: your personal life or personal goals have changed, the bank has been restructured, a merger has taken place, or new management has come in.

Departure from a bank does not necessarily reflect on your competency or ability.

And you are not alone. Employment in banks, S&Ls, and credit unions declined by 109,000 just between 1990 and 1992, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a study done over the same three-year period, our firm surveyed 1,162 bankers and found they got new jobs on an average of 22 to 35 weeks. New opportunities are there. The question is, how do you find them?

When you resign from or are terminated by the bank, for whatever reason, your experience and abilities provide the basis for marketing your talents to a new employer, often in a more rewarding position.

Here are some steps to getting that new job.

Decisions to Make

First, as a job seeker, you must decide what job you want.

It's common to begin looking for a job without thinking about it. Often people know only what they don't want.

Instead, you must be able to say, "I want this type of job, with these dimensions, these responsibilities, etc."

As a job seeker, write a description of the ideal job. What is its scope? What responsibilities do you want? What really appeals to you about it? Where is it located? How much money does it pay? And, importantly, what skills does it require?

One glaring mistake in job seeking is not thinking through the situation first. People tend to react to situations instead of controlling them. Read books like Dick Bolles' "What Color Is Your Parachute?"

Ned H. was a highly motivated, results-oriented banker with a depth of lending and business development experience on the West Coast and in the Midwest. In his previous positions, Ned had represented major banks with calling responsibilities in several states. Now, he had a very clear idea what he was looking for in a new position when he began his career change.

He realized something important was missing in his career: He wanted to see the results of his lending negotiations work within a community. He became the commercial loan officer in a neighborhood bank. Today he watches his customers grow while staying in close touch with them.

Credit Where It's Due

Review all your work experience, both full time and part time. Go over each job in detail and list its responsibilities, achievements, complications, and frustrations. This review and documentation will prove to be invaluable in preparing your resume and your verbal interview presentation.

If you reduce each job to a couple of lines, you probably are not giving yourself proper credit. Most job seekers understate their achievements in preparing their job history, writing their resume, and talking during employment interviews.

Thorough preparation of your job history enables you to recall achievements that could be invaluable to potential employers.

After completing your job history, ask yourself: Am I a banker? The answer is "no." You have worked in the banking field, you may work in it again, but your abilities are in such areas as trust management, credit evaluation, corporate finance, financial analysis, or other skill areas. You should never limit your job search to institutions that are just like the one you left.

Crafting a Resume

Michael B. asked himself what he really wanted to do with his career. Was he a banker?

Working with a career transition consultant, he realized he wanted to draw upon his avocation as a skilled amateur musician in a new career.

He stuck to his objective and used experience as a bank financial information officer and controller to obtain the position as manager of financial planning and reporting with a nationally prominent symphony orchestra. …

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