As a specialist FinTech headhunter that works with both early stage and established businesses, I receive calls every week from active candidates who are looking to make a move from their current, typically corporate, role into a high-flying “FinTech” business. However, there is a pattern forming in the advice I find myself giving candidates and the outcome of each call.
On these calls, I see myself asking the same four questions:
What stage of business do I want to join?
Typically, what attracts people to smaller businesses, is they can have a greater impact and take on more responsibility than in the corporate world. Earlier stage businesses require a different skill-set (and mind-set) and will require you to be highly hands-on and broad in your knowledge. A larger business, as it grows, will prefer individuals who become increasingly specialist in their area of knowledge.
Before making the decision to pursue the FinTech industry, I would ask yourself where you could add most value and how well you could adapt to the start-up environment – something which many candidates underestimate.
Which five companies would I most like to join and why?
I always find it surprising when candidates can’t answer this question. My best piece of advice here is to:
- Take time to research the sector. If it’s FinTech you’re trying to move into, have more to say than “I hear it’s really hot right now” (yes, somebody actually said this last week).
- Produce a clear list of your five favourite companies, have a clear reason for why, and you will find yourself more prepared for making this search.
What start-up experience do I have?
Making the move to an early-stage business is difficult and almost all of these businesses are looking for people who are “hands on” and have “growth experience”. But how can you move into FinTech with no experience? It’s up to the individual to be proactive in their interaction with the FinTech community. Join mentor programmes, attend events and advise early stage businesses. If you don’t already have this experience, it’s time to start getting out there and finding some.
What examples of past “hands-on” experience can I give?
When interviewing, I spend a lot of my time trying to understand whether candidates can provide evidence of being hands-on. The client is looking for you to give concrete examples of exactly what you have achieved and how.
This is especially relevant in larger organisations where you are operating as part of a matrix – another reason why, if you’re managing a 200 person team, moving in to a start-up business of 50 may not be the right move.
Lastly, when it comes to your CV, keep it short and sweet and only include the most “wow” and relevant points. Give solid statistics, briefly explain what you achieved and make sure it flows from experience to experience. Tell a story.
The search for any new job is always going to be lengthy and time-consuming. FinTech is ever-evolving and needs intelligent, creative and ambitious people to make it better. Research, thoroughness and preparation are key in any job hunt but in the FinTech start-up world especially. You need to be able to tell your new employer where and how you could add value to their business using solid past experiences – if you have no FinTech experience, what else can you bring to the table and how quickly can you learn?