How I cracked a job in Commercial Banking

Prepping up for employment hunt

I was very well settled in Delhi working as a Commercial banker – a top performer and had more friends than colleagues in office. Even before I moved in, I had started to reach out to people on LinkedIn and ask suggestions on how to find employment. Much of advice is freely available on Experli as on today. I was keen on building my career in commercial banking at one of the big five banks and a lot of people suggested that doing so is going to be exceedingly difficult. Quite a few suggested to target financial advisor roles and gradually break into business or commercial banking. But with more than 5 years of my experience in commercial banking, I decided to dug my heels on the commercial banking side rather than retail. Mentally I had decided for myself that if I don’t make satisfactory breakthroughs within the first two months in Toronto, I would make my search more flexible.

Ground zero experience and coffee chats

My journey really started when I started reaching out to people for coffee chats. By now I had received enough insights on how to approach professionals on LinkedIn for mentoring sessions. The gist being that you should refrain from directly asking for referrals. I used to phrase my message in a polite way stating that I appreciate their years of experience in commercial banking within the Canadian market and wanted to seek some guidance on how I can best structure my job search process here. I was quite aggressive in reaching out to a large no. of potential mentors, however quite humble in my interactions. I must have had a mentoring interaction with at least 50 people in a short span of 2 months. I had the following learning’s from my experience :

  1. A lot of my mentoring calls were over the phone. In my experience, senior professionals are a little pressed for time and one should be flexible enough not to push for an in-person coffee chat.
  2. The idea of call is to tell them about your experience and learn from mentors about the industry and potential roles. Be very clear about your previous job profile and the career you are looking for. That’s how I got to know about commercial banking trainee program.
  3. The more you understand about a role, the better you can talk to HR/hiring manager when you get an interaction opportunity.
  4. Don’t push people for referral as it is a matter of time when some one has requirement in his/her team and they will reach out if they find you a good fit to refer.

Preparing for the interview process

I was so busy in my coffee chats that I did not notice how fast my initial two months had vanished. By now I had started to get initial screening calls from recruiters for business banking roles and I started devoting more time to preparing for in-person interviews. The Mentors, who had referred me for these opportunities, were also kind enough to guide me on how best to carry myself during the interview process. Armed with these new insights, I was becoming more confident and securing more and more interview opportunities. I had following learning’s from my experience :

  1. Being a sales oriented roles, I knew a key focus during the interview process would be on discovering the behavioral traits of the candidate as well as a cultural fit with the organization. I found out some behavioral questions on Glassdoor and other web portals and conceptualized my answers. The beauty of behavioral questions is that they force you to think and internalize key learning’s, an opportunity that you miss while working full time in a job. Always back behavioral answers with some example.
  2. Be ready to show how you bring value to the table. Be it hard skill, soft skill or network you have created.
  3. Spend some time on getting to know the organizations a bit better. People are really passionate about the organizations they work for. Most of the banks here have more than 150 years of history signifying an incredible amount of resiliency.

Interview experience

Almost all of my interviews were closely spaced and went quite well. I was appreciated for my ability to network well and the number of coffee chats I landed for myself. A typical interview process for business and commercial banking roles can be spread out over a long term as there are multiple rounds.

 Organizations here really care for their employees and the support system is simply awesome. There are dedicated experienced Mentors who work closely with you to help you realise your true potential and learn the new ropes. For me, passion for the work that you do and happy relationships in the workplace are the key ingredients of a successful professional life. Though I was lucky enough to get multiple offers I decided to join RBC Commercial Banking Team.

Advice to newcomers

My advice to newcomers would be to simply follow their passion. The opportunity to build a new life in this positive country is a lifetime event. Just focus on doing what you really want to do and the temporary setbacks that you face would become easily surmountable. You are hardworking and smart and that why this country gave you an opportunity. You have to do what it takes to survive and never let go of your dreams.

Laxmi Yadav

Laxmi lives in Toronto. She is a successful commercial banking professional with more than 6 years of experience. She is passionate about coaching and mentoring new immigrant professionals in Canada.

Laxmi Yadav

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