Psst…There’s a Hidden Market for Six-Figure Jobs. Here’s How to Get In. | Kanebridge News
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Psst…There’s a Hidden Market for Six-Figure Jobs. Here’s How to Get In.

Unlisted jobs help companies skirt pay transparency laws in New York and elsewhere. Getting one requires ninja-like networking skills.

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Fri, Nov 4, 2022 8:34amGrey Clock 4 min

Almost every day, someone who is quietly hunting for a key hire calls Diane Hessan to ask the same question: Whom do you recommend?

Ms. Hessan, a former consulting group CEO who sits on the boards of Panera Bread, Eastern Bank and Tufts University, is one of the best-connected business figures in Boston—and something like a password keeper at a speakeasy for six-figure job seekers.

All cities have such people, and being on their radars can open hidden doors.

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“There’s a whole back channel of conversations going on about jobs that are available,” says Ms. Hessan, adding that many of the calls she fields come from private-equity firms seeking leaders for portfolio companies.

Far from the public job boards of Indeed, LinkedIn and Monster lies another set of career opportunities—often lucrative ones—that are never posted. The volume of such openings is hard to measure; those who hire and who’ve been hired out of sight say the quality of the positions is more notable than the quantity.

Some are management roles that are currently occupied by people whom senior leaders want to push out, but not before discreetly finding replacements.

Other unlisted positions may be at venture-backed startups or relate to new corporate initiatives that, for competitive reasons, companies don’t want to advertise in view of rivals.

Executives have long relied on their professional networks and headhunters to fill these stealth roles, though the hiring game is trending toward openness. New York City this week began requiring employers to include salary ranges in job postings, and some states are poised to do the same or already have done so. Yet businesses that don’t want to tip their hands (or show employees what’s offered to newcomers) can simply do more recruiting in private channels.

A common loophole in pay transparency laws is that companies don’t have to post every job and don’t have to reveal the projected compensation for those unposted positions, says Stephanie Merabet, a labor attorney at Holland & Knight.

It is too early to know how many businesses will skirt disclosure by keeping more openings off job boards, but some likely will, says Tae-Youn Park, who researches pay transparency as an associate professor of human resource studies at Cornell University.

That means you might not learn of an exciting role until someone else gets it, unless you’re the one who comes to mind when a company wants to hire on the sly.

“You want to be on the call list of somebody who’s working to fill a job that would fit you,” says Matt Massucci, chief executive of the recruiting firm Hirewell. “The only way you do that is to stay top of mind.”

Mr. Massucci suggests devoting at least 30 minutes a week to networking, and advises a targeted approach. Make a point to introduce yourself to people who work at companies that interest you. Connect with recruiters in your field, even when you’re not actively looking for a new job. Go to conferences. Speak on panels (yes, the ones that feel like unpaid, extra work). Freshen up that headshot.

Be visible to get a job that is not.

Brian Pestana, a food industry executive, says he wasn’t interested at first when a Seattle-based recruiter asked to connect on LinkedIn this fall. He lives in Miami and wouldn’t consider relocating, so he didn’t think that networking with someone on the other side of the country would be worthwhile. But you never know, he figured.

He chatted and hit things off with the recruiter, who introduced him to Maria Elena Ibañez, chief executive of El Latino Foods in Doral, Fla., about a 15-mile drive from Miami.

Mr. Pestana joined El Latino in October as vice president of business development, a position that was never listed on any job board.

“Don’t dismiss a small opportunity because the one that seems far-fetched might be the one that works out,” he says.

Mark Goldberger started this week as head of enterprise sales at Ramp, a financial software startup in New York, after he and a recruiter initially discussed a different position with another company. He says the headhunter quickly identified him as a fit for the Ramp job, based on their previous conversations, which put him on the fast track for the job that was never posted.

His early tasks include hiring more sales representatives for his team. One position has been posted publicly, an enterprise account executive with an estimated salary of $221,000 to $260,000, but Mr. Goldberger says it’s possible that he’ll hire multiple people from a single candidate pool, and he isn’t waiting for applications to roll in.

“I’m reaching out within my network—the people that I know would be great because I’ve seen them do something similar—and I’m also going to be scouring LinkedIn,” he says.

Mr. Goldberger and other hiring managers and recruiters note that companies sometimes list positions as open when their minds are already made up, often to comply with internal policies or collective bargaining agreements that require public postings. The real hiring action, they say, often happens away from the job boards.

Shawn Cole, president of executive search firm Cowen Partners, says all of the roles his company fills are unlisted. His clients like to appear to have talent pipelines, and posting an open call for executive applicants can make a business look desperate or disorganised, he says.

Mr. Cole says that to get in the running, it helps to build a rapport with a headhunter like him. Be direct—no vague requests to “pick your brain,” please—and don’t bother with an invitation to coffee or lunch.

“Send an updated resume and say what you’re interested in,” he says. “Talk about compensation, location and specific career goals. Lunch and things like that? Sad to say, but no one has time for that stuff.”

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Equities are often seen as expensive after promising start to 2023

By CAITLIN MCCABE
Mon, Jan 30, 2023 7 min

A new trading year kicked off just weeks ago. Already it bears little resemblance to the carnage of 2022.

After languishing throughout last year, growth stocks have zoomed higher. Tesla Inc. and Nvidia Corp., for example, have jumped more than 30%. The outlook for bonds is brightening after a historic rout. Even bitcoin has rallied, despite ongoing effects from the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX.

The rebound has been driven by renewed optimism about the global economic outlook. Investors have embraced signs that inflation has peaked in the U.S. and abroad. Many are hoping that next week the Federal Reserve will slow its pace of interest-rate increases yet again. China’s lifting of Covid-19 restrictions pleasantly surprised many traders who have welcomed the move as a sign that more growth is ahead.

Still, risks loom large. Many investors aren’t convinced that the rebound is sustainable. Some are worried about stretched stock valuations, or whether corporate earnings will face more pain down the road. Others are fretting that markets aren’t fully pricing in the possibility of a recession, or what might happen if the Fed continues to fight inflation longer than currently anticipated.

We asked five investors to share how they are positioning for that uncertainty and where they think markets could be headed next. Here is what they said:

‘Animal spirits’ could return

Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management, acknowledges that he wasn’t expecting the run in speculative stocks and digital currencies that has swept markets to kick off 2023.

Bitcoin prices have jumped around 40%. Some of the stocks that are the most heavily bet against on Wall Street are sitting on double-digit gains. Carvana Co. has soared nearly 64%, while MicroStrategy Inc. has surged more than 80%. Cathie Wood‘s ARK Innovation ETF has gained about 29%.

If the past few years have taught Mr. Asness anything, it is to be prepared for such run-ups to last much longer than expected. His lesson from the euphoria regarding risky trades in 2020 and 2021? Don’t count out the chance that the frenzy will return again, he said.

“It could be that there are still these crazy animal spirits out there,” Mr. Asness said.

Still, he said that hasn’t changed his conviction that cheaper stocks in the market, known as value stocks, are bound to keep soaring past their peers. There might be short spurts of outperformance for more-expensive slices of the market, as seen in January. But over the long term, he is sticking to his bet that value stocks will beat growth stocks. He is expecting a volatile, but profitable, stretch for the trade.

“I love the value trade,” Mr. Asness said. “We sing about it to our clients.”

—Gunjan Banerji

Keeping dollar’s moves in focus

For Richard Benson, co-chief investment officer of Millennium Global Investments Ltd., no single trade was more important last year than the blistering rise of the U.S. dollar.

Once a relatively placid area of markets following the 2008 financial crisis, currencies have found renewed focus from Wall Street and Main Street. Last year the dollar’s unrelenting rise dented multinational companies’ profits, exacerbated inflation for countries that import American goods and repeatedly surprised some traders who believed the greenback couldn’t keep rallying so fast.

The factors that spurred the dollar’s rise are now contributing to its fall. Ebbing inflation and expectations of slower interest-rate increases from the Fed have sent the dollar down 1.7% this year, as measured by the WSJ Dollar Index.

Mr. Benson is betting more pain for the dollar is ahead and sees the greenback weakening between 3% and 5% over the next three to six months.

“When the biggest central bank in the world is on the move, look at everything through their lens and don’t get distracted,” said Mr. Benson of the London-based currency fund manager, regarding the Fed.

This year Mr. Benson expects the dollar’s fall to ripple similarly far and wide across global economies and markets.

“I don’t see many people complaining about a weaker dollar” over the next few months, he said. “If the dollar is falling, that economic setup should also mean that tech stocks should do quite well.”

Mr. Benson said he expects the dollar’s fall to brighten the outlook for some emerging- market assets, and he is betting on China’s offshore yuan as the country’s economy reopens. He sees the euro strengthening versus the dollar if the eurozone’s economy continues to fare better than expected.

—Caitlin McCabe

Stocks still appear overvalued

Even after the S&P 500 fell 15% from its record high reached in January 2022, U.S. stocks still look expensive, said Rupal Bhansali, chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, who oversees $6.7 billion in assets.

Of course, the market doesn’t appear as frothy as it did for much of 2020 and 2021, but she said she expects a steeper correction in prices ahead.

The broad stock-market gauge recently traded at 17.9 times its projected earnings over the next 12 months, according to FactSet. That is below the high of around 24 hit in late 2020, but above the historical average over the past 20 years of 15.7, FactSet data show.

“The old habit was buy the dip,” Ms. Bhansali said. “The new habit should be sell the rip.”

One reason Ms. Bhansali said the selloff might not be over yet? The market is still underestimating the Fed.

Investors repeatedly mispriced how fast the Fed would move in 2022, wrongly expecting the central bank to ease up on its rate increases. They were caught off guard by Fed Chair Jerome Powell‘s aggressive messages on interest rates. It stoked steep selloffs in the stock market, leading to the most turbulent year since the 2008 financial crisis. Now investors are making the same mistake again, Ms. Bhansali said.

Current stock valuations don’t reflect the big shift coming in central-bank policy, which she thinks will have to be more aggressive than many expect. Though broader measures of inflation have been falling, some slices, such as services inflation, have proved stickier. Ms. Bhansali is positioning for such areas as healthcare, which she thinks would be more insulated from a recession than the rest of the market, to outperform.

“The Fed is determined to win the war since they lost the battle,” Ms. Bhansali said.

—Gunjan Banerji

A better year for bonds seen

Gone are the days when tumbling bond yields left investors with few alternatives to stocks. Finally, bonds are back, according to Niall O’Sullivan of Neuberger Berman, an investment manager overseeing about $427 billion in client assets at the end of 2022.

After a turbulent year for the fixed-income market in 2022, bonds have kicked off the new year on a more promising note. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index—composed largely of U.S. Treasurys, highly rated corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities—climbed 3% so far this year on a total return basis through Thursday’s close. That is the index’s best start to a year since it began in 1989, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Mr. O’Sullivan, the chief investment officer of multi asset strategies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Neuberger Berman, said the single biggest conversation he is currently having with clients is how to increase fixed-income exposure.

“Strategically, the facts have changed. When you look at fixed income as an asset class…they’re now all providing yield, and possibly even more importantly, actual cash coupons of a meaningful size,” he said. “That is a very different world to the one we’ve been in for quite a long time.”

Mr. O’Sullivan said it is important to reconsider how much of an advantage stocks now hold over bonds, given what he believes are looming risks for the stock market. He predicts that inflation will be harder to wrangle than investors currently anticipate and that the Fed will hold its peak interest rate steady for longer than is currently expected. Even more worrying, he said, it will be harder for companies to continue passing on price increases to consumers, which means earnings could see bigger hits in the future.

“That is why we are wary on the equity side,” he said.

Among the products that Mr. O’Sullivan said he favours in the fixed-income space are higher-quality and shorter-term bonds. Still, he added, it is important for investors to find portfolio diversity outside bonds this year. For that, he said he views commodities as attractive, specifically metals such as copper, which could continue to benefit from China’s reopening.

—Caitlin McCabe

 

Find the fear, and find the value

Ramona Persaud, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, said she can still identify bargains in a pricey market by looking in less-sanguine places. Find the fear, and find the value, she said.

“When fear really rises, you can buy some very well-run businesses,” she said.

Take Taiwan’s semiconductor companies. Concern over global trade and tensions with China have weighed on the shares of chip makers based on the island. But those fears have led many investors to overlook the competitive advantages those companies hold over rivals, she said.

“That is a good setup,” said Ms. Persaud, who considers herself a conservative value investor and manages more than $20 billion across several U.S. and Canadian funds.

The S&P 500 is trading above fair value, she said, which means “there just isn’t widespread opportunity,” and investors might be underestimating some of the risks that lie in waiting.

“That tells me the market is optimistic,” said Ms. Persaud. “That would be OK if the risks were not exogenous.”

Those challenges, whether rising interest rates and Fed policy or Russia’s war in Ukraine and concern over energy-security concerns in Europe, are complicated, and in many cases, interrelated.

It isn’t all bad news, she said. China ended its zero-Covid restrictions. A milder winter in Europe has blunted the effects of the war in Ukraine on energy prices and helped the continent sidestep recession, and inflation is slowing.

“These are reasons the market is so happy,” she said.

—Justin Baer

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