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Background info: I work in the Financial Industry, for an American company that has a large presence in London; My team is global, however, we're only 4 people in London and the rest of the team is in US, so the decisions are make in US and most of the time, the London team is not even consulted. I am looking for other opportunities in the company that are more aligned with what I am interested in doing in the future, and I made my intentions known to both my manager and senior colleagues I work with, as they all asked during catch-ups and review meetings.

Situation: A colleague I work closely with, more senior than me, asked me to work on something extra for a portfolio manager, mentioning that she will be looking for a Research Analyst soon, to help her with the industry coverage. She didn't say anything in particular, but reading between the lines, I understood I could have a chance at the job if I did well on that assignment. I finished the assignment, talked to the portfolio manager, who was very happy with what I did and thanked me multiple times. Couple of days later I had a catch up with my colleague (who mentioned the opportunity to me in the first place) and I asked her about the research role and what advice she has for me. Her response was: "Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned this to you because the company generally looks for young graduates for these roles, and you are too old to be considered." I am 27 and I have 4 years of work experience- this is my first job after graduate school. I spent the last couple of days thinking about what she told me and I wonder if she said that because she was not happy with what I did and my performance on that assignment.

Question: How can I check if this is true or not, and how should I approach these situations in the future? Should I apply for this opportunity even if the progression path is blocked and this is a known fact in the company?

Some further details: This is considered to be a very relation focused company, where everybody talks about anybody and you have better chances to progress if you're friends with the right people than if you're doing your job well. Although my colleague is more senior than me, she is new to the project and she doesn't have the technical expertise to provide feedback on my work. Her feedback is normally centered on communication and presentation skills only.

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    Couldn't it be that the position has a sensible salary difference than yours so she was implying you're too senior for it in her eyes? – Cris Aug 21 '18 at 15:50
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    Sounds to me that the Research Analyst position is an entry level job. What gave it away is the fact that look for younger and inexperienced candidates. On another note, have you given thought of being honest and asking her for advice as you are interested on the role? – Isaiah3015 Aug 21 '18 at 15:56
  • @Dukeling From what I have seen, I can risk future opportunities. I have heard of colleagues who applied to multiple roles and didn't get them, and have been questioned by HR on why and what they actually want to do. – Rachel Mercuri Aug 21 '18 at 16:47
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    @Isaiah3015 Yes, it is an entry job for the Investment Group. And one of the few entry routes in the investment group. This was me asking her for advice, and I was honest. – Rachel Mercuri Aug 21 '18 at 16:50
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    Perhaps the post should be modified to fit more on how to approach your "portfolio manager" (not your colleague) for an entry level job on another dept/group that you are qualified for. – Isaiah3015 Aug 21 '18 at 17:40
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You can only apply.

There isn't really anyone, anywhere, who is going to outright tell you "you're too old" because, of course, that is illegal.

On the other hand, if you work well with the portfolio manager, and they're the person hiring for the role (or making the decision) then you can definitely say how interested you are. There is literally nothing stopping you from telling the portfolio manager you want the job. I'm surprised you haven't done this yet - finance is a more direct industry, stop wasting time asking us on the workplace and just ask the question.

You'll almost definitely have to interview for it - often the interviews are just a sham and someone already has the role though.

Your colleague is right in that generally analyst roles are for younger people - they're entry level roles, albeit with often startling amounts of pay. But anything is possible.

  • Your first statement is generally true in the US and the UK, but it should be noted that it isn't illegal everywhere. – Z. Cochrane Aug 21 '18 at 15:57
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    @bharal Both Research and Investment are called Analysts. And in this company at least, Investment Analyst is one of the most senior levels. Associate is junior. However, you are right, on the investment path, Research Analyst is the entry level, but it is the ONLY PATH for people already part of the company, and opens opportunities for better, external roles, if experience is matched with the right skills. – Rachel Mercuri Aug 21 '18 at 17:00
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I assume that the senior colleague is "her" who mentioned the position. Unfortunately there are people who like to manipulate others to do things FOR THEM. She put two things in one basket hoping you will "read between the lines" what you wanted to read. Her later statement have nothing to do with your performance.

In the future you need to ask extra questions

Are those things connected or one thing is not mutual with another? Why you think I'm mentioning it to you?
I don't know that's why I'm asking

Anyway - you should apply. Company may be looking for inexperienced researchers but you will show as a person who want to grow in the company. With the positive feedback from portfolio manager they will know that there are things you are good with an may offer you different position.

On personal note: staying for to long in companies where relationships are more important than performance is bad for you and your personal development.

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    why is that bad for you, exactly? – bharal Aug 21 '18 at 16:12
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    @bharal because you don't develop your work skills, won't be judged on what you produce, but on how well you socialice with your Superiors and will have a hard time after a few years to perform in case you Change companys – RealCheeseLord Aug 22 '18 at 7:07
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    @bharal because it not stale your knowledge and skills. It regress them. You stop using some of them, you start to do bare minimum as your main focus would shift to create appearance. You will have problem if trying to change jobs or when company orders internal audit or skill check. – SZCZERZO KŁY Aug 22 '18 at 7:42

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