Busting a gut to get into Goldman

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Enthusiasm for working at Goldman Sachs has allegedly reached such high proportions that the firm is culling some of its own staff to take advantage of the talent queuing at its door. The Financial Mail reports that 3,200 staff are being let go - twice the annual norm. This is partly attributed to the fact that profits are expected to be down 32% when the bank announces is Q2s tomorrow (Bloomberg) and partly to upgrading opportunities.

Despite rumours of a trading loss, Goldman's problems remain minuscule compared to those at its rivals - Morgan Stanley, for example, is expected to report a 59% drop in Q2 profits, according to Bloomberg.

It's little surprise, therefore, that people want to work there. While the likes of Citi and Bank of America have plummeted in MBAs' estimation, Goldman still ranked third in the 2008 Universum survey of US MBA graduates' favourite employers (Fortune), way ahead of JPMorgan in 12th place.

However, headhunters say the firm is hiring only incredibly selectively. "There's definitely some upgrading," says Lee Thacker at Silvermine Partners. "Their staffing plan is to cut underperformers more deeply than in the past and to look outside at the market. But it's very much a case of cherry picking - mostly at associate and VP level."

"It's very strategic replacement hires," confirms another headhunter who's working on Goldman mandates. "There's some hiring momentum in credit, FX, commodities and rates, but they're all at associate and VP level and you can count the openings on one hand."

At a senior level, Goldman has been more notable for who it's lost than who it's brought onboard - Thomas Montag and Peter Kraus left to join Thain at Merrill. And in April, Dan Sparks, head of its mortgage department, left for 'personal reasons' (Wall Street Journal).

More recently, Goldman's rumoured to have hired a senior Merrill banker for its Middle East franchise, although this has yet to be confirmed.