Can you find yourself a new job in banking before Christmas? Yes, but only if you do exactly as we say.
At this time of year, hiring typically closes down for high-end, highly-paid financial services jobs. It makes no sense for banks to buyout a banker waiting for a £150k bonus when they can simply hang on until February and hire that same person once their bonus has been paid by an existing employer. However, this doesn't mean that banking hiring is closing down entirely. Some recruiters tell us that this is the busiest time of their year.
Tom Stoddart, director at recruitment firm Eximius Finance, says November and December are among the busiest months: "Banks are still recruiting 100% in infrastructure," he says.[efc_twitter text=" "Banks need to complete hiring plans for 2014, or they'll lose that headcount for next year.""] As a result, Stoddart says there's a rush of recruitment at the year's end. "The last few Decembers have been very busy in terms of offers being made and accepted."
Which infrastructure roles are banks hiring for? Stoddart suggests treasury, finance, IT and operations. As we reported yesterday, banks are also said to be doing big hiring in compliance and IT.
If you're determined that your bonus must be bought out before you move to a new role, you won't get hired now. Banks are incredibly cost conscious. They're not going to buy out your bonus when they can wait a few months and save that money.
There is a way of compensating for the loss of your likely bonus though, but only if your bonus is small. Stoddart says infrastructure professionals who are expecting bonuses of £5k to £20k are able to add those lost bonuses to salaries at the firms they're moving to. "The lost bonus gets rolled up into a higher base salary at the new firm," he says. [efc_twitter text=""You get your salary uplift of 10% to 15%, and then you get a bit more for the bonus you've lost in the move." "] Infrastructure professionals up to assistant vice president (AVP) level are able to secure packages like this, Stoddart says.
You might get an infrastructure job at a bank before Christmas. But you won't get a job in sales, trading, or M&A.
If a front office job is what you're after, you'll need to look further afield.[efc_twitter text=" "None of the big banks will pull the trigger on front office hiring before Christmas,""] says Nick Silver at investment banking-focused search firm Linear Partners. "But places like the Big Four and the boutiques are prepared to pick people up now."
Andy Pringle at recruitment firm Circle Square agrees. "Boutiques are still hiring - TMT boutiques in London are especially busy. They've been winning a lot of business and they need new people."
Headhunters say the people who get jobs at this time of year know what they want and focus in on it. This is especially the case if you're out of the market and are trying to get back in before people who still have jobs start looking in the new year.
"Be very focused on what you want to get hired to do," says Adrian Ezra, chief executive of search firm Execuzen. "A lot of people who are out tend to have big ideals about what they would like to be doing next. You need to be realistic," Ezra adds.
"Analyze the market," advises Russell Clarke, at fixed income focused search firm Figtree. "If you've lost your job, look at your competitors - what's their position in the market, what advantages do they have? What skills and clients can you bring to them? If you're a base salary only hire and you can bring the right skillset and offer a competitive advantage, they'll still hire you at this time of year."
Ezra advises against flooding the market with your CV: "This will make you look like a distressed asset."
Although you need to be targeted in your applications, it's no good being so targeted that you're excluding potential employers because you're so fixated on one or two firms.
Clarke says the most successful jobseekers are willing to relocate and to contemplate different kinds of employer. "You don't need to go to a big brand name - you can get hired by an innovative new entrant. You don't need to find a new job in London - there are plenty of opportunities in Birmingham and the regions," he says.