You WILL get rehired

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Or at least some of you will (probably). Although quite a few investment banks aren't hiring and some no longer exist at all, opportunistic recruiting is apparently in evidence among banks that remain going concerns.

"JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche, Goldman and the Japanese houses are all hiring," says a headhunter at one of the top financial services firms in London. "Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and UBS aren't."

Disconsolate Lehman Brothers bankers can at least draw solace from the fact that their bank went under in the third quarter rather than the first. Fortunately for them, anyone still in employment at this time of year will only move if their bonus is bought out, which won't happen in the current climate. Competition for jobs is reduced as a result.

"We have clients that want to hire, but thought they'd have to wait until next year because they don't want to buy out bonuses," says Bruce Lock at Kinsey Allen. "Most of the guys I talk to at Lehman have three or four interviews lined up already."

Michael Karp, chief executive of search firm Options Group, confirms the rosy picture. "We've seen a lot of activity at some European institutions, hedge funds and investment management firms," he says. "Good people are being picked up right, left and centre."

What about the vast bulk of people that are merely mediocre? Here, recruiters and headhunters are a little less effusive. Karp, for example, won't be drawn on precisely what proportion of Lehman bankers he thinks are likely to get re-housed.

"Firms definitely say they're recruiting, but it's difficult to say who's recruiting genuinely," admits Alex Andrea-Jones at Finance Professionals. "Half of the top global investment banks are still hiring, but the only hires they are making are critical ones and they will go through a rigorous process to establish whether this is the case."

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