Career stasis: when thousands and thousands of people want your job and you have few alternative options

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These people all want your job

Banking pays less than it used to. Bonuses are reputedly down 30% at Credit Suisse, down 25% at Bank of America, and down similarly elsewhere.

This doesn’t mean people don’t want to be bankers. Bob Diamond clarified the extent to which university students still do yesterday, when he said: “Last year, we had applications from 107,000 kids at university, of which we had positions for 1,500.”

Equally, as we pointed out this week, Citadel has a CV database 150,000 potential replacements for its 1,400 employees, 25,000 of whom were added in 2011.

Not only are there all the bad luck graduates desperate to get into investment banking (which pays better than anything else in terms of starting salary),  there are also the 200,000 people globally who lost their jobs last year (some of whom admittedly may have been cashiers and call centre staff).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Anshu Jain said yesterday that he hasn’t seen, “a significant diminution of talent in the industry.”

If anything, the supply of ‘talent’ to banks has increased.

So what do you do when your bonus doesn’t match your effort or your expenditure this year? And when your boss simply instructs you to get over it? 

There are no easy options.

You could apply for jobs outside the industry, which will pay worse anyway, but may pay equally when commitment and working hours are factored in. You could look for alternative employment at one of the big banks, but these are only getting bigger and their ability to bargain down pay is increasing. Or you could try one the smaller houses (US bank Baird is building in London), which are spoilt for choice and able to pay less (Stormharbour pays salaries that are a third those of the rest of the industry). You could stay put and feel thankful that you have a job. Or you could form an investment banking employees' union, which some are – ironically – calling for. 

So which will it be? What are you going to do about it?

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