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Feeling down about prospects

Feeling down about prospects

Until 2008, I was part of the elite. I worked in banking in New York, London and Paris as a fund manager and trader. And then I lost my job. Since that time, my professional and my psychological situation has deteriorated. Despite all that I’ve done to try and resolve things, nothing has worked.

I have tried to get back into the financial services employment market, and succeeded – briefly. I have also tried a succession of small jobs such as telesales and sushi delivery and succeeded – briefly, too.

And so now I am stuck in Paris, out of work and claiming around €460 a month in employment benefits.

Of course, I would like to work in financial services again. But no one seems willing to take me on. When I send out my CV, I get a range of responses – some people simply ignore it, others say I’m too qualified, too experienced, or that they’ve just hired someone for the role I might have been appropriate for.

The reality is that unemployment is like a scar in France- or syphilis. There’s a real fear here of being unemployed. The French unemployed are like the untouchables in India. For this reason, there’s no second chance.France is a society of risk-averse civil servants. No one wants to associate with an unemployed person for fear it’s catching and they’ll become unemployed too.

I’ve struggled to keep myself together. When I first lost my job, with a minimal redundancy payout (as my former employer falsely accused me of negligence), I drowned myself in alcohol and set off around the world for a year. Now, I attend AA meetings, run 20km every day and try never to plunge into depression again. It’s hard: I’m heavily in debt and in the middle of litigation with my ex-wife.

I’m still looking for a new job, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if and when I find one, it will have to be outside France. My liabilities (tax, pension arrears, debts), make it difficult for me to live here. However, I’m not clear where in the world is better. Alternatively, I can stay in Franceand attempt to clear my name with my former employer – which I suspect feels nervous at the prospect that I may pursue it legally. However, clearing my name requires lawyers. And lawyers require money, which I don’t have.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Comments (9)

  1. Unless the French legal system is vastly different to that of the UK, I’d suggest that the last thing you should do is pursue your former employers with litigation.

    We’ve done it. Similar circumstances to you. We knew they lied, they knew we knew they lied, and under the Data Protection Act we should have been able to retrieve a crucial document. But the courts in Britain failed us (has an employee ever won in the High Court?) and it ended costing us. Don’t go there if you are already in debt – unless you have fantastic legal expenses insurance. You will have the most expensive avocats thrown against you and you will not win, even if you think your case is ironclad.

    Your life is in turmoil. Sounds cliched, but do some volunteering. It puts things in perspective, and you may find something infinitely more rewarding that the world of finance. Another idea is interim work overseas. Worth exploring.

  2. I am struggling to find words of encouragement but all I can tell you for now is that you should NEVER give up. When there is life there is hope. Consider that there are a lot of people around the world who have not got it anywhere as good as you do – hell, they don’t even know where the next meal will come from. Scant consolation, I know but that’s just about the best I can do for now am afraid.

    There is a big world out there waiting for your creative input, ideas and vast experience, don’t keep delaying and wallowing in sorrow / self pity, go for it.

    All the best and God bless.

  3. … and, let go of the past, a brighter FUTURE is waiting for you !.

    All the est

  4. Hi, I have just read your words and what I can tell you is: don’t give up! The life is the best gift we received! Many working environments, today, are forgetting the importance of human being! Now try to see good people and believe in yourself, more and more! the life is wonderful!
    God bless you.

  5. I would leave la France if I were you.

    Like you, I lost my job as a trader earlier this year. Since I am in my early 20s I have the opposite problem to you – for alot of the roles in the market at the moment I’m often inexperienced and probably underqualified (no PhD here).

    Surely you have a good track record you can show the hiring managers (most junior guys won’t be able to compete with you on those terms). Maybe try getting in contact with people in the Eastern financial hubs?

    Do not get married again – can you really see any upside from that arrangement? Also, try some stand-up comedy – at worst, you will at least amuse yourself in the process.

  6. CityHag has some good points. I would elaborate on some of them and add some.

    Take the old firm to court without any avocats – use google searches, friends, acquaintances to get advice and get very well informed. You have the time to learn all the forms and procedures to take them through quite a number of steps in the process. Keep telling them that you will not stop until the highest court on the planet, and keep asking for a neutral letter of recommendation. If you don’t get that, make it your career to pursue them. It will get you knowledge, respect and perhaps some money. If you get that letter, take it seriously in consideration, possibly move overseas with new assignments, but only after the second point.

    Similarly, defend yourself without any avocats in courts against your wife. Explain the courts your financial circumstances, and you will win after a long battle. Then consider moving.

    Key aspects: do not use avocats under any circumstances – use your time and effort against their avocats. Your full-time job will be that of an avocat. Clear your name from work and home and you will decide what do to when you are free. Good things come to those who fight. Best of luck.

  7. PassingBy, I appreciate your comments, but this is the route we took, and it was a disaster. The British legal system LOATHES anyone who has the temerity to self-represent, at every level (a Master of the High Court actually said to us ‘who do you think you are?” The attitude was, if you can’t afford representation by one of our own, you shouldn’t be here. Which is why less than one percent of Litigants in Person win their cases in the High Court. Unless the French system does not penalise (via the costs system) I don’t think our pal should go that route. And obsessing about his case via Google and all his friends won’t do him any good in the long term

    ad1308, you must have seen some lousy marriages to espouse that attitude (pun intended), about which I’m rather sad. There is an upside to the arrangement, as long as it’s an attachment of equals. You’re in your twenties. Time still to fall in love with someone wonderful. Never give up hope.

  8. CityHag, I fully agree with your point, and, sadly, I have seen exactly the same. But every company does a cost-benefit analysis and I believe that somewhere in the process they would rather give a neutral letter of recommendation than spend enormous money on litigation. It depends on the case as well. I agree that obtaining money is extremely difficult. But, he needs that letter and they don’t need the headache. Yes, the British legal system does not encourage lawsuits, but it does appreciate trying to settle for very little. I suppose there is always the Greg Smith way if the case is solid and there is no anticipation of settlement.

  9. OK PassingBy, I take your point, and to some extend agree with it. Our problem was that we took on a seriously Big ‘Un, and they don’t care how much they spend, the only object is to crush you. We were never going to cause enough hassle for them to settle (although I am still at it, in my various guises). The fine line of threat of litigation is sometimes the only garotte the individual employee may have against an antagonistic employer. I do feel, however, that our French friend sounds depressed, defeated and not up to it right now. Taking on the legal system in that frame of mind is a recipe for disaster. Believe it or not, I’m PR trained, so my first instinct is always to shower the bstarreds with bad press, which is what Greg S did to such notable effect (wiping that much off a share price is better than vengeance, eh?). Maybe Monsieur should go to the industry press and beg some favours. The truth usually does out, after all.

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