It's summer in the northern hemisphere - and not just peripheral summer, deep summer. August, when the evenings are already shorter and the banking recruiters and the French are on holiday. Is this, then, the right time to try floating your CV in search of a new finance job?
Yes, and no. Historic data for monthly job advertisements and applications by sector on eFinancialCareers suggests there can be downsides to putting your CV about in August. But there can also be significant benefits.
The big issue with August is the number of jobs available. The first chart below shows the monthly variation in the number of jobs advertised globally by sector on eFinancialCareers in 2016. Configured as an index with January as 100, it reflects that front office banking jobs like investment banking/M&A and trading experienced a bulge in advertisements between March and June that disappeared between July and December. In these sectors, August was a lean month for job advertisements. A similar pattern held in private equity.
Last year, things were bit different in 'middle office' jobs like compliance, technology and (to a lesser extent) risk. Here, August was no big deal. In August 2016, job ads for middle office jobs barely fell and in some cases rose. "Seasonality" was less of an issue.
Was this just 2016? Not necessarily. We don't have figures for an August drop-off yet this year, but in 2017 there was also a rise in front office vacancies between March and June. Why? -
Bonuses are always to blame: why hire a front office banker past July when you have to buy-out a whole year's bonus from their previous employer? - Especially when a three month notice period means they won't actually arrive until October? In the middle office, smaller and non-existent bonuses make this is less of a problem.
Does this mean you should stop looking for a job in August if you want to work in the front office? Not necessarily.
As the first chart on this page shows, the number of jobs available could diminish further as the year goes on. This is what happened last year in trading, risk and compliance. If you wait until September to go looking, there could be fewer jobs available, or things may be just as bad as in August (as in M&A).
Job numbers only tell half the story, however. Just because there aren't always many jobs advertised in August, don't assume you shouldn't apply to them. As second chart (below) shows, August last year was a lean month for applications per job in August. And there were certainly fewer applicants per job in August than there were in September and October, when the number of applicants most sectors soared.
For this reason alone, August looks like a valid month for job hunting in financial services. The best month of all, however, is December, when applications per job in most sectors hit an annual nadir. Prepare your CV now and it send out just before Christmas.