The mood around banking jobs in 2018 ranges from optimistic to anxious, depending on how easily your role can be automated. Job cuts do happen, even after U.S. banks reported strong first-quarter earnings. If you fear the ax is hovering above you, here's how to prepare for your next move or position yourself to land on your feet if you are made redundant.
1. Get ready for your next move early on
While some investment banks are planning a round of layoffs, others are hiring. It's better to take the initiative and make a move on your own terms, rather than sit back and wait for pink slips to be handed out, hoping you don’t get one.
A common refrain from career coaches is to be mentally prepared for layoffs and get your resume ready.
2. Keep your skills sharp
Seek out whatever professional development, training, certification, credential or education courses that your firm will pay for or consider paying for one out of your own pocket, recruiters advise.
3. Demonstrate the right attitude
Despite the specter of layoffs, go about your business with your usual level of professionalism. Career coaches recommend being engaged and positive to show your manager that you want to be there and are invested in your firm.
4. Be a proactive problem-solver
Companies that lay off employees tend to keep top-performers and difference-makers. If you're going through the motions, then your manager won't go to bat for you.
“The name of the game is standing out, going the extra mile on deals and cozying up to your manager,” says Cesar DeLara, senior investment banking consultant at Selby Jennings.
5. Avoid getting fired for cause
Even if you’re fed up with your boss or the job in general, it’s not a good idea to complain too vociferously, quit without another job lined up or, worse, go out in a blaze of unprofessional glory like in the movies or a country song, burning bridges in the process.
“Before your employer makes reductions, search for better opportunities, but when you do get cut, it depends on why, whether it’s politics, the firm’s overall performance or your own individual performance," says Mike Karp, the CEO of recruitment firm Options Group. “For those who are fired for cause, it’s very tough to place them.”
6. Make networking a priority
“Don't just do good work and expect people to notice – always be connecting is a good rule-of-thumb for managing your career,” he says A.J. D'Antonio, financial services sector leader at Korn Ferry. “Network with leaders in other areas of your company as well as clients to make yourself indispensable.”
The concept of “stable permanent employment” with one company is dead. If layoffs are the only way to make numbers, then your job is going away.
“Just like a bicycle is only stable when moving, we need to must embrace a very different mentality to keep a stable career,” says Peter Laughter, the CEO of Wall Street Services. “Don’t wait until you get a pink slip to nurture your network.
“Pay attention to your contacts before you need them, offering connections and introductions so that when you are in need those same people will reciprocate,” he says.
7. If you’re offered a severance package, take it
Sometimes banks offer senior bankers severance packages in order to allocate resources to other teams or sides of the business that are making more money. Don’t hesitate to accept such an offer.
“People who have been with the firm for a while are sometimes given attractive severance packages to get laid off and make way for other parts of the business that are growing,” DeLara says. “The employee has the option to take it or not to take it, basically to leave now with money or leave later with nothing.”