Let's not beat about the bush: now is not a good time to be out of the banking job market. It is a particularly bad time to be out of the banking job market if you are a specialist in structured products. But it is not so bad that you will never work again anywhere else.
Investment banks (generally) employ people who are bright, personable and hard working. All these things will stand you in good stead if you choose to take your skills elsewhere. And if you don't choose to take your skills to another industry, now is the time to employ them in your job search. Here's advice on how to get started.
1. Make a list of all your contacts in the industry.
Who else have you worked with in your career? Who do you know at rival firms? Who were your clients? Which recruiters have you worked with in the past? Make this list as comprehensive as possible. Someone you haven't spoken to for years or met once at the Christmas party could be your key to a new role.
2. Make a list of contacts at known potential employers.
Most obviously, these include:
· Tier two and tier-three banks with a franchise in your area.
· Potential clients who you were aware of, but didn't work with in your previous role.
· Independent operators active in your area - eg, trading houses, boutiques.
· Your suppliers - if you were a CDO originator and you worked with an IT vendor, list your contacts at the vendor firm. Define suppliers broadly - which firms did you use for training, for example?
3. Put together a list of contacts at 'unknown' potential employers.
Potential employers also include rivals in your space that you may be unaware of. Search Google for conferences that have covered your business area - speaker lists are a good source of names. Small organisations are a good route to a new role: they tend to be faster moving than big banks and may be less constrained by the difficult climate.
4. Make a list of key recruiters and headhunters in your sector.
Which recruiters and headhunters have you worked with before? Which consultants at these firms deal with your business area now? Who have your colleagues worked with? Look on firms' websites (or on eFinancialCareers) to establish which roles are being advertised by which recruiters and which banks they work with. Is it the right kind of firm for you? Prioritise your recruiter list into a top four, a second four, a third four and the rest. Send out your CV in that order.
5. Prepare a core CV.
When you're applying for a job, it will help you enormously if you alter the slant of your CV to fit the job you're going for. Before this happens, however, assemble a core CV listing your contact details, key roles, and key achievements in those roles. Also think about including some short personal details as a good ice breaker - eg, "Passionate (but not necessarily successful) cook!"
6. Call your existing contacts.
Don't be despondent, don't be pushy. Do be charming. Do be sympathetic to the fact that if they're still working they're probably busy and concerned that they may lose their jobs, too. Ask if they could spare a quick half-hour for a drink. If they say yes, use it as a chance to catch up, to find out what's going on at their company, and to make it known that you're on the market. Don't explicitly ask them for a job. Do ask if you can follow up a few months later. Do act on any information they give you. Volunteer your CV only if asked.
7. Call the contacts you've unearthed at existing employers and headhunters.
Don't be despondent. Don't be pushy. Do be charming. Do ask them if you can send your CV and a cover letter. Do ask if you can call them back to discuss how they received your CV and cover letter in a few days' time. At this stage, do ask if you can drop in to discuss any opportunities they may have on offer.
8. Don't give up!