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Tailored to fit

What carnage across all the markets and almost every asset class. Life office shares for just over 20p and daily percentage swings in blue-chip banks of 20 per cent, interest rates of 0.5 per cent and the bizarre position (since reversed) of sterling increasing in value after a rate cut.

Unemployment is apparently rising inexorably across every sector and area of the globe while once admired bankers are vilified by all sectors of society.

This downturn initially hit financial services particularly hard in late 2007 although the pain is now more evenly spread. Unemployment hits earnings which affects our ability to save, prudent savers are seeing their interest payments reduced fivefold in as many months while holders of previously “safe” dividend paying shares see their income stream destroyed overnight.

All these shocks impact on those of us who make a living, directly or indirectly, from the sale of financial products. We all know about the above and are all in the midst of this crisis.

Some really good people have been made redundant alongside others who have been let go by their employers who are simply seeking the opportunity (or excuse) to restructure their organisations into a leaner model.

As a very approximate rule of thumb, for every five roles that go in a company, two are created although they are different in status and emphasis from the roles that have been made redundant. There are fewer requirements for “nice to have” positions and more emphasis on hard-nosed sales and revenue-generating roles.

Many companies have taken this opportunity to restructure for a future that will be very different in terms of required product offerings. This then allows potential employees to highlight previously unheeded or relatively minor areas of their background for these new roles.

A large number of candidates working in marketing-related positions have had to travel or relocate to find work or have decided to contract their services. The contracting market (as opposed to temping) is one that is growing in popularity as it allows both employers and employees to dip their toe into new areas or developments.

What has been most illuminating is how creative candidates have become in highlighting the areas of their experience that they wish companies to see. You need to tailor your CV to the role – do not assume that everyone knows what a job title entails in terms of work experience.

Candidates who are unemployed and still positive are seen as a much safer bet by companies than those who are still employed. They can start immediately and there is no danger of them being bought back. While it is a tough market, it is not as bad as it might first appear if one is flexible and open to ideas.

Harris Keillar is managing director of Keillar Resourcing

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