The Quest: Search Diversification

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Upon resuming my search activities after a two-week pause to review my strategy, I began receiving responses from some companies with whom I'd completed the interview process during the intensified financial market turmoil that began this September.

In my past searches, in a normal job market environment I ended up with an offer, in most instances, when I completed all the rounds of interviews. This time around, I didn't receive an offer - which I view as a consequence of the current market turmoil. Although unfortunate, it is neither the companies' fault nor mine. It is due to factors beyond the companies' or my control. And it's a wake up call for me to adjust my trajectory going forward.

Concentration risk is something I always avoided in the portfolios I managed. At present, I conclude I probably didn't diversify my job search enough. Because I didn't expect such a dramatic change in hiring intentions in my space, I pursued the path of least resistance, marketing myself to those companies that compete in the same space as my previous employers. Since money management has been particularly affected by the market decline, it's probably wise to diversify by reaching out to other sectors.

Venturing Outside One's Niche

In the recent past, technology and internet professionals experienced a similar situation as the technology and Internet bubble unwound in 2000-2001. Many of these professionals repositioned themselves, and over time they landed jobs in other sectors. In these situations, the key is to identify a core set of transferable skills that may be desirable in other sectors, then go after a new set of potential opportunities that you might have not thought of before.

In a similar way, I've decided to explore whether any opportunity exists for my transferable skills outside my original target sector, which included hedge funds and investment banks. This might allow me to maintain a stable activity level in order to maintain some forward progress in my search. Also, this could reopen the networking channel for me because people outside the financial industry may be more receptive to networking during this time.

Ultimately, anyone managing a job search during turbulent times can expect the present experience to sharpen their job-hunting skills. That could pay off again if they ever need to seek employment again later on. I doubt the severity of current events can be replicated in our lifetime, unless what we are witnessing today leads to a dramatic change in the economic and financial paradigm.

James Weldon (a pseudonym) is a portfolio manager. This column details his strategy and tactics in searching for a new job after he was let go by the hedge fund group at a bulge bracket investment bank in New York.

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