Possible Paths to a New Job

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Looking beyond the U.S. is still one of the most promising strategies for laid-off financial professionals, a leading headhunter says.

Indeed, finding a new job is likely to require relocating in one form or another - whether to a new country, a new industry, or just a different part of the U.S., Heidrick & Struggles CEO Kevin Kelly told the New York Times. "Some of the local investment banks in Chicago are recruiting people from New York. That just wouldn't have happened a couple of years ago," the Chicago-based executive said.

Kelly also cited opportunities to work for foreign companies, whether overseas or within the U.S. He spoke with approval of one banker who "just packed up and moved to the Middle East," with no job offer in hand. And large Japanese, Chinese and Russian organizations are "looking at this as an opportunity to get top talent," he says.

(Of course, moving overseas is far from a panacea given the financial and economic pressures besetting Russia, China and the Middle East. Just last weekend, a Dubai buyout firm laid off 10 percent of its staff and a local investment bank predicted the city-state's population will shrink 5 percent this year due to layoffs of foreign workers.)

Working for foreign companies in North America is another possibility. "There may be a brand issue. But....depending on how long you've been out of a job, working for a top Chinese or Russian or Japanese company may be better than just sitting on the sidelines," Kelly observes.

A third option is changing industries. According to Kelly, companies whose main business is energy, the environment, pharmaceuticals or some parts of high tech are looking to recruit and grow right now.

"It's tough to make a transformation from trading credit-default swaps one day to going to work for a health care company the next," Kelly acknowledges. However, "If you're intelligent, there will be opportunities. It will just take much longer than it used to. At this time, it could take six to eight to nine months."

He told the Times Wall Street firms laid off 240,000 individuals since the middle of 2007.

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