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Possible Paths to a New Job

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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AUTHORJon Jacobs Insider Comment
  • Ga
    Galo P Montenegro
    21 January 2009

    The truth of the matter is that many skill sets are transferable to any industry and being open minded about location and future growth is what sets the precedence to succeed or fail. In out difficult times we must be willing to take risk because the rewards could be plentiful if you are willing to sacrifice a little. Nothing is easy it takes hard work.

  • Bi
    Bill M
    21 January 2009

    I think the pharmaceuticals companies are a great field to dive into. With the growing population of senior citizens living longer than usual, it's logical that this field will boom in the coming years.

  • Ti
    Tim Hoffmann
    21 January 2009

    I believe the 21st Century will be largely a story of Pacific Rim countries (to include Asian, South Pacific and South American countries) taking over economic and growth leadership from the U.S. and Western European countries. What opportunities exist for financial professionals to segue to positionsin those emerging economies? Particularly in the area of information services and financial writing?

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