eFC Briefing: Boutiques and Green Shoots

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Boutiques rise in research... Avoid the 'Overqualified' trap... A green shoot - make that two... and more.

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With bulge-bracket research departments still shrinking and the largest independent research shops about to lose the temporary revenue stream created by a 2003 legal settlement, regional and boutique brokerage houses are emerging as the most dynamic career choice for many professionals. But to come aboard and succeed at a regional or boutique firm, you'll need to bring in paying institutional clients from the get-go.

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Relevant work experience, advanced degrees and advanced credentials can disqualify as well as qualify. If you previously held a role at a higher level than the one you're seeking, or your education or certifications exceed a position's stated requirements, you're unlikely to pass the initial software-driven screen most employers apply before looking at incoming résumés. Moreover, many employers blithely use the word "overqualified" as a barely concealed synonym for "too old." Contrary to widespread opinion, pay is rarely a significant factor in these decisions. But if you're sufficiently tuned in to the situation, you'll be able to discern and respond.

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Could demand for financial professionals be picking up? Twice recently, contacts with a finger on the financial job market's pulse have reported signs of a tentative uptick. "We're starting to pick up a feeling of optimism," says one Wall Street headhunter. Another contact, an alternative investments professional in transition for several months, relays hearing last week that three associates landed new financial jobs in New York.

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The Technology Council of Southern California has formed a new trade group for financial executives in the technology industry. The Financial Executives Society will offer networking and continuing education to tech industry chief financial officers, controllers and business executives. Programming will include round table discussions, guest speaker events and educational workshops covering topics such as tax, finance, accounting and more.

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Here's a stopgap for laid-off financial professionals - become a financial writer. It's probably best suited for those from research backgrounds, who are well practiced at writing for an audience wider than many of their colleagues.

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Do you persevere through obstacles when others succumb? Are you a gregarious leader who motivates others into tackling difficult assignments? Although behind every job seeker lies a story of career challenge and triumph, few succeed at captivating reviewers with their tale, because they don't convey that story in their resume. "Your resume should not read like an obituary," says Jason Alba, chief executive of JibberJobber, a career management Web site. "It should read like a marketing piece and its primary objective is to sell your story to employers."

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