More Colleagues Return to Work

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Two more contacts started new jobs in the past few weeks. That's a micro-level confirmation of recent bullish headlines about financial hiring, including some on eFinancialCareers News.

It also suggests much of the banking and investment industry talent base has the fortitude to stick it out through adversity - rather than flee the sector as pundits in the mainstream media were urging not long ago.

At a professional networking event last night I bumped into a contact whose previous full-time job had ended a year ago. "I'm managing a fund of funds now," she announced, handing me her new business card.

A close friend with nine years in hedge funds and credit research just began a dream job after 15 months in limbo. Determined to continue his first-choice career, he left the New York area to reduce living costs so he could afford to wait for just the right opportunity. When that opportunity at a private wealth management firm arrived by way of a recruiter, the people who interviewed him weren't put off by the gap since his last job.

Finance Career Appeal Is Proving Resilient

His landing illustrates the extraordinary lengths some people are willing to go to preserve a career path they love, and/or have invested substantial chunks of sweat equity into. Business school surveys and application volumes also suggest finance isn't losing ground as a career choice. Finance and accounting continued to head the list of industries where 2009 MBA students expected to work after graduation, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Applications to full-time MBA programs climbed in both 2008 and 2009, and applications to Harvard and Stanford business schools - traditional gateways to Wall Street - reportedly rose more than the overall group.

Finance careers, it seems, hold more appeal and vitality than you'd think from reading tabloid denunciations of "greedy bankers" and glowing accounts of those who fled the field. Editors and the public love stories about laid-off bankers opening bakeries or going to work for non-profit organizations - it's the sort of "sinner redeemed" morality play that tugs at the heartstrings. But for each one of those, I suspect there are something like 100 cases like my two re-employed friends.

It looks like we're witnessing the rewinding of the old saw, "A recession is when your neighbor is out of work. A depression is when you are out of work." And it looks like this: A tentative recovery is when your contact gets re-employed. A full recovery is when you get re-employed.

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