Recruiters are all chasing after the perfect candidate: someone who has just been laid off

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The nature of perfection is changing. Once, the perfect candidate may have been a big bringer of business or a specialist in esoteric and difficult to understand products. Now he or she is those things and more. Today’s highly desirable financial services job seeker must tick all the usual boxes and be unemployed.

If you want to get hired in this market, you first need to be laid off, according to one headhunter who explains that “it makes you much cheaper to hire and therefore much more appealing.”

“The ideal candidate is one with a strong skill-set who can move as quickly as possible, with as little buyout as possible,” says Russell Clarke, director at search firm Figtree. Laid off individuals will often fall into that category.

Needless to say, there are some situations in which being laid off will detract rather than contribute to being employable. These are those in which a candidate has been let go for reasons of poor performance, in which a candidate has been out of the market for more than six months or in which a candidate’s skill-set has been made obsolete by technology or events (Think CDO structurers).

On the other hand says Clarke, “if you’ve been out of the market for one or two months and were let go because a previous employer was cutting back on your business area for life-cycle reasons" such as helping build a mature business from scratch, which needs fewer business development staff now that it’s established, you may be desirable to another bank which is still building its business.

These days, recruiters say it’s normal for laid off candidates to keep all their deferred stock from previous employers, and for this to vest according to the established schedule.

“I haven’t come across any bank that hasn’t allowed people to keep their deferred,” says one. Up until three years ago, when you were laid off you would have been paid your deferral there and then – but now banks will maintain the laid-off staff on the same vesting schedule."

In some cases, banks will attempt to stipulate the laid off staff who retain deferred stock can’t work for rival firms for a period of six months. However, this is difficult to enforce legally.

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