I've have been networking like crazy in an attempt to get back in the market, instead of facing up to the reality that my future lies outside our industry.
In my view (for what it's worth), networking is just a waste of time in this market, and is more likely to get you reported as a stalker than result in you getting a new job.
Don't get me wrong, I think networking as a concept isn't a bad idea. Using contacts, or friends of friends, to get the heads up on new roles or to discuss potential employment opportunities before they could out to market, is a sound strategy. But it only works if the job market is fairly buoyant.
When things are really bad, or the industry is going through a secular downturn (like it is at the moment), you can waste a lot of time chasing up contacts (or contacts of contacts) who are either too busy to help you out (just how many requests do you think they are getting at the moment ?), or who just don't have anything worthwhile to impart to you - in my experience, those who are the most keen to be your 'networking partner' are those who are out of work themselves, or who have a black book the same age as the Bible!.
So please don't make the same mistake as me. For several months now I have been stressing myself out, chasing up every lead (or half-lead), and meeting anyone who agreed to meet with me, all in a desperate attempt to find a way back into the industry that has been my life for almost 20 years.
I've amended my resume countless times, trawled through job sites and the print media for new jobs, joined any networking club that would have me as a member, signed up with countless recruiters and pestered Hell out of former colleagues, all in a feeble attempt to find a new opportunity.
And, sure, I've had a few interviews (mostly for jobs for which I'm over-qualified). But none have gone anywhere (and, in fact, most times I never heard back either from the firm themselves or the recruiter who arranged the meetings).
It's depressing and demeaning, but most of all it's just bashing your head against a brick wall. It's taken me 7 months, but it has finally dawned on me - there is no way back for me in the financial markets; my time there is done. I have finally accepted that I need to think about a move outside the industry.
Over the last two weeks, I have started to meet with recruiters who specialize in positions in consulting, retail banking and in industry and commerce. And, much to my surprise, my applications have been fairly well received. It seems that I do have transferrable skills after all, and all of a sudden I don't feel like a spare part anymore.
OK, so I haven't had any interviews with potential employers yet, but I am now in a much better frame of mind. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my days in financial markets are over, and I feel that had I done so earlier, I would probably have been in a new job by now.
So, please don't make the same mistake as me. Read the writing on the wall. Not all of us will be able to find jobs back in the financial markets, and the sooner we face up to reality the easier it will be for us.
Good luck to everyone out there looking for the next opportunity!
image: © Justin Marty