by Jack Kelly
Managing Director, Compliance Search Group

I have noticed an interesting correlation. As the economy worsens and the job cuts intensify there is an increase in anger, irritation and anti-social actions.

I am not referring to riots or violence. I refer to the gradual eroding of the basic social niceties.

Calls are not returned. Conversations are strained. Raises and bonuses are decreased with expectations of longer hours.

Casualties of the Recession_Headline_iStock_000008796369SmallAs the global economy stagnates and seemingly worsens, and job cuts are announced daily, tensions continue to rise. Frustration, irritation and the loss of common decency pervades. It has truly become a dog-eat-dog environment.

As an executive recruiter in the field of compliance, I find that the expectations of hiring managers and those of candidates are often incongruous. Candidates have become increasingly disillusioned and aggravated by their treatment during the job search process. Calls are not returned, conversations are strained, and the potential for raises and bonuses become fewer and far between, coupled with the additional gift of much longer and more intense hours.

If this weren’t bad enough, external factors are making life even more unpleasant. Fewer jobs equal less overall tax revenue and therefore decreased social services. Our infrastructure, school systems and law enforcement agencies, to name just a few examples, are all suffering. The decline in the stock market means that 401ks are now 201ks. Houses are increasingly underwater, both figuratively and literally. We are seemingly bombarded with bad luck everywhere we turn.  This spills over to the job market.

Firms are cautious, perhaps even afraid to hire. They interview more people over a longer period of time, and typically do not give much feedback, if any. Of course, this makes a certain amount of sense if the firm is not interested in the candidate. This is not because firms are inconsiderate, but rather because they are overwhelmed with applicants. The crazy development is that now it is common for firms to not even contact ideal candidates. More and more, firms are closing searches out of fear of what the future may bring. Conversely, they may put searches on hold until the next cycle of layoffs, hoping that maybe they can find someone better for cheaper, someone who will be desperate for any opportunity. Of course, the firms will not reveal this to the candidate, unfortunately leaving the poor individual in the dark.

On the other side of the table, candidates seek more money than firms are willing to offer because they are afraid to move to the next Bear Stearns.

We’ve come to an impasse, where the worker loses out. Though everyone ponders the frightening thought of working more hours for less pay for more years, they are absolutely terrified of making a potential career move should the new opportunity turn out to be a dud. Meanwhile, their “secure” jobs may be cut or relocated to Mumbai. There is really no recourse in this economy.

I am guilty as well. I receive more and more resumes each day, with heartbreaking stories behind every page. I’d like more than anything to be able to place each and every one of the hundreds of traders, brokers and the vast array of other financial services professionals trying to move into compliance because their jobs are sent abroad or replaced by computer models, but I simply cannot. And that’s just it; these candidates are professionals, all very intelligent, hard working and certainly capable individuals. Yet it is impossible to keep up with the demand, so much so that I often cannot find the time to even chat with some of these individuals let alone find them jobs.

It is a challenging time. While I do not have all the answers, I am confident in the bright prospects for Compliance professionals in an otherwise dark environment. In light of the new rules and regulations, backlash against Wall Street, and past scandals, there is and will continue to be a demand for their services. Although the road may be rocky, long, and not always straight forward there are opportunities.

Jack Kelly is Managing Director of Compliance Search Group and Publisher of CompliancEX, a web site where this article was first published.

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