Should you bother looking for a new banking job in August?

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It's August. It might be raining, it might be dank, but it's still the time of year when people are on holiday. If you're one of the 30,000 people whose job is being cut by investment banks this year, you could therefore be inclined to kick-back and wait until September before you start circulating your CV in earnest. But is that really the right thing to do?

Based upon the fact that most headhunters and senior bankers seem to be on the beach right now, the answer might seem to be yes. "Nothing is going to happen in August. You're better off taking a break and resuming your job search in September," says the head of one fixed income search firm, speaking off the record. "There's no one around to make a decision in August. If you're going to get hired you need consensus from a group of people in a bank and that's not going to happen in holiday season," he adds.

But what if you don't expect a firm job offer and are just trying to take the first tentative steps towards re-employment? In this case, it might make sense to put yourself out there as soon as possible. "If you're unemployed and unless you got a big fat severance or you're independently wealthy I don't think you really have the luxury to postpone your job hunt," says Joseph G. Leung, managing partner at search firm Aubreck Leung.

Progress in August may be slow, says Leung,"but at least you're putting feelers out there."

In fact, the advisability of pursuing a new job in the dog days of summer probably depends upon the area you work in. One experienced contractor in London says demand for project managers has increased since July and that contractors are getting new gigs even now. "Usually it's pointless looking for anything in August and you have to wait until after the Bank Holiday, but this year there seems to be renewed vigour in the market."

The contractor ascribes the dynamism to the change of UK government and recognition that Brexit is likely to happen: "The new perspective on Brexit has caused a spike. Suddenly there's more vision and more confidence in the future and people are willing to make decisions."

His may be a biased perspective, but even if Brexit and Boris Johnson haven't infused banking recruitment with new optimism, they might be helping indirectly. "August has been volatile," says the fixed income headhunter. "You only need a few days of crazyness before line managers say they're understaffed and need more people, and that's particularly likely to happen if the crazyness happens in August, when a lot of people are away."

Nonetheless, there are some areas of finance where what remains of summer would unequivocally be best spent on a beach. The EMEA head of one global search firm says there's really no point looking for a job now if you're the sort of high touch salesperson whose skills are as fashionable as an iPod. "If you're a high touch person you need to wait [before looking for a new job]," he says. "All that it takes is a bit more M&A and primary markets activity and banks will start hiring salespeople again. - Remember they have a history of over-firing and a correction could be coming."

When will this correction happen? "Q4," he predicts. Best to get back to the beach then.

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

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