“Law. We’re both lawyers,” one woman replied.
“What type of law?” the investment banker asked. “I have a friend who’s hiring over at the Federal Reserve.”
One man nervously held up a scribbled sign that said REAL ESTATE/PRIVATE EQUITY, but didn't seem to be getting any bites.
"I guess there aren't a lot of people in real estate here tonight," the man said.
Of course, it was hard to find the recruiters, who were identified by glow-in-the-dark green bracelets. Each recruiter was surrounded by a snaking line of people wearing pink bracelets, identifying them as job seekers.
Many of the traders and bankers seemed embarrassed to be there but they needed the networking opportunity nonetheless.
For sure, it’s going to take time for Wall Street’s alpha dogs to adapt to this brave, new world.
“People have to do a big reorganization of their careers,” Pine said. “The banking industry will exist but it has to go through changes.”
“Trading is a pyramid model. So many start trading, fewer move up, fewer can head a desk and fewer can be in management,” said Matthew Samelson, who attended the party as a recruiter for his start-up capital-markets research and consulting firm, Woodbine Associates.
"I tell people: Forget about what you used to do. Think about what you like to do — and what you can do,” Samelson said.
And, when potential candidates asked him how much they could expect to be paid at his firm, Samelson would reply: "It's not going to be the same pay as you had before. But what are you making now?"
Pine said some of the areas of opportunity right now are: technology (building structures for banks, settling trades, etc.), risk management and measurement (RMM), and proprietary trading at smaller banks not involved in the TARP.
Job seekers who attended the party said they didn’t get job offers directly from the party but they made a lot of contacts. And, it helped them realize how many people were in the same boat.
“It makes me feel good — like I’m not alone,” Downes said.
For the lucky few recruiters, these parties are a gold mine.
“I have access to people that can add a lot of value to my firm — people I wouldn’t have had access to in any other environment,” Samelson said.
But a word to job seekers: With all this competition, you’re going to have to step up your game.
"There's a lot of talent out there," Pine said. "Recruiters want a guy who can structure derivatives and juggle chainsaws.”
Send comments to email@example.com.