Where the Jobs Are

Career Trends and Opportunities in the Down Economy
Where the Jobs Are
Everyday we hear about the economy sliding toward a recession -- apparently the worst since the Great Depression. We hear routinely about more banks failing or being acquired and merged, the stock market faltering, banks contemplating a credit freeze and more. A lagging economy is likely to have wide ramifications. In the heat of a presidential election year, unemployment has started to rise, creating a major issue and challenge for job seekers today.

Viewing the current job market and escalating unemployment rate, the question that needs to be asked is: Where are the job opportunities within banking and information security?

"Employees in the banking industry have to be flexible -- exploring options inside and outside the banking industry. They also have to be flexible on location, as some banking centers are rapidly moving out of New York," says David Reimer, Vice President, North American Delivery, DBM, a coaching, and career management firm providing services to private and public companies globally.

"There are still jobs available in the banking industry, but the competition is strong," Reimer adds. If an individual wants the same position, in the same market, at the same salary, there will be fewer opportunities. They also need to plan their transitions carefully and become very articulate about their own accomplishments. They must be able to project a crisp, clear vision of what forward-value they bring to any organization they are targeting.

Reimer further mentions that he is seeing a great deal of added interest in career-shifting. In other words, many people are moving from their current or most recent industry and function to a new industry. Where typically about 10-15% of those in career transition make such moves, financial services employees working with DBM are shifting successfully at a rate of nearly 40%. A number of people are going into non-profits and government agencies. This is a new trend -- and these people switching industries are bringing specific skills from financial services to benefit other industries.

Within the information security job market, specialized recruitment firms such as Alta Associates, Inc., focusing in information security, IT audit, risk management and privacy, are clearly seeing the market slow down as companies are cutting back on new security initiatives, including security infrastructure, software implementation and more. But because security remains a significant concern for most companies, individuals who can manage an enterprise-wide security strategy, including risk management, assessment of network vulnerabilities, wireless technology, virus protection, and intrusion detection will continue to be in demand, says Jeff Combs, a senior recruiter at Alta.

Combs indicates that extremely specialized and proven areas such as application security, risk management, privacy, compliance and identity management will on an on- going basis require qualified professionals. "Application developers, database analysts are at the top of companies' hiring lists," says Combs. "However, firms are now looking at retaining only key and crucial employees within these core functions. As financial and insurance companies go through major restructuring, employees with diversified security and IT skills will be in greater demand in the current job market, especially within the health care and government sector."

Raheem Aziz, an independent recruiter working exclusively with financial services and banking clients within security and finance in New York City, is seeing more candidates being absorbed with the federal government. "Blind hiring days are gone; today there are openings in Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and JP MorganChase, however, the job requirements are highly specific for positions within security and banking. You literally have to be under the gun to find someone to meet all their hiring criteria," says Aziz.

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