The pest controllers applying for £200k finance jobs
As a financial technology headhunter, Robert Lycett is a man with a lot of names in his hat. Unfortunately, many of those names are not relevant to the roles he's trying to fill. And as job openings dwindle and candidates become more desperate, Lycett says the randomness of the applicants is only increasing.
"The other day, I had someone working in pest control with Rentokil applying for a network sales role with £200k [$250k] OTE," says Lycett. "People are so desperate for work that they're trying to get jobs they have no business applying for."
In any year, banks will hunker down on hiring in the fourth quarter. This year, though, hiring is even slower than usual. Costs are being squeezed almost everywhere. Citi is in the process of restructuring and banks like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are complaining that headcount is higher than usual because too few staff have left in the past 12 months.
The groundswell of candidates locked out of the market is therefore growing. Last month, recruitment firm Morgan McKinley estimated that the number of new London finance jobseekers has exceeded the number of new London finance jobs by 40,000 people this year. That's on top of the 56,000 excess last year. Pre-COVID the annual number was below 20,000.
The pest controllers applying for high-paying financial services jobs are human beings with their own stories, many of which simply reflect a period of bad luck. Lycett says the pest controller was actually a computer science graduate who'd been unable to get a job relevant to his degree after graduating and had taken on something else to pay the bills. "He had done a bit of sales and data analysis while he was at university, but he was completely unprepared for this job."
It's part of an unfortunate trend, says Lycett. Graduates who left university during the pandemic often lacked work experience. They took non-professional jobs as a stop-gap and are now stuck in them. However, instead of wasting time applying for jobs far outside their level of experience, he says they should spend time upskilling while in their less demanding roles. This doesn't mean taking a Masters degree; it does mean getting onto GitHub and improving your coding ability if you want to be an engineer.
Other London financial technology recruiters tell us they're always deluged with irrelevant applicants (particularly when advertising roles off eFinancialCareers) and the job is about "sifting through noise."
Lycett says the noise is getting louder. "More and more people who are unprepared and unqualified are applying," he tells us. "There are also people out there who are talented and have done some very good degrees but who are struggling to get even the most basic professional jobs. It was easier in the past."
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