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The Job Hunters

They’re out of the workforce and want back in—ASAP. We sent three candidates to experts for candid advice.

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1. The Bear Stearns Casualty
PIYUSH BHARGAVA
AGE: 33
RESIDES: Jersey City, New Jersey

Résumé Highlights:
Moved here from India in 1993, then finished a four-year engineering degree in three years. Worked as a techie with Reuters, got a masters in computational finance from Carnegie Mellon, and spent three years as a risk consultant at Deloitte and Touche. At Bear Stearns, monitored trades for two hedge funds until they went bankrupt. Moved over to the firm’s credit-trading desk and got laid off in August.

What He’s Looking For:
A risk-management role at an investment bank, private-equity firm, or hedge fund. Bhargava isn’t bitter about Bear’s downfall and has kept busy giving tennis lessons in Jersey City. Still, he sees ex-colleagues landing jobs “pretty easily,” while his own interviews have so far led nowhere.

Desired Salary: $115,000
(Competitive with his 2007 salary, not including a $30,000 bonus.)

What the Pros Advise:
Keith Feinberg, Director of Permanent Placement, Robert Half International
Bhargava fears that the demand for risk analysts has dried up, and that could be true, says Feinberg, who oversees recruiting for the financial-services headhunter Robert Half. But Bhargava also hasn’t done a good enough job of setting himself apart. “He has good technical skills and a history of working for marquee companies,” says Feinberg, but so do lots of other Wall Street castoffs. In his cover letters and during his interviews, Bhargava should emphasize his experience launching the U.S. office of a European software outfit and his consulting work at Deloitte and Touche for investment banks and hedge funds, explaining how this experience would directly benefit the company. Experience like this—both entrepreneurial and client-focused—could appeal to the boutique financial firms that are filling the void left by Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Bhargava could also work for a financial software outfit that could be looking for investment bankers who can translate between programmers and Wall Street clients.

Cindy Caruso, Senior Vice-President, HR, ING Investment Management
Caruso’s assessment starts with Bhargava’s résumé. There’s a tremendous amount of information crammed into the first page, but just three lines of type on the second. “Make it worth printing the damn paper out!” she says. She doesn’t like the way he’s listed his positions title first, employer second; he should reverse the order. He should also consolidate his three positions at Reuters under one company heading to clarify that he stayed with the firm for six years—otherwise he looks like a chronic job-hopper. As for where the jobs are, Caruso believes Bhargava will have more luck on the buy side—outfits that invest money for clients—since these firms need help understanding the convoluted investments they bought from sell-side firms like Bear. She warns him that the firms might not bother calling because they may assume they can’t afford him; Bhargava should communicate in his cover letter that he’s willing to accept a modest pay package. Finally, Caruso suggests that he polish his responses. “You take long pauses when describing your life, like it’s the first time you’ve thought about it,” she says.

Takeaway:
“Cindy’s comment about selling yourself was pretty insightful,” Bhargava says. “But it’s hard to do that consciously. You can’t really change yourself too much.” He will, however, redo his résumé. And if he can’t get a job in asset management, he might broaden his search to software companies.


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