"It's desperate out there. Really, really good people can't get jobs"
The tide has turned for technology jobs. Top developers, project managers, architects, systems engineers and all the others who thought that the financial services industry was a soft touch when it came to finding a reasonably well paid role in tech are being left disappointed. Finance's appetite for technological expertise has waned.
"There's been a clear downshift in the market over recent months," says the head of a technology search firm who works both sides of the Atlantic. "The volume has gone. Banks' demand for senior technology people at MD level is down 50% on last year. Where there are gaps, they're trying to fill people internally."
There are hiring freezes, both official and otherwise, when it comes to finance technology jobs. After heavy recruitment in recent years, banks have concluded that they over hired; Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have both been letting go of technology people in 2023. Hedge funds and private equity and credit funds are still recruiting, but at a far slower rate. "Senior people who are let go now, will probably need to wait at least six months before they can find a new job," says the headhunter.
The upshot is that even top finance technology people with exceptional CVs are sitting on the sidelines. Marc Adler, a senior architect who's worked for Citigroup, Citi and various start-ups in the past, says it's harder to find a job now than it has been for decades. "Right now it’s desperate out there," says Adler. -"I haven’t seen this kind of mood since 2001 and 2002. After the financial crisis, there was still hiring."
When a senior job appears now, Adler says thousands of people are applying. Shortlisted candidates are typically asked to complete a take-home coding test, which can take days to complete. Rejection typically follows, but even top candidates rarely find out where they went wrong ; Adler says he sometimes helps them review their tests.
More junior technologists are having similar issues, but are more likely to take Hackerrank-style coding tests than to be assigned take home projects. Meraj Bahram, managing partner at recruitment firm Durlston Partners, says it's a frustrating market. "Candidates are applying to roles along with hundreds of other applicants and they have no way of knowing if they'll hear back from their applications."
It doesn't help that developers let go from the FAANG firms (Facebook/Meta, Amazon etc) are also on the market. Some are finding new jobs in financial services, but Bahram says finance employers are also increasingly fussy: in an employer's market, more and more want finance-specific experience. If you've worked in finance before, you will at least have an advantage.
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