Good time to get in for IT job seekers

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Redundant IT staff are still sloshing around the financial services market. For those out of work, the next few months could be crucial for finding a new job.

2005 is proving a good year for IT recruitment, but there are still people out of work. According to recruiters, some of those who lost their jobs months ago are only now testing the market.

"I'm getting calls from people who were let go in February from Deutsche bank," says Michael Lapin, a technology recruiter at Mantis Partners. "It seems quite a few waited until the end of the summer to look for a new role."

"We're still getting enquiries from people who've lost their jobs at Deutsche," confirms James Murphy, managing consultant Imprint Technology, an IT recruitment firm. "There are also financial services specialists coming out of IBM and LogicaCMG."

IT staff who took time out after collecting redundancy cheques could find their relaxed approach to job seeking pays off. Recruiters say the cost of buying out annual bonuses means banks rarely poach from rivals at this late stage of the year. But when it comes to people who are out of work and haven't accrued bonuses, this isn't an issue.

"If you're a senior person and you're on the market, you have the advantage of not bringing a bonus expectation with you," says Lapin. "One or two banks are keen on bringing in people not currently in employment for this very reason."

Where outsourcing comes in to the picture

Despite outsourcing and off-shoring, a flood of London job losses is unlikely in the near future: ABN Amro's decision to cut 1,500 IT jobs over the next 18 months is expected to hit the US, Brazil and the Netherlands rather than the UK. But recruiters report a trickle of redundancies. "There's the usual flood of small teams coming out of the market," says Kris Viner, a senior IT recruiter at Robert Walters. "Projects are being outsourced and moved to Asia."

Outplacement providers, who help redundant employees back into new jobs, confirm the financial services IT sector remains an important source of business. Jane Rothwell, a consultant at Penna, says the company is working with a number of people who have lost jobs due to off-shoring, many of them project managers who worked in off-shored functions. Rothwell disputes notion that IT hiring is strong: "The IT market is flat," she says. "It's possible to find work but it's not a buoyant market overall: it takes lots of networking and strong communication skills."

Viner says a high percentage of the jobs on the market right now are for junior staff who don't expect bonuses to be bought out: "The openings are mostly for people with less than five years' experience. Banks are still trying to make up for low graduate hiring a few years' ago."

He says banks are also filling a junior development roles with people from outside the industry, who don't receive bonuses anyway. Consultancies, telecommunications companies and software houses are popular hunting grounds. "Salary expectations are lower, so these guys are hot to move into banks," says Viner.

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