Is it me or is this credit crisis getting worse? A year on from the first glimpse of trouble and the bad news seems to be accelerating rather than calming down. Each week seems to bring a heightened level of nervousness and more tales of woe.
I spent Saturday playing cricket with a group of friends who make their livings in the commercial property sector; their mood was if anything darker than my own and their expectations darker still. They had first-hand stories of banks withdrawing billions of pounds of funding, virtually cutting the throat of the market. For an industry that has enjoyed the fruits of cheap credit, this sudden rejection has left many second-guessing the future.
Old colleagues I met last week talked of pipelines void of prospects. As the scraps appear, it seems teams are fighting amongst themselves to get their name on working party lists to make sure they look busy to managers with mandates to cut headcount. It's hardly a backdrop that has me desperate to get back into the fray. Redundancy may have its fears and tribulations, but from what the people still fighting the good fight in the trenches of structured finance have been saying, staying away from the market might be the soundest strategy for my sanity.
The message to "take the summer off and come back in September" has been bandied about by a number of sources - headhunters, friends, and experienced former colleagues.
That all sounds like a good idea, but letting go doesn't come easy. Stopping the calls to contacts and headhunters feels a little like switching off the career life-support machine. I'm not quite ready to accept that this redundancy is not some trivial short-term career glitch, but something that could become more drawn out and challenging.
Fortunately, therefore, the discipline required to step back and let sleeping dogs lie is about to come somewhat easier with the European holiday season fast approaching. Looking for a job in July or August is close to insanity when Europe's markets turn silent for two months.
That just leaves June for one last push before the great shutdown. Armed with my new networking skills, I'm ready to take on this challenge
As promised last week I'll give a brief synopsis of the networking course run by the transition consultants. The basic takeaway is this: the key to networking is to ask for advice and information rather jobs. If you ask for advice from someone they are able to engage with you; if you ask for a job it makes them feel you're transferring responsibility for your predicament to them (and they're liable to greet you with the enthusiasm of Boris Johnson at a GLC reunion).
At the same time, however, I'm remaining realistic. If things go horribly pear-shaped, the rest of the summer will be mine to enjoy with my young family: I will turn my back on the City until September.