Are juniors being frozen out of the market?

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If banks really are secretly hiring, they don't appear to be secretly hiring juniors. According to recruiters and headhunters, the current emphasis - as ever in a downturn - is all on hiring big hitters who can bring in business. Junior vacancies are being patched up internally.

"A lot of houses are interested in upgrading. They want senior people who can really make a difference," says a partner at one London search firm. "At a junior level, there's no external hiring going on - there are plenty of juniors who can simply be transferred across," he adds.

Junior bankers who are out of the market will be pleased to hear that this is not the universally held view.

"There's still a good level of external recruitment going on for junior resources that we can't source internally," says the head of recruitment at one US bank. "In areas like risk and compliance both junior and senior people are sought-after in the open market."

Michael Moran, chief executive of Fairplace, an outplacement firm providing career management services to redundant bankers, says the going is actually hardest for people with three to five years' experience than for the most junior of juniors: "It's easier if you've had less than 18 months' experience and can apply as a trainee. People who've already got a fair amount of experience have had their bite at the cherry and can't be re-employed as new starter at a lower rate."

If you fall into this category, Moran says your best bet is networking directly with banks, rather than going through recruiters. Failing this, a change of career may be necessary.

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