Monday, May 19, 2008

Size Matters

While many of Wall Street’s largest firms are busy laying off thousands, several of the smaller, boutique players on the Street are equally busy – hiring.

It’s always that way. What the big boys throw away, the smaller guys want to grab.

And if you’re one of the many whose position has been eliminated at Merrill, Citi or Chase, the first thing to do is think small.

A recent article in the NY Sun talked about how smaller Wall Street companies like Lazard, Geenhill & Co. and Evercore Partners are benefiting from the bloodletting.

The bulk of all hiring in this country, approximately 80% according to the US Small Business Association, goes on in firms with fewer than 200 employees and if you drop down further in size, the number simply goes up.

In spite of those statistics, most job hunters after being at well-known firms, tend to pursue the largest and most prestigious companies in their industry.

But when an industry is shedding jobs, like the financial, housing or automobile sectors today or the technology or manufacturing sectors a few years back, there is usually little value in chasing the giants. They are probably not hiring.

So what do you do when the industry you work in is going through a meltdown and you need to find a job in a hurry? Try these three steps.

1- If your function is transferrable to other industries, then the answer is clear. Finance, Legal, HR, IT, Communications and a host of other functions can easily cross industry boundaries.

2- Open up the geographic constraints. All too often executives begin job searches with the mindset of refusing to relocate. But as the weeks turn into months and the search drags on, they begin to explore out-of-area possibilities. Ask yourself if you’d move if the search lasted six months, nine months or a year? If the answer is yes, consider exploring these opportunities early on in your search.

3- If your function is industry specific, look deeper. Make a list of every possible player in your industry. Then approach your contacts and ask for leads at the companies you’re considering. Be focused. The more laser-like your questions, the better the response.

Sometimes smaller really is better.

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