Is it just me or is recruitment still tough in 2023?

In 2022 we all had a pretty tough year, my fund froze hiring which seemed to be the norm. But now it's 2023, things are doing better, I'd have thought recruitment would be a little easier at least for experienced hires. 

I'm in a pretty niche area so seats don't come up that often anyway, but at the same time few people have the experience and those who do tend to stay put. But I've had several jobs come up looking for exactly my experience - like literally the same coverage to a tee - and I'm not getting any hearings. Like a few recruiters have called me back and submitted my name to the company, but then radio silence. This has happened like four times this year without a single interview. I'd have thought by now, with 5 years experience (including almost 2 on the buyside) I'd be pretty competitive. 

It feels like companies are either flooded with apps (maybe pent up demand from last year?) or they're reluctant to hire to the point where they're extremely fussy with applicants.
 

Or maybe my resume just sucks, Idk, interested to hear how it's going for the rest of you. 

 

Every time a headhunter is mentioned in an AM thread, it makes me curious. Who are we talking about? I've rarely seen anyone who focuses on LOs. I'd love to learn.

 

You are right. There are a number of prestigious buyside HHs but they tend to focus on HF (& PE, etc.). I was just curious if there are firms dedicated to the AM community.

 
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Going through exactly what you are at the moment and have a similar profile (4 YOE and 2 on buyside in a niche credit product). 

I could be wrong and welcome others thoughts on this but I think it’s a function of the following factors.

Rightsizing and Uncertain Macro Outlook: 

Firms over hired during the pandemic and only recently began taking steps to correct those actions. Therefore, I believe substantially all of the layoffs that have occurred to this point were largely corrective actions made by firms in response to the uncertain macro environment. That being said regardless of what happens in the next couple of years I don’t believe these jobs will be coming back. I attribute this to a variety of factors (consolidation, technological advancement, etc.) and believe if rates stay where they are or increase through next year that more layoffs will occur. This puts people looking to lateral in a precarious position and because of this I don’t think we’ll see any semblance of a typical lateral market until 2025.

I also wanted to add that the combination of layoffs and consolidation is leading to an increased number of qualified candidates hitting the market making already competitive processes that much more competitive.

Experience Level:

While 2 YOE on the buy side is great experience it’s not really a differentiator. In conversations I’ve had with larger funds about lateraling they said they want to see people with 5 or so years of continuous coverage in an asset class before they seriously would take a hard look at them. I don’t know if this is a steadfast rule across the industry but it is something I’ve heard a handful of times from different people. 

Another issue you may run into having only 2 YOE is that you’re not differentiated enough from the IB crowd. Therefore, if the firm is looking for someone to crank out models it’s a reliable path to pull from and they’ll likely be able to pay them less than you due to the perks associated with the job (better WLB while maintains solid pay).

 

Agree with pretty much everything you said and it's a relief to hear someone going through the same thing. 

And definitely agree that 2 YOE on the buyside shouldn't really be that much of a differentiator; while I've learned a lot since I joined I still feel pretty dumb next to more experienced people. Definitely still in the stage where I'm learning something new pretty much every day. Like those funds pointed out to you, 5 years is probably what it will take for me to be truly competent in my asset class and be able to independently and reliably come up with profitable trade ideas. The main reason why I want to leave so soon is mainly because of location related comp rather than not feeling challenged enough by my current fund. 

 

Since I'm a student, y'all probably don't want my take, but it feels brutal. It seems like very few places have opportunities for entry roles, and I'm not just talking about Buyside, either. I was at a CLO manager this summer learning their research process into pitching a live deal, while I await their response to see if I get the return offer I get nervous as I'm not seeing a ton of opportunities for credit research or even just research broadly. 

 

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