Why do I suddenly have six job offers?

10th July, 2010

Dear Economist,

For the past year I’ve been looking for a new job in banking. No matter what I did or to whom I talked, there were no opportunities and I received nothing but rejections.

One month ago, it began to turn. As of this week, I have five job offers – as well as one internal opportunity. How could this happen? Yes, the economic situation has improved, but can that explain the leap from zero to six offers? If so, aren’t employers completely irrational in their hiring policies? As my supply is completely inelastic, their increased demand means that they now have to pay a significant mark-up compared with six months ago. Are employers just bad at planning or is there another reason why my dry spell has come to such a sudden and inflationary end?

In Demand

Dear In Demand,

Congratulations, but I think you’re making a common mistake, which is to confuse your own situation with that of the economy in general. (As the old joke goes: a recession is when my neighbour loses his job, but a depression is when I lose mine.) For example, data from Lindsey Macmillan at Bristol University shows that at the end of the British recession of the early 1990s, many households were richer than at its beginning. Others were much poorer. The variation between households was far greater than the difference between booms and recessions. Your experience is unique.

Many jobs are all about finding a good match between the job and the person who fills it. An applicant who is well matched – or can talk as if she is – will succeed. So my guess is that you have simply become a polished interviewee. My only concern is that you may have learnt to fake professionalism so well that you land up with a job that is too much for your abilities. But you’re in banking, so at least you’d have company.

Also published at ft.com.

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