Dimon Helps With Sacked Bear Employee Outplacement

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Boy, they must really feel guilty about the Bear deal over at JP Morgan. The Financial Times reports that efforts to find fired Bear employees jobs starts at the top. Jamie Dimon wrote personally to 30 clients so far.

While this is obviously a great PR move, and stands in sharp contrast to Vikram Pandit’s ham handed letter to customers last week, it sounds as if the impact is somewhat exaggerated. Yes, firms ought to help employees, particularly those of long standing, find new work instead of doing nothing or fobbing them off on outplacement firms that are reported to be good at little beyond writing resumes.

But how much can JP Morgan do? The didn’t manage these unfortunates, so on what basis can they offer a recommendation? “Gee, his HR file looks strong.” Admittedly, there will be cases where having worked at a big Wall Street firm establishes a high enough base level of expertise that it would be attractive to, say, a buy side firm or a foreign bank. Plus the speed of the Bear collapse means that, unlike other firms, there are good people on the street along with the weaker sort that would have been sent packing early in the downsizing process.

So the biggest gain is not the endorsement per se, since it won’t mean much, but that the bank’s intervention means that the now redundant workers will at least get an audience, particularly since the bank is being systematic about finding out what positions are open at its clients. That isn’t trivial. In the post-dotcom bust days, I stopped in to see a friend who had gone into headhunting some years ago. He had two massive stacks of unopened envelopes behind his desk, each well over a foot high. He saw me studying them and explained:

Yes, look at all those letters. I’ve no doubt many are from good people, but there is so much competition that I only talk to candidates who have been introduced to me. The only reason I keep those letters at all is in case someone I know calls about a prospect. I can then look to find the resume if I need to.

So if headhunters won’t even look at resumes in a weak job market, imagine how much more difficult it is to gain access to the potential employer. But if other firms emulate JP Morgan’s move, having, say, a dozen firms put resumes before clients with jobs will dilute the effectiveness of the referral, although jobseekers are still likely to wind up net ahead.

From the Financial Times:

JPMorgan Chase has launched an unprecedented campaign to find jobs for more than 5,000 people who are being sacked after its takeover of Bear Stearns.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chairman and chief executive, has personally written to more than 30 clients, rivals and vendors to ask them to consider former Bear staff. People close to the situation said Mr Dimon was planning to send about 100 such letters.

The bank, which bought Bear for a bargain price when it was close to collapse in March, has also asked more than 1,800 companies for a list of their vacancies and urged them to hire the employees to be made redundant after the takeover.

The project, which has been spearheaded by Frank Bisignano, chief administration officer, has already provided JPMorgan with a database of 3,000 vacant positions across the industry…

JPMorgan executives stress that the job-seeking project is still in its early stages but believe that it could lead to new positions for about half of the 5,000 employees displaced by the merger. The bank has only taken on about 6,000 of Bear’s 14,000 employees so far, while 1,000 have left of their own volition.

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  1. Anonymous

    Plus the speed of the Bear collapse means that, unlike other firms, there are good people on the street along with the weaker sort that would have been sent packing early in the downsizing process.

    Don’t firms usually lay off the best employees first?

  2. Anonymous

    Of course they do. In this day and age, good employees are a threat. Which is why creeps like Country Wide’s Mozilo are offered board positions.

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