The Scarlet B (New York Post 3/23/2009)



Difficult as it may now be to believe, there once was a time when folks on Wall Street were held in high regard. The high rollers at firms like Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and the financial services division of AIG may have been a tad haughty if not outright arrogant, but the lucre they generated evoked similar sums of admiration and envy.

But with Wall Street’s reputation currently fluttering around the lofty heights set by Al Qaeda and the North American Man-Boy Love Association, some experts are saying the stigma attached to working in finance is hurting the ability of downsized bankers to find new jobs.

“There’s blood in water right now and the sharks are circling. Investment bankers are despondent,” says Bill Singer, a securities industry lawyer with the firm Stark and Stark, who has 30 years of experience. “Folks from once-major firms are having a hard time getting jobs because so many folks are transferring their anger from the employer to the employees.”

. . . Jason Morris, the president and chief operating officer at EmployeeScreenIQ, a firm that performs background checks on job applicants, has also noticed scarlet letters being passed around, leading him to coin a term for it: “job stigma.”

“We’re hearing a buzz about it” in the HR community, he says.

“I don’t think [employers] are doing it intentionally, but they’re carrying that stigma in the back of their minds.”

Morris says he’s heard from folks in the mortgage lending business who’ve been singled out for particular scrutiny. Potential employers are “using buzzwords in interviews that they might’ve heard in the news,” he says. “‘Did you work in subprime?'”

“The people carrying that burden are going to have to shine,” he says.

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