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Wall Street Recruits War Veterans as Financial Jobs Decline

Citigroup Joins Goldman to Hire Veterans Amid Slump
A General Electric Co. representative speaks with a job seeker at the Hiring Our Heroes veterans employment fair in Chicago on March 24, 2011. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

June 24 (Bloomberg) -- Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are being recruited by banks such as Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as Wall Street jobs wane.

The New York-based banks joined Credit Suisse Group AG, Bank of America Corp. and Deutsche Bank AG at a job fair hosted yesterday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for service personnel aboard the USS Intrepid, a museum in the Hudson River.

“We’re looking for the right talent at the right time,” Suni Harford, Citigroup’s head of markets for North America, said while gripping a stack of resumes collected at the fair.

The veterans are aiming to work in an industry where jobs fell in 2010 for a fourth straight year to an average 7.63 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or 8.4 percent below a 2006 peak. For veterans, unemployment rose to 12.1 percent in May from 10.6 percent a year ago. President Barack Obama said on June 22 he will withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by September 2012.

The veterans said they hoped they had skills to fit a job at one of the more than 100 employers recruiting.

“This was the first time at a job fair I felt like I was getting a job,” said Dyron Snipe, in the National Guard while getting a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Westchester. Snipe brought 100 resumes. “I just want to be hired by one, but I have a good feeling, for the first time.”

A military background can signal to recruiters that the applicant is disciplined, has a clean record, and can pass drug tests, giving them an edge over civilian candidates, he said.

Chicago Fair

At a similar fair in Chicago in March, about 200 of the 1,200 participating veterans got jobs, said Kevin Schmiegel, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Chamber vice president for veterans programs. Companies weren’t invited to recruit unless they had jobs to fill, Schmiegel said.

Aboard the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier used in World War II, the Vietnam War and to recover U.S. manned space capsules after ocean splashdowns, little if any hiring took place on the spot. Resumes were exchanged and some interviews conducted with the promise of further contact, said Harford. Getting in the door for the first interview is often difficult, she said.

“Veterans have a range of experience that make them a great fit for Goldman,” said Holly Jackson, a recruiter. The company doesn’t have a goal for filling positions, Jackson said after speaking to hundreds of people and collecting a stack of resumes. “We recognize the skill sets veterans have and in the changing workforce, we need the best people,” she said.

Military Recruiters

Military veterans at Goldman help to recruit veterans and ease them into non-military jobs, Jackson said. Even with fewer jobs in the financial industry, the company is always looking for new candidates, she said.

Former Marine Corps Captain Christopher Perkins, now head of Citigroup’s derivatives operation in the Americas, said he dealt with budgets and negotiation while stationed in Japan, his first education in business practices. Citigroup hired him based on skills obtained in the military, not to burnish the firm’s image, he said.

“It’s not about charity work,” Perkins said. “It’s about making the firm better.”

Financial-service companies accounted for 29.3 percent of U.S. corporate profits in the 12 months ended March 31, compared with 31.6 percent in the previous decade, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s off the high of 41.7 percent in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2002.

‘Up And Down’

“We’re always up and down,” Seth Waugh, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank’s Americas division, said yesterday in an interview at the fair with Bloomberg Television. “I would say that we’re in sort of a flat mode, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities and changes going on.”

Navy Commander John Hensel, who trains pilots at a base in Pensacola, Florida, said he was evaluating options about 18 months before he is eligible to retire. With a graduate degree in business administration, Hensel was most interested in a Wall Street job.

“If you’re managing millions of dollars in aircraft and air crew or millions of dollars in assets, it’s all management,” said Hensel, wearing his white Navy uniform. Hensel said he felt optimistic about his chances of getting a job after speaking with corporate recruiters.

David Kim, arrived late at Goldman Sachs’s tent aboard the Intrepid, and ticked through the list of employers, circling those that might be most interested in his accounting degree. The Marine Corps veteran talked with recruiters, aware that Wall Street is cutting back.

Future Events

“I have heard about that on the news,” he said looking over the tent of potential employers. “But it seems like there is something here.”

Similar events are planned by the Chamber, with about 100 fairs across the nation in the next year. It’s also assembling an Internet network, aiming to match employers with servicemen. The Chamber, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, will announce next week an initiative pushing companies to hire military spouses.

“It’s not just about hiring 300 people,” said Schmiegel. “You have a million more. We need to create a movement.”

To contact the reporter on this story: William McQuillen in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at

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