The Jobless Crisis: Boardroom tips for ex-executives

THE boardroom looked like any other with a group of well-dressed and well-presented executives discussing staff recruitment problems. David Hockney prints hung on the wall and secretaries provided coffee and biscuits.

All but one of the seven sitting around the table yesterday were qualified accountants, two had Masters degrees in Business Administration, another had graduated from Cambridge before training with Price Waterhouse. Although they had experience at finance director level, only one was over the age of 44.

They appeared confident and good humoured as they discussed the difficulties of 'downsizing', job rationalisation and the right approach to factory closure and 'outplacement' services.

It was difficult to believe they were all unemployed, up-market representatives of the 3,062,065 out of work. Most had earned more than pounds 40,000, plus perks, in their former jobs; one with a clothing manufacturer, another with a national brewer and another with an industrial conglomerate. The talk was not of the public perception that at least accountants would do well out of the recession, but of 400 applicants for every job, age discrimination beginning at 35, using your contacts and of how to get your curriculum vitae noticed.

Nigel Collin, 42, former finance director for the Techland Group, a computer company, rationalised himself out of a job when a review concluded the group did not need a full-time finance director. He did not believe it would be so difficult to find a replacement post. His failure is put down to 'too general' experience when companies are playing safe and looking for expertise related directly to their sector. And his age.

'Old age is 35. It makes you realise the market has totally changed,' he said. Like many of the others, Mr Collin has padded out his redundancy payment with freelance earnings and has formed a company with a colleague in his home town of Maidenhead, Berkshire, to provide advice for firms too small to employ their own professional staff.

The boardroom group, one of whom had travelled 120 miles to be present, was taking part in a seminar organised by Robert Half, a recruitment agency specialising in accountancy.

Jeff Grout, managing director, said he was running monthly job search workshops at his company's London offices. Participants, no matter how senior, were given advice on how to approach companies, using their contacts to best effect and on interview techniques. 'The market has not worsened from three years ago - we are in a completely different world. The demand for accountants is at its lowest level since the Second World War,' he said.

The only slight signs of optimism were that the level of temporary contracts was at its highest level for 18 months and the volume of recruitment advertising in January had been above January last year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower