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At Prudential, Elsewhere, Job Applicants Need Exact Match

JANICE PODSADA

March 25, 2009

Peter Yannielli was upbeat Tuesday morning as he filled out an application for one of more than 40 new customer-service jobs at Prudential Retirement's new call center in downtown Hartford.

Yannielli, 22, a recent college graduate, was smartly dressed. He had a few months of experience. But most importantly, he was armed with a Series 6 license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority exactly the credential Prudential was seeking.

After filling out an application, Yannielli, of Naugatuck, was interviewed by a company manager. "They said they would get back to me," he said optimistically.

At this open interviewing session, unless applicants had the correct, specialized licenses, the call center's recruiters just weren't interested.

That's a microcosm of the job market, 2009-style. There is some work available, but your skill set or experience had better match the position exactly or you're out of luck.

"Employers can afford to be choosy," said Edward J. Deak, a Fairfield University economics professor. "If this is the trend, it's going to make it exceedingly difficult if you have a high school degree."

Of the 40 to 50 new jobs available at Prudential, only one does not require an applicant to have a Series 6 or Series 7 license, said Michael Knowling, a company executive who works with corporate clients.

A Series 6 license allows the holder to sell mutual funds, variable annuities and variable life insurance contracts. A Series 7 license allows the holder to sell other investments, including commercial securities.Among the 140 people who showed up Tuesday to fill out an application, about a third had the required license, said Prudential spokeswoman Dawn Kelly.

More than 800 people had applied online by 10 a.m., but it was not known how many had the required licenses.

Prudential Retirement, which has 800 employees at 280 Trumbull St., declined to say how much the jobs would pay.

The loose job market, with plenty of workers available, "is a plus for businesses. It saves them money. They don't have to train people, but for job seekers, it can significantly narrow their opportunities," Deak said.

Frederick Ingleton, of Windsor, was told that the call-center position he was interested in required a Series 6 or Series 7 license when he showed up. Ingleton who applied for the job of associate manager, doesn't have the licenses, but said he has 17 years experience in the financial industry, "from Wall Street to Main Street."

"They told me there were other positions available in the financial and investment departments, but not at the call center," said Ingleton, 49, a Webster Bank commercial loan specialist laid off in July. "My department was eliminated," he said.

"If employers want to upgrade this is the time to do it," said Dave Wnuk, vice president of Merry Employment Group, a West Hartford staffing agency. "There's plenty of qualified people employers can choose from. They can pretty much hold out for what they're looking for."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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