So you worked for FTX. Now what? Advice from recruiters and employers

Former employees of FTX and other bankrupt crypto firms are likely to face more scrutiny in their job search. But recruiters and hiring managers say they can move on if they’re transparent about their past employment.

“The first step is owning it, really,” said Will Brown, head of financial services executive search at recruiting firm Hamlyn Williams.

The career advice comes after a year of turmoil in the crypto industry, including multiple bankruptcies, which have decimated the value of digital assets and dulled the shine of the once lucrative sector. While not all failing companies are associated with fraud allegations like FTX, anyone who has worked at these companies could face a difficult task finding their next job.

Will Brown, head of financial services executive search at recruiting firm Hamlyn Williams.


Tess Nellis

One thing in their favor: the US labor market remains tight and demand for the kind of talent the crypto industry is looking for is still high, including for professionals who manage legal and compliance activities at companies.

Still, ex-crypto employees might encounter some of the same obstacles faced by former Enron Corp employees. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which also imploded dramatically.

Many of the 4,000 people laid off in December 2001 following the accounting scandal and subsequent Enron bankruptcy described their job search as slow, painful and frustrating.. According to media reports at the time, many were out of work even three months after the layoffs, but many also found jobs soon after through old-school networking and an online community of former students. Enron, while some have started their own companies.

“I’ve worked with many compliance specialists who came from Lehman Brothers…Will this end some people’s careers? Yes. But for compliance people, no,” said Andrew Hastings, head of US regulatory recruiting at Larson Maddox, an executive search firm in New York.

Crypto compliance, which has grown rapidly in recent years, is still an in-demand job skill, and it forces candidates to take more risks in their career paths, as they often transition from more traditional financial firms with clearer regulatory pathways to an industry that lacks federal regulation, recruiters say.

FTX filed for bankruptcy in November after being hit by a series of withdrawal requests that left it with an $8 billion shortfall, The Wall Street Journal reported. Many FTX employees said they were unaware of the company’s financial situation and that its legal and compliance staff resigned the week former chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried revealed the extent of the financial problems. from FTX. The company had about 300 employees, the Journal reported.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.


Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Wall Street Journal

Job applicants might be perceived by hiring managers that their work at FTX or a similarly tarnished company would make them an “inherently fraudulent person,” said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., chief executive of the Society for Human Resource Management, an association of HR professionals. He said potential employers would look for any hint of lies or lack of ethics.

“You’re always stronger when you’re on offense,” said Taylor, who suggested bringing up the subject of former employment early on in communications with a potential employer. “It’s the elephant in the room, and you need to do everything you can to spread the fact that you’re deceptive.”

Recruiters suggest candidates start reaching out to their networks and talking to recruiters to make connections, according to Larson Maddox’s Mr. Hastings. “You want to freshen up the resume and dust off the cobwebs,” he said.

They also suggest that now is the best time for former FTX employees to reach out to networks of former colleagues who can speak of success at other companies. “People you’ve worked with who can vouch for you can support you and set you apart,” Brown said.

Background checks will likely be crucial, said Taylor, who recommends applicants have six references ready. During the interview, these candidates will also be expected to accurately describe their experience at the struggling company without sacrificing their former employers, even when, as at FTX, the company’s former CEO is under fire. a federal indictment, he said.

Candidates should also practice separating themselves, along with their own work experience and accomplishments, from the company they worked for, recruiters and hiring managers said. One way to do this is to highlight the positive aspects of their work in other jobs, especially those at companies with strong reputations.

Ultimately, recruiters and hiring managers agree that candidates need to demonstrate to potential employers that they are ethical people and that they will be able to report possible misconduct by a future employer.

“Companies that want to build a culture of compliance, they want people who can stand up to the misconduct or corruption that is part of the business,” Hastings said.

Write to Mengqi Sun at

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