Changing jobs to a big bank – a look inside the negotiation process

Changing jobs to a big bank – a look inside the negotiation process
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How does making the jump to a big bank in Charlotte actually work?

I spoke with a woman who transitioned from a small financial firm to one of Charlotte’s larger banks as an Operations Analyst. She worked with a recruiter on making the switch, and was willing to share anonymously both the process and the salary negotiation.

Here’s the story, in her words, lightly edited for clarity and brevity:

This was my first job out of college, and I was at the other firm a little under two years.

Honestly, after about a year and a half, I reached a point where soft promises were made by upper management in regard to promotion levels, pay increases. I get that they don’t have full control over it, but as my responsibilities increased, the things I was doing on a daily basis didn’t line up to my position or my compensation.

It’s crazy living in Charlotte because there are so many finance jobs, and I wasn’t even actively looking for another job.

LinkedIn is a life changer. There are recruiters everywhere from all the big banks in Charlotte, my understanding is that they heavily rely on recruiters. I don’t feel like they really check open resumes that people submit themselves. If you have something like “financial analyst” in your profile, recruiters are always blowing you up on LinkedIn.

Sometimes you just get a job title and it can feel a little sketchy: “Compensation is great! Message if interested.” Those are pretty easy to ignore.

But some are like, hey, it’s at Wells Fargo, it’s at Bank of America, it’s this exact title.

At the time I was a private firm, but I wanted to make a move to a bigger bank because I knew in this industry you don’t want to say in the same group forever.

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At bigger banks there are more opportunities to go into different departments.

So this particular recruiter was based out of NY and the job title was actually interesting. I messaged him back and said yes, here’s my contact info, free to talk whenever. After that it was very quick. I think he emailed me within the hour, max.

It was a little more descriptive, and then we talked by phone – I think he was assessing me as a human being. Recruiters don’t go into details as much on the technical aspects of what we do, but the next day or two days later he calls me back and said “I submitted your resume to the group.” He had talked with one of my current bosses and they were interested.

An in-person interview was set up for two days later. It was very, very quick.

I had full disclosure with the recruiter that, hey, I’m still at my job now and am not 100% sold on leaving. I was just interested in seeing what else was out there. In planning, they were super sensitive and respectful of my time and being discreet.

We scheduled the first interview and it ended up being a snow day – what are the chances? – and I had to work remotely so we did a phone interview and it worked out perfectly. Literally no one knew I was interviewing.

My next two interviews were with a more senior boss and the director of our group, and that happened separately. They’re both in NY. No actually saw me face to face before I got an offer. I could’ve been so sketchy and you hired me and you would’ve never known…

When it came to compensation, a big chunk of my role now and in my previous role was overtime. It’s a huge factor.

We work a lot of overtime and as lower level they work us hard. I don’t want to take a job or do a job just because of money, I want opportunity to grow as cliché as that sounds. Based on conversations I had with the bank, it was. They emphasized it throughout the process. After that came compensation talk, and for me it was a really uncomfortable thing to do.

This might be super sexist but you know how guys come out of a test and say “I killed that” and we tend to think we didn’t do well but we do way better? For the job process, that works in their favor. Guys go in and say “I want this.” It’s an awkward thing – who likes talking about money, who likes asking for a specific amount? It’s so uncomfortable.

So all of this happened via recruiter. The recruiter did all the negotiation on my behalf which made it for me a little easier to be more aggressive because it wasn’t affecting the relationship with my new supervisors.

Based on the conversation with the recruiter and how the interviews went, I could tell that they wanted to hire me and the need was quick. I definitely kept those factors in mind.

At my old job, I was making $55k + overtime (time and a half). Going into this job, they asked what I made. I don’t know how common this is but I lied. Is that an okay thing? Is that normal? I upped it $5k.

I said $60k + overtime and I need a 15% raise to be worth leaving ($69k), but I want to keep overtime.

He did give me some push back, like “I don’t know if I can sell that number.” First he said $65k, but I said no, I’m not leaving  my current job for that.

To my advantage, I had a good relationship with my bosses now and established credibility, so it was comfortable enough to stay.

He pushed aback again with a $7k raise. I said no and stood my ground. It was hard though – don’t let this conversation fool you. This was over the course of two conversations, about a week of back and forth.

The recruiter would say, “They really want to hire you so I’m going to keep pushing on your behalf.”

New York people are just more aggressive and I felt like he would have my back more. That sounds judgmental but something about this recruiter made me feel like he would go to battle for me.

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The thing about negotiating via a recruiter is that they’re benefitting too by hiring you so they really want to make it work.

My current VP accepted the number and then they had to figure out legality and paperwork.

Two weeks later they came back with an official offer letter. It was an interesting life lesson, being my first big job change. I’m a terrible liar. I made it very clear with my old job that I wasn’t satisfied with how it was going, but I was feeling guilty because I felt deceitful.

I really wanted to tell them I was looking but everyone told me it was stupid and I shouldn’t. It wasn’t until I got the official letter and signed it that I had a conversation. They weren’t able to match a counteroffer.

It was very uncomfortable, but even they agreed that with the compensation and opportunity it was the right move.

This story is part of a series on “How I landed the job,” going step-by-step through job changes and negotiations at some of Charlotte’s best places to work. To be considered for a story, please email cristina@charlotteagenda.com.

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