7/20/12

So in an earlier post I shared portions of what I'm calling my quarter-million-dollar notebook -- the eleven pages containing every note I ever took in b-school that I thought was worth carrying forward into my career. (Why is it a quarter million dollars? That's what I spent on b-school.*)

Here's what it says about jobs.

  • The more the recruiters repeat something about their firm, the less likely it is to be true. (Ex. "You will have completely free access to senior bankers. They will be involved in every step of your development. Our seniors have a very firm commitment to your career. We spend 10% of our man-hours on feedback and development. The whole company has an open-door policy." Etc.)
  • From your point of view, it is more important that you interview them than vice-versa. You are handing them the keys to your life for the next X years. They're just managing future headcount.
  • Negotiate your job offer. If the employer pushes back or gets pissed that you're asking for more, ask them, "If you want to hire someone who won't pursue better outcomes for themselves, how can you expect them to pursue better outcomes for the firm?"
  • On the other hand, never talk about why a job is the right one for you. Tell them why you are the right person for the job.
  • Your answer to the "greatest weakness" question should not be a character flaw.
  • The interviewer is your teammate. It's not a matter of getting over a bar of "good enough"; you need that person to go to bat for you.
  • You are not stressed out. You are happy to meet your future co-workers and spend some time with them, and interested in the answers to the questions that they ask.
  • For what it's worth, I had five offers for a summer internship and four offers for full-time. Most of these were pretty high-quality offers and I was pleased with my palette of options.

    *Happy to continue to endlessly hash out what makes b-school actually cost $200-250k (instead of the $100-120k they like to claim) with the monkeys that haven't read it in the comments on my earlier posts. But that's not the point of this post.

Comments (23)

Best Response
7/20/12
bankerella:
  • Negotiate your job offer. If the employer pushes back or gets pissed that you're asking for more, ask them, "If you want to hire someone who won't pursue better outcomes for themselves, how can you expect them to pursue better outcomes for the firm?"
  • I think this is very situational and far from a best practice. Key situational factors include industry, firm size, prestige of the position, standardization of comp, and your role.

    If you are interviewing for a post MBA associate / VP job at an established buyside shop (finance, large firm, very prestigious, standardized comp, you are another SG&A line item), then arguing for another $10 - $20K when you're already at $350K+ seems like it would result in a GTFO response and probably doesn't make sense when there are 600 people in line behind you willing to accept the offer no questions asked.

    On the other hand, if you've got a pivotal, unique role (e.g. you're overseeing a major overhaul of financial reporting practices, you're bringing some revenue generating possibilities to the firm) at a smaller company with less standardized compensation practices, then I think it makes sense to negotiate something with which you are happy, and could potentially have some major upside.

    In other words, negotiate when you actually have leverage and a reason to do so and make sure the upside is worth the goodwill expenditure.

    7/20/12

    I believe the first one. All banks say their culture is very flat - and banks have the least flat culture of any company

    7/20/12

    I usually find your posts pretty useless. This one is not.

    I especially like this:

    bankerella:

    On the other hand, never talk about why a job is the right one for you. Tell them why you are the right person for the job.

    ^^Very good advice.

    Man made money, money never made the man

    7/20/12

    Damnit bankerella you have given me no fodder for complaining

    7/20/12

    Ditto. Good post.

    While everyone is trying to break into PE/IB, I think I'll try to break into higher education. Those guys are making bank off the poor MBA students.

    In reply to RE Capital Markets
    7/20/12
    RE Capital Markets:

    I usually find your posts pretty useless. This one is not.

    Took the words out of my mouth.

    Thanks bankerella

    In reply to Abdel
    7/20/12
    Abdel:

    Ditto. Good post.

    While everyone is trying to break into PE/IB, I think I'll try to break into higher education. Those guys are making bank off the poor MBA students.

    Tenure!

    7/20/12

    Solid post. Kudos

    I may not be on the Jedi Council, but I sure am great with the Force.

    See my WSO blog posts

    7/20/12

    Good stuff, SB 4 u.

    "An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."
    - Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Check out my blog!

    7/20/12
    blastoise:

    she is a woman though

    What is happening to you Blast?

    Is it because your internship is killing you or because of the new wso user guidelines?

    7/20/12
    bankerella:

    For what it's worth, I had five offers for a summer internship and four offers for full-time. Most of these were pretty high-quality offers and I was pleased with my palette of options.

    humble brag

    In reply to cinnamontoastcrunch
    7/20/12
    cinnamontoastcrunch:
    bankerella:

    For what it's worth, I had five offers for a summer internship and four offers for full-time. Most of these were pretty high-quality offers and I was pleased with my palette of options.

    humble brag

    Welcome to WSO.

    In reply to cinnamontoastcrunch
    7/20/12
    cinnamontoastcrunch:
    bankerella:

    For what it's worth, I had five offers for a summer internship and four offers for full-time. Most of these were pretty high-quality offers and I was pleased with my palette of options.

    humble brag

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es9bWvI8mkM

    If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

    7/20/12

    what's a good answer to greatest weakness? just a skill that you can learn on the job?

    7/20/12

    i say in the beginning i may ask a lot of questions because i want to make sure i get it correct the first time

    If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

    7/20/12

    I always say I have a very short temper for people who do not make deadlines/complain or make excuses. Etc. Take your pick.

    In reply to labanker
    7/20/12
    labanker:
    bankerella:
  • Negotiate your job offer. If the employer pushes back or gets pissed that you're asking for more, ask them, "If you want to hire someone who won't pursue better outcomes for themselves, how can you expect them to pursue better outcomes for the firm?"
  • I think this is very situational and far from a best practice. Key situational factors include industry, firm size, prestige of the position, standardization of comp, and your role.

    If you are interviewing for a post MBA associate / VP job at an established buyside shop (finance, large firm, very prestigious, standardized comp, you are another SG&A line item), then arguing for another $10 - $20K when you're already at $350K+ seems like it would result in a GTFO response and probably doesn't make sense when there are 600 people in line behind you willing to accept the offer no questions asked.

    On the other hand, if you've got a pivotal, unique role (e.g. you're overseeing a major overhaul of financial reporting practices, you're bringing some revenue generating possibilities to the firm) at a smaller company with less standardized compensation practices, then I think it makes sense to negotiate something with which you are happy, and could potentially have some major upside.

    In other words, negotiate when you actually have leverage and a reason to do so and make sure the upside is worth the goodwill expenditure.

    I was going to post this but you beat me to it, +1 sir.

    I agree with bankerella in broad terms that you should try to negotiate something because they are by definition going to try to low ball you. At larger firms it is tough because the comp is pretty standardized and they are not going to pay you more than the rest of your incoming class. That's just the way it is.

    At smaller firms, it is absolutely crucial to negotiate (such as at a smaller hedge fund). With these type of opportunities, it is zero sum between you and the founder / principle. Every dollar you make comes directly out of his pocket (not the case at a large firm that may have a departmental budget that gets allocated in some partially arbitrary way). The incentive at a small firm is for the founder to shaft you (regardless of what they say), so I would be pretty ruthless up front (although friendly of course). If they can't agree to something in writing, that's walk away time. You should, in general, expect a lot of gamesmanship and bullshit, and feel free to bullshit right back (it's not lying if they lie to you first!).

    Also, it's pretty clear cut that any person taking a role at a smaller firm has a larger impact on overall firm performance, by definition, and therefore should be able to negotiate some kind of custom package. Small firms are very high beta on compensation and can be well below or above a large buy side firm. The only way to really get what you are worth is to bring something differentiated to the table, which is a real possibility after the 5+ year mark depending on what kind of experience you have (to get back to the topic, however, an MBA is not a differentiated offering, that's a commodity). But if you have really good experience from a great firm with a unique strategy, and you can largely replicate that at the new firm, it could be a very interesting offer for the hiring firm and you better damn well bend them over a barrel during the negotiation process.

    7/20/12
    In reply to labanker
    7/20/12
    labanker:
    bankerella:
  • Negotiate your job offer. If the employer pushes back or gets pissed that you're asking for more, ask them, "If you want to hire someone who won't pursue better outcomes for themselves, how can you expect them to pursue better outcomes for the firm?"
  • I think this is very situational and far from a best practice. Key situational factors include industry, firm size, prestige of the position, standardization of comp, and your role.

    If you are interviewing for a post MBA associate / VP job at an established buyside shop (finance, large firm, very prestigious, standardized comp, you are another SG&A line item), then arguing for another $10 - $20K when you're already at $350K+ seems like it would result in a GTFO response and probably doesn't make sense when there are 600 people in line behind you willing to accept the offer no questions asked.

    On the other hand, if you've got a pivotal, unique role (e.g. you're overseeing a major overhaul of financial reporting practices, you're bringing some revenue generating possibilities to the firm) at a smaller company with less standardized compensation practices, then I think it makes sense to negotiate something with which you are happy, and could potentially have some major upside.

    In other words, negotiate when you actually have leverage and a reason to do so and make sure the upside is worth the goodwill expenditure.

    Yep, for sure. Bear in mind, these are personal notes. Don't take advice from strangers on the internet without making sure it applies to your personal situation first.

    Your point, however, actually speaks to how that note got into my notebook.

    I got an offer from a good-sized group at a traditional and hierarchical firm. I told them (honestly) that they weren't my highest offer. The compensation structures were a little complicated, so I walked them through how I got to a present value of each offer. Then I told them I would prefer to work for them, and that it would be an easy decision if they could just make the model balance. Their response was initially a little cold. Then I got a call from the big guy, who said, "We've thought about it, and we're glad you asked for more. It shows you're more likely to push for a better outcome for our firm as well as for yourself. We're going to go see if we can sharpen our pencils." Final outcome: the offer stood; they didn't withdraw it, and they didn't increase it. However, I did get a bunch more calls from senior people trying to sell the offer harder.

    If it matters, I ended up taking a different job anyway.

    7/20/12

    the point about not talking about why the job is right for you is the best one of the list...I constantly hear junior people talk way too much about their own careers in an interview as if we are running some extension of school for them. If I am looking to hire an analyst I need to know that they are going to bust their ass doing this job, not that they plan to be the next George Soros before they turn 28. I actually usually ask some variation of "what do you plan to be doing in 5 years?" and I am stunned how insane some of the responses are...basically the timelines kids lay out have them working for me for about 8-10 months before they must be promoted. Its quite delusional as most analysts we hire will be analysts in five years.

    The worst one was the salary negotiation. I have nothing against asking for more money, but if you get pushback I would not give some cheesy line about them wanting somebody who would want a raise. At least for me that would be a huge eye-roller and would make me wonder if the whole idea of hiring this guy/girl was a mistake.

    7/21/12

    How are you supposed to answer "Why Investment Banking?" if you can only talk about why you're the right one for the job and not visa versa?

    In reply to orangebull
    7/21/12

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    If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

    In reply to cinnamontoastcrunch
    7/25/12

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