"A bank won't negotiate my salary during the hiring process. Is this normal?"

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The question: "I'm an experienced quant at an international bank in London and I'm looking for some advice as I prepare to move jobs.

I've interviewed with a large European bank and have been offered a role. I like the bank and I like the job, but I'm annoyed by their tactics. - They've made it clear that their compensation offer is take it or leave it, even though it's barely better than the package I'm on now.

The real issue is the vacation time. My current bank is generous when it comes to vacations; the bank I'm joining is not. I think they need to increase their pay package to reflect this. However, they've made it clear that they're unwilling to discuss vacation days, base salary or bonus. - All aspects of their offer are final.

I haven't been on the market for a while and have never experienced this kind of approach before. Is it normal? What am I suppose to do? In this case, does non-negotiable mean negotiation is still possible? I'm working with a recruiter but he seems to be out of his depth and has simply offered to schedule a meeting with the MD so that we can discuss, "my fears."

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. My instinct is to go out and find another job offer with higher compensation and to then communicate this to the inflexible bank in the hope that they'll budge. Is this a bad idea?!"

The answers: "Whatever you do, don't threaten them with another job offer," says Christian Robbins, a headhunter at Tradestone Search in London. Doing this would send the wrong signal, Robbins adds: "Salary should only be one element of your decision to take a job - ultimately it should be more about whether the role is right for you, not about how much you'll get paid."

Both Robbins and another headhunter, speaking off the record, say the package probably is negotiable. "Non-negotiable means, 'We warmed to you and will respond if you come back with a demand that's only 10-15% higher than the package we've suggested," says Robbins. "- They're simply saying you can't come back demanding a ridiculously higher price." The other headhunter says this approach isn't normal: banks will usually negotiate, unless their budget is tight and their hands are tied.

"Come back to them with a well thought out case pointing out what you can for the bank and how much the market rate is for your role," says Robbins. "Don't just say, "I want this" - you need to justify your worth to them."

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