by Ella Manashill

If you are looking for a job or considering a career in banking, there are a few things to think about for your job search:
What are the positives and negatives of a career in banking?
What skills are important to highlight and strengthen?
What kind of bank do you want to work for?
What kind of role do you want?

This week’s Thursday evening Job Forum workshop brought together an expert panel of Bay Area banking professionals to give job hunters candid advice and provide viewpoints on these questions and help people get started or improve their success for a job search in the banking industry.

Benefits and Challenges to Working in Banking

Before beginning your job search it’s important to make sure that banking is the right fit for you. Determining what aspects of a career are important to you will help you understand if banking is the right path.

Some positives of working in banking that our knowledgeable panelists identified include:
– Diversified Job Opportunities! There is a huge range of positions you can hold in the banking field. Some of the most common areas of work include retail or branch banking, wealth management, operations, and finance.
– The work is intellectually engaging and challenging.
– There are often many domestic and international travel opportunities.
– Community involvement and personal interaction often play a large role in banking jobs.
– You can have a meaningful impact being part of a client’s finance journey.
– Team-building, camaraderie, and mentorship are common in banking jobs.
– There are many roles in banking not all-related to finance per se – examples are IT, cybersecurity, sales, customer services, marketing.

Some negatives that panelists identified are:
– Banking jobs can lead to some frustration because it is a heavily regulated industry.
– The Bay Area has become less of a banking HQ hub over the last several years.
– There are currently some layoffs and hiring freezes in the industry due to COVID-19.

It’s important to consider these benefits and challenges so you can determine whether pursuing a job in banking will fit your needs.

Necessary Skills.

When starting your job search it’s also important to think about the skills you have and what skills are necessary for a career in banking. Below are some of the skills our panelists suggested to strengthen and highlight in your job search:

– Relationship building
– Accounting
– Analytical judgement
– Written and verbal communications
– Leadership and decision making, which become more important as you move up to higher ranking positions
– Responsibility and accountability
– Attention to detail
– Critical thinking
– Up to date on current software

Company Culture

In addition to thinking about your own skills and qualifications for a job, you also want to ensure that the companies you’re applying to have the right culture for you. One of the major culture differentiators in banking is small versus large banks. Larger banks typically offer more specialized positions that require you to work as part of a larger team. This makes it easier to work your way up the leadership hierarchy and there are typically more types of job opportunities. On the other hand, smaller banks usually have more “jack of all trades” positions for which you need to be familiar with multiple aspects of the business. In this sense, smaller banks provide an opportunity to become a trusted advisor of the entire business.

Below are some other ways to help you understand the culture of the company and make sure it is the right fit for you:

– Look at the website and see what the bank emphasizes. For example, do they prioritize diversity?
– Walk into a branch and notice the atmosphere and talk to the bankers there
– Check to see what kinds of people sit on the board.
– Look at LinkedIn as well as consider your own network for contacts to see if you have any connections to the bank and if so, try to set up an informational interview.
– Check Glassdoor to look at reviews and what others are saying about the company.
– Look to see what news stories have been written recently about the company.
– Find out as much as you can about your potential future manager.

Getting Started

Although a college degree is often required for many banking jobs, entry level positions and internships are often available to help you get your foot in the door. One of the best ways to jumpstart your career in banking is becoming a teller. If you work hard to prove yourself during your time in an entry level or internship position, getting a higher level job will become easier later on.You will have made contacts and learned quite a lot about the banking world.

If you have more specific questions about your banking job search, please consider attending The Job Forum to meet our panel of local SF Bay Area business managers who volunteer and help job hunters become more successful. The Job Forum is held virtually every Wednesday at 6:00 pm. We also offer workshops virtually every Thursday evening. We hope to see you there! Here below is a link to Eventbrite to allow you to sign up for all The Job Forum virtual events. First you sign up, then you will receive a zoom link, 24 hours ahead, to enable you to attend.