The 10 commandments of salary negotiation
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Every recruiter worth their salt will ask about your salary expectations when you first start interviewing. Do not give them a number. What to do instead: Ask for the range they’re budgeted for the role.
How to say it: “Can you tell me the salary band for this level? Happy to let you know if it’s within my range, and we can discuss specific numbers later when I’ve met the team.”
Go into the interview ready not just to answer questions but to ask some of your own. You will use this to negotiate later. Here are a few examples of what you should ask:
Once you’ve been offered the role, the recruiter’s job shifts from evaluating you to closing you. Most experienced recruiters will ask you again to put up a number for your salary. Clever recruiters may even tell you that they “will go to bat for you.”
What recruiters say: “If you give me your number, I will make it happen for you.”
What they mean: “I’ll get you something lower, but kinda close to what you asked for.”
At FAANG-size companies (i.e. over 5K employees), compensation is heavily formulaic. In fact, there is often a separate team — the “compensation committee” — who sets your salary. They take into account your background, interview performance, and level. They give the recruiter a number to go with.
The recruiter then gives you the number, and every time you negotiate they have to go back to that committee to ask for a re-evaluation.
You may be dealing with the founder directly. It’s very likely there is no range for the role, as smaller companies have much less access to salary data. The goal at the initial offer conversation is to understand three things:
It can be tempting to think you need to negotiate now that you have data. Nope, not yet. The next step, instead, is to upsell your worth before you come back with any kind of counteroffer. This is especially important if you’re going for a senior role.
What to do next: Ask for follow-up meetings with decision-makers. If you’re a Director or higher, you can usually ask to meet with any VP and possibly C-level execs. VPs can often meet with the CEO and even board members. Take your time; this is important if you want your salary to reflect your value. If everyone wants you, you’ll be calling the shots later.
Did you know that women make only 47 cents in equity for every dollar a man makes? A HUGE reason for that is that many women don’t fully evaluate their offer before negotiating. Ask yourself these questions:
Getting paid more up-front doesn’t always mean you’ll make the most overall. Plan carefully.
Not all offers are made equal — in fact, they are intentionally confusing. At Google, you may get a front-loaded vesting schedule on your stock; at Amazon, sizable cash bonuses the first two years. It seems obvious that you should look at the comp, but that’s not everything.
It can be awkward to ask for more money, but trust me, everyone expects you to do it. On top of that, it doesn’t help that so much of the advice out there is conflicting.
You absolutely do not need multiple offers. Just being able to say you’re speaking to other companies is sufficient — you can quote the expected salaries for other roles if needed.
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