I've been saying this to people for years, and I'm glad to hear someone else say it. As a hiring manager, I'm not paying your salary out of my own pocket, so I don't give a shit if you want (and get) an extra $10k. My job is to fill the headcount that I've got, so as long as it fits within budget, whatever.
I don't think anything less, or more, of people who ask for extra - I usually forget by the time the person starts the job. It's not my money. I don't care.
And neither does "the company" - a corporation is an abstract legal entity that is incapable of human emotions. It's not going to get mad at you because it thinks you're greedy. Don't anthropomorphize it.
At least at my company (and from what I understand, most companies) it's a lot easier to get a pay bump when you're negotiating the offer, than it is to get a raise/promotion. When you're getting a job offer, you're a one-off special case and there are a lot of unknowns. When it's performance review season, everyone is potentially getting a salary increase, so there are tighter budgets to stick to. My advice is to get what you can up front, and worry a bit less during the annual cycle.
In these sorts of situations, negotiation is much harder on a personal level, since the company is not a faceless entity. The company does have a face, that's the face you have to look into when you state your salary request.
On the other hand, it's also harder to accept being underpaid, because if you don't get paid what you're worth, you know the extra profits will go (almost) directly into the pocket of a person you will see daily at work.
Either my experience is exceptional, or your implication that money is the only thing that matters about a job is wrong.
Many people on HN, after a decade or so of amazon salaries, seem to have no concept of the real world.
I have the feeling, that i'm still having a similar amount of fun/happiness when i do my current job vs. my previous job but with more money.
More money means for me: less working later or nicer things now or faster/more stability & safety.
I have also seen enough people being afraid of quitting, people unable to quit, people who did not pull their weight, still complaining, still not quitting.
I have seen people not pulling their weight and being able to find a new/better job where they will still perform the same now just another company doesn't know what to do with them and just having them.
that said, I think a lot of young people have a poor understanding of how much saving early on can impact your retirement.
Smaller companies are often more flexible on other terms though, which is worth knowing. Often they can give you eg work from home options, different configuration of vacation days, etc. This if useful to think any for negotiation purposes.
So what? It's just like any other expenditure for the company. And it doesn't change the reality the owner is thinking about -- value of hiring you must be higher than cost of wages paid on a regular basis for it to work out. And probably high enough that they'd even bother trying to recruit anyways.
In a way, it's sometimes even easier to have negotiations in the owner because it's so much easier to up-sell them on added value you can provide because you are talking to the person who'd be willing to buy even more of just that. There's no one-size-fits-all HR determined range to deal with.
It does get a bit tricky if they're comp demands wind up out of band and then I need to decide if it's worth a higher level head count, but otherwise go for it.
The worst part was that he left after 8 months because he wanted more money (he didn't ask for a raise; he just found a better paying role) and I had to do all the hiring nonsense again.
HR people might be good for the company bottom line but they're not good at retaining staff.
Current company brought me in as a contractor at a good rate. Contract house had decent benefits, decent PTO, etc. It was very similar to the companies, just PTO was a bit less.
They eventually wanted to bring me on as a regular employee and offered about a 10% pay cut. WTF? I'm not dumb. I know they are paying a significant overhead to the contract house. I was honestly expecting a small pay bump when I came on as a regular employee.
I asked to stay a contractor and told them if they couldn't do that I guess I would have to take the salary they were offering. I didn't say I wouldn't stick around, but we both knew. They eventually came back with an offer at the same as my current salary, which was still a pay cut after the new benefits cost. Not big, but maybe a hundred bucks every two weeks on my take home.
Now they've converted another contractor to employee, who maybe played more hardball, but I'm pretty sure he's topped my salary even though he's clearly not as experienced and was making a lower salary before.
I'm deciding if I should do anything because there are now 3 senior's and I believe I'm the lowest paid. The other two guys are single white guys, and I'm Hispanic with kids.
I've previously noted the newest guy seems to have some lowkey racial issues with me, which is why I think he bargained so hard on salary. We discussed salary when we were contractors. He's always seemed to measure himself against me in a weird way.
You sure it's related to race? IMO bargaining harder makes more sense if/when you have extra information (e.g. someone else's salary), regardless of whether you love or hate that other person.
He was also hired at a lower level and doesn't have my experience.
Why bother fighting over 4 or 5 percent when I can just get another job in afew months that pay 10 or 20 percent more? I don't see the value, and obviously they don't either. I'm more astounded by the number of people who stick around at jobs for years getting very little pay or loyalty in return.
If they're pushing for more than HR wants to give, like I said I'm an advocate but the final say isn't mine if they're pushing tooooooo far off the calculated target amount.
Exactly, but the budget isn't infinite.
Assuming equal talent, I'd much rather hire 5 people at market rate rather than 4 people at 25% over market rate. The net cost is roughly the same, but we can get much more accomplished with 1 more person on the team. Even better, on-call demands are spread out over more people and vacations are easier to schedule.
In my experience, compensation requests are only loosely coupled to a person's abilities. Usually, the person's prior salary history is the driving factor, even when they don't reveal it (I don't ask). If you have a large enough candidate pool, it can often make sense to let the most aggressive negotiators go to the FAANG companies rather than jumping through hoops to overpay them relative to the rest of the team. The most aggressive salary seekers usually end up leaving for FAANG anyway, because they want the resume prestige as leverage in future salary negotiations.
Finally, handing out above market salaries isn’t without consequence for managers. When C-level execs look at compensation across the company and see a handful of managers with significantly higher compensation, they’re going to have higher expectations for that team. If a manager is constantly paying above-market rates but producing average or below average work, it’s going to draw attention. If I’m going out on a limb to give people above market compensation, the expectations are that much higher. I’m also going to be that much quicker to let highly compensated people go if they can’t live up to their compensation requests.
Having more people adds its own cost and there is a Pareto law in people's contributions.
Edit: Basically, IMHO, in terms of assembling the best team to deliver the best results it's better to keep things as small as possible. But in terms of internal company politics it's better to grow the team as much as possible.
You don't see any irony in offering "shit salaries" trying to build a salary comparison startup? What do you intend to do if and when candidates use your very popular competitor levels.fyi (which, just so you know, they already do)?
To actively hire at less than market range is to tacitly admit (whether intentionally or not) that you neither can afford nor adequately deploy the difference you're paying for. If that is the case, what kind of a message do you think that sends me about your serviceable obtainable market and your margins, your data quality, your growth, and how well you'll achieve competitive differentiation against your incumbents?
Don't take this the wrong way, but it almost appears as if you have resigned towards not being #1 in the space.
Based on my limited (10 years) experience I'm pretty convinced that there is little to no correlation between competence, confidence and compensation.
There are many people for whom work is not the most important thing in their lives. My expectation is that actively selecting for work not being the most important thing in someones life is an arbitrage that is under utilised and will create a much more sustainable company in the medium to long term.
Well, let's make sure to be specific about what we mean by those "for whom work is not the most important things in their lives." There are those for whom that's the case now, but who put in the work previously to attain the level of competence they need to do the job well. Then there are those who never reached competence because they never put in the work to attain it.
My guess is that you'll have difficulty attracting and retaining the former over the latter. Perhaps one assumption that's helpful to voice (and feel free to disagree with me here) is that most of folks in the former camp are going to have multiple offers and even a high FAANG/startup salary already -- that's because plenty of companies are fine screening for folks who want that and find sustainable work hours (== "work not being the most important thing in their lives") a key part of reducing burnout and the attendant organizational replacement costs. They just want the competence part.
And so that will leave the latter category. What I can say having interviewed hundreds of candidates (many as a hiring manager) at growth stage firms is -- it's hard to even recruit what you're willing to pay for, let alone getting more than what you pay for. Buying a lemon is expensive; you still pay the recruiting costs (either time or money) and you pay the opportunity costs to try and make a not so great candidate do good work. It's like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. It's a real seller's market for talent right now. I heartily encourage you to try and prove me wrong, and if you do, more power to you. But if you run into issues, perhaps consider a couple of the things I've pointed out.
There's no harm in trying to buy a lunch for less than the lowest median price, or for free. But you shouldn't be surprised if it's not possible. At a certain point, you'll probably get hungry enough that you'll realize that such a desire is penny-wise, pound foolish. The reality is that you need to pay market price for your lunch in order to eat.
At the very least pay market rate (i.e. an average salary) and then add benefits to turn average into good.
In my case my income really isn't the primary determinant of my household income. As the secondary earner being able to support the primary earner fully is of much more value to my longterm household income than fighting tooth and nail for an extra $20k p.a.
Since many competent people couple up into two earner households actively targeting the secondary earners by offering the things that are more valuable to them than money feels like a "society-hack" that should be achievable.
Work 60% for 50% pay or work 80% for 75% pay? Sounds like a raw deal to me.
There is, however, clearly something broken in the labour market though. The progressive income tax system in the UK means that someone working a five day week for ~$160k p.a. would only see a 12.5% reduction in net income if they could drop down to four-days per week.
That's assuming that negotiation skill is closely correlated with the skill you're actually hiring for, rather than being correlated with having read an article like this, or some other somewhat orthogonal knowledge.
If you want better than average people you have to be prepared to offer better that average compensation.
That's what it boils down to. The actual negotiation only moves things at the margin and the initial offer already tells if the company pays well or not. The company's reputation also already told that to candidates.
Of course it's indeed important for the candidate to get the best deal because, as mentioned in another comment, that has a knock-on effect over time.
People overestimate negotiation as a "skill." It's not. It's leverage, it's BATNA. Negotiation is having more than one offer and using that to explore the difference between the initial offer space and the maximum offer space between firms based on a basket of offers. The skill is in getting an offer from more than one company in the first place.
And I would wager that if you're hiring professionals, having that kind of ownership and thoroughness is often exactly what you want to hire for, even more than the direct experience.
But for some tech companies, having 4 engineers at that level is way more useful than 5 engineers 25% less expensive. Your average per IC intellectual horsepower is higher. You often get to solve problems a different way -- to use your example, maybe the on-call burden ends up being lower even being a smaller team because those 4 engineers will find a way to make it so.
I hear people justify not negotiating by saying things like “I’m worried what they’ll think of me” or “I don’t want to create trouble”. This is what people think I care about, but don’t.
And as others have said, absolutely this is different for small companies where they’ll feel it more personally.
Are you sure of that? Two people can usually accomplish much more than one person, but how much more do you achieve with 5 people rather than 4?
My guess would be that adding the fifth person to a team increases productivity between 5-15%.
I'm in a 4 person team currently, give me an additional project manager and productivity will soar as devs can focus on technical aspects, rather than being inefficient at PMing for a mediocre output (at least that's my expectation, you never know in advance I suppose)
If the work is embarrassingly parallel, then 25% more. (5/4 = 1.25, of course)
If there is too much work for four people to function effectively, perhaps more than 25%.
If the work requires a lot of inter-process communication, perhaps less than 25%.
That will come much later in the company’s trajectory.
One small exception to this from my n=1 experience is that all other things being equal, when hiring Barbara would rather pay at the low end of the range and then be generous with a raise, than pay at the top end of the range and have to fight to get you a raise.
That first performance review and raise set the tone for years to come, and good managers want it to be a happy experience for everyone.
But that’s only if all other things are equal. Barbara doesn’t want to lose you to another employer by over-negotiating, so ask for what you want.
Let her worry about fighting for your first raise. That’s the job she signed up for.
However, the company doesn't have infinite money to pay candidates. Compensation comes out of our budgets. The more we pay each person, the fewer people we can hire overall. This is fine if you're really hiring someone with above-average productivity at above-average compensation, but it becomes a problem if you're paying above-average rates for average productivity.
Higher compensation cuts both ways, though. If an average candidate is demanding above-average pay, why would I go through all the work of getting authorization for higher pay just to hire an average candidate? If I'm going through the trouble of getting approval to increase the pay for an open job position, you can bet I'm going to search for higher performing candidates to match that higher compensation.
Usually, when a junior candidate starts requesting senior level compensation, I just give up and hire a senior candidate instead.
Also, higher compensation comes with higher expectations. Businesses have ups and downs and layoffs are a fact of doing business. When budgets shrink and headcount must be reduced, the first people to go are those with relatively high compensation for their productivity/skill level.
But no, it's not simply about having a "win" over the candidate or making power moves during the hiring process. You have to think of hiring as company vs. the entire candidate pool, not just yourself vs. the hiring manager.
Right, but remember that you're not pivoting around the initial offer number.
The hiring manager is pivoting around their budgeted range for the position. If they already offered 20% more than expected to hire someone and that person comes back requesting an additional 5-10K bump, that could put them 25% higher than expected.
Generally speaking, the people playing hardball to get an extra 5-10K are the same people aggressively negotiating the base salary number. I've given people offers for the exact salary they requested, only to have them come back and request another 5-10K just because they're intent on negotiating more at every step.
Candidly, it starts to become easy to spot the aggressive salary negotiators. Many of us current managers grew up reading things like patio11's negotiation guide back in 2012, and we're basically experts at spotting people using it against us now. When aggressive negotiators come along without an obvious BATNA, the easy method is to offer them 5-10K lower than your final offer and let them "negotiate" back up to your target number. The hiring manager wins the negotiation, but the candidate gets to feel like they succeeded in the negotiation. Happens more than you might expect.
(what theptip said below)
Why not just offer the top range and be clear with the candidate that it's the top? If the candidate has a competing offer for more, it means you're paying below market rate and you should address that problem as a business.
> Usually, when a junior candidate starts requesting senior level compensation, I just give up and hire a senior candidate instead.
I think the cynical thing here is not the take but the company you're working at. You use the weasel phrase of "the company doesn't have infinite money to pay candidates" but that just papers over the real elephant in the room: the correlation between what you pay candidates and how much value they generate for the company. If ICs are a cost center, then of course you'll treat them like commodities and try for min-risk rather than max-upside.
And then you'll lose those great junior candidates to companies like those I've worked at where they rocket up from junior -> mid level -> senior -> manager -> director in the time it might take for junior -> mid level at your company. Now if you were that junior candidate, is it a good idea to work at your company or should I assume that your company frankly isn't that compelling and as a savvy candidate I should bet on a better horse and a better jockey?
There's nothing cynical about saying that. But it will look cynical from your perspective.
If you allow candidates to negotiate, then the employees of equal caliber who don’t negotiate will earn less, and this will cause angst when (not if) they compare their comp bands.
Allow candidates to tweak their package by moving value around between the buckets for cash comp, equity, vacation, etc., but keep the total comp determined narrowly by your assessment of their level.
I don’t fully buy into this principle for startups (since leveling is really difficult without a large population to compare across) but I think this is a less cynical explanation for why a hiring manager might not negotiate at all. It’s a slippery slope.
Now, your manager might try to convince you that's this is not the case so as not to give you a raise but they obviously do have adjustment margins.
Assume it's French cheap staffing companies (90% of the employment market there), akin to tata or infosys for foreign readers.
There is a very narrow salary band for the position depending on university and age. They won't bulge for one euro. They'll simply keep looking for candidates to find a cheaper one.
They are well aware that their salaries are low. They see their offers refused time and again. They see candidates leaving in droves for better positions/industries as soon as they can. Doesn't matter, it's just business, gotta stick to the salary grid.
Thinking you're going to work for Google after reading English articles, is really harmful when the closest FAANG office is thousands of miles away in another country.
I am from minor city in Europe, with no FAANG presence, but I found another company with similar engineering first principles. Nobody cares about education and promotions are fully merit based.
NVM you are from France, right?
You really don't have any such companies?
You're extremely lucky to have found a good opportunity in a good company. I will guess back that you live in a major metro area.
France has very little tech industry for many reasons that would be too long to cover. Even the largest national companies that need technology do not hire. If you're familiar with the myth that it's impossible to fire in France, in short that's true, once you have a job it's for life. One consequence is that no company is open to hiring, they only resort to staffing/outsourcing agencies.
This is caused by overly restrictive and rigid labour law. Companies offload that problem to staffing companies. This is a way to go around restrictions and to increase flexibility in the marketplace, but actually employees (at least very qualified ones like engineers) do not really benefits.
That being said, it is possible to find permanent positions and I never worked for a staffing company ('SS2I' as it used to be called) when I was in France.
One would call it Dunning–Kruger, but it's probably merely lack of self-awareness combined with arrogance.
That's absolutely key and always true.
This is also compounded by the fact that companies often have salary bands and that annual salary increases are usually a percentage of the existing salary.
So negotiating the best starting salary is very important and has effects years into the job.
Don't downvote me for suggesting this, I'm trying to expose a weakness. I suspect more likely scenario is what @jghn shares, wherein HR is the one with the offer power, to avoid the hazard I suggested.
Also, would you actually want to work at a company where people are bleeding the company for their own benefit? I cannot even imagine the toxicity. Even hearing the offer I would be so gone.
Strictly speaking, this is not necessarily the case (although it might be, but you probably won't make a career at such a company.)
Bob's job is to make the company money. If one guy is asking $300k, it doesn't necessarily follow that Bob could hire five guys working for $30k and come out way ahead.
> Virtually any amount of money available to you personally is
> mouse droppings to your prospective employer.
> They will not feel offended if you ask for it.
(a) I interviewed with Wealthfront last year. They offered $160K, which was lower cash comp than any of my other offers. I tried to open the door to negotiation. The recruiter and the dev lead then got on the phone with me to awkwardly explain that no, they don't negotiate with candidates, and what makes me feel like their offer is inadequate? Would I really want to miss the opportunity to work for an exciting company over some marginal sum of money? Yes.
(b) The money you ask for is a pittance on the company's balance sheet, but you're not negotiating with the company. You're negotiating with someone in recruiting. From hanging out with HR, they talk a lot of shit about candidates who they consider difficult, and have a lot of ways of making the experience less pleasant for the candidate, even if it's not clear what this means for the company's ability to attract talent.
The only reason it is a bad sign is if they are paying more money simply to compensate for insane working hours or bad culture. That should be sniffable on glassdoor, or with a few well placed questions. Or look for the warning signs. E.g. "We have an onsite gym because we don't want people to leave the building all day".
First, even if you're dead set to work at company X, it's a good idea to get offers from companies Y and Z to help you negotiate. If X is primed for success, as the article recommends, then X should have no problem matching up because a good hire should bring in many times more revenue than what could be saved by pinching pennies on the offer. As a candidate, it's also great to be in a situation where you have multiple offers in the same range, because that allows you to take comp out of the equation and make your decision purely based on which company and role would be the best fit.
Second, it's OK if the first company you work at fails. Early in your career, learning as much as you can is more important than success or failure IMO, and failure can be a tremendous learning opportunity. The article recommends joining a company that's already almost certain to succeed; this means all the critical problems were solved before you joined, and all that's left is to execute. It's great to learn how to execute well, but it's also far from being the whole picture.
I can't imagine the person on the other side NOT dropping you when you're being this incredibly difficult. I certainly would have.
Maybe you're in the valley and they're really struggling to get candidates?
The most important thing these authors are trying to teach isn't dogma to repeat verbatim, it's an overall mindset and high level strategy. And you're right that know one you know talks like that... So don't, make it natural by tailoring the phrases to your needs, it's a framework with examples not something to memorize.
Another good one is:
It's certainly less refined but provides a rough draft on how to play offers off each other. I found his wording slightly rude in his text examples so I mixed and matched strategies with the other articles and adapted the wording for my needs. I ended up negotiating a 50% salary increase and a signing bonus by using this strategy.
Thus it is utterly inapplicable to anyone not living in the valley (or not having that many offers at once). The offers were tightly packed and half of the companies dropped off rather quickly as you noticed. You should understand here that there isn't that much room to negotiate when dealing with 2 companies that ain't Google/Facebook.
I think you give too much credit to yourself for negotiating while the outcome actually had fairly little to do with that. Don't get me wrong, it is great that you managed to get the job and it's fantastic that you wrote about it =)
They are standard offers in the area (the cost of living being insane). On a rather low to mid level actually? Looks like one of the company decided to bump you one level and that's why you got a better offer in the end (you both worked hard for it AND you got lucky).
Given how great you are doing at interviewing. You should go at it again within 1-3 years for the level higher (maybe L5 at Google/Facebook, ICT4 at Apple). Think of what you're having now as a stepping stone =)
I was looking for a new job in the recent past along with a family member (both software eng. roles), and spent a good chunk of time doing research - reading articles like this - and practicing (eventually via companies early in my "pipeline"), and while I didn't use these lines verbatim, the conversation was actually a lot closer to that than you think.
And we both received NON-TRIVIAL adjustments to non-negotiable offers. And we were both very surprised it worked.
It may seem stilted or awkward, but I think that's the point. Recruiters and experienced managers have their own script that is more-or-less designed to make you feel awkward; make you feel like you're getting a great deal and asking for more is greedy. If you get more comfortable with being awkward, while still remaining professional and having clear expectations (vs. saying "not good enough, want more"), and you have a good alternative, you can use these strategies.
I'm arguing against the specific examples, not negotiating in general (that is a good thing to do). I really don't see these long messages/emails getting anywhere, in my experience HR have dropped the ball for less than that. It's over the top to send them long messages in writing that you will never accept whatever number they give and reserve the right to disagree anytime.
One of the offers was FAANG, but a small office. To be clear, I did not do most of this over email, but I used very similar wording in my phone calls.
I never had more than 2 offers at once, and I don't think you need to try and time everything so that you can bet everyone against each other. You really just need 1 other good offer, which was my case. And non-negotiable deadlines have always been extended. Some companies got annoyed that I didn't decide within a few days(especially startups, probably since they are trying to hire super fast), but others were very patient and willing to let me finish interviewing as long as I was upfront with the timing.
> It's over the top to send them long messages in writing that you will never accept whatever number they give and reserve the right to disagree anytime.
I don't think that is the take away at all. You need to be clear that you are still interviewing and thinking things over, and once I got offers from my top choices, I made it clear exactly what it would take to get me to accept immediately, and that counter-offer was not a fantastical number. If you set goal posts, you can always point to them as your reason for not accepting. It's definitely bad form to not provide any feedback on what you're willing to take once you get far enough into the negotiation.
If you're not a compelling candidate, and for at least one of the companies, I wasn't compelling enough, they absolutely will stop the conversation.
But I think it's a case-by-case thing. Not every company will respond the same. I also spent a fair amount of time researching what different companies probably paid for a generalist SWE, which for FAANGs is a lot easier these days, so I knew what some boundaries were.
Preferred the second but their offer was slightly lower. They could match easily (big company) but they didn't want to. I got calls by HR and by the manager to convince me to take the job but they wouldn't bulge on the offer.
Well. Went to work for the first company. I still got a call from HR after I started working at the company, to try to get me. I was upfront, I like your company and your project more, I want to work for you, all you have to do is to match £XYZ salary and I can start working for you on the XYth (notice period). They still refused to match the offer.
Having alternatives when negotiating is not unusual
The reply to this seems obvious. Do you really want to miss the opportunity to hire a strong and promising candidate over some marginal sum of money?
Hiring is HARD. Hiring good engineers is almost impossible.
These places are super rare.
- I’m not sure about the extent to which this is scalable, especially at a VC-funded startup.
- I am not sure if Wealthfront falls into this category.
Good engineers are never looking for a job. They are in their job when new better opportunities arise and they decide to move.
If good engineers are knocking their doors down then an army of average, mediocre, and bad engineers are knocking too. Identifying which is which is a notoriously difficult problem.
Good engineers are generally employed and happy, or at least satisfied. Changing jobs is an extremely high risk move. How often do good engineers change jobs? Not often.
Almost all companies hire heavily through word of mouth. Employee referrals are king. But eventually you exhaust that pool. It's a very hard hump to get over imho.
I expect my salary to roughly follow the market trends. If I negotiate within that range and you don't budge at all, I find that's an indicator of poor internal views and culture.
I don't need you to exactly match another offer, but I do need to see you at least try to work with me to get a better place.
The recruiter from the first company to give me an offer, told me it is pretty much non negotiable, "we have a little wiggle room but don't expect much, it's an amazing offer". It was higher than my then salary, but not by a huge margin.
Then company B got back to me with a significantly higher offer both in terms of RSUs (x2) and base salary.
Well, turned out the non negotiable offer was very negotiable after all, and company A quickly upped their offer above company B's. At this stage it just became a back and forth bidding war, that ended after a couple of weeks with two almost identical offers, 50% higher than the initial TC.
Did you just send an email to company A with "Hey, company B gives me X. Do you have a better offer?" and go back and forth for two weeks?
To have both of these companies compete for you in such a manner your resume must be really impressive. Can you share something else? What field of Computer Science are you in? Machine Learning?
Recruiters are not going to assume that you can enter any FAANG at the highest possible level. It was incredibly lucky from the OP to get 2 offers and at the same time.
Not sure I agree there. I think it could be a deliberate way to engineer the process to create a leverage which most savvy candidates learn to do every time they're on the market. I've been doing this for the past 6 years. It just takes discipline, casting a wide net with a lot of firms in the initial interview process, and being thorough.
If I've done my job right, I've sourced engineers experienced, confident and smart enough to negotiate and ask good questions around compensation. I want to make sure that we have an open conversation so that both sides can move forward to the actual job at hand.
Tip: California based firms are required to give you a salary range if you ask for it and they can't ask you for your salary history, just your comp expectations.
I didn't know that! Do you know what the actual law says? Are employers required to give the salary range for any open position on request? Or is it more limited than that?
(a) An employer shall not rely on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant.
(b) An employer shall not, orally or in writing, personally or through an agent, seek salary history information, including compensation and benefits, about an applicant for employment.
(c) An employer, upon reasonable request, shall provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment. For purposes of this section, “pay scale” means a salary or hourly wage range. For purposes of this section “reasonable request” means a request made after an applicant has completed an initial interview with the employer."
I'd love to see some sort of database showing benefit costs at different companies. The information is out there, it's just hidden. It's often a paint to get clear costs during the interview process. God forbid you're negotiating near the end of the year, because the costs change every year.
1. People aren't encouraged to share this information, there's no obvious place to do it.
2. The value of doing so is minimal
3. People are bad at it. It's difficult enough getting people to share the information correctly when you work at the company and can give them screenshots of what numbers to copy. Without that it's even harder. (Granted much of this is only hard if you're doing multiple roles and currencies)
4. The numbers that the companies share often aren't the entire scale. For example, as far as I know [disclaimers: not a lawyer, this is from indirect experience], if Google hires you as a new grad L3, you aren't given the L3 scale. You're given one number. They don't negotiate on this number. Because while you're hired into an L3 position, you're being hired as a new grad, which is a different pipeline with different comp and rules. I expect other companies are somewhat similar.
5. Salary is one, and only a small, part of compensation, and the law only requires you to share salary. Salary is also usually the most difficult part of the package to negotiate.
6. A lot of the information is public, if you know where to look (levels.fyi, /r/cscareerquestions salary surveys, etc.
And this is not just “HR told me this”. It’s the actual number in the compensation scheme visible to hiring managers.
And there is significant overlap between levels. The next level up is something like $170k to $260k.
And to be frank, if you're interviewing somewhere and they come back with that answer, I think that tells you most everything you need to know about whether you should work there or not.
Same is true in Massachusetts.
don't get me wrong, this is still GREAT, and if all these pieces get you to do is negotiate at all, then that's a win. but I found myself being unhappy not managing to reach a 320k total comp recently (up from initial 210) and I realized my dissatisfaction with an otherwise great comp was due to the misleveled expectations from reading a lot of these pieces (which are better fit for extreme domain experts and independent consultants, than regular SWE employees that have to fit within a salary band)
But we can do this all day. Without larger studies or well run surveys it doesn't say much to those who aren't some combination of very talented, lucky, or well connected.
Edit: some, not done
People on this site have a completely bonkers perspective on what's normal.
I checked indeed and it tells me the average US software engineer salary is $110k, and Cali being $136k. Indeed isn’t a perfect source but that seems more realistic than the idea you can get from here where people talk about $300k total comp
I've learned this was a big mistake
If you're paid at market value for your particular set of skills, your employer is making a commitment to use them. When they underpay you, you won't get to do the awesome thing that you do as much.
So by being paid more there's incentive for the employer to waste less of your time. This can include up to letting you go when they decide they don't want to do what's in your wheelhouse (a feature not a bug from my POV).
And none of that's to mention the long term financial downside. And the fact that the "lifestyle company" really wasn't fewer hours at the end of the day
Company was just acquired and I'm stressed AF trying to figure out if I can even make it to my 1 year RSU cliff to start seeing my retention comp. Not super interested in being back at a big public company working this far down the hierarchy(been working directly for company founders/C-level most of the past 8 years).
So, yeah.. I'm would tend to agree to an extent but certainly not absolutely true. I'll feel it's likely I'll end up back at a "lifestyle" business sooner or later.
Oh, and one other thing, if you’re at a 10-person ish startup, definitely don’t act like a company that is 1000ish. You’ll lose. And so your hiring practices should generally not align with what is outlined here.
The portrayal of "businessmen" was also valuable to me. You're correct that most people don't think of themselves this way – but they should.
Reading this post was one of my first steps of many towards feeling like an active agent selling a service, rather than a passive agent looking for a corporation to glom on to.
There are plenty of companies who want to hire active agents, and they don't correlate perfectly with employee count.
I'm interested to know what you guys would do if the main thing limiting your salary was geography. Would you start your own company? Move to the US? I'm early on in my career and I can make big changes.
What I lost in raw compensation I more than made up for in:
- Holiday (29 days vs ~20 days)
- Sick time (unlimited vs coming out of holiday balance)
- Healthcare (I was just made redundant... but I still have the NHS, unlike my American colleagues)
- Employee Rights (e.g., "At will" employment versus a 3 month notice period, which would usually be paid out upon redundancy)
So while the compensation is higher in America, you also end up working quite a bit more and taking on more risk. Especially around notice periods and access to healthcare should things go poorly.
It's entirely possible to make a six figure base salary in remote areas of the UK. Personally, that's more than sufficient for the lifestyle my family and I want, so we're not champing at the bit to go back.
you prob already know this but just in case, levels.fyi has realistic levels for faang
Moving to the US is almost never an option, because of VISA.
Even if you manage to get a VISA and find work there, you won't have the same career prospects as a local (culture, network, education, visa issues, etc...). Few companies sponsor VISA and when they do they know they got you by the balls because you can't change jobs without losing the VISA.
It doesn't add up in the slightest. In any case, high cost of living (due to high housing prices) can only be a consequence of high compensations, not a cause.
FAANG salaries are what they are because it so happened that the large amounts of available money and high demand for developers (compared to supply) came together at the same companies, at the same place and at the same time.
If you have a lot of relevant experience and the interviewer is also very experienced, you might try this:
I once told a client who was trying to negotiate a lower rate "I am not a commodity engineer (1) and judging from your experience, neither are you. There will be some jobs for which we will just not be cost effective." [The we is important.]
(1) commodity engineer: an engineer that can easily out be swapped for another engineer
A 5 minute call that can increase net worth by large multipliers is probably worth preparing for. With the help of https://levels.fyi and other salary tools out there, it's incredible how open a lot of this information is. You just need to put in a bit of time and effort.
In short, there is some value in not squeezing every last dollar out of your employer. Don't be underpaid, but don't make the other size of the negotiation feel like he/she got a bad deal.
Borrowing from Geico, internally we joke that 5 minutes can make you 15% or (way) more if you negotiate. And it's super true.
edit: Any idea why levels.fyi numbers are so much higher than glassdoor? I haven't been able to find any explanation for this phenomenon. The glassdoor numbers I'm looking at are supposed to be total comp.
1) Outdated data. For our aggregate salary values, whenever possible we try to ensure our data is from within the last trailing year of information.
2) Leveling. Our salaries are broken down more granularly by level, something that's a little more ambiguous on Glassdoor. Since levels aren't explicitly defined, salaries might get brought down by incorrect bucketing.
3) Stock compensation. Until recently, Glassdoor hasn't done a great job of capturing the stock component of total compensation. That has likely led to deflated aggregate values.
I'm sure there's probably more to it than what meets the eye, but our focus has always been to make sure we have the most accurate information independent of other salary sites. Also why we collect offer letters / W-2s to corroborate our self reported data: https://levels.fyi/verified/
P.S. I’d also like to thank Zuhayeer for building levels.fyi. It’s an awesome tool and helped me greatly in negotiating.
For those of us who are happy where we work, and enjoy our colleagues, work, and have satisfied with our compensation, does anybody have any recommendations for articles on how to work on our next salary negotiation opportunity? I know the jump will likely be below one that could be received if I jumped to somewhere else.
Those services should offer something to employees to spit out low, high, and median salaries for a specific job title at a company.
i've found that when working for corporations, it's all about the number you ask for up front. after that, it takes quite a bit to get more than the average 3-5% merit pay bump.
how FANG companies work with the $500k/yr total comp for average engineers, i have no clue... i think from what i've seen from levels.fyi the most common salaries are $160k-$180k/yr. after that, you get your salary again in stock options apparently... not sure what the interview process or job workload must be like.
how sustainable is programming? $75/hr to basically just write SQL tables and APIs that are advanced CRUD wrappers with light business logic on them? seems ripe for automation.
But yeaj, if you're in there to build SQL tables its pretty boring.
In my last job as a mobile engineer I can claim that I wrote code all day, and that's true to a point, but most of that code is shepherding data from one format to another, using libraries that I didn't write, causing the UI (whose framework was written by someone else) to update.
And you know what? It's still a hard and rewarding job! Having pieces to plumb together hasn't made our jobs easier or dumber, it's just raised the level of abstraction at which we work day-to-day.
Programming with all these tools is wonderful. Debugging problems in such am environment, not-so-much. But net, it’s a massive win.
The way this guy described his work made me (developer of half-assed micro services) feel like a rocket scientist.
When I compare programming (as in, just writing code) today and 20 years ago, there is nothing really interesting to write anymore. We have libraries for everything, and half of them are clients to integrate with a SaaS that does what you want. The challenges I see that still makes the job stimulating are more found in the architecture design (we have all the building blocks now, but we still need to organize it all in a way that works) and the product (as I said, making sense of business reqs and turning them into something do-able).
He was the greatest programmer that ever lived.
And for those who didn't get the reference:
That could be the end of a lot of local engineering jobs as people from other majors can now actually manage the offshore programming in their field without as much miscommunication. At any rate it seems like a very different landscape than back when even other parts of a tech company might not know the basics of what their developers do.
The end of programming has been breathlessly predicted for at least the last 30 years (particularly with the whole 4GL thing). I'll believe it when I see it.
Compensation is really good in tech, but I don't think saying "$500k/yr total comp for average engineers" is helping anybody.
The $500k plus is L6+ or Netflix-like companies
Those RSUs and refreshers are always granted based on a dollar amount that gets divided by current stock price, and that’s the value that the company recognizes in its accounting. Stock price increases are nice, but they distort the picture of how the company is valuing your compensation internally.
When people come into HN salary threads and say things like “software engineers make $500k” what they really mean is: “Some outlier high level software engineers at a handful of FAANG companies in the Bay Area can potentially top out at $500k total compensation in year 4 if they are in a fast rising stock market, and if they are master negotiators.”
This depends on the company. Amazon and Microsoft generally don't, but facebook and Google do. If I hadn't negotiated my initial grant upward, my refresh last year (year 3) would have been the same size, and the one I'll get in a few months will very likely be larger.
I'll still see a drop in comp year 5 due to an interaction between stock growth and my first year's grant being small, but ehhh.
> When people come into HN salary threads and say things like “software engineers make $500k” what they really mean is
Yes and no. Like L6 is certainly not common, but it's also not a particularly outlier level (I can crank of a list of 10 people at that level I work with on a weekly basis), and they're probably all pulling in something close to 500K, and will be forever.
(from my own experience) Absolutely not.
https://www.levels.fyi/ you can't scroll 15 seconds there without running into a $250k+ compensation package.
This also doesn't like up with my experience. It's hard to get true averages for things like this in America.
Also, 250k is a lot less than 500k. It's still a ton of money -- I don't mean to say that top companies don't pay you well. They absolutely do. But 500k is a TON of money.
That's a somewhat defeatist perspective. Don't think of yourself as "I ONLY do x,y,z", but rather as "of course I do x,y,z but more importantly a, b, and c too! (where a, b, and c are things that are very valuable to company).
what's wrong about idevices? i'm reading this one on android.
Wait, what? For most people, their iDevice will be the best reading experience they have access to.
The article is from 2012.
iDevices were a lot less impressive back then.
I think the field of game theory can help us to explain why salaries and salary negotiations are the way they are.
And who gets to define what is fair? For example, why do programmers get much much higher salaries than nurses or janitors? It might not be fair. But it’s simply supply and demand in action.
I"ve seen a lot of employers minimize wages and hours to get as much of their budget into workers pockets as possible. It converts into productivity more efficiently like that.
(Tax here in NL is 39% with a discount over the first 8k or so)
How would that work? The tax bands are progressive, so you will never get less money from a higher salary and tax rate. That would be pretty dumb.
I read it as “better for the employee”.
That's only if you assume minimal cost in having more people doing the same amount of work. Between hiring, HR overhead, training, team communication, number of desks, and a general need of staying on top of things, that might be a steep assumption. If twice as many people don't get the work done twice as fast, why would twice as many each working half as much do it in the same time as before?
Of course, I'm thinking of engineering here. I can imagine that employing several part-time workers in, say, a retail store won't have the same level of drawbacks.