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Ask HN: 20 years old, received offer, no idea how to negotiate. Advice please.
10 points by gamegoblin on Oct 15, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments
Situation: I am a 20 year old, and I was just sent a congratulations from Amazon about my interview, and we are going to call to discuss the details of the offer tomorrow.

Problem: I have never had a job that had anything to do with salary, benefits, relocating, etc. I have no idea how I am supposed to interact in the negotiation, etc.

Anyone who has gone through this process a lot (as I am sure most of you have), please give me advice. Even better if you happen to be an Amazonian.

I always point people to Rands, a veteran technical manager whose advice I've come to trust quite a bit: http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2008/04/11/the_busines...

HN regular patio11 wrote up a longer, more detailed post as well: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

But, start with Rands.

One other thing, I don't think Amazon negotiates much. They are famously thrifty. A friend recently interviewed with them, and they offered only a 5% bump over his current salary (expecting him to relocate to a higher cost of living) and would not negotiate further. I've heard similar stories from others.

This is why I don't ever tell them what my current salary is. They will do this to you. If they didn't know, it could have been a different story.

I saw this posted on HN once and thought it was great advice:


N.B. I'm one year older than you, and the last time I got a job offer for a place I wanted to work at, I was too excited to use that advice.

This has been my experience with my last two offers. In the moment, I was just glad to have gotten a job. My current position offered less than 80% my previous hourly wage, but they had told me beforehand they couldn't match my last job, but that I would get more hours (which I do). It came out to about even, and I got a 17% raise after 4 months, so now I'm making more than my last job, taking hours into account.

I make around 35k, I'm 22, I've dropped out of 4 colleges/universities, and I'm an IT tech with a couple years experience (small businesses, so higher quality experience than level 1 or something). I had very little power to negotiate anyways, but I was irritated with myself for not rehearsing a "let me think about it" spiel or at least vaguely asking if they could do any better.

As a 20 year old coming out of school, you are going to get a very standard offer that will only fluctuate slightly with the current market. Unless you're the world's expert in some very valuable algorithm that you developed in school, you don't have enough of an edge over your peers to negotiate much outside your already allotted salary band.

The only leverage you would have would be if you had another offer from Microsoft, Apple, or Google. But it would be notoriously hard to line up everything and get those offers in time.

As others have said, don't sweat it too much. Try to negotiate more on the relocation expenses/signing bonus to ease the pain of moving if that makes you feel better.

Congratulations. But basically, I wouldn't sweat it -- you wouldn't be likely to get more than 10k added to your salary, and since Amazon is very much a late-stage company, I wouldn't expect much from any equity slice offered.

It's your first (bigcorp) job, after all -- just grab it for the spending money + experience. Then "flip it" into a much higher paying (and probably more interesting) job 1-2 years from now.

That said, it's always good form to delay the acceptance process ever so slightly: get everything in writing, and ask if you can have a few days to think about it (specifically asking by when they need a response), rather than just agreeing to everything outright over the phone.

But if it's in another city and you'll have to move, then by all means do ask for "relo" expenses (not sure how much, but it could easily cost you $6k+ out of pocket, when everything is factored in -- so keep that in mind).

Have fun!

Why would you not sweat this? You act like 10k is no big deal, but that is probably a ~10% instant raise for the OP, not to mention the cumulative effect a 10k raise at age 20 will have on one's lifetime earnings.

I agree that a fresh student should care more about the experience and choosing the best life path rather than chasing 5k here or 10k there, but once you have chosen a path, you should absolutely negotiate for the best deal possible, IMO.

Two of the best lectures I've ever listened to were on negotiation. These are the highlights of my notes:


I'd strongly recommend listening to the Joel Peterson one as he specifically addresses negotiating at the beginning of your career. The gist was that you should be looking at the opportunity rather than the last $5k of salary.

Read the book Negotiation genius: http://www.amazon.com/Negotiation-Genius-Obstacles-Brilliant...

It will answer a LOT of your questions directly. I've gotten really good at negotiation after being bad at it, and this book was great.

Read it tonight.

I don't know about Amazon, but big companies usually have standard compensation including relocation that they can't easily depart from, except for "stars" or upper management.

Since you haven't seen the offer, how do you know that you need to negotiate?

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