Salary Negotiation

February 27, 2022 Carreer

  • I envy people that know their worth and have gone through salary negotation. I have never negotationed on an offer.
  • I’ve seen extreme differences in sign-on bonuses from people that ask for it/ask for more. It feels like one-off budgets are very easy to get approval for.
    • Peers at the same level at Meta were able to negotiate 5× my sign-on bonus.
    • A company that made me a very competitive offer gave me no a sign-on bonus but an equivalent hire was able to negotiate a 50,000 USD bonus.
  • From my understanding, base salary is harder to negotiate. You need to get competing offers or at least have a good understanding of the market.
    • Chances are that small increases are possible. A lot of recruiting handbooks also leave the hiring managers a small buffer for maybe 5%. If there's a huge discrepencey to what you want (15%+) it’s likely not going to work out, though.
    • Ideally you have a counter offer. This depends a bit on the current market situations though, right now it’s going to be hard to get a lot of offers.
  • Stock is the wild west. At public companies (especially FAANG) it’s an easy vector to negotiate for an increase, but at startups, comparison is very hard.
    • I have seen equivalent hires getting a 50% difference in stock options.
    • At Meta, initial RSU grants could vary quite a bit, however what really mattered were refreshers. I was able to double my initial RSU grant in the first year by getting a high performance multiplier.
    • At startups, regular refreshers are not very common but I have gotten ad-hoc refreshers based on good performance.
    • The biggest learning was to never work for a company without getting any form of equaity.
  • My current suggestions:
    • Always go into negotations. Focus on base salary but also ask for a sign-on bonus. Companies are much more likely to give significant increases in the sign-on bonus.
    • In the worst case an offer is retracted. If this is the case: Good for you! You just avoided a toxic company culture.
    • If possible, check salary of peers (talk to other engineers,, Blind). A lot of recruiters are also transparent with their salary ranges if you ask them.

Other Notes

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About the author

Philipp Spiess
Philipp Spiess [ˈʃpiːs]

Engineer at Sourcegraph. Prev: Front End Engineer at Meta, curator of This Week in React, React DOM team member, and Lead Engineer at PSPDFKit. Loves fixing Web things.