How I negotiated a $300,000 job offer in Silicon Valley

I’d love to figure this out.

FooCorp: Wow, that’s a good offer.

Keep in mind FooCorp is {making the world a better place / has amazing potential / is better for your career} and I would hope you wouldn’t be deciding based on a paycheck.

I don’t know if we can match that offer exactly, but I’ll see what we can do.

I went through the above sample conversations so many times and they all went pretty similarly.

They always sounded very doubtful about moving their numbers.

They always said it was more than they would typically give up.

They always explained why their company’s mission and culture made up for the difference in comp.

But almost always, they upped the package.

Sometimes they’ll match it.

Sometimes they won’t.

Sometimes they’ll come close enough that you’ll pull the trigger because it’s such an exciting opportunity.

You should always give it a shot, though.

My OffersI’m including this because lots of people have pinged me about it.

I don’t know how much people can take away from it, but I’ll put it out there anyway.

I’ll include what tips I can.

I was able to get ballpark numbers from every company before I disclosed any numbers.

Here they are, anonymized and randomized.

The format is base salary+bonus / 4yr stock package / signing bonus.

Alpha: 180k / 150k / 0k (218k/yr)Bravo: 180k / 200k / 30k (238k/yr)Charlie: 140k / 180k / 30k (193k/yr)Delta: 160k / 220k / 50k (228k/yr)Echo: 160k / 200k / 30k (218k/yr)Foxtrot: 165k / 210k / 30k (225k/yr)I thought it was pretty interesting how closely most of the numbers aligned despite knowing being able to see each other’s initial offers.

That must be the going rate… or something.

Anyway, once I had all of the offers, it was time for constant communication for me.

I called my least-favorite offer and told them what the best offer was and asked them to close the gap as much as possible.

Once those numbers moved, I talked to more companies.

I usually had daily or every-other-day update calls with my recruiters, and they sounded like this:Bravo: Any updates from your end?Me: Yeah, I was able to get some preliminary numbers from Foxtrot.

They were thinking somewhere in the ballpark of $225k TC, but Delta says they will comfortably beat that.

I wasn’t blown away by the offer, but given Delta’s position on it, that’s probably the low end of what I’ll end up signing.

Bravo: Great, thanks so much for sharing that.

I’ll talk to the team and see what I can do.

We’d love to have you!Alpha refused to negotiate and refused to move their deadline, so they were out of the running pretty quickly.

Once everyone had a chance to move their numbers, it looked like this:Bravo: 180k / 220k / 75k (254k/yr; +16k)Charlie: 140k / 200k / 30k (198k/yr; +5k)Delta: 160k / 220k / 50k (228k/yr; no movement)Echo: 160k / 250k / 30k (230k/yr; +12k)Foxtrot: 180k / 240k / 30k (248k/yr; +18k)More rinse and repeat.

My goal was to whittle down the offers once I had things moving in the direction I wanted.

It was a logistical nightmare keeping up with six companies during this.

It was also becoming clearer that there was a gap that some companies couldn’t overcome.

I also had a lot more time to think about company culture and perks/benefits, so certain companies began to pull away from each other.

I didn’t formally reject any offers until I signed my final offer, but mentally, I wrote off a few of the companies and stopped negotiating with them.

I just asked them for a few more days to decide.

Recruiters constantly told me they couldn’t up their packages anymore, but inevitably, they always did.

I’m sure a ceiling exists and I’m sure it’s rarer to get number past a certain point, but it was dangerously close to a lie to continuously tell me they couldn’t go any higher (“you don’t have the experience”) and then watch them up their offer by 10%.

Part of doing business, I guess.

????‍️After another round of negotiation (and a few days), it was down to three:Bravo: 180k / 250k / 75k (261k/yr; +23k/yr from initial)Delta: 170k / 250k / 50k (245k/yr; +17k/yr from initial)Foxtrot: 180k / 250k / 50k (248k/yr; +18k/yr from initial)At this point, it had been something like a week and a half of negotiation, and this after months of interviews/prep.

I was so ready to be done.

I had decided based on product, culture, pay, perks, benefits, reputation that it was between Bravo and Delta.

Delta wanted me to give a final number and commit to it.

They were extremely insistent that I provide one.

I told them to give me a few hours and called my recruiter from Bravo.

I explained that Bravo had a lot that I respected more than Delta, but that Delta wanted me to verbally commit to a number to move forward.

I was going to work at Bravo or Delta.

They were offering similar packages, but I didn’t know how high I could push Delta on the last counter.

I also wasn’t comfortable playing that game.

Break in case of emergencyEveryone gets one last ask.

You’ve been building up to a point where you get to launch your most powerful salvo — use it wisely.

For me, this was that moment.

It was time.

I asked Bravo to up their package by a meager $5k yearly in stock (a very small ask in retrospect…), something companies are far more flexible on.

I said if they could do that, I would sign and be confident I didn’t leave too much on the table.

He said he’d get back to me and that he was confident we could work something out.

My Final OfferBravo’s recruiter emailed back and said he worked out a new package for me and wanted to run it by me over the phone.

I already knew at this point that if he met my ask (180k / 270k / 70k, TC 265k) that I would sign right then and there.

I’d thought long and hard about this last little dance.

Bravo: I heard back and got approval for a new offer and I wanted to see what you thought.

We’d like to offer you a {salary + annual bonus} of $180,000.

In addition to that, we would like to offer $400,000 in RSUs that vest over four years.

Lastly, I was able to get approval for a $90,000 {signing bonus + relocation expenses} package.

That would put your four-year compensation package at around $1,210,000, or an annual compensation package of around $300,000.

What do you think?Uh, what do I think? What do you think I think?Me: Yeah, I’ll sign that.

Bravo: Really? Awesome!And that was that.

No, there’s no embellishment here.

My final ask was for $265k/yr and I was offered around $300k/yr.

I don’t know if that was due to the goodwill I had built up with the recruiter or if they were concerned I’d defect.

Whatever it was, I’m fine with it.

 :)The TakeawaysI’m going to summarize a lot of the above in a more digestible way:????.Get multiple offers.

Obviously this is way easier said than done, but even if it adds a lot of stress to your life, it certainly pays off.

With interviews being quite a bit of a crapshoot, it’s tough.

If you want to get a new job, though, don’t put your eggs in one basket and do what you can to try to get at least two offers.

????.Don’t lie.

I wasn’t personally asked to provide evidence of other offers, but my friends definitely have been.

It’s not worth it to lie, especially when your candidate profile is saved at various companies.

Good luck getting into a company that catches you.

????.Be kind and respectful.

Recruiters are people, too.

They’re also the people that act as the path for you getting into your dream company.

You don’t need to schmooze them, but be friendly.

Help them help you!.You may have competing philosophies, but both of you want the same thing in the end: a signed offer from their company.

????.Be (selectively) communicative.

Make it very clear to everyone what your timelines are and if you’re waiting on other companies.

Keep people in the loop.

We hate getting ghosted by recruiters and I’m sure recruiters hate being ghosted by us.

Let them know if you’ve signed another offer or if you’re no longer considering theirs.

Let them know if other companies have sent you offers and share the names if you think it’ll help your case.

????.Don’t give a minimum (unless it makes sense).

You don’t want to give a lower number than a company would have offered you, but you also don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

If you know a company won’t be competitive at first, let them know what the other company’s range is.

If they’re out, they’re out.

Your time is better spent talking to companies you’d actually go to.

I imagine this is what whiteboard interviews looked like in the 1950s????.Shoot for the sky.

Transparently, my goal was to get a total comp of around $180k.

That was the number where I’d quit my current job.

I ended up getting over 50% more than that.

I didn’t think it was possible for someone with two years of experience to do so.

Don’t set a limit in your head of what you can think you can get or it may discourage negotiating.

????.Don’t reject an offer until you’ve signed another one.

You never know what could happen.

You don’t want to leave someone hanging on your decision when there is no way on earth you’d sign their offer.

But even if an offer isn’t competitive, you’d still sign it if the other companies lost their headcount.

Keep your options open.

You earned it.

????.Think a lot and whittle down your offers.

Over the course of your negotiations you’ll converge on the one or two offers you think are “best”.

As that happens, focus your time on the ones that make sense, and don’t waste brain cycles on the ones that don’t.

????????‍♂️ Bonus: don’t tell teams you’re disinterested in them.

I’ve seen people “negotiate” by asking for a larger packages by saying they’re less interested in the company.

This sounds like a recipe for disaster — why would you tell a company you don’t want to work for them?.Find a new slant.

????.Everything above worked.

The final offer I signed was ~$300,000 in total yearly compensation (over four years, including a variable annual bonus, and amortizing the signing/relo package).

I negotiated it up from ~$225,000*, an increase of 33%.

Wrap-UpAfter my previous post, I primarily saw three questions:How did I negotiate?How much was I offered?Which offer did I take?I answered two of those three here.

Maybe you can piece together the rest.

I’d rather provide value than advertise for my employer.

I don’t want the focus here to be on the decision I made for my life.

I’d rather help everyone else get to make the same decision.

There’s also much more in-depth, less-anecdotal pieces I’d recommend reading.

There’s this legendary one from Patrick McKenzie and another from Haseeb Qureshi.

What you see here is more of a collection of my personal thoughts (and a response to all of the questions I got regarding numbers).

Please follow (and chat with!) me on Twitter if you want to provide feedback or if you have any questions.

I’d love to hear if there are other topics you’d like to read about.

I’ve been getting a ton of DMs on Twitter and Discord and I’ve tried to help out where possible.

I vastly prefer responding on Twitter, though, so if you want to chat, try there first.

Happy negotiating.

????the initial offer didn’t talk about a relocation package; my guess is I would have received it anyway, so the starting value was likely higher????. More details

Leave a Reply