Salary Negotiation Tips
It caters to the Overemployed subreddit but the takeaways apply broadly as well.

Mega advice on salary negotiation and stacking offers

Here's some advice I wrote (for tech jobs) but that is mostly relevant for anyone.
  • Don't try to "get a job"
    • You are offering a service, selling your labor. imagine you're a basket weaver. Selling baskets is your only source of income. You just opened shop, if I show up and offer $10, would you take it right away? or would you research how much baskets are being sold in your area first? they could be going for $1000 instead of $10. And of course, you would set the price right? not the first customer to walk in.
    • So research. like you would if you are a business owner. at the minimum, once a year, because salaries change fast!
      • Know not just how much people get paid in FAANG, tier 1, startups, average F500, banks, etc
      • but know as well their WLB, weekly hours, etc
      • Do NOT be the guy that thinks that everyone in good paying companies works >40h and thus, doesn't try to go into these companies, or accepts >40h and bad WLB because they are paid well - you can have both
      • Do not be the guy that assumes but doesn't verify, that to reach X salary you must pass leetcode hard and get into FAANG or Quant, when many lesser prestigious companies have started paying higher and higher - be the guy that verifies
    • Your labor is worth what you decide, not what the first company decides
  • Keep your secrets, reveal your strengths
    • You are letting companies blindly bid on your employment - which is even more advantageous than selling on a shop like the example above
    • it's a blind auction. And you are in control of the information, they don't know if you already have offers for 200k, if you are earning 180k right now, etc
    • Keep them in the dark of what doesn't help you and inform them of information that helps you
      • You got a Google offer? tell everyone
      • Google low balled you to SDE3 instead of 4? Just mention Google offer, not the pay / level
      • No name company offered big bucks? Just leave the name out, show the number
      • You are making more than their offer? reveal
      • You are making less? keep it
      • reveal the best, hide the worst
    • if you say you earn X, now the negotiation is more restricted to X + 10% - 30% even though they had budget for more. not completely impossible to negotiate more, but harder
    • and never say "can you do 100k?" you just cut yourself out of the rest of the budget, now you look rude if you then say there's another offer you are considering, etc
  • Write down all offers. keep track
    • write down what was said verbally, the written offer might change
      • the offer is more than the written contract. Hints about good WLB, red flags about long hours, there's a ping pong table at the office and you are a fanatic for ping pong...
      • on the other hand, what's not in written contract is not guaranteed, and a lot of things don't get written down like a ping pong table
    • you might forget things as this could be a long process
  • "Never say the first number" is good but not enough. And not always possible. Better is: "Never say the last number"
    • if you can be the first to ask about pay before they ask you, then great, ask them for a range. Keep in mind, the range they give you is not truly the highest they are willing to pay
    • if they insist hard on asking a number from you first, before interviewing to avoid wasting time, don't say "the minimum I would take.." or "I would sign for..."
    • Do not, ever, put a hard ceiling or limit on what you would accept!
    • when you say any number, always keep higher pay as a possibility
    • Answer if you have to: "I'm looking for at least average/above average market pay for my experience, which would be at least X"
    • then you are not an asshole if you come back with an offer of X + 40k, and they cannot tell you that you said you would accept X - you never said that
  • Stack offers. Don't stop interviewing because 1 company made an offer - you are just getting started
    • keep your job as long as you can - it's leverage
    • keep interviewing as long as you can - you gain leverage with each offer
    • first thing you do when you get an offer - ask for time to decide, more on this later
    • When you get an offer that expires after 10 days, only sign it on the 9th day. Let them sweat, let them consider offering you more - so really do, unprompted even
    • leave all offers open
      • you might think it's good to tell 'no' to the company that offered you 100k after you get a 150k offer - don't
      • never say 'no', or that you are moving on, or going for other opportunities
      • leave every door open until the day you sign your best offer
      • you might be surprised that the cheap-ass offer suddenly becomes your best offer
    • Inform all other companies, hell, even the ones that rejected you before if you have a recruiter email, about the best offers you received
      • "Hello X, I just wanted to updated you on my thoughts regarding the decision to join COMPANY. I just received a strong/competitive/enticing offer from CORP. I am still very excited to join your team as I had a great experience during the interviews, as such can we ...
      • for companies you are still interviewing "..can we expedite the interview process as my timeline is now tight?"
      • for companies that made you an offer ".. can we revisit the offer and make this work? The offer I received is... X salary, Y RSU.."
  • How to get more offers
    • You might be feeling hopeless. you applied to 200 jobs, passed only 3 resume screens, passed only 1 on-site, and have only 1 offer
    • you will be tempted to accept
    • you will doubt yourself and think you got lucky to get 1 offer
    • As I said, you are only getting started.
      • Linkedin, find recruiters, say you are very excited about their company, want to interview, etc..
      • say you already have an offer from X
      • Watch them scramble to get you (the better X company is)
    • Then do it again when/if you get an offer from Y where Y in (F, A, N, G, tier1List, unicornList)
      • You might be surprised how many resume screens you will skip straight to interviews, because if you passed Y's interviews, you can probably pass their own interviews. your weak CV doesn't matter as much now
    • going back to applying seems crazy: but you are not starting from zero - you have proof of your competitiveness now, x10000 more proof than a resume can give
  • referrals, referrals, referrals
    • Your friend saying "hey, my friend is looking for a job" = not great, another guy trying to get his friend a job
      • but definitely helpful, and do that to try to get your first offers!
    • "hey, my friend got an offer from X, he's really good, would you like to interview him before he accepts?" = wow I just got a chance at fishing a competitive candidate because of this guy is in my network! I'm on a time limit to get this guy!
    • So absolutely leverage your network
      • ask them to refer you to their companies to get your first offer
      • re-contact everyone AGAIN when you have an offer
      • heck, re-contact everyone again and ask for referral again if you get your first FAANG offer, suddenly the referrals that did nothing, that went ignored, will be calling back because you are the guy they heard about twice and is now about to get fished by Google
  • Exploding offers (when they ask you to sign in less than 2-3 days)
    • these might be one of the hardest things to deal with if circumstances are wrong
      • No job, no other offers? You're fucked. Either accept, or if you have balls of steel and confidence that you will get other offers? then keep applying
    • exploding offers are negotiable too. everything is. deadlines are.
      • show them the offers that are bigger (and don't necessarily tell deadlines unless they keep insisting about the expiration)
      • "My offers for X and Y will expire significantly later, and I want to take time to make this important decision of which company I will work with for the next years. I will get back to you at that timeline"
      • insist that you, while very excited to work for them, want to finish X recruiting process, and or go into your cave/lake side house/spend the weekend with family/reflecting on all the opportunities you have before making a decision
    • Calling this bluff is hard - but worth it for many circumstances. usually companies that do this don't have great offers - that's exactly why they do it
    • if you need a job, there's zero shame in taking this kind of offer, in letting their bluff win. next year, you will have more leverage (a job, +1 YoE)
  • Say that you cannot reach a final decision without first sleeping over it, or talking to your family, or spending a weekend reflecting, anything.
    • prepare this line
    • when you are on the phone, and you are being told your offer, don't say "amazing, what's the start date" - then the negotiation is over, or if you re-open the negotiation, it will be bitter and hard and won't be a very successful one
      • don't also say "can you do +30k". they'll do that or 20-25k and it's over. never finish a negotiation early, never close doors voluntarily - they say you can decide in a week, then ask for 2 weeks, and decide on the last day
    • with email it's easier - with phone it's more rewarding if you are a fucking boss with better social skills than a recruiter
    • Instead reply:
      • "thank you for your offer, I am very excited about COMPANY, I loved meeting the TEAM / STAFF, and I know I will be a good fit and I'm happy you agreed as well. I'm not ready to discuss the offer at this point, but I am confident we can find a package both sides would be happy with. I will still sleep on/reflect over the weekend/talk to my family about this before making a decision"
    • when you are not the sole decision maker, you will be pressured less. because the other side can't talk to your family to convince them - this is huge if you are not the most confident person, and can be persuaded to say 'yes' by a strong willed recruiter
  • be excited, positive, kind, never rude
    • you want them to want you, and no one wants someone that isn't happy to work for you
    • even when you get a low ball offer, don't reply in a negative manner
      • "thank you for your offer, I am excited about [... same as above...] I believe am good fit and I'm happy you agreed as well. The offer is not meeting my expectations, but I'm sure we can work on this and find a package both sides would be happy with. At the moment, I've been offered... " and show them your Ace of Spaces offer
      • if you are lacking a trump card offer, then instead say "..for my level of experience and considering the market value, we should work towards X value" and then keep applying
    • never say you are negotiating, or 'lets negotiate' or 'I want to negotiate'
      • instead say "let's work towards finding a package we are both happy with"
      • "i'm excited about joining the company, but for the sake of my family I have to re-consider because the salary is
  • Companies have no idea if you are good.
    • that's why they almost never offer the full amount they would be willing to pay, the real amount, the amount only available after a recruiter goes to his superior to increase the budget
    • even after 6 or 7 interviews. on-site. leetcode hards. Companies are stillreluctant to hire you, even those that made you an offer.
    • but if you have other offers, this signals more strongly than the interviews that you are competitive
    • just like a married man with a wedding ring is much more vetted to not be a total creep, to be at least a somewhat decent partner, and thus more attractive or easier to be around, if you have a job vs not having one, if you have multiple offers vs not, you are vetted, you have proof, that you are a hot piece of juicy steak
  • You are also blind to their budget
    • You might think that because you were offered 100k at first, this company would never pay you 200k
      • Yet on blind, blogs, and here in r/cscareerquestions many people have gone from 120k to 200k, or on rarer occasions even more, at the same company, same position, same interview performance, just from having higher offers
    • Don't believe when you are told the max is X, the range is X to Y, just keep the door open: meaning, the way you reply to them is neither accepting the offer, or giving up on the company
      • to each company/offer, you are either reflecting/talking to your family, or if their offer is less than another offer, you have emailed them about it and are waiting for them to get back to you with a counter-offer (again, keep track of what each company is doing, who is the blocker, you or them, don't leave anyone without reply for more than a day!)
  • Finally, you have tried your best, you are tired of applying, or the deadlines for several offers are coming in the next 2-3 days
    • time to pull your trump card
    • Contact your favorite company/offer (not necessarily the highest offer!)
    • Say "I'm very exci-- you know by now
    • "I have this and that offer, can you do X to help with my decision, and I will sign?"
    • if( company never did a counter-offer )
      • then X = +20% of original offer
    • else if ( company is not the highest offer )
      • then X = highest offer (and maybe +10%)
    • else
      • X = +10%
    • This is on top of the possible counter-offers you got in the previous phase
    • No one gives their best price on the first offer, so ask for extra 20% from original offers at least. if you followed the advice from earlier, they already increased their first offer
    • Don't make the same company counter-offer over and over, except with this trump card, then you can ask for either your highest offer (of course, why would you take less than highest?*) or for 10% if it's already the highest offer as a bonus that you will sign and stop considering others
    • this is the one and only time you will put a hard limit on your pay
    • the only circumstance that you reveal the number that would make you sign now
    • never go back on your word and take that offer to another company, because you could have done earlier in the process, to get that same amount of $$ while being polite in your negotiation, not like a lying asshole. You might the higher pay anyway, but you do it at the expense of burning a recruiter/company after saying you would sign if they did X. And I don't believe doing that can get you a significantly higher pay than this strategy that it would be worth it
    • then sign on the last day of expiration (beware off by 1 errors, check if 0-indexed or 1-indexed)
  • bonus*: Pay is not all you can negotiate. More vacation days, work from home, etc. but going that way right at the beginning of negotiation, will make it hard to compare offers. it's easy to compare 140k and 150k, but hard to compare 140k+5 extra vacation or 150k, or compare 140k plus some equipment you like and 150k
    • so start with salary. later, if there's something you prefer over higher salary, ask for that in your trump card move
      • of course, negotiating full-remote when you are about to sign, might not work at all if the company doesn't do full-remote
  • bonus: "Oh shit, a company went back on their offer" Immediately re-contact your second best offer, explain that the position was closed / the project abandoned (aka not your fault, you didn't kill the founders dog) and hope for the best
This post was inspired by many posts and blogs, personal experience, but primarily this: https://haseebq.com/my-ten-rules-for-negotiating-a-job-offer/​
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