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Optimizing for career growth vs money.

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Senior Software Engineer at N/A7 months ago

Hey there πŸ‘‹ For context, I quit a toxic job 2 months ago and I'm back in the job market.

I just finished an interview process with a company I really like, I think it checks almost all the boxes:

  • Company size (Series C)
  • Culture
  • I'll join the team that will be on the spotlight for the next 18 months -> My job will have a major impact.
  • I would be able to work on React Native if I decide to (I'm a frontend engineer w/ React expertise)
  • I think that I can reach staff level in about a year or two there.
  • People I interviewed with are superb.
  • Fully remote.

I expect to get an offer from them on Monday (I'm writing this on Thursday night). I know that because the recruiter called me today to touch base and to tell me that things went good! The problem with this company is that the salary is more on the lower side...but it's still on the range I have in mind.

The dilema is that I'm just starting to interview with other companies that pay 50% more, but finishing interviewing with them will take me at least two weeks...and the company I'm getting the offer from probably won't hold the offer for that long.

I have a few thoughts / concerns that I'd like you to help me sort out / discuss:

  • I'm thinking that it would be wise to optimize for career growth, I probably could get a better job if I manage to do great things in the company I'm getting the offer from. What do you think? The salary is not as high as the other companies, but it's good money. (FWIW, I live in a low-cost-of-living country)
  • I was hoping that I could negotiate a better salary with this company if I had other competing offers, but I got nothing, and I wouldn't get any other offer by next week. Do you have any tips about how to negotiate a better offer even when I don't have the leverage of a competing offer? I understand this might not be possible. I feel that I did a really good interview process though, so maybe I could use that as leverage.
  • I really like one of the "slow companies", but they've been just dead slow. I interviewed with their CTO and he said that they will kick off things immediately...but that hasn't happened. Should I ping him? I feel that they should be the ones making the next move, but I'm not 100% sold on that idea.
  • The other companies are just fine, honestly, their pay is what makes them more attractive.
  • Not sure if this is relevant or not, but I'm 36, I wonder if I should spend my 37-38s working for the company that pays less than the others while chasing career growth.
  • I have a good runway, so if don't end up with an offer from any of those companies, I'd be just fine for another 8-12 months.
  • I live in Latam, so it's hard to get 100k+ offers, it's not like I have a pool of options to choose from.

Thanks for reading! 😁

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Discussion

(5 comments)
  • 17
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    7 months ago

    Congrats on the offer! First, I'd ask the company how much time you have before you need to confirm. Here's a great question about a reasonable amount of time to decide on an offer. If they give you 2 weeks, that's actually plenty of time to interview somewhere else if you act with urgency.

    I'm thinking that it would be wise to optimize for career growth

    This is the right approach in general, but there are a few cases where IMO it makes sense to "chase" money or status:

    • You are early in your career and having a higher income would make a huge difference in your quality of life
    • The other (higher-paying) company has significantly more brand value.

    It doesn't sound like either of these are true: a series C company likely has good brand already, and you mention you have runway. So I like the idea of optimizing for your long-term career growth!

    Do you have any tips about how to negotiate a better offer even when I don't have the leverage of a competing offer?

    Yes! As you mention, the ideal scenario is if you have competing offers that you can reference. But the fact that you don't, and that you expect the other companies to actually pay more, could be twisted to your advantage. Basically, I'd say something like "I'm in the process of interviewing at company X and Y right now, but honestly I really enjoyed meeting your team and the type of work I'd be doing with you. If you can increase my salary or signing bonus by $X, I can sign the offer today."

    Of course, you should only say this if you're willing to accept the offer, but I've found many companies are happy to do this if they really like you. You're basically telling them that you're a flight risk but they can close you as a candidate with an increase.

    This tactic worked to increase my signing bonus at Facebook by $15K+.

    For pinging the CTO of the slow company that you like, you might as well. Since you likely have an offer pending, use that to create some urgency: "I'd really love to consider your company, but I really need to finish the interview process by Thursday next week so that I have enough data to make a decision. Does that timeline work for you?"

    Some other resources that are relevant here:

  • 9
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    7 months ago

    I'm thinking that it would be wise to optimize for career growth, I probably could get a better job if I manage to do great things in the company I'm getting the offer from.

    Yep, I 100% agree with that! When it comes to compensation, it's a dot product of 2 vectors:

    1. Where you start
    2. Rate of growth

    A lot of people over-optimize for #1 and forget about #2 - This leads to high TC initially, but it becomes stagnant later on as people that optimized for #2 catch up. If you go to a company where you're genuinely learning and can get promoted quickly (which your offer seems to represent), then your #2 will be high, making your long-term outlook very healthy.

    I talk about this more here: "If my main goal is compensation, would it be wise to learn blockchain tech since it will potentially be the tech of the next couple decades?"

    Overall, I think you should take the offer and try a bit to negotiate as Rahul mentioned. In this economy, a bird in hand is worth way more than a bird in bush.

    Congrats on the offer!

  • 6
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Career Break
    7 months ago

    That makes a lot of sense @Rahul and @Alex, thanks for helping me see things clearly.

    We’ll see how this unfolds next week. I’ll come back with updates. πŸ’―πŸ€

  • 4
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Career Break
    7 months ago

    Alright, the offer I got was actually pretty good (22.5% above the salary range for the position), but I still said that I need to think about it because I'm interviewing with other companies.

    A few follow-up questions/considerations:

    • The head of engineering sent me a "congratulations" email, and, asked me if I want to hop on a call with him to discuss a bit more about what they're doing/where they're heading. I assume they're applying pressure for me to accept.
    • On my first interview I asked for the +22.5% above the range, because I knew the original range wasn’t OK for me, but wasn't expecting to get it honestly πŸ˜…. I feel like I should negotiate and do what Rahul suggested about trying to get an increase / sign-in bonus. Thoughts about that? I mentioned that I'm interviewing at other places and that I knew those other places would offer a stronger salary, BUT, I also said that I'm not in the final interview phase just yet.
    • I'm decided to join them either way, I like that company and I'll grow a lot there. πŸ’―

    Thoughts?

    And thanks!

  • 20
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Career Break
    7 months ago

    Final update:

    I verbally accepted a new offer! The last call with the Head of Engineering was more about him pitching the company, the responsibilities of my role, and letting me ask any questions I had in mind. It was a friendly, insightful chat.

    In the end, I got an extra salary bump by following Rahul's advice: (~60% on top of the original salary posted on their website):

    You're basically telling them that you're a flight risk but they can close you as a candidate with an increase

    This is definitely a win; I feel I'm joining a great company that checks all the boxes.

    Thanks for all your help!