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I got a job offer, but it's below my target. How do I negotiate?

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Entry-Level Software Engineera year ago

I got a job offer - It's just the 1 offer, so I don't have much leverage. I suggested a specific amount which I thought was the average salary (which is the amount they offered), but I forgot to take into account inflation going on in Netherlands/Europe. I want to negotiate for a higher salary and less working hours (which is negotiable). I have to negotiate it soon so would appreciate any tips ASAP.

What I'm thinking of saying is the following:

I would like to receive xxxx amount because that would make me feel very appreciated and motivate me to work extra hard. I forgot to take into account inflation for the amount I suggested.

"I would like to work 32 hours. This way I can spend more time on my hobbies and start well rested with the work week after a long weekend.

Does this make sense?

Follow-up questions:

  • How are my arguments for salary negotiation?
  • Is it better to ask for slightly higher so they can counter offer and we can meet in the middle and maybe get lucky and get paid even more?
  • Not sure whether working hours negotiation makes sense outside of Europe - Is it common outside of here?
  • If I ask for too much will they rescind the offer?

All in all the current offer would be great for my current situation, but for the long term, the salary would be kinda low with inflation going on.

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Discussion

(8 comments)
  • 9
    Profile picture
    Software Engineer @ Tesla
    a year ago

    Hello thank you for the question! My answer will be similar to the one I gave in Slack but I will format it here for others to read as well.

    First off, companies do not care how you 'feel' or what you do on your weekends. It's simply not a priority during negotiations.

    I would highly recommend you avoid bringing up the statements you mentioned.

    Instead, focus on what you bring to the table, what are the specific technical skills that they require from you? Use your evidence and experience as justification for a higher salary.

    Say something like:

    "Thank you for the offer!

    I would like to respectfully negotiate for x amount for 32 hours/week.

    I am highly interested in working for Company based on my interview experience and research. My technical skills in skill Y and skill Z would be applicable in helping to solve CompanyProblem. My experience with stack A shows that I am able to contribute to furthering Company in this specific department. I am excited to join the team and have enjoyed the interview experience.

    Thank you for starting the conversation, hoping to engage and hear from you."

    At this time, you're not threatening to reject the offer. You're trying to work with them on an agreement. The best way to negotiate is to remind them of your value.

    If they push back, respectfully ask them how they arrived at that offer to help you understand why it is below market rate for your experience and skillset. Then, you can retaliate and help fill some gaps in areas they may have missed.

    For your other questions:

    I'm not sure what it's like outside the US, someone else might need to chime in here. I would start at a reasonably higher number to start negotiations. Also ask for other benefits, moving stipend, things like that.

    Hope that helps, good luck!

  • 2
    Profile picture
    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    I suggested a specific amount which I thought was the average salary (which is the amount they offered), but I forgot to take into account inflation going on in Netherlands/Europe.

    Argh, this is awkward. πŸ˜” If you have already suggested a number and they gave it to you, it's frustrating at the company's end to have to revise it. For the future, I highly recommend watching this video: The #1 Rule Of Negotiation - How To Avoid Giving A Number

    The problem with giving a number is that you cap the upper bound of what you get. If you are really forced to give a number, give something that's top of band. You can estimate pay bands by:

    • Looking at Glassdoor, levels.fyi, and Blind
    • Tapping into the community for data points (like the Taro Premium community which you are a part of!)
    • Talking with folks in your network

    Most of the time, the negotiation process will drive the initial number down. This is why you should suggest an initial number that's on the high-end, so it becomes an average number at worse when the dust is settled.

    All that being said, I really like Xue's approach. At the end of the day, the company doesn't care about your personal life - They don't give employees more money for the sake of being nice. Companies give employees more money for a combination of these reasons:

    • They have external leverage (mainly other offers, but if you're currently employed, you can use that as well).
    • They are able add a lot of business impact to the company (this is a case you can always make, which is what Xue covers).

    If you're in the interview loop with other companies, especially if you're at the later round and they're prestigious companies, you can use that as well. You could say something like:

    Thank you for the offer and working with me to create a solid package - I really appreciate it! I'm leaning towards taking it, but I'm currently late in the interview loop with several other great companies which makes the decision harder. If you increase the offer by X% and guarantee a 32-hour work week, I would be happy to end my search now and accept your offer.

    Remember that there's more to an offer than salary as well, usually sign-on bonus and RSUs. Sign-on bonus is generally more negotiable as it's a 1-time payment instead of recurring.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Here's my thoughts on your other follow-up questions:

    If I ask for too much will they rescind the offer?

    I have pretty much never seen this happen as common sense will keep you from doing anything too insane, and companies understand that negotiation is a natural part of hiring. As long as you're polite and suggest something that's within band, you should be okay. Even if you're suggesting something that's 20-25% higher than top-of-band, I can't imagine it'll trigger so much of a negative response that they retract the offer.

    Getting to the offer stage for a software engineer takes a ton of resources across looking at your resume/portfolio, coordinating with you via recruiting, and of course, conducting the interview and judging its results. Once you are here, it's in the company's best interest to make it work.

    Not sure whether working hours negotiation makes sense outside of Europe - Is it common outside of here?

    I know that Europe is much better about codifying work-life balance into its laws and culture, so this doesn't surprise me.

    And I don't think it's common outside of Europe. I have literally never seen this happen in the US. Asia also generally has a reputation for working long hours.

  • 1
    Profile picture
    Entry-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Looking for job
    a year ago

    @alex "If you are really forced to give a number, give something that's top of band."

    Won't that decrease my chances of getting an offer? Won't they think like that's much will rather choose someone cheaper??

  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Won't that decrease my chances of getting an offer? Won't they think like that's much will rather choose someone cheaper??

    I imagine it varies based on country (maybe someone from Europe can chime in), but it really doesn't from my experience. By this logic, you should present a bottom-of-band offer.

    The company has invested so many resources getting you to the offer stage - They won't just kick you out. Digital ink is cheap: If they have a candidate that's just as good as you and is willing to work for less, then they'll send you an email telling you and negotiating you down.

    Negotiation is a game of information warfare that's tilted in favor of the company. You don't know if they have that other candidate that's willing to work for less. This is why my recommendation is to not assume they have it - You lose this battle immediately as you have now capped your own compensation.

  • 5
    Profile picture
    Entry-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Looking for job
    a year ago

    @Xue Hua @Alex

    Tried the template mentioned.
    Asked for significantly higher salary, 28 hours and 2 days of remote work.

    Result:
    "Your counteroffer is too far away from our offer to be able to negotiate this and come to a mutual agreement"

    When I called for feedback, this what I got from it:

    I asked why they didn't down negotiate my offer. They said: "We aren't interested in playing games". Your experience wasn't that much.

    28 hours might be a concern in the beginning. When they have to teach me things, I might not pick up things as fast as a result. It will take 1 year from their perspective before I can seriously contribute because need to gain domain knowledge.

    Working remote wasn't possible. asking for 2 days was way too much.

    Next time:
    Come with a counteroffer that is closer to given offer. And don't mention a number first!

  • 6
    Profile picture
    Software Engineer @ Tesla
    a year ago

    I'm sorry to hear that your offer was rescinded.

    However, that was a pretty poor response on their part. I would say that would be a bullet dodge.

    At least now you know what your needs are and you can start targeting companies that meet those needs instead of them shooting you down when you express what they are.

    I can't believe their response, honestly. How unprofessional.

  • 2
    Profile picture
    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Sorry to hear about the offer being rescinded πŸ˜”. As mentioned before, it's tougher for them as they already met the initial number, but they should have just politely negotiated down.

    That being said, I can see how it's a red flag if a junior candidate is asking for very low hours (I think the norm in Europe is more ~35 hours/week) alongside remote work (especially if the company doesn't support for it).

    For the future, be transparent with these needs in the beginning of the process and find companies that respect them as Xue mentioned. Best of luck with other interview processes, and we're happy to continue supporting you as you need it!