Taro Logo

Salary negotiation for L4 to L5 promotion

Profile picture
Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon2 months ago

I am working with AWS and I was just promoted from L4 to L5 SDE role. I am yet to have the revised compensation discussion with my manager and was thinking if it is possible to negotiate the offer. During the annual PCS conversations, it was mentioned that the managers have more leverage for salary negotiations during the promo review. I want to understand what parts of the compensation I can negotiate upon. Does anyone have experience with this?




  • 3
    Profile picture
    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    2 months ago

    No. The parts you can negotiate are none. Managers, before it is finalized, may have a tiny amount of discretion but that has largely been stripped away. You get bottom of band L5, and if you are still in a starting grant that has increased in value, you may get very little new RSUs, but you will get a base bump.

    You do not have any leverage. There is no reason for them to negotiate. If you want to go out and get mid-level offers elsewhere now that you’ve earned the promotion, then take that offer and see if they will dive and save for you, that is actual leverage. If you want to leave, then boomerang with new comp (be warned that giving up unvested stock is risky, your new offer may have a smaller grant if the price has really grown) you can get higher in band.

    This simply isn’t when you negotiate. You get the promise of dramatically higher comp if you get good ratings later, but this isn’t the big payout. Promo + high rating can get you to 2x previous comp, promo alone doesn’t.

    Sorry to disappoint. I promoted like 4-5 people to L5 and one to L6, and if they’d gotten a high rating at the previous level, the promo bump was often underwhelming and I had no leverage to make it any better for them. At least the base cap was changed, L5 to L6 if you were already near cap could feel very bad. L6 to L7, even worse. You have earned a new bottom for your comp target. If you got really lazy at L4 they could knock your target back down to bottom of band, now your floor is above your old ceiling, but that can be little consolation.

    I think other companies do this very differently. Amazon is… Amazon.

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

    Lee is right that you don't really have any leverage here, especially as an L5 (of which there are many at Amazon). At big companies like FAANG, it's all formulaic (it's this way at Meta as well). Once the ratings are in, your new target compensation is computed and that's that. Sure, you can ask your manager for more money during these talks, but there's no way they can do anything about it unless they're a magician.

    That being said, if you have a great relationship with your manager, you can bring up compensation, especially if you're being paid bottom-of-band. You two can then work together to get higher ratings/promotions to boost your pay.

    I know you just got promoted, but there's no reason you can't start thinking about another promotion right now! Follow the advice from this course: [Course] Nail Your Promotion As A Software Engineer

Amazon.com, Inc. is an American multinational technology company which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, and much more. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, it has been referred to as "one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world".
Amazon145 questions