Dealing with "This offer is the best we can do for this level"

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Anonymous User at Taro Community2 months ago

Context:

  • Opportunity:- A month ago, I interviewed at a recently IPO'd startup for a senior SWE position and did well.
  • Uplevelling:- The interviews apparently went so well that they suggested I was a good fit for a staff SWE position on the team and made a verbal offer for that.
  • Subsequent Downlevelling:- The actual offer was delayed by 2-3 weeks only for the final offer to be a senior SWE offer.
  • Compenstion Issue:- The final offer is a bit (~10%) lower than all my current offers on all compensation components (cash, stock, sign on). Also, I'm still awaiting a couple of more offers that could be even better paying ones.
  • Recruiter Constraints:- The recruiter stated that this is the best offer they can do for the senior SWE level. This might be true given the ranges available on Glassdoor but I'm not too sure since there was only 1 data point available.
  • My Opinions:- I really liked the team, the manager and the kind of work for this opportunity. But I don't want to leave out on a meaningful amount of money being offered by other opportunities.

Questions:-

  • Assuming that the offer is genuinely at the top range, can I still attempt to negotiate given that the team believed I'm suitable for a staff SWE uplevelling?
  • If I should negotiate, how do I approach it given that they've stated it's the best they can do?
  • Do companies offer compensation beyond the high-senior SWE but below the low-staff SWE ranges to good candidates?
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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • Profile picture
    Career Coach β€’ Former Head of Engineering
    2 months ago

    I would start steering the conversation away from career levels since the impasse here is getting stuck on salary bands by level. It's a bit difficult when there are rigid corporate policies in place, but as a hiring manager, I know there is room to extend unique offers for top talent. For example, at Director+ level the "best" offer vs. the "standard" offer can as much as 2X, but the concept still applies to level below as well.

    Articulate what you bring to the table and the value that unlocks for the company, especially if it is unique vs. most other candidates. Here are a few examples.

    • Strong network filled with engineering talent. Most candidates miss this point since it's too much focused on what I can personally do vs. what other talented people I can pull in as a "talent magnet".
    • Industry knowledge and deep understanding of their business. Personally, I managed to negotiate at least 20% when moving back into tech consulting based on my understanding of how the tech consulting business works, particularly the competitor and customer landscape.
    • Anything you can link directly to enabling their marketing / sales cycle will ALWAYS get attention. In the B2B world, if you have some clout with a key decision maker on the client side, this will turn the tides in your favor (well beyond the HR recruiter). B2C is trickier, but even small things such as you teaching a bootcamp/course on the side may garner some attention if your former students align with their customer profile.

    Depending on your relationship with the hiring manager and rapport built during your interviews, you can consider dropping them a message. It's hard to advise how to do this tactfully without more context, but most of my previous jobs has been a verbal with my future manager and the recruiter is only there to complete the process.

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Assuming that the offer is genuinely at the top range, can I still attempt to negotiate given that the team believed I'm suitable for a staff SWE uplevelling?

    You can, but I would only take just 1 crack at it and leave it at that. Just make sure that crack is a good one:

    • Mention that you had a verbal agreement to be leveled at staff
    • Use your competing offers as leverage (especially if they're at higher pay)
    • Eloquently describe how much you like the team and make it clear that with a little extra push, they can get your signature

    If they really can't budge on the level or TC, you can ask for a signing bonus. That's generally easier to be approved as that's a one-time payment as opposed to recurring.

    Another thing I will say is that while 10% is substantial, it's not the end of the world to miss out on it. It's much better to be on the rocket ship that's accelerating quickly instead of one that's already high in the sky but stalling out. If you genuinely believe this team has a wonderful environment for you to grow and be passionate about your work, the pay cut could be the right call.

    I recommend these resources on negotiation as well:

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