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Should I take an offer right now when I’m in the interview loop for potentially higher ones?

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Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

I received a written offer from a Series A startup for a FE role over the weekend. I really enjoyed interviewing with some of the team members I met and the Hiring Manager seems to really care about the team and believes in the product. During the initial interview, the HM told me the salary window for the role is 140-195k based on experience and interview performance. After I completed all the interviews, the recruiter told me the team liked me and asked if I would take 140k and stop interviewing elsewhere. The recruiter reminded me that I mentioned months ago that I said 140k was the minimum I would accept for base salary (this is true, I reluctantly gave in and provided a number).

I’m currently working on a take home project for a FE role from a Series D startup that is in an industry I am interested in. I am scheduled to submit it and have the final interview round this week. This company's recruiter said, based on my resume, the anticipated salary range for the role would be 165-175k.

I asked the Series A recruiter to get closer to the potential Series D offer range so we agreed on 155k. Later I received the written offer and the title is for Senior Staff SWE. I was surprised to see that title paired with the 155k base salary (no signing bonus or other cash benefits. Options are on the table but that is just paper money at this stage). For context, in my last role I was a SWE I at a FAANG adjacent company and have 2-3 years of experience (half of that in Big Tech).

I'd like to get advice from the community about how to assess this Series A offer. Startup titles are generally inflated but even so the salary that is presented to me does not align with the title they are giving me. I live in a HCOL area.

If I do get an offer from the Series D company, I've been advised by another more Senior peer with startup experience to take an offer from a Series D company over Series A because the risk of company failure is lower and I will receive more support as a mid-level SWE.

I'd appreciate any insights and questions/topics I should consider to help me assess this situation. Thanks for reading this far :-)

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    A Senior Staff title with just $155k TC in a HCOL area is pretty peak startup title inflation. 🤣

    I agree with your colleagues that the Series D offer will almost certainly be better if you were to get it:

    • More money
    • More stability
    • More support to ramp up a relatively earlier-in-career like yourself
    • A level/job title that makes sense and won't look like a typo on your resume

    All that being said, here's my general advice when you have an offer in-hand with potential others coming:

    • Delay the offer in-hand as much as possible. If they give 2 weeks to make the decision, use the full 2 weeks
    • Push out the start date on your existing offer as much as possible. It would be super awkward (and thrashy) to start a new job and have to leave it immediately for a better offer
    • Use the existing offer as leverage to expedite your other interviews. Push them to jump you to onsite and ask them if they can do a faster decision after you go through the rounds

    Now let's say you aren't able to get the better offer before you're forced to take the existing offer (in this market, I think it's better to be safe and just take the offer):

    • If your better offer is before the start date of the existing one, you can just reneg it. It sucks and you will 100% burn that bridge, but a Series A startup won't have the connections to seriously blacklist you within the industry
    • If you have already started at the Series A job, you can leave it. You will 200% burn that bridge, and you should try to stay at the new job as long as you can (at least 3-4 years). You will need to cancel out the very short Series A stint on your resume by showing loyalty at your next role

    Lastly, I'm sorry to hear that you got pushed into a giving a number. For the future, follow the advice here to deflect those questions: The #1 Rule Of Negotiation - How To Avoid Giving A Number

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    How much equity is the Series A company offering you?

    The salary seems on the lower end for a Senior SWE in a high-cost-of-living (HCOL) area, but they may be able to compensate for it with a sizable equity grant.

    Smaller companies won't be able to compete with later stage (series D or public cos) on cash comp, but you join for more learning and belief that the company will become huge and your equity pays off. A great equity grant would be 0.4%+, but this depends on things like how many employees they have and how much traction they have.

    Also, remember that the number of options is meaningless. You should feel comfortable asking how large the option pool is, and what % of the company your option grant would translate to.

    How To Navigate Your Stock Options: https://www.jointaro.com/lesson/0319HBjGIBVQJXzrhpUo/how-to-navigate-your-stock-options/