I had a friend recently call me up and ask me advice for negotiations and thought I’d solidify some of what I said into a blog post! This is by no means set in stone and every situation is different. These learnings (read: brain dump) are from negotiations for a job in tech as a female UX designer in Silicon Valley.
1. Try not to give the number first
Whoever gives out the first number usually has the lower hand so try not to. If you MUST, do your research, then add 20% to it (because… females). They may also ask if this means your entire compensation package vs base salary (I recommend say base salary and gauge their reaction).
2. They don’t need to know your current salary.
Pretty self-explanatory. You should also have a backup response of what impact your skill set provides and how you’ve grown it.
3. Compensation is more than your base salary.
Especially in tech, there are other ways of compensation that are past your salary, medical benefits, and retirement accounts. For example, negotiating a WFH day or more in your education / professional development budget are things you could ask for if you can’t ask for a higher base salary.
4. Be cognizant of equity (aka stock)
Depending on how long you want to stay and what the vesting schedule is, make sure you’re still getting in hand what you need to with the base salary and other benefits. A friend recommended always calculating the first year full salary and the second year full salary to see what the differences were (aka your signing bonus might make it seem like you’re making a lot but that dies the second year).
5. Getting the right position
Many times you may be hired into a position that is lower than what you expected to be at (or the salary doesn’t reflect the work that you’re about to be doing). In those cases, I always recommend asking about what the performance assessment schedule / timeline looks like. You can ask for an off-cycle performance assessment and subsequent promotion / raise since you’re not getting it when you start. Note that it is harder to do this (better to negotiate upfront).
6. Understanding your “band”
Understanding what position you’re in within your band is also important to understand your promotion schedule. A friend gave me the phrase “I’m sure you have a band for the position and I would hope to come in at the high end of that”. A lot of research is starting to emerge around this like on Blind.
7. Tax cuts into a lot of things
Another negotiation tactic is to ask things post-tax. Now recruiters / companies will say “we don’t know what tax bracket you fall into”. Do the research and then ask for the appropriate amount (usually taxes are about 50% on bonuses)
8. Having another offer is valuable
Whether it’s for monetary negotiation or simply to speed up the process, having another offer in hand can only help your case. Getting the first offer is usually the hardest but once you have it, you’re hot stuff and others are not far along. Rarely do companies ask to see the other offer but it is possible. I’ve also heard stories of people lying that they have other offers… don’t be that person.
9. Evaluating offers
A friend recommended setting up a matrix and putting weights on different factors to see what offer would stick out to me the most. The criteria I used were:
- Growth Opportunity
- Team Culture
- Company Culture
- Salary + Stock + Bonus (aka Money)
- Breaking into a new domain
- Work/Life Balance
- Additional Perks
- Work trajectory
- Name brand
10. Find your “negotiation people”
I have a list of about 4-5 friends that I call to ask for advice on negotiations. Often times we are paralyzed with fear around what we should say or ask because we’re scared of offending the companies. This is usually not the case but getting someone else to phrase our questions becomes a useful exercise. note that the majority of my 4-5 people are actually guys (because they aren’t afraid to ask!!!).
11. It never hurts to ask!
To look at it from the company’s perspective, they want to pay you as little as they can, which is why you should always negotiate.
12. The back and forth is ok!
I typically go back and forth during negotiations twice. More is totally ok! And less is ok but make sure you’re getting what you want.