Hacker Career Advice

Negotiating Job Offers

Standard advice for salary negotiations when you’ve reached a roadblock is to look for tradable issues—things that are of low importance to you / high importance to the employer (and vice versa)—that lead to a successful outcome for both parties.

That means you might accept a lower salary in exchange for more stock options, quicker vesting, and the ability to work from home once a week. Win-win right?

The issue with this strategy is that many companies hiring developers already offer significant benefits, (work from home options, conference & education allowances, unlimited vacation, dog friendly offices, free food, extended parental leave), as standard—taking many common trades off the table.

So, what’s the best way to negotiate?

First, make sure you want to work there. The cost of working at a bad company will likely be greater than any extra salary you can negotiate from them. Look to optimize your learning, the impact you’ll have, and make sure you’re a believer in their product and culture.

Next, do your research and find out what others are making in similar roles. Showing impartial data to hiring managers is a sound negotiating strategy. Then, when you get on the phone with the hiring manager or recruiter, be prepared to back up your number. Explain that this isn’t about you, it’s about being paid market rate for the hard work you’re really excited to start doing.

Last, it’s clear that one of the most powerful ways to apply leverage is to get another job offer. A second offer also helps you confirm your market value and encourages competitive bidding, without being considered someone who is unrealistically asking for too much. You’ll want to align your timing, so apply to several promising jobs at the same time.

If you’re looking for internships and you’re considering a big company, you probably won’t be able to negotiate. If you’re considering a smaller company, you might be able to ask for housing assistance & transportation stipends. But again, we suggest optimizing for the best learning opportunity rather than a short-term cash grab.

Next week, we’ll tell you why culture isn’t negotiable.