Job Offer Negotiation Was A Success

It’s official: I took the new job!

I’m glad to finally have this out of the way so my brain space can be consumed less by anticipating work and instead truly embrace this brief period of funemployment.

Before I accepted my job offer I, of course, negotiated. It helps that I have a lot of very aggressive friends and mentors that have taught me to be relentlessly entitled. You won’t get what you don’t ask for and all that jazz.

In my negotiations, I asked for an extra $20k in salary and an extra week of vacation my first year of employment. In return, my future employer gave me a $10k bump in salary, title promotion, and a promise of flexibility when it came to the vacation, though one they wanted to handle off the books (i.e. we’ll see if they live up to those promises). My new salary is still a pay cut relative to what I’d been making before but is in line with industry standards for the size of the company. The vacation policy is pretty iffy, but I’ll live.

While I’m a little disheartened that I didn’t get quite the salary bump or vacation commitments I wanted, the title promotion by itself is a big plus in my book. One of the things I have been worried about as part of this career change has been moving far back in terms of seniority. My thought is, even if this job doesn’t work out for the long haul, having that “Senior” by my job title will help add legitimacy to my experience and make it easier for me to apply for bigger roles or justify to big companies to bring me on board down the line.

In negotiating my job offer, I did three things:

One, I established a high anchor for compensation early. A lot of folks new to fields try to be wishy washy and force the other party to name a number first. But then, if an employer low balls, you have a much harder time edging them up drastically. With enough data– I use Glassdoor and Paysa for tech roles– you can generally figure out the range which a company is likely to offer and pick a number above it as an anchor point. For me, my anchor point was my previous pay since I was coming from a more highly compensated role and other job offers I had received for that sort of work.

Two, I dug into and negotiated multiple areas of my offer. While compensation was most important to me, through the negotiation process the company was able to “clarify” (i.e. I think they figured this out for the first time) their quite generous maternity leave policy. I also think being flexible on compensation got me a little flexibility in terms of vacation time on their end, which they had started pretty hard-nosed about (for reasons I don’t entirely understand).

Three, and most importantly, I remained consistently open and respectful, even when there was tension between me and the company and when I did not receive exactly what I wanted. In game theory, one’s optimal strategy will differ if they are engaged in a single or repeated game. Salary negotiation is a repeated game. Establishing early that I am willing to assert my worth but also do it in a respectful way will pay dividends down the line, I think, when pushing for raises, promotions, and for being seen as someone who is willing to be “tough” and represent the company as aggressively as I do my own interests. This negotiation may have ended, but the next one is always waiting around the corner.

Have you ever negotiated a job offer? Do you do so by default? What strategies do you use to determine your market value and negotiate?


What I Am Looking For In My Next Job

Friday I have an interview at a company I am really excited about joining. So far, my calls with the hiring manager and senior person above them have gone really well. Now it’s time for the four hour marathon on-site interview session. #tech #do other industries make people do this?

Looking at the role, it hits so many of my criteria in what I want for a “good job” that it feels like the standard bearer for the type of position I’d like. I lucked into an interview thanks to a referral from an academic I work with. Something something don’t just work for your network, make your network for you, yada yada yada. #maxims by yapfb

Even if I don’t get this job, though, as I’ve been applying to places, I’ve gotten a pretty good sense of what is / isn’t important to me in my next job. Here’s what I want:

Opportunity for a career switch

I have a non-compete that my employer would enforce, so in a sense I kind of have to make a career switch anyway. But there’s a particular type of tech role that I really want. Since I’m not looking to be a developer, those jobs are aplenty, it’s a bit more competitive to get my foot in the door, especially at a good place.

Nice, smart colleagues

I’m still mourning leaving all my wonderful colleagues at my current job. While I don’t know if I’ll find a group as actively funny and willing to be friends at my next position, I do know I want to be in a place where those I work with are reasonably nice– though can be direct about constructive criticism/getting things done–, intelligent, and competent. Speaking of…

Competent management

For better or worse, company life is affected by the decisions of senior and middle managers. Their decisions can make day-to-day easy or really, really hard. I feel like having a well-connected senior management is more likely at a smaller company. However, I am fine working in a big company, so long as their processes seem to make sense and don’t leave workers in weird bureaucratic limbos trying to secure basic things necessary to do their jobs.

Intellectual stimulation

I will take a “boring” product with interesting technical problems over a flashy product that’s super straightforward to implement any day of the week. I also refuse to take a job where my main responsibility is to run and analyze A/B tests all day. Just, no.

Good work-life balance

There are many aspects to this I’m looking for, but mainly I’m focusing on finding a good vacation policy, people putting in an average 40 hour week, colleagues with kids (especially women who’ve gone on maternity leave) that are able to make it work, and proximity to my house for a minimal commute.

Not too much of a pay cut

If I’m being honest with myself, I am 99% likely to experience a pay cut if I’m switching roles. Frankly, I don’t have experience in this new type of position and the 25-75% range for pay is much lower than in my current role (though there’s a long tail on pay, especially as you get into senior versions of this new position). So I’m setting my bar a little low here. In an ideal world I’d lose no more than 10% total cash compensation. Up to 20% still feels “acceptable” especially if I hit all my other criteria. Max I am willing to go down is 30% (that’s near-ish the median pay for this position) and that’s if I’m really desperate to get my foot in the door.

Things I don’t care about / actively do not want

I do not want to join a small, young start-up. Even though I myself am 26, the thought of joining a company composed only of other twenty-somethings, with a few thirty-somethings as founders sprinkled in, makes me deeply uneasy. I’d really like some company stability and older colleagues with experience I can learn from. Also, all the small start-ups I’ve talked to have given me a very Silicon Valley vibe. They hit all the common stereotypes: ping pong tables, craft beer on site, twenty-something coders sitting on couches instead of desks, bro-y hiring manager, everyone’s tired and overworked. Not my jam.

I do not care about equity. Unless a company is already publicly traded, it is as good as Monopoly money to me. Even then, vesting periods are long and I don’t want to be tied to a company that may not be a good fit for the promise of future stock.

Also, free food is nice and all, but more often than not will not fit my dietary criteria and/or is representative of a company culture that overly values hours on campus. Ditto all the other big company luxuries (gym, laundry, whatever).

What are your requirements vs. nice to have’s for a job? What couldn’t you stand or is unimportant? How much of a pay cut would you be willing to take for switching into a new type of role that you think better fits your interests? Do you have to endure marathon on-site interviews for your industry?



Rejecting A Job Offer For The First Time Ever

Good news, all: I got a job offer!

Even better news: I rejected it.

Wait, what?

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a recruiter. They were hiring for a company in a similar area of business to my own. It seemed like an interesting opportunity that would allow me to figure out whether my issues are really just with my current employer or the type of work I do overall.

Suffice it to say I killed it during my half-day marathon of interviews. Unlike when I was a college senior– i.e. the last time I got a new job– I knew what I was talking about and after years of experience, felt a lot more at ease with “pitching” myself.

They made me an offer, and the offer was… okay. Money-wise, it was not that different from what I am getting paid now. I probably could have negotiated it higher, but I decided to reject the offer instead. Without going to deeply into it, there were parts of the offer that were red flags (i.e. things that were contradictory to what I had been told verbally) and, after talking a bit more with the team including some junior members on staff who were naively candid, I realized that joining would mean a 25% increase in hours from what I was used to. Which, hahahaha no. I value my time, thank you.

So why, you may ask, am I celebrating rejecting this job?

Because it is the first time I’ve ever been in a position to do so. And it felt amazing.

When I was an undergrad, I remember the frantic do-si-so of courting potential employers. I sent out something like fifty resumes. I went to all the career fairs and company-sponsored talks. I jetted across the country to Seattle, New York, Madison, and more for job and grad school interviews. I’d get back a lot: “our team really liked you but we don’t think you’d be a good fit for this role.” And then they’d put me through another round of interviews for a different role just to tell me no again.

I got rejected everywhere, with one exception: my current employer. I jumped on the one and only opportunity I had. And I’ve done well for myself. I’ve gotten steady promotions and double-digit raises pretty much every year since I’ve joined. But there’s always been that nagging feeling in the back of my head that this was the only job I could get. That nobody else would want me.

But now I know that isn’t true. Not only am I wanted, but I have the confidence in myself to say no to opportunities that I don’t want in return. Maybe later this’ll end up biting me months from now, when I’m unemployed and can’t get another offer. But right now, at least, it feels so good.

Have you ever rejected a job offer? How do you know whether a job is right for you?