Ask Gayle: How do you negotiate offers for the big companies?

Posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011


I recently got an offer from a major software company, but it’s not quite what I was hoping for. How can I negotiate my offer?

~ PV

First of all, you’re off to a great start by just trying to negotiate. Most people don’t even do that.

Much of the standard negotiation advice applies here:

  • Having competing offers will give you leverage
  • Know what you can get an other companies (goes back to the competing offers thing)
  • Being able to quantify your value to the company – what can you do for them?
  • Think big picture. Maybe you can’t get a salary bump, but perhaps you can get a better signing bonus. Or maybe you can get relocation in cash, instead of the company directly paying for it. Or, perhaps you can get an agreement for an earlier review or opportunity for promotion.

One thing to note with big companies like Microsoft is that they often have “levels” for employees, with a small salary range for anyone at that level. You have some wiggle room within that range, but larger bumps may require jumping up to the next level. You’ll need to understand what you need to demonstrate to reach that level, and use examples from your past to demonstrate that you have these qualities.



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2 Responses to
“Ask Gayle: How do you negotiate offers for the big companies?”

  • Vivek says: April 27th, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Hi Gayle,
    How do you negotiate the offer with a startup ? While evaluating an offer from a startup what are the different criteria that needs to be considered?


  • Gayle Laakmann says: April 27th, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Whether or not to take a start-up job is a complicated question. Off the top of my head, here are a few things you should consider:

    Salary. Equity stake. Benefits.
    Is it likely to be acquired or IPO?
    Note — pay is often not that important in the long run, even if all you care about is money. How much you learn will make a bigger difference to your future salary than your paycheck for the next 3 years.

    Hours – is this the lifestyle you want?
    Commute. Yes, it matters – a lot.

    Team – do you like the people you work with?
    Role – what will you be doing? What will you be expected to do outside of your main job?

    Many people weight this far too heavily. If you would have a fairly easy time in finding a new job, this may not be that important.

    Will you learn the things you want to learn?
    Do you have good mentorship opportunities?
    Does the start-up have a positive “brand” or is it unknown? (Note: unknown does not mean it’s a deal breaker. This is just something to consider.)

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