How I Negotiated a Tech Offer up 30% in Total Compensation

A walkthrough of an L5 engineer's negotiation experience

Negotiating an offer while not currently having a job was an incredibly scary experience, but thanks to Levels.fyi’s Negotiation Coaching, I ended up negotiating a 30% increase for an L5 engineer offer with a FAANG company! It was well worth the cost paid and I hope to shed some light on the process to help anyone who might be considering the service.

Background

I had always worked for small to midsize companies, but I wanted to make the jump to a FAANG-level company and figured that my best option was to quit my job and make interview preparation my primary focus. After about 2 months of prep and interviews, I got the good news that I’d be receiving an offer from one of them.

I knew negotiations with bigger tech companies would be different from what I was used to, so I started doing research across multiple sites to try and find the best info to help me out. After seeing mentions of Levels.fyi on sites like Hacker News and Reddit, I decided to check them out. My first impression was that the site felt far more trustworthy than others. The salary data they present looks much more in-line with industry standards and their blog posts had a ton of great information on negotiations, including for some FAANG companies as well. Still, I felt a bit out of my depth and didn’t want to risk my chances, so I decided to book their negotiation coaching service to help guide me more specifically. Now there’s even a money-back guarantee, so there’s really nothing to lose.

Scheduling

I scheduled the coaching call about a day after I got the word about an offer. At this point, I was also still in the interview process with another company and wanted to make sure I didn’t lose their potential offer because I knew the timing with my first one might push me to make a quick decision since I had the offer in hand. Upon booking, there’s a pre-call questionnaire which asks you to provide information like your current role and level, which companies you’re negotiating with, and what your career goals are, so I was able to provide a lot of detail and my coach, Randy, came prepared to chat about my situation and concerns.

Initial Call

The initial call with Randy was super enlightening and collaborative. He dove into the strategy of negotiating with big tech companies, while still making me very much a part of the process and letting me know he’d be at my back every step of the way. I had concerns about leverage, since I wasn’t currently employed and I didn’t technically have any competing offers in hand to use, but his strategy helped show me how I could still use that information to my advantage. Additionally, he helped prepare me on how to handle certain topics that recruiters often talk about and the negotiation strategies they use from the other side of the table, so I really felt prepared as I continued the conversations with my recruiter. We also collaborated on an appropriate number to ask for. My experience with smaller companies led me to believe that a 10% increase was usually at the top end of what you should ask for, but after digging into the data, he suggested we should ask for much higher. I was skeptical for sure, but glad I went with his guidance here.

Email Support

From there, Randy prepared a negotiation template for me to edit and send to my recruiter. I thought this was a great touch because it is really easy to discount yourself during negotiations, especially for such a high pressure decision, and this really removed that issue for me. The template had great data points and painted the picture well, so I was confident sending it and knowing that everything in there was relevant and had purpose, including a mention that I was still in the process with another company. I didn’t think it mattered if I didn’t have the offer in hand, but Randy helped explain why being in the process is still a useful point to make in negotiations.

After I sent the email, it took my recruiter a bit of time to get back to me. After a few days without any update, I was getting a bit concerned, so I emailed Randy for his insight. He was able to explain more behind-the-scenes processes that typically happen at this stage, like approval processes and documentation, and that helped calm my worries a bit.

Results

After about a week, they eventually got back to me and the final offer came in about 30% higher than the initial offer they presented me with before I engaged with Levels.fyi!

Impressions

Overall, it was an incredibly worthwhile service and of course the return on investment is a no-brainer. I had the chance to have a post-mortem call with Randy, who offered his time to help answer any lingering questions I had. He explained that interview performance and compensation structure were probably advantages I had which resulted in them working with me on comp. We had initially asked for a higher base, but when the final offer came, they came in lower there, but offered more equity, which offset and actually increased the total compensation overall a bit.

I am incredibly happy with the results and highly recommend the service to anyone looking to negotiate a job offer. In addition to the final offer increase, I learned a lot about tech negotiations, recruiting, and compensation that were all key components to my success. Understanding more details about how recruiting and compensation planning works really cleared a lot of uncertainty on my end about why companies offer what they do.

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