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Here's what to look out for when negotiating a job offer from Google

I recently gave a talk to the Student Investment Club at the University of Florida, my alma mater.

During the Q&A—my favorite part of every talk I give—one of the students asked:

“What’s the hardest company to negotiate with?”

I had never really thought about this before, but it’s a great question. I gave two answers.

The hardest type of company to negotiate with

The hardest type of company to negotiate with is the government and, more importantly, companies whose primary customer is the government (“government contractors”) because they often structure their businesses to mirror government’s structure.

I realize that’s a strange thing to say, but the key is that public sector jobs are often confined to a very tight scale and the salaries are governed very carefully. That means that offers are made in a very narrow salary range, and there’s very little room to negotiate them.

That doesn’t mean there is no room to negotiate, but the negotiations can be pretty challenging and often don’t yield significant improvements.

Takeaway: Negotiating salaries in the public sector can be very challenging as the salaries for each job or more or less predetermined based on budgets and other items as opposed to the candidate’s value in that particular job.

The hardest individual company to negotiate with

In my experience, Google can be very stubborn on base salary, especially if you disclose your current or expected salary before they make a job offer. In that case, their offer will be very close to the numbers you shared if those numbers are in the range Google is willing to pay for that role, and they won’t budge of that base salary number once they’ve offered it.

They will negotiate on Restricted Stock Units (RSUs), and seem to prefer to offer more RSUs—sometimes significantly​ more—whenever possible in lieu of base salary.

Google can also be very persistent when it comes to asking about your salary requirements. A single “I’m not comfortable sharing that information” is often not sufficient, and they’ll continue asking and even tell you that “we can’t continue without a number”.

In my experience, they’re bluffing and will continue eventually if you refuse to share that information. But they’ll ask several times before moving on.

Takeaway: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a ~hundred~ thousand times: Don’t disclose your current or expected salary to a potential employer.