Justin Garrison was looking for his next career opportunity and had interviewed with several companies including Amazon for a Senior Developer Advocate role, which was a natural fit for his deep expertise and prolific contributions in the open source software community. When he reached the point where he had an offer incoming from Amazon and potentially a few other offers to follow, he considered working with me for salary negotiation coaching.
"I found Josh through a podcast interview he did and read some of the free materials he had," says Justin. "I had some ideas of how I could approach the negotiation myself. But at the same time, I've never negotiated an extra dollar for myself in any job offer or raise, and I had tried a couple times before."
Justin knew it would be beneficial to get advice from someone who understands the position and hiring practices of the companies he was considering. His main hesitation to hiring me as a coach was the fact he didn’t know anyone personally who had used my services. He wasn’t sure if he could trust me to get a good outcome to make the cost worth it.
"A very good salesman would always say they're amazing and all the great things they can do for you," he says. "Josh has testimonials, but a good salesman won't put the bad testimonials or the person that they didn't help. I guess the circle of trust wasn't something I had. It was just hearing it from strangers. Were they paid to do this? Is this legitimate? There's always questions there."
Justin decided to hire me after doing the math of how much more we’d have to negotiate to at least break even on the investment of hiring me. If he tried to negotiate on his own, he figured he might be able to get an extra $5k or $10k. He calculated that if working with me would result in an increase of $14k, that would be enough to make the cost of coaching worth it. The likelihood of losing money seemed very small to him.
Our goal was to not only get a good offer from Amazon that both the company and Justin would consider a fair reflection of the value Justin brings to the table, but also to get timely offers from the other companies for Justin to consider to strengthen his position and allow him to make an informed decision.
To help Justin navigate the landscape, I provided step-by-step guidance and the exact wording to use to respond to recruiter questions and to cut through some confusion on what salary range was available for the Amazon position. He appreciated having a supportive sounding wall and getting advice on how to deal with any unexpected factors that came up during his conversations.
"Having a third party actually validate my concerns was more helpful than I expected," says Justin. "I couldn't get that from most of my friends and family because they are either co-workers or people not familiar with the industry."
Throughout the negotiations, we made sure it was understood that Justin was interviewing with multiple companies. It reinforces your position and gives the recruiter more information to work with to improve an offer when you reiterate that you are in conversations with other companies and how far along those negotiations are, so we made sure Justin mentioned that over and over again at critical points.
I also helped Justin smartly and carefully time his responses. While it’s often instinctive to want to reply to a company right away when an email or phone call comes in, it makes sense in a lot of cases to hold off on an immediate reply. For Justin, we did this to take time to calibrate his response as well as to get offers in hand from other companies that were slower to bring offers to the table, or at least get them to move farther along in the negotiation process.
"There's a lot of anxiety and it can feel like there's deadlines and urgency to making decisions and communicating back, even if it's not necessarily the case," says Justin. "With Josh, there was a lot of strategic planning around how to time responses properly and when to take a phone call versus send an email. Both of those things I think worked out to help me get the best outcome."
After some back and forth, as well as support from the internal management, Amazon improved their original offer by a total of $74,000 for the first year, which included improvements in base salary, RSUs and signing bonus and brought the total compensation to a point that fairly reflects the value that Justin is bringing to the company.
The bump in compensation, in combination with the opportunity the role presented, was enough to persuade Justin to bring his talent to Amazon’s team and to leave another great job at Disney Streaming Services. Justin says he is very pleased with the extra compensation, which will allow him to put aside more for his kids’ education and toward buying a new house.
"It wasn't unexpected to get more money, but it was unexpected to get that much more money," says Justin. "I definitely would not have been able to get the offer I did without Josh's help."
Justin says the coaching has been more than worth it, especially when you take into account that the coaching fee is a one-time investment and the increase in his compensation we negotiated will remain year after year. He ends up more than $60,000 ahead this year, and three years from now, he ends up around $200,000 ahead.
"At the end of the day, I paid Josh over $10,000," says Justin. "Were the handful of emails and phone calls worth $10,000? Yeah, it was — which is weird to say. But the result just speaks for itself. The $10,000 was a fraction of the initial amount that was received because of those emails. If you could pick a stock and say, 'I'm going to buy 10 grand in this stock, then in three years, it's going to be $200,000,' would you do it? Absolutely. There's no reason you wouldn't do that."
Through the experience, Justin says he gained a mindset shift around job offers and negotiation and has absorbed a lot of knowledge on how to navigate each stage of the negotiation. He now knows how to use timing to help achieve the best outcome and how to communicate in a way that focuses on the value he brings to the company and team, which are skills that he’ll be able to use in situations beyond this one very challenging negotiation.
"Five, ten years from now, if I'm looking to move, or looking for a raise, I can lean back on what I learned," he says. "The fact that Josh helped me get an additional $74,000 was amazing, but I almost value what I learned more."
I'm Josh Doody, a professional salary negotiation coach who helps Senior Software Engineers and Engineering Managers negotiate job offers from big tech companies. On average, Software Engineers and Engineering Managers improve their first-year compensation by $47,273 with my help.
Apply for a free 15-minute intro call to learn how I can help.