Case Study: Helping a Senior Software Engineer negotiating multiple job offers at four major tech companies

Feeling uncertain how to handle negotiations with multiple companies

Jamie’s job search surpassed his expectations. He ended up going to the offer stage with Facebook, Amazon, GitHub (now owned by Microsoft), and Stripe.

Though he was stunned and happy to have several excellent options for his next job opportunity, he felt overwhelmed by the prospect of negotiating the offers (especially since he had never negotiated for previous jobs) and choosing between them.

"I was unsure about negotiation strategy and how aggressive to be and I knew that I had a tendency to just get anxious and accept whatever got thrown my way," says Jamie. "I was also experiencing a lot of angst about which one was right for me — which one was a good values fit, which one I would actually be happiest in, what they would actually be willing to pay me and how much that even mattered."

Jamie reached out for coaching to help him navigate multiple negotiations and help him to get a better result than he could on his own. Before making the decision to hire me, he was a bit concerned about whether the working relationship would be a positive one and whether the feedback he would receive would be valuable.

"I've had other experiences with professional services where I didn't feel like they added any value and the process of interacting with them was more difficult than if I had just done it myself," says Jamie. "But talking to Josh on the initial call, it made it pretty clear that he was someone I could work with."

Our goal was to get the best offer possible from each company and get to a point where Jamie could confidently make a decision on which one would be the best fit for him. I worked with Jamie through each step of the process, providing advice on exactly what to expect, how to respond to each company, and how to time his responses to work to his advantage.

Part of our work together to maximize each offer involved having Jamie step a bit outside his comfort zone with the counteroffers, such as asking for a sizable sign-on bonus or a significant bump in equity to discover how much flexibility there was.

"Josh had me do things I never would have done — asking for five or 10 times as much as I would have in those areas,” says Jamie. “It turned out they either worked or they didn't fail. They either moved the offer in a positive direction or it revealed that the company was inflexible, but they didn't sour the relationship. So Josh really did better strategizing than I could have done."

The biggest challenge we tackled was navigating quite a tricky timeline. The offers were not all coming in at the same time. In fact, one of the companies Jamie was particularly interested in was the last to come to the table with an offer. We wanted to defer a decision on the earlier offers so he’d be able to negotiate and consider all four before making a final decision.

I gave Jamie carefully worded emails to politely set the expectation that he would require several days to consider the offer and advised him on exactly when to send them out in order to buy additional time for the other offers to come in. The waiting that comes after sending these emails can be nerve-wracking, and Jamie appreciated having someone experienced to turn to for support when he was experiencing doubt and uncertainty.

“The hardest thing was to set an expectation that we're going to put things on pause for a week and then just not hear anything back and wondering, ‘what are they thinking?’” says Jamie.

“You have a lot of time to overthink things. It was helpful to check in with Josh that things are okay. He would point out ‘they're very unlikely to like drop you at this point or to change their mind just because you asked for a delay.’ He helped keep my nervousness to a minimum and helped me feel confident about the tone that I was setting in my interactions with different companies."

Successfully syncing up all the offers and choosing between several enticing options

We effectively managed to get Jamie’s offers synced up so we could negotiate them all. Our negotiations resulted in improved offers from three out of the four companies:

  • Facebook — $12.5k more in annual equity compensation
  • GitHub — $15k more in base salary + $32k more in annual equity compensation + a $25k signing bonus
  • Amazon — $9k more in first-year equity compensation + $120k more in first-year signing bonus

"The offers were all impressive," says Jamie. "They all had their pros and cons, which is what made it really hard to pick."

Jamie wasn’t looking to base his decision on which company would pay him the most. He was more concerned with finding the right fit for him. There are a lot of factors at play to make that decision, so to help him choose, Jamie and I spent a lot of time talking through the tradeoffs of each offer and what mattered most to him such as the character and leadership values of the company, the phase it was in, what his job responsibilities would be, the team he’d be working on, and the technology he’d be working with.

Based on those factors, Jamie came to the decision to accept GitHub’s offer.

“GitHub was the lowest offer, but they came up quite a lot, percentage-wise,” says Jamie.

“The offers got close enough to each other that I could decide based on other more intangible factors. I think without Josh's help, I wouldn't have been able to narrow that gap and be able to even think about the ultimately more important factors of where I actually want to work, what I want to devote my efforts to, what I want the next chapter of my career to be oriented around. I was able to choose the opportunity that was the most compelling for me personally.”

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I'm Josh Doody, a professional salary negotiation coach who helps High Earners negotiate their job offers. On average, High Earners improve their first-year compensation by $47,273 with my help.

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