Here’s a new one: What do you do when you get multiple offers from the same company?
A recent client got a job offer looked like this:
We would like to offer you the following compensation options, which demonstrate our desire to work with you and our commitment to building our company:
- $100,000 salary and 10,000 stock options
- $120,000 salary and 5,000 stock options
Please let me know which compensation option you prefer.
A choice of yesses
This is a sales technique called offering a "choice of yesses"—designed to get you to say "yes" to one or the other offer rather than negotiating or pushing back—and it's the first time I've seen it used this explicitly in a job offer. I’m sure it won't be the last.
Most of the time, the company will have a slight preference that you choose the higher-equity option, but they ultimately just want you to choose instead of negotiating.
How to negotiate when they make you multiple offers
This company is not public, so the stock options are basically monopoly money—they could be valuable one day, or they could be worthless. My preference in these situations is to maximize base salary, so that's where you should focus your negotiation.
Here's what I recommend:
- Select the option with the higher base salary component.
- Acknowledge that the equity seems reasonable.
- Counteroffer on the base salary.
Here's what an excerpt from that counter offer email might look like:
You offered $120,000 salary and 500 stock options, and 500 stock options seems reasonable to me, though I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $135,000 base salary. I feel that amount reflects the importance and expectations of the position for [Company name]’s business, and my qualifications and experience as they relate to this particular position.
Then you'll turn the discussion from a "choice of yesses" to a more straightforward negotiation.
Once you’ve sent your counteroffer, you should immediately begin preparing for your Final Discussion. This is what most people think of when they think of “salary negotiation”. You’ll usually have this discussion over the phone—usually this call will just last a few minutes—where the recruiter or hiring manager will respond to your counteroffer, and you’ll have your final opportunity to maximize your base salary and other non-salary benefits that are important to you.
Most of the time, your goal will be to maximize your starting salary. But you may also want to negotiate for other non-salary benefits like vacation time, signing bonus, relocation stipend, or additional equity, and now is the time to choose your top three non-salary benefits to focus on.
Should you negotiate for more equity or more base salary?
Equity is a special case of a non-salary benefit where it might be particularly valuable or totally worthless. A good rule of thumb is that if you can put a value on the equity right now, then it might be worth negotiating. If you cannot put a value on it right now, then it’s probably better to negotiate for other things with a known value.
Writing your salary negotiation script for the Final Discussion
Once you have identified your top three non-salary benefits, you have everything you need to plan for your Final Discussion.
Here are all the inputs you need to write your salary negotiation script:
- Their offer amount
- Your counteroffer amount
- Your minimum acceptable salary
- Your top three non-salary benefits
With those items ready to go, you can write the script you’ll use for negotiating your salary on your final call with the recruiter or hiring manager. This is a crucial step for your salary negotiation for two reasons:
- Although most of the heavy lifting for your negotiation was finished when you counter-offered, there’s still room to negotiate and improve your offer.
- The Final Discussion happens very quickly, and you’re likely to miss an opportunity to improve your offer if you don’t have a script to guide you through the discussion.
The ultimate goal is to negotiate without leaving anything on the table. You can do it!
Josh Doody is a salary negotiation coach who helps experienced Software Developers negotiate job offers from big tech companies. He is the author of Fearless Salary Negotiation and Mastering Business Email. He has developed strategies and tactics that have earned his clients millions of dollars negotiating job offers with major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and many others.