Data Scientist Salary Negotiation Story: Francine

Francine learns that a successful salary negotiation sometimes means not negotiating the compensation of that offer first. Learn how to negotiate a data scientist salary from Francine's story below.

Initial Job Offer: $230,000 Total First Year Compensation

Accepted Job Offer: $370,000 Total First Year Compensation

Value Added by Ralph: $40,000 Extra Annual Compensation + $50,000 Additional Signing Bonus

Francine is a STEM PhD graduating from a top university. Having worked in industry for many years before doing her PhD, she is well aware of the importance of negotiating effectively.

“I learned from my previous work experience that your starting salary matters a lot, it puts you either on the fast track or slow track at the company and it’s difficult to recover unless you leave.”

She retains Ralph from the beginning of her interview process because she’s aware of the salary negotiation questions that occur during the interview process. After a phone screen with Disney+, the recruiter says “we lock the base pay at $150K and total compensation at $170K, if you would like to proceed we need to know by tomorrow”. Ralph advises her to walk away from the company and they retract the compensation constraints.

Francine receives an offer from a public company in the retail industry that has a large software team of over 5,000 (Company A). In her offer negotiations Ralph provided three services which had an impact on her offer outside of what she would have done on her own:

  • Advised Francine with questions to understand her leverage to negotiate a higher level
  • Extended an offer by an additional week to have time to receive a counter offer
  • Helped Francine remain assertive when she became fearful to negotiate to her market value

How negotiable your offer is depends on a variety of factors bespoke to the situation: the company’s hiring needs, your interview performance, how urgently the company needs you, and other pieces of information. This information is not available online, it must be gleaned by asking the right questions to the company.

Francine’s intuition was to jump directly into negotiating with her recruiter. She was not aware of the research that should be done before you begin negotiating. The information you collect can be critical to justifying your ask.

The first issue with Francine’s offer wasn’t the compensation, it was the level she is assigned. Francine’s initially assigned role is a level below than what she should have been based off of her experience. This was determined through the leverage research. Ralph then helps craft the justifications for the increased level and performs mock negotiations so Francine is prepared to respond to the company objections. Company A pushes back on this ask, causing Francine to waver, but Ralph advises her to remain firm. Francine gets the increased level and her compensation increases from $230K annual compensation to $270K annual compensation.

Based on our market data for candidates of similar backgrounds, the signing bonus is below market, so Ralph advises Francine to ask for a $50K additional signing bonus. Company A says no. The recruiter also now tells Francine that she has 1 week to decide on the offer. Francine tries on her own to get more time but doesn’t succeed. Ralph provides Francine a script that Company A extends the offer by another week. At this stage Francine becomes worried about damaging the relationship with her manager if she continues to negotiate. Having heard the responses of many hiring managers, Ralph helps Francine see that she hasn’t received serious pushback from the hiring manager and her hesitation comes mostly from her own anxieties.

With the additional extension Francine receives a new counter offer and we use it to negotiate with Company A in a way that doesn’t risk damaging the relationship with her manager to achieve the $50K signing bonus and Francine accepts.

Note: Francine's identity has been anonymized to protect her privacy. Stay tuned for many more negotiating stories like Francine's.

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