Machine Learning Engineer Salary Negotiation Story: Harold

Harold faced an offer rescind in his negotiations and still successfully did a salary negotiation. Learn his takeaways on how to negotiate a machine learning engineer salary. His identity has been anonymized for confidentiality.

Initial Job Offer: $245,000 Total First Year Compensation

Accepted Job Offer: $278,000 Total First Year Compensation

Value Added by Ralph: $18,000 Extra Annual Compensation + $15,000 Additional Signing Bonus

Harold has been working as a data scientist for a couple years in the bay area. In recruiting Harold gets two offers, from two FAANG category companies. The challenge is that these two offers are coincidentally very similar. Company A’s offer is: $203K annual compensation and no signing bonus. Company B’s offer is: $205K annual compensation and a $40K signing bonus. Harold prefers Company B but since it’s higher, he doesn’t know how he could increase it.

A common negotiating tactic company’s use is saying that they can only change offers when a higher counter offer is shown. Let’s say you have two offers. If Company One’s policy is that they will not increase their offer until you show what the Company Two is offering. And Company Two has the same policy, your best offer is simply the higher of the two.

In this scenario candidates typically feel powerless to do anything. We call this the “Blocked Syndrome.” In Harold’s negotiations Company A applies this tactic. They refuse to change unless they share his counter offer. Therefore his intuition is to share the Company B offer with Company A. This will only result in a $40K signing bonus from Company A and no change in the Company B offer.

Company B applies the same policy and applies a different negotiating tactic, an offer deadline. After spending some time speaking to his potential Company B team members the recruiter emails Harold:

“I previously mentioned to you our offer deadline was last Friday and since I didn’t hear from you the offer expired.”

Company B being Harold’s preferred choice, he is obviously shaken by this response. He considers trying to accept the offer immediately. Using Ralph, Harold is able to do three things:

  • Navigate the offer deadline and get a 1 week extension
  • Get Company B to change their offer without sharing Company A’s
  • Stay objective when the negotiation gets stressful from company pressure

With a custom negotiation script that Ralph helps create, Company B increases the offer to $223K annual compensation and the $40K signing bonus. Harold is happy with this increase and ready to accept the offer. However Ralph has the experience that Harold does not and we advise him to do one final negotiation. With one final script, we help Harold attain an additional $15K signing bonus to accept the offer and he accepts.

What Harold said about working with Ralph:

“When you thought that you have overcome the interview hurdle, the negotiation process that follows can prove equally challenging. Up against recruiters who are well familiar with the process, I’ve encountered a range of tactics from deadline pressure, threat of offer withdrawal, to being dropped from a matched team.Working with Ralph meant having a guide to navigate through this tricky process. We worked together to develop a game-plan at every step, giving me the confidence to take more calculated risks with the recruiters. The result was a significant increase to my base salary, equity and sign-on bonus.”

Stay tuned for many more negotiating stories like Harold’s.

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To reach out about getting help with your offers, email hi@withralph.com

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