The Airbnb engineer who got a $250,000 starting-pay package shares his tips on negotiating job offers

Haseeb qureshihaseeb qureshiHaseeb Qureshi

Haseeb Qureshi is an Airbnb engineer who drew a lot of attention last spring for his blog post explaining how he negotiated a $250,000 starting-pay package from an original $120,000 offer.
He’s been continually documenting his advice and tips for how others can do the same and just published a lengthy, detailed post on how to negotiate once the offer is in hand.

The advice comes from his own experience. After deciding he wanted a new challenge from his previous job as director of product at App Academy, he got rejected by all 20 jobs he initially applied for.

He then got rejected by a bunch more companies contacted via referrals from friends. Nothing was working. He had actually only learned to code about a year before. His background was as an English major and former professional poker player.

Then, after working with a startup called TripleByte, which anonymously tests a candidate’s technical skills then matches them with companies, a couple of interviews and offers started to come in. By letting all the recruiters he talked to know he had multiple job offers,
he ended up landing eight job offers, including positions at Google, Uber, and Yelp.

The problem? While all the early offers were in range for what entry-level engineers make, they were for less money than his current job, and not enough money to live well in expensive Silicon Valley.

He had another trial-and-error process in negotiating for more.

His latest post called
How not to bomb your offer negotiation” is worth reading, but here’s a few top tips we gleaned from it.

What Qureshi doesn't mention but is key to understand: Silicon Valley tends to use a lot of professional recruiters that are experts at negotiating. Also worth knowing: Contract headhunters earn about $30,000/hire, so they are motivated to get a prospect to take the offer.

Qureshi's top tip is make this a friendly process: 'When you think of negotiating a job offer, don't imagine haggling over a used car,' he writes.'Think more like negotiating dinner plans with a group of friends, and you'll fare much better.'

Think of the process as nailing down the details of a whole package. A decent salary is part of that, but think about what you value and focus on that, including signing bonuses, stock, year-end or performance bonuses, relocation expenses, equipment, an educational stipend/training commitment.

Recruiters tend to want to negotiate via phone, which is a more friendly setting, and may give them an advantage. If you aren't good on the phone, tell them so and that you prefer email.

To make any negotiation work, you really must be willing to walk away from the deal. That means you have to an alternative, ideally another offer. But it could also be keeping your current job. Politely remind the recruiter that you have other options, while still expressing interest in the job offer.

Do negotiate if you really want the job and want to work at the company. If don't want either, don't waste your time or theirs. The more excited you are, the more likely you are to get what you want.

When asking for more, reiterate that you really want the job and give them a reason why you want it, even if it sounds obvious. You are asking for a bump in salary because are hoping to buy a house, for instance.

You don't have to agree not to tell other companies about this offer. You also don't have to agree to take an offer before the person has actually presented a revised offer to you. You can gently sidestep that kind of pressure.

Never use the word 'negotiation.' Refer to it as 'talking about the details' of an offer.

Don't drag this out too long or get caught up in the game. This is about an about an overall pay/benefit package that is fair to both of you for a job you want. Know what you want, tell them, and if they come around, say yes reasonably quickly. Qureshi calls this 'be winnable.'

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