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How one Silicon Valley engineer negotiated a starting salary from $120k to $250k in just a few weeks

Haseeb QureshiLinkedIn/Haseeb QureshiHaseeb Qureshi

Haseeb Qureshi makes $250,000 a year as a software engineer at Airbnb.

But he could have ended up with a $120,000 position at Yelp if he had taken his first offer.

How did he manage to more than double his starting salary in just a few weeks?

Qureshi, a former professional poker player with an English degree, recounts his story in a recent blog post shared on his website.

The whole story is a fascinating read and gives a glimpse into Silicon Valley’s competitive hiring market for engineers. It also serves as a reminder that persistence and negotiation pays off in any job hunt.

“If there’s one thing this job search had taught me, is that there’s always, always more money on the table,” Qureshi writes. “On all but two of my offers, I negotiated…negotiation pays, boys and girls.”

Qureshi tells his story in two separate, long blog posts. You should read the whole thing, but if you don’t have time right this second, here are some highlights:

  • Qureshi isn’t your typical Silicon Valley engineer: He’s an English major and a former poker player who had no professional coding experience.
  • He first learned how to code by joining a 12-week coding bootcamp at App Academy, where he later became Director of Product.
  • Qureshi was rejected by every one of the 20-plus jobs he first applied for.
  • He finally got an interview with 23AndMe through a referral of a bootcamp classmate. They didn’t offer him the job.
  • So he signed up for TripleByte, a YC startup that helps engineers find jobs. He passed their programming quiz and did well on the interview. Soon, it connected him with a number of YC startups, including Gusto and Flexport.
  • Flexport passed on him, but Gusto made him an offer. He got an interview with Yelp through another referral, and was offered a job too. Both offered around $120,000 in total salary.
  • Instead of settling there, Qureshi told other companies he was talking to that he receieved serveral offers. Suddenly, recruiters started setting up interviews, including a call with Google.
  • He killed his Google interview and was offered a $162,000 a year package. And with that, the floodgates opened: recruiters set him up with big startups like Uber, Stripe, and Twitch, all of which ended up making him an offer.
  • Right when he was about to accept the Google offer, he got a call from Airbnb, the company that rejected him just a month ago. He was referred by the CTO of App Academy who has a friend at Airbnb. “With his referral, I was promptly un-rejected,” Qureshi writes.
  • He aced the interview again, and was offered $220,000 in total ($130K, $25K signing bonus, and $65K worth of RSUs a year.)
  • Google countered by raising their offer to $211,000 a year.
  • But Qureshi still wanted to work for Airbnb. “I told myself: if I’m choosing Airbnb, just remember. 220K was their initial offer. That means there’s money on the table,” he writes.
  • He called his Airbnb recruiter and said, “If Airbnb can move up the RSUs by 30K to hit a total of 250K in all-in compensation, then I’ll sign.”
  • Airbnb returned with a new offer worth $250,000 ($130K salary, 25K signing, 95K a year in RSUs). He took the job.
  • Qureshi says he didn’t get a single offer through a raw applications. All the offers came through a referral of some kind.
  • On all but two of his offers, he negotiated. The base salary was mostly the same at around $130,000 a year. He negotiated more aggressively on RSUs and signing bonuses.

There’s obviously a lot more to the story, though. You can read the whole thing here>>

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