Salary Negotiation
April 6, 2023
Brian Liou
Founder & CEO of Rora; 500+ negotiations completed

Research Engineer Salary Negotiation w/ Google, Deepmind, & Databricks

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Disclaimer: We’ve anonymized the names to protect our clients confidentiality.

Delisha is finishing a Masters in Computer Science at an R1 university and is recruiting for research engineering roles.

Delisha first receives an offer from Uber that is $118K base, $12.5K annual bonus, $100K equity, and $20K signing bonus. When she tries to negotiate the offer, the recruiter is very aggressive and says "we cannot change the offer unless you have more industry experience, we don't differentiate between a undergrad and a masters degree, and we cannot extend the deadline at all". Delisha walks away from the Uber offer.

The next offer Delisha receives is from Google that is between $110K to $130K base, 15% annual bonus, $100K equity, and $20K signing. Delisha attempts to negotiate this offer using data that we have for candidates similar to her background and justifications based on her leverage. Google responds that the base is fixed for new grad offers; it cannot change and that she cannot change Delisha's offer unless she shares higher counter offers.

Shortly after receiving the Google offer Delisha receives an offer from Databricks that is $125K base, $236K equity (private market valuation), and $20K signing. At this point Delisha feels stuck. She assumes that her only option is to share the Databricks offer with Google and then Google will match it. When companies employ the negotiating tactic of not changing offers unless you share a higher counter offer, candidates encounter what we call the "Blocked Syndrome". Your recruiter says they won't change their offer without sharing a higher counter offer so your best offer is simply the highest offer you have. Adding even more pressure, Google's recruiter is now giving Delisha a deadline on her offer, that she needs to let her know at the end of the week, 4 days from now.

Rora unblocks Delisha by crafting a negotiation script that allows her to increase the Databricks offer without sharing the Google offer. Databricks comes with a new offer of $140K base, $266K equity (private market valuation), and $20K signing. The only challenge is that this offer is given verbally and Delisha tells this offer to Google but they require it to be in writing to make any changes. It's Thursday, and the Google recruiter further pushes Delisha on the deadline. Databricks says that they can't get the offer officially approved until Monday. During all of this Delisha is flying to interview at DeepMind and has a paper due in one of her classes.

Delisha is incredibly tired, stressed, and all she has to do is say yes to Google or Databricks to be done with this ordeal. Rora helps craft a script to Google to get a final 1 week extension. On Monday she receives the written Databricks offer and she shares it to Google. Google changes their offer increasing it 12%. The base has increased above what the recruiter initially said was possible. On Tuesday Delisha hears back from DeepMind and receives an offer from them which matches Google's. DeepMind and Google have a dual tracking policy so Google cannot apply a deadline that DeepMind doesn't have. 

At this point Delisha's preference is DeepMind and growing tired of the negotiating she is ready to accept. She thinks this is the best offer she can get and does not know that there is still value left on the table she can negotiate like Rora does. Rora convinces her to do one final negotiation with Databricks and using a negotiation script Rora helps create, Databricks agrees to increase the signing bonus to $50K but conditional on Delisha saying she will accept the offer. Delisha is trapped by another negotiating tactic by companies. She doesn't want to damage the relationship with Databricks by saying yes and then going to DeepMind but she assumes that Deepmind will only increase the signing bonus to $50K if she shows written evidence.

Rora knows from negotiating with DeepMind that their culture is different from most and she should likely be able to get DeepMind to match the signing bonus if she simply tells them her situation. Delisha negotiates with DeepMind using a script from Rora explaining her situation and DeepMind gets the $50K signing bonus approved without sharing the Databricks offer in writing and she accepts.

From using Rora, Delisha increases her offer by $54,000 in total compensation.

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Disclaimer: We’ve anonymized the names to protect our clients confidentiality.
Brian Liou
Founder & CEO of Rora; 500+ negotiations completed

Brian is the founder and CEO of Rora. He's spent his career in education - first building Leada, a Y-Combinator backed ed-tech startup that was Codecademy for Data Science.

Brian founded Rora in 2018 with a mission to shift power to candidates and employees and has helped hundreds of people negotiate for fairer pay, better roles, and more power at work.

Brian is a graduate of UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

Over 1000 individuals have used Rora to negotiate more than $10M in pay increases at companies like Amazon, Google, Meta, hundreds of startups, as well as consulting firms such as Vanguard, Cornerstone, BCG, Bain, and McKinsey. Their work has been featured in Forbes, ABC News, The TODAY Show, and theSkimm.

1:1 Salary Negotiation Support

Negotiation strategy

Step 1 is defining the strategy, which often starts by helping you create leverage for your negotiation (e.g. setting up conversations with FAANG recruiters).

Negotiation anchor number

Step 2 we decide on anchor numbers and target numbers with the goal of securing a top of band offer, based on our internal verified data sets.

Negotiation execution plan

Step 3 we create custom scripts for each of your calls, practice multiple 1:1 mock negotiations, and join your recruiter calls to guide you via chat.

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