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Cruise Salary Negotiation Guide

Do we like negotiating with Cruise?

Cruise is open to negotiating, and they are usually one of the better-paying companies in the industry. In addition to that, Cruise's compensation ranges can be pretty fluid. This can be a double-edged sword as it means that you can start your new role with a salary gap vs. peers if you don't negotiate properly.

Cruise's compensation structure

  • Base Salary
  • Cruise Equity Package (see Cruise rsu vesting schedule below)
  • Cruise Signing Bonus (not included in every Cruise offer package)
  • Performance Bonus (varies by level)
  • Stock Refreshers

Cruise has rolled out a new equity program that helps provide employees the opportunity to sell RSUs before IPO. It is called the Cruise Recurring Liquidity Opportunity (RLO). The program allows employees to sell any amount of vested equity each quarter. In the past, private companies like TikTok have offered something similar but typically less frequent intervals and at lower share prices vs. the true value. It sounds like Cruise's intent is to assess the true value as accurately as possible, but we'll have to wait and see.

Cruise performance bonus targets

Cruise's annual bonuses are quite high compared to other companies. Some target numbers for software engineering positions are listed below.

  • L3 - 20%
  • L4 - 30%
  • L5 – 30%
  • L6 – 40%
  • L7 – 50%
  • L8 – 50%

Cruise's approach to remote pay

Cruise doesn't have a company-wide approach to remote work. They let the manager and the employee decide what's best in a particular situation. You can learn more from their blog regarding their philosophy on remote work. With that being said, Cruise remote salary and equity will be discounted on the basis of location, which is still normal in the industry. Only a few companies (e.g. Bolt) don't discount based on where you choose to work/live within the US.

Cruise's relocation package

Cruise helps with relocation packages when you are required to move and the package is pretty strong (typically $15k + additional benefits for junior/mid-level employees). You should of course expect a higher $ figure for more senior roles. Corporate housing is another important piece and you should push for 2 months vs 1 month.

Most negotiable component

As is the case at many tech companies, the most negotiable component is equity. However, one interesting thing to note is that at Cruise base salary has more room for negotiation than at other tech companies.

Does Cruise require written offers?

Cruise does not require written offers in most cases, but they will ask for other details like the level and location of the offer. In unique cases (e.g., if you quote extraordinarily high numbers), they might ask to see a written offer. However, this can be deflected if you prepare correctly.

Will Cruise go above band if I have a strong competing offer?

It will require more than just a strong competing offer. You will also have to play your hand perfectly during the negotiation + crush the interviews to get an above band offer. All that said, it is possible at Cruise unlike some other companies which only go above band for L7+ leadership positions.

Is my hiring manager relationship important at Cruise?

Your hiring manager can play a role in your negotiation at Cruise. You should focus on building a solid relationship with them by discussing projects and the team - your goal is to have them be very excited for you to join. This will increase the odds that they support your recruiter in securing the top of band or above band compensation.

What does the hiring process look like at Cruise?

The eng hiring process at Cruise typically has four stages: recruiter/HM screen, technical phone interview, virtual onsite, and lastly, the offer stage (if you reach this point, this is where your Cruise salary negotiation process will begin).

Does Cruise pay well compared to Waymo?

Cruise pays a lot more compared to Waymo. For instance, let's consider a L5 Cruise software engineer's salary vs. L5 at Waymo. L5 top of band comp is about $500k per year (base, RSU, performance bonus, signing bonus / 4) at Cruise, but at Waymo, it is only $400k.

What kind of benefits does Cruise offer?

While negotiating at Cruise, the focus should always be on the main components like base pay, equity, and Cruise sign on bonus. Cruise does have an unlimited PTO policy which has its pros and cons. Generally, Cruise managers are pretty good about not shaming people for taking time off. It's certainly better than Amazon's 2 week PTO but not materially better than 4/5 weeks off at Google. Other than that, you can expect the standard tech benefits as part of your offer. These are not really negotiable, and it also doesn't usually work to point to another company's benefits as justification for higher compensation - the more optimal strategy is comparing monetary components to monetary components.

Cruise Equity Vesting Schedule

Year 1
25%
Year 2
25%
Year 3
25%
Year 4
25%
Year 5
25%
Year 5
%

Cruise Levels

Cruise Level

L3

L4

L5

L6

L7

L8

L9

=

Equivalent Level at Google

L3

L4

L5

L6

L7

L8

L9

Why use us?

Our Clients Love Rora

Coming from a non-FAANG background, I was shocked to find out how much I could be earning. Before I signed up with Rora, I made the mistake of telling Amazon my current compensation. Thankfully, Rora knew exactly how to fix it and ended up getting me an offer that was 2.3X what I previously made and more than $600K higher than Amazon’s initial offer!

Through several weeks of interviews, Ganesh was always available to make sure I knew what to say for each conversation. I interviewed with start ups, Google, Facebook and Amazon and was really impressed that Rora knew the comp ranges and were able to give me tailored advice for each – even the start ups.

There ended up being two particularly complex moments in my negotiation. One of the start-ups I had a personal relationship with and I wasn’t sure how it would affect the negotiation. I like that there was a focus on my individual circumstances and that they were leveraged to get me a higher offer. The other situation is that Amazon made a mistake on my written offer and initially wouldn’t rectify it. Ganesh was able to guide me through a challenging conversation to get it resolved.

Steve Commisso
L7 Principal Software Engineer, Amazon

Thanks to Wilson and the team at Rora I got a ~$250K increase on my remote Facebook offer! I was initially worried I wouldn’t have much leverage because Facebook reached out to me, and I wasn’t interviewing anywhere else. Rora introduced me to an Amazon L7 recruiter and helped me get that process started. I didn’t even end up needing to finish the Amazon interviews, since we were able to use some early compensation conversations to justify our numbers to Facebook.

At one point I was also considering pushing for an E7 role, and they wrote up a great script for me to broach the subject with my recruiter. She ended up giving me the option to do an additional interview to be considered for the higher-level position.

The whole process was very smooth, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use the service for any future negotiations. I found the regular calls with Wilson where we walked through strategy and discussed the scripts to be extremely helpful. Not only did it help with this negotiation, but I also learned a lot of useful negotiation tactics that I’ve already started to use in other situations.

Chris Jones
E6 Software Engineer, Facebook

As an engineering leader with decades of experience and having now gone through the negotiation with the team at Rora, the only thing I can say is — get the help. Whether you realize you need it, or even if you think you don’t. Just because you have done well in engineering doesn't mean that you understand the tactics and limits of the recruiting process.

Rora helped me get a $200K increase on my original Facebook offer without any competing offers.  It was clear that Rora was deeply familiar with Facebook's negotiation playbook. I’d honestly give the experience an 11/10.

In addition, Rora guided me on how to get the position switched to a revised remote role which was a huge deal at a personal level. They showed me how to redirect FB’s questions so that I could explore the possibility of not relocating, without ever having to say no to my original offer.

E7 Hardware Engineer
Facebook

This is my first FAANG role and I'm so happy I worked with Rora (thanks again Annie!) for the negotiation. My goal was to increase my Google offer, but I was in a tricky situation where I only had 1 other interview (no offer yet) at a small startup. With their guidance, I managed to get a $240K increase on my Google offer, despite Google's policy of requiring cross offers in writing to justify an increase.

The mock negotiations were a big part of why I was able to get this increase. Going into the negotiation, I assumed the key factor was what to say but I quickly learned that how you say it is equally if not more important. This was clear when over the course of the call"no" turned into "I'll see what I can do" and eventually"I think we can make this work". A big part of this was also having someone with me on the calls to provide real time guidance. This took a lot of the stress out of the situation. I can't recommend this team highly enough!

Andrei Gorbushkin
L5 Technical Program Manager, Google

After receiving several job offers, I needed to make a decision within a few days. I wanted to make sure I was getting the best offer possible, so I decided to use Rora. I was very pleased with their service. My coach, Sameer, was well prepared and had information about what compensation increases were likely possible. He provided detailed scripts covering a range of scenarios, and he did practice negotiations with me that helped me feel confident when I had the actual conversations.  

With his help I was able to increase one offer by $45k per year plus get a $50k signing bonus and then use that to increase my offer from Square, which was my first choice. All throughout he was very responsive as I was dealing with some tight deadlines and looking to wrap things up quickly. Rora's fee was only a tiny fraction of the increase they helped me negotiate, and even though they would have made more money if I had taken the highest offer, Sameer always put my goals first and never pressured me to do so. I highly recommend Rora!

L6 Software Engineer
Square

My friend introduced me to Rora and I’m so glad they did. I initially did some calculations to see if working with them would be worth it - my final increase ended up being ~3x higher than what I had estimated to be possible!

Their data is much more accurate than anything I found online. Without Sameer's guidance, I would have never known (and would have probably been too nervous) to ask for >$800K for anAmazon L7 offer. Of course, it's not just not enough to throw out a big number, you also need to be able to justify it. Sameer guided me through negotiating an up-level at another company, which I didn’t even know was possible at my level. With their scripts, I was able to leverage my competing offer to get exec approval for my Amazon offer. They also knew all the tricks Amazon would play (e.g., assuming 15% stock appreciation) and exactly how to counter them.

My total 4-year compensation increased by $570K. I don't think I've ever had a higher ROI – I’m very thankful that this service exists!

L7 Principal Software Engineer
Amazon

Maximize your Cruise Offer

Cruise

has a unique set of negotiation policies. If you don’t have experience negotiating with them, you risk losing out on large amounts of money because of very small mistakes.

There are many of these rules you need to know to get the highest

Cruise

offer possible.