Google salary negotiation
Company Guide
May 6, 2022

Google Salary Negotiation Guide: How to Negotiate Your Google Job Offer

Does Google Negotiate?

Yes. We’ve negotiated 100+ Google offers over the past year, and while some recruiters may claim your offer is non-negotiable, you should always negotiate. That said, while Google is one of the most sought after companies to work for in the tech industry, they are also one of the most difficult to negotiate with. All Google offers are negotiated with their centralized compensation team, which has incredibly strict rules and procedures that are based on data-driven insights to help Google lower their employee costs while maintaining a high candidate close rate. Everything that you say in the negotiation from your interest in the team to interview dates with other companies will trigger different rules. Recruiters are instructed to ask specific questions in every negotiation so Google's compensation team can apply those rules. Crafting the perfect answer will let you navigate Google's rules and get the best offer possible.

If your situation is unique or you want 1:1 support to ensure you maximize your compensation, sign up for a free consultation with our experienced negotiation team.

Negotiate Your Offer

Table of Contents

Google Offer Compensation Components

Before starting any negotiation, it is critical you fully understand the compensation components offered. A typical job offer for a tech role at Google (e.g. Software Engineer) will contain cash and equity components. Google job offers should almost always contain the following monetary components:

This is what an example Google L6 offer looks like over a 4-year period:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Base Salary $230,000 $230,000 $230,000 $230,000
Signing Bonus $75,000
Google RSUs $231,000 $231,000 $154,000 $84,000
Performance Bonus 20% 20% 20% 20%
Stock Refreshers Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified
Total Compensation $582,000 $507,000 $430,000 $360,000

The high-level overview of compensation is certainly helpful, but there is a lot of important nuance for each of these components that is quite different at Google vs other FAANG companies.

Google Base Salary

Google's base salary component is fairly standard. There is a base salary band associated with each role/level/location. The size of the band increases with seniority - at junior levels it is quite narrow. It is certainly possible to negotiate this component, but the increase will typically be smaller than what is possible for the equity component.

Google Signing Bonus

Not all Google offers include a signing bonus by default. It's a common recruiter trick to leave it out of the initial offer and to claim that it's very rare for candidates to get. For most technical roles and even many non-technical roles at Google, it is possible to negotiate a higher signing bonus even if it's not in your initial offer.

The two most helpful pieces of leverage are:

  1. Competing offers
  2. Retention bonuses at your current company

Google's signing bonuses aren't as significant as other peers in the industry (e.g. Facebook). Many L5 software engineers we've worked with at Rora have been able to negotiate a $100K signing bonus with Facebook, whereas at Google it is rare to get above $50K (though $75K is possible) for the L5 level.

Google will pay your signing bonus in your first month of employment - unlike Amazon which is prorated. However, they do require you to repay a portion of your signing bonus if you leave before the 1-year mark. Below is the wording from a Google offer Rora recently negotiated (note: $30K is a high signing bonus for L3).

"Sign-On Bonus: Google will pay you a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $30,000.00, less applicable deductions and tax withholding, within thirty (30) days following your start date at Google, subject to your continued Google employment on the payment date of the Sign-On Bonus (the "Sign-On Bonus Payment Date"). Should your Google employment end on or before the 12 month anniversary of the Sign-On Bonus Payment Date, you agree to repay the Sign-On Bonus on a prorated basis."

Google Signing Bonus 2022

Google Equity (RSUs)

Equity is the most negotiable component of a Google offer. Not only is the equity band larger than for other components like base salary or signing bonus, but it is also easier to go "above band" if you are a particularly strong candidate with competitive cross offers and negotiate perfectly. That said, there are some key tactics to be aware of when negotiating equity with Google, which are covered in negotiation tips below.

In mid 2021 Google changed all of their offers to a new vesting schedule. Prior to the change they vested their equity evenly each year:

  • Year 1: 25%
  • Year 2: 25%
  • Year 3: 25%
  • Year 4: 25%

The change actually began in 2020 when Google started trialing front-loaded equity - where they would give you more of your equity grant in the initial 2 years and less in year 3 and 4. Google primarily trialed these new offers in the Google Cloud Computing Group. Google's compensation team is notoriously data driven, so they trialed the offers for many months to see how it impacted candidate sign rates. The compensation team trialed several structures including:

  • Year 1: 40%
  • Year 2: 30%
  • Year 3: 20%
  • Year 4: 10%
  • Year 1: 36%
  • Year 2: 28%
  • Year 3: 20%
  • Year 4: 16%

As a result, it was common for Google offers in early 2021 to have completely different equity vesting schedules, even for people in the exact same role and team. By mid 2021, Google had gathered enough data to find the right balance between saving money (by reducing total grant amounts) while limiting the number of candidates that rejected Google offers due to compensation. The new structure, that is now given out on the vast majority of Google offers is 33/33/22/12.

This means if you are granted $700K RSUs, you will receive the following:

  • Year 1: 33% ($231K)
  • Year 2: 33% ($231K)
  • Year 3: 22% ($154K)
  • Year 4: 12% ($84K)

Google found that by keeping compensation the same in the first two years many candidates felt their compensation in the near-term was good enough to still join Google instead of taking a competing offer elsewhere.

In combination with this change to the equity structure, Google is now attempting to only match cross offers in years 1 and 2. They will make the claim that years 3 and 4, although lower in your initial offer, will be equivalent over time due to stock refreshers. This is frequently false, but they are even willing to use this claim against offers from Facebook and Apple, both of which are known to have better stock refresher packages. When countering with Google, make sure you're asking for a specific offer breakdown, or 4-year value, depending on the company you have a competing offer from. If you ask for a yearly value, they'll only match that in the first two years. When you do ask for a 4-year value, you will need to justify why you are looking at the average over 4 years instead of the first 2 years. Each situation is different. For example, sometimes you can lean into refreshers at other companies or growth trajectory in your current role. Picking the optimal justification for your situation can actually have a huge impact on your final compensation because Google's compensation team has very specific rules for whether a justification warrants matching the full 4-year value. Our team has data on which justifications have the highest success rate - you can book a call to get more context on this.

Google is still trailing a number of different vesting cadences (different from the vesting schedules discussed above) depending on role and seniority, but it is fairly common to have vest dates every 3 months or even every month, which is the highest frequency in FAANG.

Next we will cover how your equity grant is converted to shares. This can have a surprisingly large financial impact. Here is the exact wording from a Google offer letter.

Google stock package

As mentioned in the screenshot above, the actual number of shares allocated will be based on the average closing price for the calendar month prior to the date of the grant. You can check the current stock price chart (see below) to get an approximation but it can change dramatically between now and the grant period. Salary negotiations are always won or lost in the details. With stock prices fluctuating drastically, you can change your compensation by tens of thousands of dollars by negotiating slight changes in start date after you receive an offer. After maxing out the dollar value during negotiations, we help many clients set a start date that gives them the highest number of RSUs when they join.

Google RSU

Google Performance Bonus

Performance bonuses at Google are very stable. While it is true that they are technically based on both your performance and the company's performance, ~80% of engineers receive their target bonus or higher.

Google is quite transparent about target bonuses for each role/level. For example, an L6 software engineer will be given a 20% target bonus. Here is the wording from a Google offer letter:

"You are eligible to participate in the company discretionary bonus plan; your annual bonus target will be 20.0% of your base salary. The actual bonus amount could be larger or smaller than this amount, based on your performance, and the performance of the company. The exact bonus amount is at the sole discretion of Google. The components of your bonus are subject to periodic review."

Google Annual Bonus Target

While it's true this component is not negotiable, it's important to include it in your total compensation when comparing to other offers, especially when comparing to companies like Amazon that are much less likely to pay performance bonuses.

Google Stock Refreshers

Targets for Stock Refreshers are not publicly discussed and therefore are more difficult to evaluate when comparing total compensation between multiple offers. However, as a general rule, Google provides medium-sized refreshers. They are usually lower than Facebook and Apple, but higher than Amazon and Microsoft. It is worth asking your recruiter for the range for your role/level, as some are willing to disclose that information.

One unfortunate detail is that Google does not give refreshers your first year after joining.

Industry Compensation Data

Rora has helped negotiate a wide range of offers at Google. Candidates of course need to know the latest role-specific salary information like the Google product manager salary or the Google product designer salary. However, it can also be useful to understand these salary trends at the industry level. Hence, we have compiled our data for different roles setting the senior (L5) level as the benchmark.

Role (Senior – L5-equivalent level) Highest Offers in 2021
Software Engineer Salary $425K + $100K signing bonus
Product Manager Salary $370k + $75k signing bonus
Data Scientist Salary
$325k + $50k signing bonus
Technical Program Manager Salary $325k + $50k signing bonus
Product Designer Salary $315k + $40k signing bonus
Marketing Salary $260k + $40k signing bonus
User Experience Researcher Salary $255k + $40k signing bonus

Remember, the data points above are industry wide, not specific to Google. There are many company specifics at play here. For example, a Google data scientist salary is often above industry average. They are also more willing to go above band for this particular role even compared to other top paying companies like Facebook. However, a Google software engineer salary is often below average (when looking at the 4-year value) and certainly lower than companies like Facebook and Amazon.

Again, it's important to remember that Google modified its vesting scheduling with 33% being paid in the first and second year. This inflates the value in year 1 and 2 which makes the numbers recruiters quote artificially high.

Google remote work

Google is not particularly accommodating when it comes to remote work, and while you can certainly secure a remote offer, there are many rules in place. Most remote roles are for L5+ positions in the engineering org. You can request that exceptions are made, but those are frequently rejected until you've been at the company for more than 1 year and have strong performance ratings. Other companies like Microsoft and Amazon have more remote-friendly policies.

If you do get a remote role, it's important to note that Google has one of the most granular remote pay structures. The cost of living / market rate for your role will determine the compensation band. This is a sharp contrast to companies like Airbnb and Spotify that pay equally across the US. Remote roles can also make negotiations tricky as Google's comp team has refused to negotiate based on competing offers in different locations (even if they are comparable LCOL areas).

Google Negotiation Process

Google's negotiation process has historically been long and arduous. As a result, candidates often find it helpful to have a high-level overview of the negotiation process. This does of course vary by candidate with one key vector being seniority, so we will split this into two groups: L3-L5 and L6+.

Google Level Structure

  • L3 - Entry Level Software Engineer (often new grads with Bachelor or Masters degree)
  • L4 – Software Engineer (incl. new grad PHDs)
  • L5 - Senior Software Engineer
  • L6 - Staff Software Engineer
  • L7 - Senior Staff Software Engineer
  • L8 - Principal Software Engineer
  • L9 - Distinguished Engineer

If you have not yet received an offer from Google there are a few critical mistakes to avoid:

  1. Do not share your current compensation. In many states (e.g. California) it is illegal for companies to ask this, so you are certainly within your rights to say "I do not feel comfortable sharing that information".
  2. Do not share your compensation expectations. Google recruiters will sometimes frame this as "seeing if you are a fit for the role". However, it is in your best interest to deflect this question until Google has extended an offer. One possible response is "right now I'm focused on the interview process and don't have a number in mind, but I'm confident we will be able to get to a number that works for both of us."

With that out of the way, let's discuss the process for Google L3-L5 tech employees.

Google is in the process of updating their entire hiring system to remove the notoriously slow and painful team matching process where, after passing generic, team agnostic interviews, you have to find a mutual fit with a team who will support your offer. Team matching is allowed to take up to an entire year at Google! For candidates who are junior and in locations with many openings (like Mountain View) you can often team match quickly. But if you are looking for a remote Google job offer or are more senior, it can often be a painful process. If you find yourself stuck in team matching, there are many things you can do to speed it up including reaching out to managers directly. This is an under-utilized approach, but you need to do it the correct way to get the best results and avoid upsetting your recruiter.

Here is what the system looks like that Google is phasing out. They haven't phased it out in one big swoop, so depending on your specific situation, you might still go through this process.

  1. After completing your onsite interview, you will often hear back from your recruiter within ~1 week. They will give you the good news that you are moving on to the team matching stage
  2. Team matching can vary significantly for each individual. Some people wrap up team matching in a week, whereas for others, team matching can stretch out for months. We typically don't recommend negotiating with your recruiter during team matching, but it is reasonable to ask specific compensation related questions, which can help you negotiate other offers (this is helpful because Google is typically the slowest company you are interviewing with)
  3. After you have found a mutual fit with a team, the recruiter will submit your package to the hiring committee. Unfortunately, it is possible to get rejected at this stage. Note: you can sometimes push your recruiter to go to hiring committee and comp committee before team match, but that a) has higher chance of down level b) if you don't eventually team match your offer will be pulled
  4. Once the hiring committee has approved your package and confirmed your level, the recruiter will come back an initial number. This is the offer call
  5. During the offer call the recruiter will ask you how you feel about the offer and discuss timelines. Google is not typically aggressive on timelines and can often be pushed to extend
  6. We recommend you take time to digest the initial offer and consider the best point of leverage for your counter offer discussion
  7. You will then setup your second call with the recruiter to discuss the offer. On that call you will disclose your counter offer. The recruiter will likely push back and, at Rora, we build a tree diagram unique to your situation with the most likely objections and the optimal responses to those objections. The goal is to get the recruiter to take your counter-offer number back to the compensation committee
  8. Typically you will hear back in a few days with their "final" offer. It is possible to continue the negotiation at this point, but it often requires new information (e.g. you just received a higher Facebook offer)

The new system is still being tested and adjusted by Google, but you can expect the following:

  1. Each product group at Google now has significantly more control over their hiring process. You can expect unique job postings instead of generic postings
  2. You will be able to apply to specific roles in each division and you can often tailor your application to the specific team. For example, if you specialized in low-level networking cloud solutions in the past, you would be able to identify a specific team on GCP that focuses in SDN where you can hit the ground running
  3. You will then interview for a specific job posting and team. The interviews will still have LeetCode style algorithm questions (sorry, we wish they were removed as well) but will now also often include an interview with your direct hiring manager. This means the bar for each team will be different and more interviews will incorporate some domain specific testing (e.g. a low-level team might ask more bit manipulation questions)
  4. After you have successfully completed your interviews, feedback will still be aggregated and you will have to pass "the hiring bar"
  5. Once your package has been approved and your level confirmed, the recruiter will come back with an initial offer. This is the offer call
  6. During the offer call, the recruiter will ask you how you feel about the numbers and discuss timelines. Traditionally, Google hasn't been aggressive on timelines, but as they move into team specific hiring, managers will likely be less open to delaying. It will become increasingly important to use the right timeline extension strategies if you are waiting on other interviews
  7. We recommend you take time to digest the initial offer and consider the best point of leverage for your counter offer discussion
  8. You will then setup your second call with the recruiter to discuss the offer. On that call you will disclose your counter offer. The recruiter will likely push back and, at Rora, we build a tree diagram unique to your situation with the most likely objections and the optimal responses to those objections. The goal is to get the recruiter to take your counter-offer number back to the compensation committee
  9. Typically you will hear back in a few days with their "final" offer. It is possible to continue the negotiation at this point, but it often requires new information (e.g. you just received a higher Facebook offer)

How does this change to Google Team Matching affect you?

  • Timelines: Instead of spending weeks, months or even a year matching with a team at Google, you can expect your interview process from first interview to offer stage to be much faster. This is one of the biggest benefits for candidates
  • Finding the right team: Previously, you were allowed to talk to multiple teams during team matching to find the right fit. With the new team based interview process, when you are given a first interview it will be for a specific team. Before starting interviews, you should of course make sure that the team is a good fit for you. Get on a call with your recruiter and ask for more details - everything from team culture to their on-call schedules to their daily work. If the team doesn't seem like the right fit for you, then ask the recruiter which other teams they support and see if those teams are a better fit. Recruiters will be more hesitant to introduce you to new teams since it's more effort for them, but you should insist if you aren't interested in the initial team
  • Critical teams: Google's compensation team is very process driven when negotiating. One of the ways to increase your leverage in a negotiation is to join what Google dubs a critical team. They are high impact, high importance team where the compensation committee has more leeway to extend competitive offers. In the past, we could identify which teams are critical to Google during team matching, and thereby increase your negotiating leverage. However, with the new team-specific interview structure, it's going to be more challenging to get into those teams
  • Hiring bar: Google is one of the few companies with a global, consistent hiring bar. Every offer, whether an L8 in London or L3 in Mountain View will be reviewed by the same committee. With Google's new process, you are likely to find that the quality of colleagues on each team will start to differ more. The best teams will continue to make very strong hires, but there is a risk of teams with bad managers lowering the overall quality bar at Google
  • Internal mobility: It's unclear how switching teams will be impacted. In the past, since Googlers were held to the same hiring bar, it was easy to switch teams if you were meeting or exceeding expectations. However, many other tech companies have policies in place that require internal candidates to do a full interview loop to switch teams. Hopefully that won't happen at Google, but it will take at least a year to see how the new changes affect internal mobility, since new hires aren't able to transfer in their first year

There are two primary differences for L6+ negotiations at Google:

  1. Senior employees are likely to see fewer pressure tactics compared to junior employees. For example, requests for competing offers in writing can be more easily deflected. Generally speaking, recruiters working with these candidates provide more of a white glove service.
  2. Recruiters will push you more to give them an initial number, rather than providing an offer. Given the importance of senior leaders and the wide range of the salary bands, they are typically hesitant to risk losing a candidate. This means the first number you provide is hugely important for anchoring the negotiation.

Google-Specific Negotiation Advice

Here are some important pieces of information to keep in mind when negotiating your Google compensation. This list is always evolving as Google's comp team unfortunately works quite hard to minimize average compensation while maintaining a high rate of candidates signing.

Google will ask to see cross offers in writing

Google is known for pushing to see cross offers in writing. This can be difficult in a negotiation for two reasons:

  1. Other companies will often avoid putting your offer in writing until you confirm you are ready to sign
  2. Your cross offer in writing lays all the cards on the table making it much harder to continue negotiating

Some people claim that Google will refuse to negotiate without an offer in writing. That is the default, but the truth is that it's situation dependent, and we've negotiated many increases without providing an offer in writing.

Google Above Band Compensation

What does it take to get above band compensation at Google? There are many different approaches but one strategy is to get approval for the next compensation band. Being down-leveled or under-leveled at Google has a huge impact on your compensation. The difference in compensation at each level can easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the bands only continue to get larger as you get more senior. At Google, it's possible to get special approval to be compensated in the band above your level. This means that as an L5 you could be paid an L6 salary and as an L7 you could make L8 compensation. Google can get approval to do this for any level, but it requires a near-perfect justification strategy. When you do unlock it, you have full access to the next band (i.e. you won't be blocked at the mid-way point). That said, all of the traditional negotiation rules still apply and Google will work hard to keep you in the lower end of the new comp  band.

Google discounts cross offers

All big tech companies do this to some extent, but Google more than any other company. For starters, Google will discount private-company equity by ~25%. The craziest example we've seen is when negotiating between Waymo (which Google owns) and Google, where the Google compensation committee insisted that the Waymo stock was worth 25% less than what the Waymo offer letter stated.

This is also true for bonuses and web3 offers. Google sometimes refuses to match major hedge fund offers because they claim bonus payments are more variable at a hedge fund vs a tech company. For crypto companies, Google will discount any compensation that is given in tokens - at times even attempting to discount by 100%. This doesn't mean it's impossible to negotiate. It just means you need to be very strategic about what information you share.

Slow processes

Google typically has the slowest processes. This can make negotiations tricky especially if you are balancing other offers. It is possible to speed up the Google process if you disclose early that you have competing offers. There are also techniques to get Google recruiters to disclose ranges that you can leverage in other negotiations while you are still waiting on final numbers. Update: with the recent change to team matching prior to interviews, Google's offer process will be much faster than before, but they are still one of the slowest companies to schedule and complete interviews.

Google will rely on their brand

Often candidates bring competing offers expecting Google to match or beat those offers. However, in many cases Google will come in with a counter offer lower than the competitor. In these scenarios they are relying on their brand to win the cross offer. This is why it is critical to negotiate your competing offer as high as possible before bringing it to Google.

Negotiate Your Offer

1:1 Salary Negotiation Support

We've negotiated more than $75M in Google offers in 2021. Our largest Google increase was $1.05M.

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.