Table of Contents
Twitter Offer Compensation Components
Before starting your Twitter negotiation, it is important to fully understand the bigger picture when it comes to the compensation components offered. A typical job offer for a tech role at Twitter (e.g. Software Engineer) will contain the following monetary components:
This is what a Senior Software Engineering offer at Twitter looks like over a 4-year period.
Twitter Base Salary
Twitter's base salary is comparable to that of other big tech firms. Each role, level, and location has a salary range connected with it. The width of the band widens with seniority, and it is fairly narrow at lower levels. When compared to FAANG companies, Twitter's base salary typically caps out earlier, and it's not usually able to match top of band numbers.
For example, an E5 Software Engineering role at Facebook can reach a base salary of $214k, while at Twitter we haven't seen base salaries for the equivalent level go above $195k. In part, this component seems to be capped due to their higher-than-average performance bonus structure (more on this later).
Base salary can and should be negotiated, although the increase will generally be less than the equity and signing bonus increases.
Twitter Equity- Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)
RSUs at Twitter have a four-year vesting schedule with a 6-month cliff: 25% vests every year (6.25% every 3 months). If you are awarded $500,000 in RSUs, you will earn the following:
- Year 1: 25% ($125K)
- Year 2: 25% ($125K)
- Year 3: 25% ($125K)
- Year 4: 25% ($125K)
The cash value of RSUs in your offer letter will be translated to a set number of Twitter shares you receive. Twitter uses the prevailing RSU conversion rate in effect during the month in which your employment begins. This roughly correlates to the average stock price for the month in which you start at Twitter. For example, if you join on August 20th, Twitter would compute the average stock price for the whole month of August to determine how many shares you will receive.
Below is the exact verbiage from a Twitter offer:
Equity Compensation. The RSUs will be subject to the terms of the Company's 2013 Equity Incentive Plan and its form of RSU agreement (the 'Equity Documents'). You will vest in 12.5% of the RSUs on the six month anniversary of the first day of the month following your Start Date, provided you have continued to provide services to the Company until that date, and over your next three and a half years of continuous service with the Company you will vest 6.25% per quarter, as will be further described in the Equity Documents. Be advised that the calculation used to determine the number of RSUs granted is determined in the sole discretion of the Company and will not correlate to any published stock price on your date of hire and, furthermore, does not denote, nor can it predict, the future value of any RSUs. Stock prices are by nature volatile, and there is no way to predict the value of your future shares, if and when they vest. Subject to your continued employment in an equity eligible role, you will be eligible to receive future equity grants.
Equity is the most negotiable component of Twitter's compensation package. The band for equity is wider than it is for other components such as base salary and signing bonus. However, to effectively negotiate equity with Twitter, you need to be aware of the common pushback points you will get when speaking to recruiters.
Twitter Signing Bonus
By default, many Twitter offer letters do not contain a signing bonus. Leaving it out of the first offer is a classic recruiter tactic. You can reduce the chance of this happening by using collaborative language such as, "Are there situations where signing bonuses are possible?". It's also worth noting that recruiters at Twitter will sometimes volunteer to include a signing bonus to sweeten the offer if you are willing to commit to signing. This is typically just a pressure tactic and you should only agree if you are at the final stages of your negotiation.
The signing bonus bands at Twitter are not as broad as other FAANG companies. For a Senior Software Engineer, the top of the band signing bonus is ~$50k while for an E5 Facebook Software Engineer (comparable to Twitter Sr Software Engineer) the signing bonus can go up to $100k.
If you quit before the one-year mark, Twitter will deduct a percentage of your signing bonus. This is fairly for standard for tech companies. The following is the exact wording from a Twitter offer letter:
Sign-On Bonus. To earn the Sign-On Bonus, you must remain actively employed by the Company in good standing for 12 months after your Start Date. If you resign from your employment or your employment is terminated by the Company at any time within 12 months of your Start Date, you acknowledge and agree that, upon the Company's request, you are obligated to repay the Sign-On Bonus, reduced on a pro-rata basis by one-twelfth (1/12) of the Sign-On Bonus for each full month you remain employed by the Company. You will be paid the Sign-On bonus in a lump sum at the time of your first payroll date, subject to repayment as described in this paragraph
Twitter Performance Bonus
Twitter's performance bonuses are paid out quite consistently. While they are based on both your performance and the company's success, the vast majority of engineers earn their target bonus every year.
Twitter is also quite open about target bonus numbers for different roles and levels. For example, 10% is the annual target bonus granted to a Software Engineer I.
The performance bonus structure for Twitter's levels is as follows:
- Software Engineer I - 10%
- Software Engineer II - 15%
- Senior Software Engineer - 20%
- Staff Software Engineer - 25%
- Senior Staff Software Engineer - 30%
As mentioned, Twitter does multiply your performance bonus based on the company's annual performance. The multiplier used can range from 0.5x to 3x.
The annual bonus isn't negotiable, but it's crucial to factor it into your overall salary when comparing offers, especially when it comes to firms like Compass/Amazon, who aren't as likely to provide target performance incentives.
Below is an example of how the performance bonus component is worded in a Twitter offer letter:
Performance Bonus Plan. You may be eligible to earn a discretionary performance bonus award in accordance with the Company's discretionary Performance Bonus Plan as it may exist and/or be amended from time to time. For the current Performance Bonus Plan year, the Performance Bonus Target for your position is 20% of annual eligible earnings, paid pursuant to the terms and conditions in the Performance Bonus Plan.
Twitter Stock Refreshers
Stock refresher targets are not publicly disclosed, making them more difficult to evaluate when comparing total compensation across multiple offers. Your manager has a significant say in the target refreshers you receive. On average, Twitter offers medium-sized refreshers (15-25 percent of the original grant - depending on manager/team), which may not be as competitive as Facebook and Apple but are still superior to Amazon/Microsoft.
It's worth inquiring about the stock refresher range for your role/level with your recruiter, although since refreshers are influenced by hiring managers, they are more reluctant to share any detailed information. Refreshers are announced in late March and finalized in April. They vest over four years on a quarterly basis
Industry Compensation Data
Rora has helped negotiate a wide range of offers at Twitter. Candidates of course need to know the latest role-specific salary information like the Twitter data scientist salary or the Twitter 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.
Remember, the data points above are industry wide, not specific to Twitter. There are many company specifics at play here and in general Twitter pays below market. However, there are exceptions to that rule. For example, a Twitter product manager salary is often closer to the top companies in the industry.
Twitter Negotiation Process
Before entering into the Twitter negotiating process, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Twitter levelling system. For context, we've used Facebook as a comparison point. Junior levels at Twitter are fairly similar to Facebook, however, there is a bigger gap in compensation bands & scope at the more senior positions:
- Software Engineer I = E3 Facebook
- Software Engineer II = E4 Facebook
- Senior Software Engineer = E5 Facebook
- Staff Software Engineer = E6-6.5 Facebook
- Senior Staff Software Engineer = E6.5-E7.5 Facebook
- Principal Engineer = E7.5-E8.5 Facebook
If you haven't received a Twitter offer yet, there are a few mistakes to avoid:
- Don't reveal your current compensation. Companies are prohibited from asking this in many areas (for example, California). Therefore, you are well within your rights to answer, "I do not feel comfortable sharing that information."
- Keep your compensation expectations to yourself during the interview stage. This question is frequently referred to as "seeing if you are a fit for the position" by Twitter recruiters. However, you should avoid answering until Twitter has shared an initial offer. One possible response is, "Right now, I'm focused on the interview process and don't have a figure in mind, but I'm optimistic we'll be able to come to a number that works for both of us."
Once you finish the final rounds, it's time to start preparing for the negotiation process. The process we generally see at Twitter is outlined below, however, it varies slightly based on recruiter.
- After the final interviews, the recruiter will send you an email asking to set up a time for a call - this is the offer call.
- The recruiter will notify you on the first call that you passed the interviews and that you have been offered a position at Twitter. Depending on your seniority, the recruiter may ask you to disclose your salary expectations. We recommend pushing back with something along the lines of "I'm still figuring out my market value, but given how well the interviews went, I'd love it if you could go back to the team and see what is the best you can offer". Whenever possible, you want Twitter to give you the first offer.
- Recruiters at Twitter must usually go back to the compensation team for clearance on any offer numbers, so senior candidates may have to arrange a follow-up conversation to hear the first offer. Twitter's compensation team works fast, and the recruiter will most likely contact you within a couple of days. On the next conversation, they'll discuss the initial offer, which frequently excludes the signing bonus.
- After the first call, your recruiter will regularly contact you to schedule calls with possible hiring managers and skip-level managers if you have not yet matched to a specific team. Since hiring manager support can be a huge asset in your negotiation, it's important to have a strong working relationship with them throughout the process.
- Now that you've received the offer, it's time to plan your counter-offer approach. Depending on your position, you can employ a variety of possible leverage points. Twitter recruiters, on the whole, are amenable to negotiation and do not press aggressively for things like written offers.
- During the counter offer call, it's a good idea to bring up any competing opportunities as Twitter takes a market-based approach to compensation. That said, be mindful of the information you share, as you don't want to reveal anything that may be used against you, like a mediocre competing offer or the name of a smaller company that likely won't pay as well. You should also be prepared for questions. The recruiter will inquire about your key point of leverage in order to pass it along to the Twitter compensation team for approval. This isn't a problem if you come prepared with the appropriate replies. For our clients, we create a tree diagram specific to their scenario with the most likely objections and the best solutions to those arguments. The aim of this call is to persuade the recruiter to submit your counter offer to the compensation committee for consideration.
- You should receive an update within 1-2 days, at which point you must decide whether to pushback a final time or accept the revised offer. Twitter is usually open to a second round of negotiation, but it depends on the recruiter, how well you performed, and what additional information you have to offer.
Can I Lose my Twitter Offer by Negotiating?
This is far and away the number 1 question Rora’s career partners are asked. It is a very common and valid fear, especially in today’s volatile economy. But what’s the actual probability that, when negotiating with Twitter, they would decide to pull the offer?
First, let’s discuss how it would benefit Twitter to rescind the offer. The primary reason a hiring manager would elect to rescind an offer would be a fear of liability with their intended hire - i.e., this hire may cause a scandal, this hire will in no way be able to perform their duties, this hire will be detrimental to Twitter, etc. Other than that, by the time an offer has been extended, Twitter has already invested a substantial amount of time and money into the candidate they’re giving an offer to, and should have a concrete understanding of how this candidate will perform in the role. It would be a net loss for the company to go through all those interviews, conversations, and putting together the offer to then decide that they want to cut ties with the candidate – this is a risk they try mitigate before giving an offer.
Even in this economy, we have seen clients get increases in their offers from companies of all sizes by making respectful and well-reasoned requests. It’s very unlikely a company would pull the offer based on negotiation. Based on our data, we’ve only seen this happen less than 0.5% of the time - and that includes companies that are on hiring slowdown/freezes right now.
Now, there is a fundamental difference between getting an offer rescinded and losing the offer due to headcount. A headcount loss is solely based on the state of Twitter and the necessity of the role within the team. This isn’t common but can occasionally happen if needs at the company shift – and is more common with earlier-stage startups. It does not reflect your interview performance or skill level, and oftentimes companies will try to keep in touch with you and share other opportunities once headcount opens up. If your offer was rescinded, the company would not have any interest in keeping you warm.
Regardless of the low likelihood of getting an offer rescinded, we know that this is a very common fear – and one that often holds candidates back from negotiating! To help mitigate the risk (and increase your confidence while negotiating) - follow these dos and don’ts to lower the probability of your offer getting rescinded:
- Do keep it professional - avoid getting into politics or making jokes that may be poorly received and make your hiring manager think you might be a liability to the company
- Do give justification and reasoning behind your ask for increased compensation – this could be based on your market value, another opportunity you have, specific expertise you bring to the table, or the strong relationship you’ve built with your hiring manager
- Do your first compensation ask over a phone call - in most cases we see a higher rate of success and understanding when the first ask is done over a call versus an email
- Do demonstrate to your hiring manager that you’re a solid candidate who would be a strong hire by creating and collaborating on an impact roadmap (outlining your 30 day, 60 day, and 90 day goals for getting started in your new role and your understanding of the priorities for this position)
- Do your best to understand the necessity of the role on this team - How critical is it? How long has the role been open for? This can help you determine the likelihood of the headcount being lost – and also the leverage you may have in negotiating
Twitter-Specific Negotiation Advice
Willing to match/beat
Twitter is often willing to match the most competitive offer you present to them. The exception to this is when the offer is above the top of band threshold for your role/level. However, the goal in a negotiation is to get the maximum possible offer, not just match your highest competing offer. We have seen Twitter beat competing offers by a substantial amount when using optimal negotiation strategies.
Willing to up-level candidates to stay competitive
Twitter is ready to go above and beyond for strong candidates with good leverage. Even though Twitter may not go above band, they are willing to up-level candidates to stay competitive. We have successfully up-levelled candidates using competing opportunities as leverage, though this is challenging to execute properly.
Flexible on timelines
Recruiters at Twitter are known to be patient in negotiations. Generally, they will wait for you to finish other processes before giving them your final answer. Even if there is a deadline set by the recruiter, through collaborative conversations it is feasible to extend these deadlines. Meetings with your hiring manager are a useful technique for obtaining approval for this extension.
Hiring manager influences compensation
Your hiring manager (and/or skip-level manager) will have a more direct influence on your negotiation at Twitter vs. companies like Google. Setting aside time with them to learn more about the team and establish rapport is worthwhile. Your aim for such calls should be to make the hiring manager very excited to have you join the team. The goal is not to negotiate compensation with them directly.
Don't push for offers in writing
Twitter, unlike Google, normally does not require you to provide cross offers in writing. Although, they may ask if your competing offer is confirmed and what the specific breakdown is. This is an important point as many large tech companies refuse to put their offers in writing (suspecting you will use them as leverage), unless you confirm you are going to sign.