Google Salary Negotiation Guide: How to Negotiate Your Google Job Offer
Working at Alphabet Inc. (Parent Company of Google) is a “Dream job” for a lot of aspirants. The company is a favorite among job seekers for its great people, employee-friendly work culture, cutting-edge technologies, advanced career growth opportunities, gratifying perks, and of course, a rewarding salary structure.
Clearing the interview with Google is a long and arduous process, and congratulations if you have passed it with flying colors! (If not, read our guide on how to clear interviews at Google and other FAANG organizations). But is the bread and butter worth your time? Although Google is one of the most sought-after employers in the tech world, they are also among the most challenging to negotiate.
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Around 40% of employees never negotiate due to the fear of seeming demanding, coming on too strong, or losing the offer. Negotiating for better compensation may be frightening, but it’s much worse not doing it and later regretting it. While negotiating a better salary may make you flat-footed, don’t worry. Read out our complete guide to understand the nuances of the art of negotiation with Google to get the best out of it for you.
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Table of Content
- Google Compensation Components
- Google Base Salary
- Google Signing Bonus
- Google Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)
- Google Performance Bonus
- Google Negotiation Process
- Google-Specific Negotiation Advice
Google Total Compensation Package
A typical job offer at Google for a tech role comprises cash and equity components, and almost always contain the following monetary sections:
- Base Salary
- Signing Bonus
- Equity (GSUs)
- Annual Bonus
Google may also share an estimated value of other perks that employees receive and often roll all these numbers together to describe the offer in terms of “Total Compensation,” which may seem like a significant number.
Before starting negotiation with Google, you must know what level you are being hired for. Google’s software engineering levels are as follows:
L3 - Entry Level Software Engineer (often new grads with Bachelor’s or Master’s degree)
L4 - Software Engineer
L5 - Senior Software Engineer
L6 - Staff Software Engineer
L7 - Senior Staff Software Engineer
L8 - Principal Software Engineer
L9 - Distinguished Engineer
Here’s an example taken from a modified version of a real Google job offer (all numbers are $1,000s) at L6 over 4 years:
Most tech companies follow a standardized formula; a notable exception is Netflix, which offers cold hard cash, which immediately reflects higher and more guaranteed income in the short term.
Let’s look a little closer at the main components of a Google job offer and how flexible they are in changing them.
Google’s base salary is a fairly standard component associated with each role/level/location. The size of the band increases along with seniority. Google’s base salary offers tend to be pretty competitive vis a vis other established tech firm. If you’re wondering whether the salary, you’re offered is competitive, you can check on blind or levels.fyi, for reference.
While it is certainly possible to negotiate base salary, the increase will typically be smaller than what is possible for the equity component. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for more base salary, but it means that the request may result in a smaller hike in base salary coupled with other more aggressive moves unrelated to base salary.
Google Signing Bonus
A signing bonus, also known as a starting bonus or a sign-on bonus, can range from $1,000 to six figures, depending on your role and title. Google’s signing bonuses aren’t as significant as other peers in the industry. Google generally pays the signing bonus in your first month of employment. However, they require you to repay a portion of your signing bonus if you leave before completing one year at the firm.
Flexibility Level: Moderate
Google does not offer a signing bonus to all new hires. However, if the company doesn’t offer you a sign-on bonus right off the bat, you can ask for one or negotiate a slightly higher amount than the initial offer. Link the signing bonus you’re requesting to why you’re requesting it. For example, if you are an experienced professional, explain that by joining Google today, you would stand to lose the performance bonus payout your current employer would be paying in 2 months. If you’re relocating and seeking help with expenses, explain your research about ascertaining your moving cost.
Also, if you’ve had competing offers and can afford to let this one go if your numbers aren’t met, you have a better and distinct negotiating position than if this job is your only offer.
Google Stock Equity
Google equity awards are granted in restricted stock units (RSUs), also known as Google stock units (GSU). As a Noogler (new Google employee), you typically receive your equity grant the first Wednesday after the first month you start working. The equity component of a Google job offer can range from “meh” to “wowzers, that’s a lot of equity!” depending on the role. 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.
Negotiation Flexibility: High
This is their most important bargaining chip, where they have more flexibility to entice exceptional candidates. Depending on the candidate, position, and other factors, they may be willing to improve the equity component of the offer significantly during the negotiation. Sometimes the equity component of the offer will be larger than the base salary component.
In 2021 Google changed its stock vesting schedule from vesting equity evenly each year to front-loaded equity.
This is what the earlier Google stock vesting schedule looked like assuming an $500 K RSU:
|Time Period||Old Equity Vesting Schedule||New Equity Vesting Schedule|
|Year 1||25% ($125 K)||33% ($165 K)|
|Year 2||25% ($125 K)||33% ($165 K)|
|Year 3||25% ($125 K)||22% ($110 K)|
|Year 4||25% ($125 K)||12% ($60 K)|
Some Characteristics of Google Negotiation Process
Proof of Competing Offers
Google is known for pushing to see cross offers in writing, to often dissuade the “I have lots of offers” bluff that many candidates use. This can be difficult in a negotiation as generally refrain from releasing an offer letter until you confirm you are ready to sign. Also, your cross offer in writing lays all the cards on the table, making it much harder to continue negotiating.
Discounts Cross offers
If you are working for a startup and have a whole lot of stock, do not expect Google to pay 1:1 ratio with the stock. Google generally discounts private-company equity by 25 – 35%. So, if you have a 100K stock grant from a startup, Google may value it around 70K. Hence, you’ll need a sizable amount to increase the offer at Google. And most likely with a written proof, otherwise it may be shut down immediately. This is generally done by compensation committee to avoid questions later if they have given you an enormous stock which is not aligned to the band or salary levels.
This is also the case 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 significantly discount any compensation that is given in tokens. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to negotiate. It just means you need to be very strategic about what information you share.
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.
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.
How to Approach Google Salary Negotiation
Google’s comp team works quite hard to minimize average compensation while maintaining a high rate of candidates signing. Here are some important pieces of information to keep in mind when negotiating your Google compensation.
Google Salary Negotiation Starts Before You get the Offer
The salary negotiation with Google will begin earlier than you might expect.
Your Google recruiter will ask for your salary history or at least your current salary if it’s legal where they are. Avoid sharing 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.” Google is very sticky once they know its target. If you tell them your current salary, they will offer the base salary component slightly above your current comp. Negotiating a substantial increase once they make your job offer will be challenging.
They will also usually ask for your salary expectations. The recruiter may ask what is your expectations in terms of compensation if you come aboard here at Google. However, it is in your best interest to deflect this question until Google has extended an offer. You can respond, “I am currently focused on the interviews, and don’t have a solid number in mind, but I’m flexible and confident we will be able to arrive at a number that works for both of us.” Google will hold on tight to these numbers, and it can be very, very challenging to get them to move once they know what they are aiming for. So, avoid sharing that information if at all possible.
Google Above Band Compensation
Google have established compensation bands for each level, role, and location. These bands are rigidly set with upper and lower limits; recruiters and compensation teams typically do not venture out of these.
The difference in compensation at each level can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the bands only continue to get larger as you get more senior. Because they use equity as a primary negotiating lever, they have lots of flexibility within pay bands and rarely change pay bands—or levels—as part of the negotiation. At Google, getting compensated above your band level is challenging but not impossible. Hence, if you have the proper guidance and execution, you can be paid an L6 salary at the L5 level or an L8 compensation as an L7.
A word of caution. While most candidates want to get hired at the top of the band, this may not be to a candidate’s advantage, as it leaves one with less trajectory for growth. Managers will invariably expect more of higher-paid team members than lesser-paid team members at the same level, which invariably leads to a lot of pressure and does not set up new hires to succeed. Google’s performance evaluation and equity refresh structures are good at rewarding strong performance, so even if you feel that you are being “underpaid,” you can quickly catch up. We understand how to balance these factors to ensure you get the best possible offers without being highlighted.
Are you still feeling uncertain about negotiating your offer with Google?
Let us Help You!
Whether you are discussing job offers with Google for a Senior Software Engineer or a Software Engineering Manager role, our 1-on-1 support can help you negotiate the best offer possible with more confidence and less stress.
New Grad Salary Negotiations
If you are straight out of your Bachelor’s or have a few years of experience under your belt, you will probably have less leeway. If you have just completed your master’s, you will still be expected to start at the L3 level, and the difference between your Bachelor’s and Master’s L3 salary is within $5,000 for most locations.
Google Salary Negotiation for Experienced Folks
Senior candidates with a few years to a few decades of industry experience come with additional knowledge, more time to accumulate salary increases, and more stock. This also means that you’ll be arriving in at L4 and above. They are likely to see fewer pressure tactics compared to junior employees. For example, they can easily deflect requests for competing offers in writing. Recruiters will push you more to give them an initial number rather than providing a written offer. Given the importance of senior leaders and the wide range of salary bands, they are typically hesitant to risk losing a candidate. Hence, your first number is crucial for anchoring the negotiation.
Get Competing Offers
Gather a few offers between public companies and startups (great if from a FAANG or MANG). However, gathering offers is easier said than done, but this helps you in a few ways.
For one, you get interview practice, and as you are aware, interviews are a feral beast, with each interview different from the others. (See how we can help).
More importantly, while tech companies have a similar salary structure, the pay mix varies. Some may come with competitive salaries and lower RSUs, while others will pay market-standard salaries but massive stock grants. This will give you better leverage in the negotiation process and more risk endurance.
When Should You Negotiate Your Salary?
Negotiating too early may jeopardize your chances of getting a job offer or the terms to your liking. Before negotiating your salary, be sure you have a documented offer. You have way more power when you know they want you. You’ll have a more significant sway if you’ve demonstrated that you’re the best applicant for the position and grasp entirely the employer’s requirements.
How to Negotiate a Better Compensation with Google
If you think that you should receive better compensation at Google but are feeling stuck and don’t know where to begin. It is better to negotiate before accepting the offer instead of believing that you can settle for what’s on paper, then “show your value” for six months before asking for salary negotiation. Here are some salary negotiation ideas to help you ask for what you want smartly and assertively.
Be respectful and appreciative of the opportunity to work with Google, regardless of the result. It is critical to put on your brave face when negotiating. Convey confidence in the delivery of your proposal and the subsequent talks.
Don’t accept the first offer
This is especially the case if the initial offer does not appear competitive.
A sensible applicant will not show up to the interview without knowing what to anticipate in terms of income. It is critical to research websites that provide Google’s compensation range for various positions in different locations.
Justify your position
Once you have received the job offer, don’t merely respond with a higher amount. Instead, highlight your value proposition by outlining all the benefits Google would receive from your experience. You’ll make a strong argument for why you should be compensated more than the original offer by relating your talents to the position you’ll be taking on.
Research the Industry Standards
Understanding the market average can provide a decent starting point for your salary proposal, which can also be used as evidence. Candidates should know the latest company-specific salary information, for example, a Google software engineering manager or principal engineer salary. They also need to be mindful about the industry salary trends and the high, median, and low wages for someone with your skill set, experience, and education.
Below are salary levels for 7 top paying companies by level from 2021.:
|Company||Headquarters||Title Name||Total Compensation|
|Roblox||San Mateo, CA||TD1||$1,200,000|
|Menlo Park, CA||E7||$940,000|
|Lyft||San Francisco, CA||T7||$823,000|
|Mountain View, CA||L7||$800,000|
|San Francisco, CA||L6||$750,000|
While the industry-wide data points might not be the exact replication of what Google pays. For example, for a data scientist role, Google often pays above the industry average and is more willing to go above the band than other top-paying companies. However, a Google software engineer’s salary is often below average and certainly lower than companies like Facebook and Amazon.
Rehearse your pitch
Get your friends or family members to listen to your salary negotiation proposal (we can help, too!), so you can feel the flow of your talking points out loud in a conversational context. A large part of a good negotiation comes down to being prepared and confident.
Negotiate base salary
While Google isn’t usually particularly flexible on base salary, start by negotiating base salary to see how flexible they are in the other components. Once they reveal where they’re adaptable and how flexible they are, you can use that information to focus the negotiation on the most flexible components to maximize your offer.
They will often respond to a request for a higher base salary by moving slightly or not at all on base salary while suggesting significantly better equity or sign-on bonus component.
Don’t Leave Money on the Table Just Because Times Are Tough
In a less-than-robust economy, companies are cutting on new hires not only on their workforce but also on their compensation and benefits. You might feel lucky just to have a job when applying for a new position. However, don’t assume that salary and/or benefits aren’t negotiable in this type of economy. Most organizations expect negotiations and leave themselves some wiggle room.
How Do I Get What I Deserve?
While everyone wants to get the best compensation possible, there are nuances with these. As a candidate, start negotiating the offer from the first conversation. For Big Tech, levels are sacrosanct. You need to clearly understand the level you are being hired; if you know whether you are an L5 or an L6, you will have a realistic view of how much total compensation will be and be able to set your rate from there. Know the criticality of the position; sometimes, they want to hire candidates urgently and may be a bit more flexible there. Do your due diligence on the salary range for that position, and see if they match or beat your expectation. Get competing offers. Then when you get to the email exchange or phone call - you will be prepared to get the amount you deserve.
Know what you’re worth
When they ask about your salary expectations, an excellent way to negotiate is to create a range with a “wish” value (OMG number), a median (the number you’ll be happy to accept), and a “walk point” (you would turn down the offer) and stick to it. While it may feel greedy or unrealistic to ask for a scarily high number, it gives you room to negotiate and becomes an essential step toward winding up with a fair deal that reflects your value in the marketplace.
Prepare to walk away
In some situations, Google might not be able to satisfy your minimal income need or provide extra advantages that make it worthwhile for you to pursue the position. If you don’t set your bottom line in advance, you may negotiate yourself down. For example, if you expect Google to pay a 20% increment on your current comp but have not set your “walk” value, you may end up accepting a 6% hike offer and think it is better than no raise, so you might as well take it.
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How does compensation at Google work?
Google operates under a pay-for-performance philosophy that rewards top performers. This means top performers are eligible for merit increases and are usually awarded through equity refresh grants and cash bonuses at year-end.