Advice > Software engineering

Meta Job Offer Negotiation (4 Steps to a $50k+ Increase)

By Max Serrano on March 15, 2024 How we wrote this article
Meta logo rendered in 3D

Negotiating an offer can feel uncomfortable and stressful. But going through this short-term pain is worth it. As an example, getting a $50k increase is common at the L5 level when negotiating well.

We’ve put this step-by-step guide together to help you negotiate a better offer by yourself. Here are the steps you should take:

  1. Understand Meta’s compensation
  2. Find weaknesses in the initial offer
  3. Send a counter offer email
  4. Hold your ground
  5. (Optional) Get help

If you know a recruiter in the tech industry we highly recommend getting their help to negotiate your offer in addition to reading this guide. After all, this is part of their day-to-day job and they’re a professional at it.

If you don’t know anyone and would still like to make sure you’re negotiating the best possible offer then make sure to check out our salary negotiation coaches; some of them used to work at Meta. They negotiate daily as recruiters and hiring managers and are therefore extremely comfortable with the process.

Click here to browse our team of salary negotiation coaches.

How did we write this article?

This article is based on primary insights from our salary negotiation team which includes former Meta recruiters and hiring managers. It’s also based on written reports from candidates and other salary negotiation coaches who routinely negotiate job offers with Meta. Here’s the full list of the main external sources we have used:

1. Understand how Meta’s compensation works

The different components of your Meta offer are not all equally negotiable. You will typically get most of your increase from RSUs, followed by your sign-on bonus and base salary.

This is visible when you gather offer data for a given role, level and location. As you can see below for an E5 software engineer in the Bay Area, the range and variance for Meta RSUs is a lot larger than for the sign-on bonus and base salary.

If you analyze Meta offer data for other roles (e.g. product manager), levels (e.g. L4) and locations (e.g. Seattle), you’ll reach the same conclusions.

Total Compensation: Meta E5 Software Engineer in Bay Area

This range and variance are a great proxy for “room for negotiation”.

Throughout this article, we’ll use an E5 software engineer in the Bay Area as an example. You can see the dataset we used here by pulling data from Levels.fyi.

Can you negotiate your Meta salary?

Yes Meta salaries are negotiable. Your Meta recruiter expects you to negotiate and their initial offer won't be the maximum offer they can give you to join the company.

1.1 Meta RSUs (Very negotiable)

1.1.1 How negotiable are RSUs?

Meta always includes RSUs in your initial offer and is typically very willing to negotiate RSUs.

For E5 software engineers, the highest RSU grant in the dataset was $350k and the median was $180k.

In a lot of negotiations, the majority of the increase comes from RSUs getting bumped. And it’s common for RSUs to be higher than your base salary at the end of a negotiation.

For a given role, level and location, the highest total compensation is often achieved by a hire who was willing to decrease their sign-on bonus to $0 in exchange for maxing out their RSUs as you can see in the dataset we linked to above.

1.1.2 How Meta RSUs work?

Meta uses a 4-year vesting schedule in 25% increments. Here’s what percentage of your RSU grant you’ll receive every year:

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

Meta’s RSUs vest quarterly. In other words, 6.25% of your RSUs will vest every quarter (25% / 4 = 6.25%). Meta doesn’t use a 1-year cliff. So as long as you’ve stayed more than one quarter some of your RSUs will have vested and you’ll own Meta stock.

Meta’s quarterly vesting cadence is generous by FAANG standards. The only company with a faster vesting cadence is Google which uses a monthly cadence.

Your $ grant will be converted to an actual number of restricted stock units before your employment starts. That conversion will use the trailing average closing stock price of the 30 days before your start date.

So, if your grant is worth $100k, and Meta’s stock average close price was $100 in the 30 days before your start date, you’ll be given 1,000 RSUs which will vest over 4 years.

1.1.3 Valuing your RSUs

There’s a lot more uncertainty around RSUs than there is around any of the other components of your compensation. Here are the two biggest factors to think about as you value your RSUs:

  • Stock price fluctuations. Meta’s stock could go up or down and the value of the RSUs you’re getting is bound to change. This will have a huge impact on your actual financial outcome but unfortunately isn’t something you control or can predict with certainty.
  • Likelihood of vesting. Although this probably isn’t on your mind right now you might decide to leave because you don’t get on with your manager or team. Or you might be fired as part of a reorg. If this happens within 4 years then you won’t take full advantage of your grant. 

It’s important that you take these aspects into account when assessing and negotiating your offer. Unless you’re 100% comfortable with the risks described above we recommend that you negotiate higher RSUs but also a higher base and sign-on which are more certain financial benefits.

1.2 Meta Sign-on bonus (Negotiable)

1.2.1 How negotiable is Meta’s sign-on bonus?

Unlike RSUs, it’s common for Meta recruiters not to include a sign-on bonus in their initial offer. However, Meta is actually notoriously generous with sign-on bonuses once you start negotiating.

For E5 software engineers, the highest sign-on bonus in the dataset was $50k and the median was $30k.

The sign-on bonus is a one-time benefit that Meta gives as an incentive to join. There are two main ways to think about your sign-on:

  • Most people think about it as a lump sum that helps cover any bonuses (e.g. performance bonus) or unvested equity you’re walking away from at your current company.
  • But if you’re not walking away from anything, it can also be interesting to look at it as a bridge between your start date and your first RSU vesting date.

1.2.2 How does Meta’s sign-on bonus work?

Meta will pay your sign-on bonus as a lump sum in the first 30 days of your employment.

If you leave within 1 year, you’ll need to pay back a prorated portion of your bonus. For example, if you leave after 6 months you’ll have to pay back 50% of your sign-on.

1.3. Meta Base salary (Moderately negotiable)

1.3.1 How negotiable is Meta’s base salary?

It’s common for Meta recruiters to put you at the bottom or middle of the base salary band in their initial offer. Base salary bands are a lot narrower than RSU bands. You’ll be able to achieve a base increase by negotiating but it won’t be as big as your RSU increase.

For E5 software engineers, the highest base salary in the dataset was $230k and the median was $210k.

1.3.2 How does Meta’s base salary work?

Meta’s base salary follows the typical FAANG model. Each role, level and location has a base salary band. The band is narrower at junior levels than at more senior levels where there's therefore more room for negotiation.

Your base salary is paid bi-weekly in the US and monthly in most other countries.

1.4. Meta Performance bonus (Not negotiable)

1.4.1 How negotiable is Meta’s performance bonus?

Performance bonuses are set at the company level for each role and level and are not negotiable.

However, any improvement you get to your base salary will be compounded by your performance bonus and so it’s a factor you should take into consideration when negotiating your base.

1.4.2 How does Meta’s performance bonus work?

Meta pays performance bonuses every 6 months. Meta’s performance bonus is based on your and the company’s performance. In practice, Meta’s employees usually achieve their performance bonuses or higher.

The target ranges from 10% to 30% depending on the level. Here’s Meta’s performance bonuses at the time of writing:

  • L3: 10%
  • L4: 10%
  • L5: 15%
  • L6: 20%
  • L7: 25%
  • L8: 30%

1.5 Meta’s Equity refreshers (Not negotiable)

Meta does offer equity refreshers to employees who have been working at the company for more than 4 years and have run out of RSUs. They do this as an incentive for them to stay.

You should ask about equity refreshers during your negotiations but the vast majority of recruiters will shy away from sharing any details which makes it a component that’s not negotiable in practice.

1.6 Meta’s benefits and perks (Not negotiable)

Meta is a leader in benefits and perks and offers health insurance, a Meta 401k match plan, relocation support and free food in the office amongst other things. The only missing benefit compared to other FAANG companies is a discounted stock purchase plan. Meta’s benefits and perks aren’t negotiable.

How much additional compensation can you negotiate at Meta?

You can negotiate anywhere between $5k and $100k+ depending on your seniority, your skill set and the initial offer that was made. Senior leaders sometimes manage to reach mid to high 6-figure or low 7-figure increases when they negotiate well.

2. Find weaknesses in the initial offer

Now that you understand Meta’s compensation components, your next step should be to find weaknesses in the initial offer you receive. You’ll then use these weaknesses as arguments for your counter offer in step 3.

We recommend breaking down your research in two steps. First, you should research ranges for your main compensation components (base salary, sign-on, RSUs) using public data sources. Second, you should research the other benefits you’re being given (e.g. remote policy, time-off, etc.) and identify where they fall short compared to your current company or other companies you’re in the process with.

 

2.1 Research ranges for the main compensation components

For the main compensation components (RSUs, sign-on bonus and base salary), you should identify ranges for your role, level and location. This is similar to the work we’ve done for the Meta E5 Software Engineer in the SF Bay Area covered in the previous section.

You should use multiple sources when establishing these ranges. A few we recommend include: Glassdoor, Levels.fyi, Comparably and Salary.com. As you do your research, remember that there’s a time-lag between the moment offers are reported on these websites and the time at which they were actually made. In practice, this means that the ranges you will find will be lower than what’s currently being used by Meta.

After doing this work, you should have a sense of how much you can ask for for each compensation component. It’s important to stay realistic as you do this exercise. Here’s two sanity checks we recommend making before settling on specific numbers you’re going to ask for.

First, it’s unlikely that you’ll manage to get to the very top end of the range for all components. Broadly speaking there are two extremes. If your aim is to maximize total compensation and you’re comfortable with the risks associated, then you could focus on maximizing your RSUs. If you’re interested in more certainty, then you could focus more on base salary and the sign-on bonus but you’re less likely to reach the top end of total compensation.

Second, you should try to be realistic about the skill set you bring to Meta. For instance, at the time of writing, Meta is struggling to find software engineers with expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning. As a consequence, those are the skill sets that are the most likely to achieve the highest total compensation for a given software engineering level and location.

2.2 Research the other benefits you’re given

Once you have a good grasp of total compensation ranges for your level and location you should turn your attention to the other benefits that are included in your Meta offer.

You should do this by reviewing Meta’s benefits documentation. The objective of this exercise is to highlight differences between Meta’s benefits and other companies (including your current employer).

Once you’ve identified areas where Meta falls short, you should look to confirm your understanding with your recruiter.

Here are three examples of areas you could ask your recruiter about.

Discounted stock-purchase program

  • Goal: At the time of writing Meta does not provide that benefit whereas other FAANG companies do.
  • Confirm with your recruiter: My understanding is that Meta does not provide a Discounted stock-purchase program? Is this correct or did I miss this information somewhere?

Remote policy

  • Goal: At the time of writing Meta’s employees have to spend 3 days per week in the office which might be less flexible than your current company or other companies you’re in the process with.
  • Question: My understanding is that Meta employees have to spend 3 days per week in the office. Is that correct or does a different remote policy apply to this role?

Vacations

  • Goal: At the time of writing Meta’s paid time off is 21 days per year which might be lower than your current company or other companies you’re in the process with.
  • Question: My understandind is that Meta’s employees have 21 paid days off per year. Is that correct or is the policy different for this role?

Once you’ve identified the main weaknesses in your initial job offer, you’re ready to craft a counter offer email.

Can you lose your Meta job offer by negotiating?

No, as long as you negotiate politely and respectfully, you won't lose your Meta job offer. Meta has invested significantly in interviewing you. Once they make you an offer to join, the tables turn and the recruiter's job is to convince you to accept the offer.

If you do your research well and are thoughtful about what you ask for, the worst that can happen is that your recruiter doesn't budge and says that the initial offer they made you is a final offer that's non-negotiable.

3. Send a counter offer email to your recruiter

3.1 Consider setting a “walk away” number

How will you know if you’ve negotiated successfully?

Before starting a negotiation, it can be helpful to write down your “walk away” number. Your “walk away” number  is the minimum number or set of conditions you’re willing to accept.

If you manage to negotiate an offer that’s above that number, you’ll accept it. If you don’t, then you’ll walk away and stay at your current company, or continue interviewing.

That number or set of conditions are subjective and result from a lot of different factors including: the research you’ve done in step 2, your other options, other personal circumstances, etc.

Having that number in mind during the negotiation will enable you to keep a cold head and to know when to accept the offer or move on.

There are many ways to make a counter offer. Here are two common ones we recommend considering:

  1. You could share your walk away number with your recruiter and let them know that’s the minimum you’re willing to accept
  2. Or you could start the negotiation with a higher number than your walk away and leave more room for negotiation

The main benefit of the first approach is its simplicity. It minimizes back and forth and also makes it clear to your recruiter by how much the initial offer needs to be increased to bring you onboard. The main downside of this approach is that you might not maximize your total compensation because your walk away number might be lower than the maximum offer Meta was willing to make you. You also obviously can’t use that approach if the initial offer you received is already higher than your walk away.

The main benefit of the second approach is that it has more upside than the first one. You’re more likely to maximize total compensation using that approach. The main downside is it will involve more questions, pushback and back and forth with your recruiter. In other words, it’s more work and discomfort to go through. Working with a seasoned job offer negotiator can help a lot if you pick that approach.

3.2 Write your counter offer email

Whatever approach you pick, we recommend sending an email containing your counter offer  rather than making a call to the recruiter for a few different reasons.

First, an email puts you in complete control of what you’re communicating and so you can’t be derailed by questions the recruiter throws at you. Second, your recruiter will be able to easily forward that email to their team to review and increase your offer.

Here are example email templates you could use.

Non-negotiable counter offer email template

Hi X,

Thanks again for taking the time to interview me over the past few weeks and for making me an offer to join Meta. I’m really excited about joining the company and I’m confident I can make a positive impact.

I took the time to review your initial offer and to carry out research to better understand typical compensation packages for my skill set, level and location. And I also reflected on my personal situation and the different things I’d be walking away from (e.g. $xk in performance bonus and $yk in unvested equity).

All things considered, the minimum compensation I’d be willing to accept to join is as follows: Base salary: $xk; Sign-on: $xk and RSUs: $xk.

I realize these are higher numbers than you initially shared. But below these numbers, my personal preference is to stay at my current company and / or to continue my job search.

As I mentioned in my interviews I’m really excited to join the company because [reason 1] and [reason 2] and I’m really hoping your compensation team will be able to match the offer suggested above.

I’m available to jump on the phone to answer any questions you might have.

All the best

X

Flexible counter offer email template

Hi X

Thanks again for taking the time to interview me over the past few weeks and for making me an offer to join Meta. I’m really excited about joining the company and I’m confident I can make a positive impact.

I took the time to review compensation ranges for my role, level and location. Based on that research, I would like to ask for the offer to be moved closer to the following numbers: Base salary: $xk; Sign-on: $xk and RSUs: $xk.

In addition, I wanted to stress that moving to Meta would mean making the following trade offs for me:

  • I’d be walking away from $xk in performance bonus and $yk in unvested equity
  • My current company also provides ABC benefits that I would lose by moving over

As I mentioned in my interviews I’m really excited to join the company because [reason 1] and [reason 2] and I’m really hoping your compensation team will be able to match the offer suggested above.

If that makes things easier for you, I’m more than happy to jump on the phone to talk about these different points with you.

Best regards

X

4. Hold your ground

4.1. Answer your recruiter's questions

If your skill set is in high demand, or if you’ve done extremely well in the interviews, then your Meta recruiter might reply with an improved offer rapidly. But in a lot of cases, it will take a few phone calls and emails to wrap up the negotiation.

A very important point to remember as you negotiate is that your recruiter does not make the final decision on the compensation package - the central compensation team does. If your recruiter pushes back on your request, your aim is therefore to convince them to talk to their compensation team to review the numbers.

Your recruiter might ask you questions such as "Are you sure about your compensation data?" or "Are you really that excited about working for Meta?" when you negotiate. If they do so, you should simply explain again why you're really excited to join and politely ask them to consider your request to get an updated offer from the compensation team.

Ultimately, if your recruiter knows there’s room for negotiation they’ll eventually take things back to their team for an improved offer. If they know there really isn't any room for negotiation then they'll make it clear that the offer you're looking at is a final offer and will even some time give you deadline to accept it.

4.2 Take into account how "hot" the overall hiring market is

One final important consideration as you negotiate with Meta is how hot the overall market is when you're negotiating. For instance, at the time of writing this article, the market is cold-ish and there's a lot less competition between FAANG companies than there was in 2022 when it comes to hiring.

In other words, it's more of an "employer market" than a "job seeker market"; and employers tend to have the upper hand when negotiating as they know you're likely to have less options. This doesn't mean you should not negotiate, it just means that the raises obtained by negotiating are lower on average.

Get support from a professional negotiator

Our coaching team has run thousands of salary negotiations as recruiters and hiring managers. They negotiate daily and are therefore extremely comfortable with the process.

A negotiation done well should usually yield $10k+ to $100k+ in increase depending on your role and level. So spending $150 to $500 on getting help from a coach has a huge ROI (at least 10x).

Here’s what our coaching can help you with:

  • Help you understand how "hot" the overall hiring market is right now
  • Finding the weaknesses in your initial offer
  • Determining what a reasonable total compensation is for you
  • Practicing mock negotiations over the phone
  • Giving you advice in situations we haven’t covered above
 

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