Negotiating a product manager job offer is something you absolutely do! As a Product Manager Coach, I’m here to help!
Recently, I talked about the ONE question most people are not prepared for when interviewing for Product Manager jobs. If you missed it, you can find the article here. And, trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Today, I want to discuss what you should expect and how to negotiate a Product Manager job offer.
If you haven’t interviewed in a long time or you recently graduated from college, you’ll find this information helpful.
I’m going to stick to the basics here because overall compensation packages vary greatly depending on the type of company you are interviewing with. This is another reason why it is crucial that you do your homework and research what the typical salary range is for a role like this at a company that’s of a similar size, stage, and location. Therefore, this article does not cover how to negotiate equity.
Here are the 7 steps to take when receiving a product manager job offer:
1. Never accept a job offer on the spot!
Most of the time, the job offer will be given to you by phone or perhaps via video by the recruiter or the hiring manager. They will typically say something along the lines of “so what do you think?”
Always ask for at least 24 hours to think about it. If the company asks you to make a decision on the spot, ask for time to consider. This allows you to evaluate the offer and prepare to negotiate appropriately.
2. Show gratitude
When receiving the offer, let them know how much you appreciate their offer. To better position yourself to negotiate, you want them to think that this is where you want to be.
3. Get the job offer in writing
Ask them to send you the offer in writing so that you can consider it. This is important because when you negotiate (and you will negotiate!), it’s best to do so by replying to the offer email.
4. Negotiate for a better offer
You may be highly uncomfortable with the thought of negotiating on behalf of yourself, but keep this in mind: Most companies are expecting you to deal, and if you don’t, they may take that as a sign of weakness. Also, unless you’re a jerk about it, what do you have to lose? Companies are unlikely to withdraw a job offer unless you do something egregious during the negotiation process.
Salary is the typical part of a compensation package that is negotiated. Do your homework and find out what the typical salary range is for the role you’re interviewing for based on the size, stage, and location of the company.
If the salary offered is within the range, ask for 10% more. That is a good baseline to start with, in terms of asking for a higher salary.
If the salary is below the range, you have more work to do. Tell them about your findings and ask them if they can be more competitive with the market and bump the salary to within that range.
What Product Managers can negotiate besides the salary:
Remember that salary and equity are not the only elements of a compensation package. Here are seven additional compensation-related options that you can (and should) negotiate.
- Vacation time: Many companies now offer unlimited vacation time, but if the company you’re considering isn’t one of them, it never hurts to ask for more, especially if you have a special event happening in the coming year
- Flextime and remote work: If you want the flexibility to work when and where you choose, negotiate for this benefit. You may find it more valuable than a higher salary!
- Accelerated performance reviews: If you’re early in your career, this is a smart move. If you’re confident you can quickly ramp up, add value, and show your worth to the company, ask for a review that’s earlier than what the company typically offers so that you don’t have to wait for raises and promotions.
- Signing bonus: This is something that many companies can accommodate, especially if they cannot negotiate on salary.
- Relocation package: When a company offers employment in a location more than 50 miles from your current location, they may be willing to provide a relocation package to cover basic moving expenses.
- Career development budget: Ask for money to be allocated so that you can take classes, attend events, and participate in activities that will help you become better at your job
- Project placement: If, during the interview process, you’ve learned about some exciting projects taking place, ask to be placed on one of those projects. Doing so can ensure you get more visibility, giving you a chance to prove your worth to the company.
5. What to do if you are interviewing at other companies
If you’re lucky enough to be interviewing at multiple companies when you receive an offer, I’ve found it best to be transparent about your job search activities. Here are a couple of scripts to help you through this potentially nerve-wracking process:
What to say to the person who’s offered you a job:
“I’m talking with a few other companies right now, so I can’t speak to the specific details of the offer until I’m done with that process and get closer to making a decision. But I’m sure we’ll be able to find an agreeable compensation package that we’re both happy with because I really would love to be a part of the team.”
What to say to the person you’re still interviewing with:
“I’d like to give you a quick update on my job search. I just received an offer from [COMPANY], which is quite strong. Having said that, I’m really excited about [YOUR COMPANY] and want to see if we can make this work. Is it possible to expedite the process since my timeline is now compressed?”
6. Beware the exploding offer
An exploding offer has an expiration date attached to it. Companies do this to play on your fears and limit your ability to seek other offers.
If you don’t have job interviews with other companies in motion, then a deadline on the offer shouldn’t be a big deal. However, it should still give you ample time to contemplate the offer.
If you are interviewing at other companies and think you may get more job offers, here’s an example of what to say:
“I have one big concern. I can’t decide on this offer within [offer expiration period]. I’m currently wrapping up my interview process at another company, which is likely to take me another week or so. I need more time to make an informed decision.”
If they push back and say this is the best they can do, then politely reply:
“That’s unfortunate. I really like [YOUR COMPANY] and am excited about the team, but [offer window] is too unreasonable of a window. I need time to consult with my [partner/spouse/mentor]. There’s no way that I can make a decision that quickly.”
Most companies will acquiesce at this point. If they don’t, you should be willing to walk away.
7. Know your ‘walk away’ price
Finally, my last piece of advice is to know your ‘walk away’ number. If you are absolutely unwilling to settle for a salary that pays below $75k, for example, you should know that going into your job interviews. If you’re unable to negotiate a compensation package above that number, you need to be willing to walk away.
If you are actively interviewing and would like help with negotiating your job offer, consider booking a PM Power Hour session with me. I consistently help my clients negotiate to increase their earning potential and would love to help you, too!