Reveal my hand?
December 3, 2012 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Compensation negotiation filter: Company X wants to make me an offer. Their recruiter has asked me to share the details of other offers I have. Do I tell them? If not, how to tactfully decline? This is in the tech industry.

This company is a top choice, so I don't want to alienate them. I've read the many other questions about salary negotiation (never be the first to name a number, etc), but I could really use advice on this particular situation from those experienced with the tech industry hiring process.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They are asking the details of your other offers to make sure that they do not offer you more money than they have to. I would only reveal information about the other offers I had in hand if they were at or above my target salary range.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:53 PM on December 3, 2012

My "go to" advice is to just say something similar to the following:

"I'm really interested in finding the right fit for my skills. Although total compensation is important to me, the most important thing is a place where I can bring the experience I have in (whatever you do) and really help grow the business of (whatever they do). I know what whatever offer you make will be fair."

If they push, just say, "I'm really not comfortable disclosing that information. I know whatever offer you make will be fair" and stick to that line.
posted by dotgirl at 2:59 PM on December 3, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'd usually handle this one by saying that compensation is extremely variable; it's a mix of tangible things like base salary, unpredictable things like bonuses and stock options, and hard to value things like job satisfaction, ability to make a difference, and ownership of your work. Trying to put a single number on an offer is a sure path to dramatically undervalue it- salary is only one component of any opportunity, and only a dumb recruiter would require it.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:13 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

"They've asked me to keep that information confidential at this stage." You can always share numbers after you have an offer that you want them to match/beat.

Alternatively, you could say that you've discussed a range of different salary/equity/benefit packages, so there really isn't something specific you can share.
posted by zachlipton at 3:13 PM on December 3, 2012

I would go for "they've asked me not to tell, but we've discussed various packages of salary and other compensation".

That way, if they have a salary limit that you're running up again, you've already mentioned being open to e.g. more holiday.
posted by katrielalex at 3:40 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unless you want to make significantly more than any of your other offers, just tell them.

It means they want you, and want to beat the competition for price.

That said, you may want to find a way to remind them (and keep in mind yourself!) in friendly terms that salary alone doesn't make up a total compensation package - For example, job 1 might offer you 10% more than job 2, but job two offers you an extra week of vacation, and job 3 may have an unbelievable benefits package.
posted by pla at 3:51 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are the other offers at amounts appropriate? I mean, would you otherwise happily take those other offers if they were the only one? Yes? Then tell them, this new company wants to try to beat them. I can assure you a technical recruiter knows that total compensation is more than just salary and they will create and present a total package for you. You are the one that needs to remember that, not them.
posted by magnetsphere at 5:29 PM on December 3, 2012

In this situation I like to give them just the gist: "eh, in the $90s, with a significant equity component".
posted by zvs at 9:15 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two thoughts:

1. The recruiters would like to know whether you're bluffing them about having other better offers. One way to determine whether you're the geniune article is to disclose your offers. Under this negotiation model, making vague claims about your other offers might actually reduce their offer, if they believe weasel words means "no other offers."

2. You're concerned that this will make any offer they make be only slightly above what you're making now. That would be true if nobody was allowed to improve their offer when asked (and given credible reason to do so). This is almost never the case and you should use this to your advantage.

What you might do is make an offer to this recruiter along the lines "I'll decribe my offers, with the understanding that any offer you make will be shared back to them. I feel it's only fair to give them a chance to improve their offer, after all. Is that okay with you?" If they give you any push back, just email them a censored version of your offer letters. That'll prove you have offers without potentially capping any obcenely high offer on their part.

So what do you do if you don't have any such offers? Best get one real quick now.
posted by pwnguin at 10:39 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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