Amazon Recruiter Asks for First Number

Mark43 Dath23
Nov 5 35 Comments

Hi Blind,

I recently interviewed at Amazon for a Frontend Engineer position on AWS team in SF. I was evaluated as a strong SDE II (L5).

The recruiter got back to me, saying that they would like to move forward with an offer. However, they are expecting me to give the first number of what my expectations are here.

I am well-versed in software engineering negotiation literature and made several strong arguments. This included "happy to have a market-competitive offer based on the level that I was interviewed for", "you know the Amazon bands better than me", and "at this moment, I'm open-minded".

The recruiter was polite, but firm. She said, "do your research, talk to your friends, and I'll reach out again to get your number".

Related, I have offers from other companies coming in. They haven't given numbers yet. We're in the process of chatting with the hiring managers and offer construction.

A. What are my next steps here?
B. If I should give the anchoring number, how should I frame that conversation? What does that number look like?

YOE: 7.5
TC: 190

61 VOTES SELECT ONLY ONE ANSWER
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TOP 35 Comments
  • Microsoft / Product
    Brazuka

    Microsoft Product

    PRE
    Bain & Company
    Brazukamore
    Any negotiation class will tell that is better that you set the anchor (assuming you're not a moron and set it right). Just ask for 30% above whatever you would be happy settle for.
    Nov 5 4
    • Salesforce HawaianGuy
      Yeah this is a non-issue. Give the recruiter a number 30 - 50% higher than the average listed on levels.fyi for the level. Bam, you're done.
      Nov 5
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      The argument to not give the first number is because what if what I want is much lower than what they are willing to give.
      Nov 5
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      I suppose levels.fyi is key here.
      Nov 5
    • Microsoft / Product
      Brazuka

      Microsoft Product

      PRE
      Bain & Company
      Brazukamore
      Exactly. In a market you have no idea that might be true. But not the case here. You can be well informed.
      Nov 5
  • Facebook supernewbi
    If you think you are in the top 5% skill range of an L5 ask for top 5% of the levels.fyi band if not top of range. If you are top 20%, ask for top 20%.
    Nov 5 2
    • Salesforce HawaianGuy
      Better yet, just ask for 20% higher than the top of the range regardless of what you feel your skills are 🤷‍♂️
      Nov 5
    • Microsoft / Product
      Brazuka

      Microsoft Product

      PRE
      Bain & Company
      Brazukamore
      Hawaian knows his shit. Your self perceived skills are irrelevant
      Nov 5
  • Amazon fakermayfd
    it’s pretty straightforward, giving your number and having them shoot for/match it is most streamlined because it takes a lot of coordination to put together an offer. neither party needs to play games.

    wherever u go, don’t stress over a few k and get down to work, for the best prospects long term
    Nov 5 0
  • Google lSjX80
    The best number you can give is the one that you give them as a competing offer. Heavily research the range that Amazon pays for a level 5. This is easy to find on the web at places like paysa, etc.
    Nov 5 0
  • Amazon leetbro
    Levels.fyi
    Nov 5 1
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      Yup, course I've been searching levels and Blind. It seems that there are folks that have TC upwards of 350k. Also, I would need to factor in the fact that Amazon has a backloaded vesting plan.
      Nov 5
  • NVIDIA needsleeep
    What is the rationale for her to push the candidate for the first number? She encourages research to be done, so presumably she ultimately expects a market-value anchor number from you...which as a recruiter, she should know already.

    Is this some retention-boosting tactic? Seems like a waste of time.
    Nov 5 1
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      I wonder if it's because in the software engineering world, there is such a wide range of both salary knowledge and compensation. For example, if I was a non-Blinder or new to the industry, I may ask for something like 200k which is a slam-dunk win for Amazon.

      On the flip side, if she comes with 200k, when I wouldn't even consider anything lower than 275k, that could come off poorly?

      Yeah, I'm not sure.
      Nov 5
  • Amazon cmonBruh
    Top of band is around 280k in SF for L5. Ask for 300k and see if they give you 280k.
    Nov 5 4
    • New / R&D
      VeoQ04

      New R&D

      PRE
      Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.
      BIO
      Senior iOS developer and tech lead
      VeoQ04more
      This is the correct answer
      Nov 5
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      I saw 350k+ on levels though. Are those just bad data points?
      Nov 5
    • New / R&D
      VeoQ04

      New R&D

      PRE
      Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.
      BIO
      Senior iOS developer and tech lead
      VeoQ04more
      Competing offers prob
      Nov 5
    • Amazon cmonBruh
      350k is well into the L6 band. That's pretty much unheard of for L5 even with competing offers. I've seen datapoints of offers being 20-30k above band but 70k...I don't know about that man.
      Nov 5
  • OpenTable Meliodas
    “You know your compensation packages better than I do. What is the salary range for the role?”
    Nov 5 4
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      Yes, trust me - I tried. She was basically like "Let me tell you how it works." I want to be explicit though -- she did not come off rude, she was firm.
      Nov 5
    • OpenTable Meliodas
      If you are in CA, she broke the law.
      Nov 5
    • Qualcomm NqAf57
      What did she tell you when she said, "let me tell you how it works"?
      Nov 5
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      She said that I'm supposed to come with the first number. "Do your research, chat with your friends, etc..."

      I think it's Amazon Seattle.
      Nov 5
  • Slalom Consulting / Sales StankyFeet
    Well, for SDE-I, I just looked up Amazon's top TC for SDE-I & gave a number 10% higher than that. They'll probably put you at middle band, which can then be negotiated if you have other offers/ give them an "accept-now" number
    Nov 6 2
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      What happened with your negotiation? You gave first number too?
      Nov 6
    • Slalom Consulting / Sales StankyFeet
      I got into the upper band for sde I with an accept now number. I gave the first number
      Nov 6
  • Google foony
    Honestly I'd be annoyed enough by the unprofessionalism to walk at this point. I went through enough nonsense with Amazon recruiters that I did just that. If you anchor high, go beyond your wildest dreams. The danger is that the market might actually put you even higher, and you'd be shooting yourself in the foot.

    When I first started looking I thought I'd be happy with a 30k bump. My highest offer was nearly 250k higher. This is the danger of giving first numbers.
    Nov 5 3
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      Exactly this. I will say the recruiter came off professional. She was just very firm.
      Nov 5
    • Mark43 Dath23
      OP
      Care to share your numbers and experience?
      Nov 5
    • Google foony
      I'll PM you
      Nov 5
  • Netflix fmyP35
    Negotiate higher stock and mention flexibility on the cash compensation. AMZN is at 1700s now, you will win a lot if it raises.
    Nov 6 0
  • Amazon chandlerg
    An L5 top of the range SDE at Amazon is around 235k in Seattle. Add 15-20% more for NYC and Bay. Use this to your advantage - give about 20% above the range.
    Nov 5 0
  • New
    Amazon has a limit for SDE 2, just ask for above that limit. They’ll say “sorry that’s above our limit, but we’ll give you x” where x is usually close to limit.

    Don’t tell them you know that’s the limit tho, just say you did research and found what others were being paid.
    Nov 5 0
  • Amazon hWnc48
    Let them talk first. They expect you to negotiate, so they will go lower, but not propose something to piss you off. Then add 25%.

    Most likely they will reduce the RSUs and increase the yearly salary. I wouldn't mind about the stocks because it's very unlikely that you will be there 4 years.

    Even better, in the meanwhile try to get an offer from another tech company. They will add extra 15% on the top of the 25%.

    The first one happened to me,the second to a colleague.

    They have a range for each level so just try to get to the max of yours.
    Nov 5 0

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