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Cisco Salary Negotiation Guide

Do we like negotiating with Cisco?

It's a bit of a mixed bag. They are usually willing to negotiate but often pay poorly and are very open to using the negotiation excuse "we can't match that company's compensation".

Cisco's compensation structure

  • Base Salary
  • Cisco Equity Package (see Cisco's RSU vesting schedule below)
  • Cisco Sign on Bonus (not included in all Cisco offers)
  • Annual Bonus

Cisco sometimes doesn't include equity in initial offers for grade 4 to grade 8 roles, which is honestly crazy. Many companies use the tactic of not including a signing bonus in the initial offer, but Cisco is the only company we've seen do this with equity.

Cisco performance bonus targets

Cisco does pay out bonuses consistently, so you should factor them in when comparing to other offers. Its performance bonus targets are not negotiable, as is normal across the industry.

G8 – 12%

G10 – 15%

G11 – 15%

The actual $ value of bonus received is dependent on individual performance and the business unit. Bonuses can go up to 150-200% of targets.

Cisco's approach to remote pay

Cisco does have remote positions and adjusts pay based on location (i.e. market rates/cost of living). If you move after joining the company, your base will be adjusted but your equity will be the same. Even fully remote employees are "assigned" an office for tax reasons, but you will not be required to come into the office.

Cisco's relocation package

There are some roles and situations where Cisco will require you to move to accept the offer. In those cases, it is best to push for a $10k+ relocation package and additional benefits like 1-2 months of corporate housing.

Most negotiable component

For junior to mid-level positions the most negotiable compensation component of a Cisco job offer is the base salary. This is quite unusual in the tech industry as equity is usually the most negotiable component, but it's largely due to the low $-value of Cisco equity packages at these levels. As you get more senior the most negotiable component will flip back to equity. Sign on is negotiable but the range is also quite small.

Note: If you need more help regarding negotiating with Cisco, check out our articles on email vs call negotiation strategies, scripts as a powerful tool when negotiating, and this guide to understanding startup equity as a key component of total compensation.

Does Cisco require written offers?

Cisco does not usually require written offers during the negotiation, but you can expect some questions about the details (e.g., location, offer breakdown, etc.).

Will Cisco go above band if I have a strong competing offer?

An above band offer during a Cisco salary negotiation is possible but quite difficult to secure. You will need to be joining an important team, with a good hiring manager relationship, and play the negotiation nearly perfectly.

Is my hiring manager relationship important at Cisco?

Yes. A strong hiring manager relationship can tip the scales in a tough Cisco negotiation.

What does the hiring process look like at Cisco?

The typical hiring process at Cisco has 5 stages: recruiter screen, tech interview, hiring manager screen, onsite interview and the offer stage. If you want to have more clarity on the process, it is always a good idea to ask questions during the recruiter screen.

Note: There are many job seekers who are looking for an interview resource. So, we have prepared a comprehensive interview preparation guide comparing various resources like LeetCode Premium, AlgoExpert, InterviewCake and HackerRank.

Does Cisco pay well compared to Oracle?

Let’s compare a Cisco software engineer salary to an Oracle software engineer. Grade 11 SWE at Cisco translates to IC-4 at Oracle. Top of band Cisco comp for this level would be around $320k/year but at Oracle it can go up to $400k/year.

What kind of benefits does Cisco offer?

Being an older company, Cisco has not adopted many of the new corporate benefits that companies like Google and Facebook offer. That said, you shouldn't waste time trying to get them to modify benefits as that's much more challenging at a company this size vs. focusing on increasing your total compensation.

Cisco Equity Vesting Schedule

Year 1
25%
Year 2
25%
Year 3
25%
Year 4
25%
Year 5
25%
Year 5
%

Cisco Levels

Cisco Level

Software Engineer 1 (G4)

Software Engineer 2 (G6)

Software Engineer 3 (G8)

Software Engineer 4 (G10)

Technical Leader 1 (G11)

Technical Leader 2 (G12)

Principal Engineer (G13)

=

Equivalent Level at Google

L3

L3

L4

L4

L5

Between L5 and L6

Between L6 and L7

Why use us?

Our Clients Love Moonchaser

Coming from a non-FAANG background, I was shocked to find out how much I could be earning. Before I signed up with Moonchaser, I made the mistake of telling Amazon my current compensation. Thankfully, Moonchaser knew exactly how to fix it and ended up getting me an offer that was 2.3X what I previously made and more than $600K higher than Amazon’s initial offer!

Through several weeks of interviews, Ganesh was always available to make sure I knew what to say for each conversation. I interviewed with start ups, Google, Facebook and Amazon and was really impressed that Moonchaser knew the comp ranges and were able to give me tailored advice for each – even the start ups.

There ended up being two particularly complex moments in my negotiation. One of the start-ups I had a personal relationship with and I wasn’t sure how it would affect the negotiation. I like that there was a focus on my individual circumstances and that they were leveraged to get me a higher offer. The other situation is that Amazon made a mistake on my written offer and initially wouldn’t rectify it. Ganesh was able to guide me through a challenging conversation to get it resolved.

Steve Commisso
L7 Principal Software Engineer, Amazon

Thanks to Wilson and the team at Moonchaser I got a ~$250K increase on my remote Facebook offer! I was initially worried I wouldn’t have much leverage because Facebook reached out to me, and I wasn’t interviewing anywhere else. Moonchaser introduced me to an Amazon L7 recruiter and helped me get that process started. I didn’t even end up needing to finish the Amazon interviews, since we were able to use some early compensation conversations to justify our numbers to Facebook.

At one point I was also considering pushing for an E7 role, and they wrote up a great script for me to broach the subject with my recruiter. She ended up giving me the option to do an additional interview to be considered for the higher-level position.

The whole process was very smooth, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use the service for any future negotiations. I found the regular calls with Wilson where we walked through strategy and discussed the scripts to be extremely helpful. Not only did it help with this negotiation, but I also learned a lot of useful negotiation tactics that I’ve already started to use in other situations.

Chris Jones
E6 Software Engineer, Facebook

As an engineering leader with decades of experience and having now gone through the negotiation with the team at Moonchaser, the only thing I can say is — get the help. Whether you realize you need it, or even if you think you don’t. Just because you have done well in engineering doesn't mean that you understand the tactics and limits of the recruiting process.

Moonchaser helped me get a $200K increase on my original Facebook offer without any competing offers.  It was clear that Moonchaser was deeply familiar with Facebook's negotiation playbook. I’d honestly give the experience an 11/10.

In addition, Moonchaser guided me on how to get the position switched to a revised remote role which was a huge deal at a personal level. They showed me how to redirect FB’s questions so that I could explore the possibility of not relocating, without ever having to say no to my original offer.

E7 Hardware Engineer
Facebook

This is my first FAANG role and I'm so happy I worked with Moonchaser (thanks again Annie!) for the negotiation. My goal was to increase my Google offer, but I was in a tricky situation where I only had 1 other interview (no offer yet) at a small startup. With their guidance, I managed to get a $240K increase on my Google offer, despite Google's policy of requiring cross offers in writing to justify an increase.

The mock negotiations were a big part of why I was able to get this increase. Going into the negotiation, I assumed the key factor was what to say but I quickly learned that how you say it is equally if not more important. This was clear when over the course of the call"no" turned into "I'll see what I can do" and eventually"I think we can make this work". A big part of this was also having someone with me on the calls to provide real time guidance. This took a lot of the stress out of the situation. I can't recommend this team highly enough!

Andrei Gorbushkin
L5 Technical Program Manager, Google

After receiving several job offers, I needed to make a decision within a few days. I wanted to make sure I was getting the best offer possible, so I decided to use Moonchaser. I was very pleased with their service. My coach, Sameer, was well prepared and had information about what compensation increases were likely possible. He provided detailed scripts covering a range of scenarios, and he did practice negotiations with me that helped me feel confident when I had the actual conversations.  

With his help I was able to increase one offer by $45k per year plus get a $50k signing bonus and then use that to increase my offer from Square, which was my first choice. All throughout he was very responsive as I was dealing with some tight deadlines and looking to wrap things up quickly. Moonchaser's fee was only a tiny fraction of the increase they helped me negotiate, and even though they would have made more money if I had taken the highest offer, Sameer always put my goals first and never pressured me to do so. I highly recommend Moonchaser!

L6 Software Engineer
Square

My friend introduced me to Moonchaser and I’m so glad they did. I initially did some calculations to see if working with them would be worth it - my final increase ended up being ~3x higher than what I had estimated to be possible!

Their data is much more accurate than anything I found online. Without Sameer's guidance, I would have never known (and would have probably been too nervous) to ask for >$800K for anAmazon L7 offer. Of course, it's not just not enough to throw out a big number, you also need to be able to justify it. Sameer guided me through negotiating an up-level at another company, which I didn’t even know was possible at my level. With their scripts, I was able to leverage my competing offer to get exec approval for my Amazon offer. They also knew all the tricks Amazon would play (e.g., assuming 15% stock appreciation) and exactly how to counter them.

My total 4-year compensation increased by $570K. I don't think I've ever had a higher ROI – I’m very thankful that this service exists!

L7 Principal Software Engineer
Amazon

Maximize your Cisco Offer

Cisco

has a unique set of negotiation policies. If you don’t have experience negotiating with them, you risk losing out on large amounts of money because of very small mistakes.

There are many of these rules you need to know to get the highest

Cisco

offer possible.