Compass' stock has struggled since it was listed in early 2021. However, the business fundamentals are solid, and the company has made some great hires recently. Compensation is also quite attractive, with many software engineering roles paying just below top of market.
The objective of this guide is to share the information we've learned from many of our recent negotiations with Compass. If your situation is unique or you want 1:1 support to ensure you maximize your compensation, please sign up for a free consultation with our expert negotiators.
To start, here is a quick overview of how Compass structures compensation.
This is what a Compass IC4 offer looks like over a 4-year period:
Note: stock refreshers will not be listed in the official offer letter but are a standard part of compensation at Compass
In addition to the high-level overview, it's important to understand Compass' unique approach to compensation. While the components are the same, there are some key differences vs FAANG offers.
Compass pays base salary in a standard way similar to other tech companies like Google and Facebook. The biggest difference is the size of the salary band. For a Compass Software Engineering IC3 role in the Bay Area the band is $140K-$200K. Whereas Facebook E4 in the Bay Area is $150K-$175K.
The base salary for one of these roles at Compass is on average slightly higher vs comparable FAANG offers. However, this is in part because Compass does not have a performance bonus, which is typically a percentage of base salary paid in cash. More on that later.
Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)
Compass has a traditional vesting structure with an initial equity grant that vests in equal installments over a 4-year period. If you are granted $700K in RSUs, you will receive:
The number of shares you actually receive is calculated by dividing your initial grant by the share price 30-days prior to your start date. Compass equity vests yearly unlike Google and Facebook that have monthly and quarterly vesting schedules respectively.
The good news is that Compass is quite willing to negotiate equity. The bands are wide - an IC3 Compass Software Engineer role in the Bay Area the band is $300K-$500K. For comparison, Facebook E4 in the Bay Area is $200K-$400K.
We have also seen Compass go above band for equity when a candidate does very well on interviews and conducts a great negotiation with strong leverage.
Compass will often leave signing bonuses out of initial offers. Sometimes recruiters will use this as a tactic to push you to share expectations. It's fine to ignore that and continue requesting a first offer. If they don't include a signing bonus in the initial offer, you can setup your leverage and request one as part of your counter offer.
Compass has one of the highest signing bonuses in the industry. We recently helped an IC3 engineer negotiate a $120K signing bonus, which tops even Facebook's $100K cap at that level. The difference is that Compass is less willing to give out its top number vs Facebook. This is why it's critical to use the strongest leverage possible. Ideally, you should frame a competing opportunity in a way that illustrates the need for a signing bonus. If that's not possible you can use retention bonuses and promotion opportunities from your current company to justify a large signing bonus.
For large signing bonuses over $100K, the sum is often distributed over a two-year period. Compass will require you to repay a portion of your signing bonus if you leave before the specified term (typically 1 year).
As of writing this article, Compass does not offer a cash performance bonus. Instead, they compensate employees with higher-than-average base salaries and performance-based stock refreshers.
Stock refreshers are a key component of Compass' compensation package, but they are not explicitly included in the offer letter. Recruiters will typically mention them during a call and it's important to clarify what target number is expected for an average performance rating for your level. Sometimes the recruiter will quote the maximum possible number, which is only given if you significantly outperform expectations.
As a quick background on stock refreshers, these are granted at the end of your first year and you will be given a specific grant value. For example, at IC4 the target is $90K. This value vests over 4 years, like the initial grant, which means you would be getting an additional $22.5K at the end of year 2 (the first vest date). These refreshers "stack" and in year 3 you would receive $45K, and in year 4 ~$70K.
If you are negotiating with Compass and another company that doesn't provide stock refreshers (e.g. Amazon), you should certainly use Compass' refreshers to negotiate a higher Amazon offer.
Before diving into the negotiation process at Compass, it's helpful to have an overview of the Compass leveling system. For comparison, we will use Google levels.
*Note this use of Senior for the L4-equivalent role does not map to the industry standard where L5 is a senior position. However, IC3 at Compass straddles the line between L4 and L5, leaning more towards L4.
If you are still waiting to receive an offer from Compass, there are a few key mistakes to avoid.
Once you get the news that Compass will be extending an offer, it's time to prepare for the negotiation process. Outlined below is the process we typically see at Compass, though it does vary a bit from recruiter to recruiter.
For reference, senior roles typically get more pressure to provide a first number. It is still possible to push back on this and hold your ground, and in these cases, we see Compass provide competitive starting offers.
Competing offers: Compass almost never requires offers in writing. The one exception to this rule is if you quote a number that is clearly outside of the band (e.g. $1M in equity for E5 at Facebook). They also don't typically require an offer breakdown though it certainly adds credibility to the ask if you are able to share the breakdown of a competing offer.
Willing to share ranges: Many companies avoid sharing the range for your role (despite it being the law in California). However, in our experience Compass is willing to provide this information, and most importantly, they rarely lie about the range for the role.
Team matching: Compass often hires for general positions and then team matches post-interview. As mentioned above, it is possible to negotiate before team matching is finished (much harder to do this at Google for example), but it's sometimes better to wait. If you connect well with a hiring manager, they can often push the recruiter to pull together a very competitive offer.
Willing to extend timelines: We've seen some recruiters at Compass provide lots of timeline flexibility for negotiations, while others regularly set deadlines. However, even in the cases where they are setting deadlines, it's possible to extend these. Hiring manager conversations are a great tool to get this extension approved.
Remote compensation: The good news is that Compass offers remote positions. The bad news is that like most companies they pay lower for remote roles. It's possible to get around this in some cases if you have competing offers in other locations, but you need to play your cards right.
Above band offers: Unlike many companies (e.g. Facebook), Compass is actually willing to go above band for very strong candidates with excellent leverage. This is very rare for base salary, but we have negotiated above band offers for signing bonus and equity.
Step 1 is defining the strategy, which often starts by helping you create leverage for your negotiation (e.g. setting up conversations with FAANG recruiters).
Step 2 we decide on anchor numbers and target numbers with the goal of securing a top of band offer, based on our internal verified data sets.
Step 3 we create custom scripts for each of your calls, practice multiple 1:1 mock negotiations, and join your recruiter calls to guide you via chat.