LinkedIn salary negotiation
Company Guide
September 28, 2021

LinkedIn Salary Negotiation

LinkedIn is known to be one of the best companies to work for if you value work-life balance. For years they have held the dominant position in career-focused social media, and this has allowed them to take a slower approach to product development. Their bar for talent is still quite high though, and clients we've supported report solid learning opportunities and career growth.

With that in mind, the big question is how competitively can LinkedIn pay compared to other tech companies. The goal of this guide is to equip you with the information you need for your upcoming LinkedIn negotiation. 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.

Negotiate Your Offer

Table of Contents

  • LinkedIn Offer Compensation Components
  • LinkedIn Negotiation Process
  • LinkedIn-Specific Negotiation Advice

LinkedIn Offer Compensation Components

When approaching an upcoming negotiation, step 1 is to fully understand the compensation components that will be offered by the company in question. At LinkedIn, a typical Software Engineering offer will be structured like this:

  • Base Salary
  • Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)
  • Signing Bonus
  • Performance Bonus
  • Stock Refreshers

Below is an example from a recent Senior Software Engineer offer at LinkedIn:

Base Salary

Base salaries at LinkedIn have a set band for each level, and usually it is the portion of compensation that changes the least during a negotiation. The band for each level is about $30k - $40k. For example, the band for Software Engineers in the Bay Area for base salary is from $130k - $170k, and for Senior Software Engineers in the same location, it ranges from $170k - $205k. This is a larger band than we see at most companies. As a point of comparison, Facebook's entry level position (equivalent to LinkedIn Software Engineer) has a range of $120k - $140k.

LinkedIn pay base salary based on the cost of living and market value of engineers in the city they're working out of. For example, if you have an opportunity with LinkedIn in Seattle, and are comparing the base salary with what you've been offered by Robinhood in the Bay Area, your LinkedIn recruiter will likely push back and say "We'll unfortunately not be able to match this because it's based out of the Bay Area, and Seattle comp isn't as competitive".

To learn how to avoid this sort of pushback, and how to successfully leverage competing opportunities in differing locations, setup a consultation with our negotiation team.

Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)

At LinkedIn, the equity you are granted (i.e. RSUs) is subject to a 4-year vesting schedule: 25% vests at the end of the 1st year (otherwise known as a cliff), then 25% in each of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years, at a rate of 6.25% every 3 months.

For example, if given a stock grant of $500k over 4 years, the equity would vest as follows:

  • Year 1 - $125,000 (25%)
  • Year 2 - $125,000 (25%)
  • Year 3 - $125,000 (25%)
  • Year 4 - $125,000 (25%)

The band for equity is very large compared to the band for other compensation components. For each level, the band is wider than $150k+. Looking at the range for equity for Software Engineers in the Bay Area, we see it fluctuate between a grant of $176k over 4 years, all the way up to $332k over 4 years.

Signing Bonus

Signing bonuses at LinkedIn are frequently left off the first offer extended by the recruiter. This is a common tactic across many major tech companies for recruiters to assess how much a candidate will be negotiating. That said, simply asking for a signing bonus isn't enough. The comp team will refuse to add a signing bonus onto the offer unless sufficient leverage is provided (e.g. competing offer, retention bonus at your current workplace, etc.). If you don't have strong leverage, don't give up hope. We've helped many clients who didn't think they had leverage negotiate big signing bonuses - you just need to get creative and know the LinkedIn policies.

Compared to other companies like Robinhood and Facebook, LinkedIn's signing bonuses tend to be slightly lower, with Staff Software Engineers signing bonuses maxing out at around $75k, while Robinhood L3 (equivalent to LinkedIn Staff level) can go as high as $100k or even $110k.

Performance Bonus

LinkedIn offers annual performance bonuses. While these numbers are not broadly publicized by the company (and many threads on Blind are outdated), this is the annual bonus information we've seen from LinkedIn offers.

  • Software Engineer is 10%
  • Senior Software Engineer is 10%
  • Staff Software Engineer is 15%
  • Senior Staff Software Engineer is 20%

50% of this bonus is based on your performance and 50% is based on company performance. If you score highly on your performance evaluation, or the company does exceptionally well, or both, you could see your bonus increase significantly. LinkeIn performance bonuses are roughly inline with what Facebook offers.

When negotiating a LinkedIn offer, consider how the annual bonus of your competing opportunity matches up. If it's higher, you could always present your base salary plus annual bonus as a "yearly cash amount". Be mindful of how you phrase this with your recruiter. Performance bonuses are non-negotiable, so your goal should be to increase other components of compensation based on this.

Stock Refreshers

While refreshers are technically offered at LinkedIn, they have historically been very small. Recent internal posts claim that this year refreshers will be increased, but it's too early to tell for sure. Performance evaluations are done on a yearly basis, but even if you get a meets expectations score or above, refreshers aren't guaranteed to be offered. Instead refreshers were more heavily based on how close you are to the total compensation target for your level (basically the opposite of a performance culture like Facebook).

Larger refreshers can be offered, but LinkedIn tends to only give them to folks who are at their 4 year equity cliff, as well as people who are receiving promotions.

Unfortunately, since refreshers are so sparingly given, it's tough to give an accurate target on these numbers. They are also not specified in the offer letter you will receive. One thing to note is that these refreshers vest evenly over 4 years and do not have a 1-year cliff.

LinkedIn Negotiation Process

An upcoming negotiation can be overwhelming when looking at it from the outside, so we will walk you through what to expect throughout the process.

Before diving into that, it's important to understand how LinkedIn's levels differ from other the industry standard (i.e. Google):

  • Software Engineer = Google L3, entry level
  • Senior Software Engineer = Google L4
  • Staff Software Engineer = Google L5 (this is what Google calls Senior Engineer)
  • Senior Staff Software Engineer = Google L6
  • Principal Staff Software Engineer = Google L7/L8
  • Distinguished Engineer = Google L8/L9

If you have not yet received an offer from LinkedIn, there are a few critical mistakes to avoid:

  1. Do not share your current compensation. In many states (e.g. California) it is illegal for companies to ask this, so you are certainly within your rights to say "I do not feel comfortable sharing that information"
  2. Do not share your compensation expectations. This is a common request now that recruiters are not able to ask about your current compensation. It is certainly harmful to share a low number but sharing a very high number can also be a bad start to the negotiation, as this will increase the likelihood that you are asked for proof of a competing offer. Instead, reply with something along the lines of "Right now I'm focused on the interview process and don't have a number in mind, but I'm confident we will be able to get to a number that works for both of us"

With that out of the way, let's discuss the negotiation process at LinkedIn:

  1. After finishing up your onsite, you will hear back from a recruiter within ~1 week. LinkedIn is typically a bit slower than companies like Amazon & Facebook, but it does depend on your recruiter
  2. Your recruiter will then reach out to setup a call, often saying something along the lines of "I have some exciting news to share". This is the offer call. Your recruiter may setup this offer call prior to team matching being finalized
  3. On the offer call, the recruiter may push you for compensation expectations. However, if properly deflected, they are usually willing to extend an initial offer, which will have been put together by the compensation committee
  4. We recommend you take time to digest the initial offer and consider the best point of leverage for your counter offer discussion
  5. You will then setup your second call with the recruiter to discuss the offer. On that call you will disclose your counter offer. The recruiter will likely push back and at Moonchaser we build a tree diagram unique to your situation with the most likely objections and the optimal responses to those objections. The goal is to get the recruiter to take your counter-offer number back to the compensation committee as needed
  6. LinkedIn may try to give you a deadline on your offer. You can push back on this with your recruiter or Hiring Manager, but always evaluate if the additional time is actually needed to secure an optimal negotiation outcome (in many cases it's not)
  7. Once you get an update offer, it is possible to push back again. But your recruiter will likely be reticent to take your request back to the team unless you have new information to bring to the table

There are two primary differences between junior and senior negotiations at LinkedIn:

  1. Senior employees are likely to see fewer pressure tactics compared to junior employees. For example, requests for competing offers in writing can be more easily deflected. Generally speaking, recruiters working with these candidates provide more of a white glove service
  2. Recruiters will push you more to give them an initial number if you are more senior, rather than providing an offer. Given the importance of senior leaders and the wide range of the salary bands, they are typically hesitant to risk losing a candidate. This means the first number you provide is very important for anchoring the negotiation

LinkedIn-Specific Negotiation Advice

Hiring Manager Influence: Having a strong relationship with your hiring manager can have a big impact on your negotiation with LinkedIn. While LinkedIn does have a compensation committee that determines what offer is extended, hiring managers are the primary decision maker when it comes to leveling and timelines. We've also found that hiring managers are able to directly influence compensation more at LinkedIn vs Google or Facebook. However, it does depend on the hiring manager, and you will need to find the right balance between calls with the recruiter and with the HM.

Slow Recruiter Responses: Even though LinkedIn will frequently give candidates deadlines to respond to offers, that doesn't always mean your recruiter will be prompt in their responses to you. In situations where you're struggling to get a hold of your recruiter, reaching out to the HM can be a great way of checking in and ensuring all is going well. Of course, be mindful of how frequently to reach out to the HM, as this can weaken your negotiation leverage.

High Quality Benefits: While LinkedIn's compensation may not be industry leading, their benefits are top tier. These include, but are not limited to, a relocation bonus of $10k+, 401k matching, and a mega backdoor Roth IRA. One thing to consider when negotiating is the monetary value of the benefits that are being offered, and compare those to your other opportunities. However, you should not try to negotiate for different / more benefits - it won't work at large companies.

Not Always Able to Match: We've been able to get LinkedIn to negotiate offers for all of our clients by using the right strategies and tactics. The tricky part is that LinkedIn compensation bands max out at lower levels than most FAANG companies. The key to the negotiation is figuring out how to get LinkedIn to beat a competing offer when it's above their band. It's not easy, but we've done it a number of times. This requires different approaches based on each clients' situation.

Negotiate Your Offer

1:1 Salary Negotiation Support

Negotiation strategy

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).

Negotiation anchor number

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.

Negotiation execution plan

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.