Twitter salary negotiation
Company Guide
September 6, 2021

Twitter Salary Negotiation

Twitter's product & engineering teams were clearly hard at work over the past year. The company has released a slew of new products including Spaces, Super Follows, and the infamous Fleets. Industry consensus is that company is hitting its stride and user growth is a clear indicator of that. Twitter has an estimated 288 million monthly active users around the world, and that number is growing every day. Additionally, Twitter is one of just a few major tech companies that is still led by its founder.

Fun fact: Twitter's founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, recently auctioned off his first tweet as a non-fungible token (NFT). It said, "just putting up my twttr" when it was first posted on March 21, 2006. The tweet was purchased for $2.9 million at the end of the auction and paid for using Ether.

The goal of this guide is to equip you with the key pieces of information you need for your upcoming Twitter 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

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

Twitter Offer Compensation Components

Before starting your Twitter negotiation, it is important to fully understand the bigger picture when it comes to the compensation components offered. A typical job offer for a tech role at Twitter (e.g. Software Engineer) will contain the following monetary components:

  • Base Salary
  • Equity (also known as Restricted Stock Units - RSUs)
  • Annual Bonus
  • Signing Bonus
  • Stock Refreshers

This is what a Senior Software Engineering offer at Twitter looks like over a 4-year period.

Base Salary

Twitter's base salary is comparable to that of other big tech firms. Each role, level, and location has a salary range connected with it. The width of the band widens with seniority, and it is fairly narrow at lower levels. When compared to FAANG companies, Twitter's base salary typically caps out earlier, and it's not usually able to match top of band numbers.

For example, an E5 Software Engineering role at Facebook can reach a base salary of $214k, while at Twitter we haven't seen base salaries for the equivalent level go above $195k. In part, this component seems to be capped due to their higher-than-average performance bonus structure (more on this later).

Base salary can and should be negotiated, although the increase will generally be less than the equity and signing bonus increases.

Equity- Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)

RSUs at Twitter have a four-year vesting schedule with a 6-month cliff: 25% vests every year (6.25% every 3 months). If you are awarded $500,000 in RSUs, you will earn the following:

  • Year 1: 25% ($125K)
  • Year 2: 25% ($125K)
  • Year 3: 25% ($125K)
  • Year 4: 25% ($125K)

The cash value of RSUs in your offer letter will be translated to a set number of Twitter shares you receive. Twitter uses the prevailing RSU conversion rate in effect during the month in which your employment begins. This roughly correlates to the average stock price for the month in which you start at Twitter. For example, if you join on August 20th, Twitter would compute the average stock price for the whole month of August to determine how many shares you will receive. Below is the exact verbiage from a Twitter offer:

"The RSUs will be subject to the terms of the Company's 2013 Equity Incentive Plan and its form of RSU agreement (the 'Equity Documents'). You will vest in 12.5% of the RSUs on the six month anniversary of the first day of the month following your Start Date, provided you have continued to provide services to the Company until that date, and over your next three and a half years of continuous service with the Company you will vest 6.25% per quarter, as will be further described in the Equity Documents. Be advised that the calculation used to determine the number of RSUs granted is determined in the sole discretion of the Company and will not correlate to any published stock price on your date of hire and, furthermore, does not denote, nor can it predict, the future value of any RSUs. Stock prices are by nature volatile, and there is no way to predict the value of your future shares, if and when they vest. Subject to your continued employment in an equity eligible role, you will be eligible to receive future equity grants."

Equity is the most negotiable component of Twitter's compensation package. The band for equity is wider than it is for other components such as base salary and signing bonus. However, to effectively negotiate equity with Twitter, you need to be aware of the common pushback points you will get when speaking to recruiters.

Signing Bonus

By default, many Twitter offer letters do not contain a signing bonus. Leaving it out of the first offer is a classic recruiter tactic. You can reduce the chance of this happening by using collaborative language such as, "Are there situations where signing bonuses are possible?". It's also worth noting that recruiters at Twitter will sometimes volunteer to include a signing bonus to sweeten the offer if you are willing to commit to signing. This is typically just a pressure tactic and you should only agree if you are at the final stages of your negotiation.

The signing bonus bands at Twitter are not as broad as other FAANG companies. For a Senior Software Engineer, the top of the band signing bonus is ~$50k while for an E5 Facebook Software Engineer (comparable to Twitter Sr Software Engineer) the signing bonus can go up to $100k.

If you quit before the one-year mark, Twitter will deduct a percentage of your signing bonus. This is fairly for standard for tech companies. The following is the exact wording from a Twitter offer letter:

"To earn the Sign-On Bonus, you must remain actively employed by the Company in good standing for 12 months after your Start Date. If you resign from your employment or your employment is terminated by the Company at any time within 12 months of your Start Date, you acknowledge and agree that, upon the Company's request, you are obligated to repay the Sign-On Bonus, reduced on a pro-rata basis by one-twelfth (1/12) of the Sign-On Bonus for each full month you remain employed by the Company. You will be paid the Sign-On bonus in a lump sum at the time of your first payroll date, subject to repayment as described in this paragraph"

Performance Bonus

Twitter's performance bonuses are paid out quite consistently. While they are based on both your performance and the company's success, the vast majority of engineers earn their target bonus every year.

Twitter is also quite open about target bonus numbers for different roles and levels. For example, 10% is the annual target bonus granted to a Software Engineer I.

The performance bonus structure for Twitter's levels is as follows:

  • Software Engineer I - 10%
  • Software Engineer II - 15%
  • Senior Software Engineer - 20%
  • Staff Software Engineer - 25%
  • Senior Staff Software Engineer - 30%

As mentioned, Twitter does multiply your performance bonus based on the company's annual performance. The multiplier used can range from 0.5x to 3x.

The annual bonus isn't negotiable, but it's crucial to factor it into your overall salary when comparing offers, especially when it comes to firms like Compass/Amazon, who aren't as likely to provide target performance incentives.

Below is an example of how the performance bonus component is worded in a Twitter offer letter:

"You may be eligible to earn a discretionary performance bonus award in accordance with the Company's discretionary Performance Bonus Plan as it may exist and/or be amended from time to time. For the current Performance Bonus Plan year, the Performance Bonus Target for your position is 20% of annual eligible earnings, paid pursuant to the terms and conditions in the Performance Bonus Plan."

Stock Refreshers

Stock refresher targets are not publicly disclosed, making them more difficult to evaluate when comparing total compensation across multiple offers. Your manager has a significant say in the target refreshers you receive. On average, Twitter offers medium-sized refreshers (15-25 percent of the original grant - depending on manager/team), which may not be as competitive as Facebook and Apple but are still superior to Amazon/Microsoft.

It's worth inquiring about the stock refresher range for your role/level with your recruiter, although since refreshers are influenced by hiring managers, they are more reluctant to share any detailed information. Refreshers are announced in late March and finalized in April. They vest over four years on a quarterly basis

Twitter Negotiation Process

Before entering into the Twitter negotiating process, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Twitter leveling system. For context, we've used Facebook as a comparison point. Junior levels at Twitter are fairly similar to Facebook, however, there is a bigger gap in compensation bands & scope at the more senior positions:

  • Software Engineer I = E3 Facebook
  • Software Engineer II = E4 Facebook
  • Senior Software Engineer = E5 Facebook
  • Staff Software Engineer = E6-6.5 Facebook
  • Senior Staff Software Engineer = E6.5-E7.5 Facebook
  • Principal Engineer = E7.5-E8.5 Facebook

If you haven't received a Twitter offer yet, there are a few mistakes to avoid:

  1. Don't reveal your current compensation. Companies are prohibited from asking this in many areas (for example, California). Therefore, you are well within your rights to answer, "I do not feel comfortable sharing that information."
  2. Keep your compensation expectations to yourself during the interview stage. This question is frequently referred to as "seeing if you are a fit for the position" by Twitter recruiters. However, you should avoid answering until Twitter has shared an initial offer.  One possible response is, "Right now, I'm focused on the interview process and don't have a figure in mind, but I'm optimistic we'll be able to come to a number that works for both of us."

Once you finish the final rounds, it's time to start preparing for the negotiation process. The process we generally see at Twitter is outlined below, however, it varies slightly based on recruiter.

  1. After the final interviews, the recruiter will send you an email asking to set up a time for a call - this is the offer call.
  2. The recruiter will notify you on the first call that you passed the interviews and that you have been offered a position at Twitter. Depending on your seniority, the recruiter may ask you to disclose your salary expectations. We recommend pushing back with something along the lines of "I'm still figuring out my market value, but given how well the interviews went, I'd love it if you could go back to the team and see what is the best you can offer". Whenever possible, you want Twitter to give you the first offer.
  3. Recruiters at Twitter must usually go back to the compensation team for clearance on any offer numbers, so senior candidates may have to arrange a follow-up conversation to hear the first offer. Twitter's compensation team works fast, and the recruiter will most likely contact you within a couple of days. On the next conversation, they'll discuss the initial offer, which frequently excludes the signing bonus.
  4. After the first call, your recruiter will regularly contact you to schedule calls with possible hiring managers and skip-level managers if you have not yet matched to a specific team. Since hiring manager support can be a huge asset in your negotiation, it's important to have a strong working relationship with them throughout the process.
  5. Now that you've received the offer, it's time to plan your counter-offer approach. Depending on your position, you can employ a variety of possible leverage points. Twitter recruiters, on the whole, are amenable to negotiation and do not press aggressively for things like written offers.
  6. During the counter offer call, it's a good idea to bring up any competing opportunities as Twitter takes a market-based approach to compensation. That said, be mindful of the information you share, as you don't want to reveal anything that may be used against you, like a mediocre competing offer or the name of a smaller company that likely won't pay as well. You should also be prepared for questions. The recruiter will inquire about your key point of leverage in order to pass it along to the Twitter compensation team for approval. This isn't a problem if you come prepared with the appropriate replies. For our clients, we create a tree diagram specific to their scenario with the most likely objections and the best solutions to those arguments. The aim of this call is to persuade the recruiter to submit your counter offer to the compensation committee for consideration.
  7. You should receive an update within 1-2 days, at which point you must decide whether to pushback a final time or accept the revised offer. Twitter is usually open to a second round of negotiation, but it depends on the recruiter, how well you performed, and what additional information you have to offer.

Twitter-Specific Negotiation Advice

Willing to match/beat: Twitter is often willing to match the most competitive offer you present to them. The exception to this is when the offer is above the top of band threshold for your role/level. However, the goal in a negotiation is to get the maximum possible offer, not just match your highest competing offer. We have seen Twitter beat competing offers by a substantial amount when using optimal negotiation strategies.

Willing to up-level candidates to stay competitive: Twitter is ready to go above and beyond for strong candidates with good leverage. Even though Twitter may not go above band, they are willing to up-level candidates to stay competitive. We have successfully up-leveled candidates using competing opportunities as leverage, though this is challenging to execute properly.

Flexible on timelines: Recruiters at Twitter are known to be patient in negotiations. Generally, they will wait for you to finish other processes before giving them your final answer. Even if there is a deadline set by the recruiter, through collaborative conversations it is feasible to extend these deadlines. Meetings with your hiring manager are a useful technique for obtaining approval for this extension.

Hiring manager influences compensation: Your hiring manager (and/or skip-level manager) will have a more direct influence on your negotiation at Twitter vs. companies like Google. Setting aside time with them to learn more about the team and establish rapport is worthwhile. Your aim for such calls should be to make the hiring manager very excited to have you join the team. The goal is not to negotiate compensation with them directly.

Don't push for offers in writing: Twitter, unlike Google, normally does not require you to provide cross offers in writing. Although, they may ask if your competing offer is confirmed and what the specific breakdown is. This is an important point as many large tech companies refuse to put their offers in writing (suspecting you will use them as leverage), unless you confirm you are going to sign.

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.