Demystifying the Offer Process

Get advice on negotiating a job offer at a startup, including counteroffers.
By Lindsey Marlowe

Last Updated: May 5, 2021

Published: October 16, 2020


You’ve finally reached the long-sought stage of the interviewing process where you’ve received the offer now what? From approaching compensation to the offer negotiation process, we brought together leaders in recruiting and HR to answer that question.

M13 Talent Acquisition Director Rosemary Belden recently moderated an in-depth conversation on the offer process with:

  • Liz Morgan, Head of Global Business Recruiting for Square
  • Mallory Mazer, HR & Recruiting Consultant for Gray Scalable

    Liz shares her perspective with 20 years of recruiting experience, including hiring for both startups and established companies like Microsoft and LinkedIn.

    Mallory Mazer joins the conversation with hands-on startup experience from Rent the Runway, Hudson Blvd Group, and more. She is currently an HR consultant for Gray Scalable, which builds teams and puts strong people processes in place at some of the world’s leading tech companies.

    Rosemary offers her unique perspective as M13’s Director of Talent Acquisition. She has more than six years of executive recruiting leadership experience prior to joining M13.

    Watch the full conversation with Rosie, Mallory, and Liz below for their thoughts on demystifying the offer process from start to finish. This group explores the nuances of how offers are crafted, how to approach a counteroffer, and more.

How do you approach a job offer at a startup?

Think about where the company is right now. If you’re looking at an early-stage company, they may be relying more on equity more than compensation. Many startups have a lower base salary than bigger corporations. Consider what’s being offered beyond the salary number.

Consider the benefits of the offer. Are you able to work from home? Are they helping with education expenses? Is there a signing or relocation bonus you can negotiate for?

Do you actually want to work there? Do you like the people you’ve interviewed with? Will this company make you feel fulfilled? Consider if this offer is going to bring you happiness and career growth.

Inquire about performance. You may not start out with the monetary offer you’re looking for, but what does that look like over the long term? Is there room for salary increases based on performance?

Get all the information needed to understand not only accepting the offer but salary increases over time.

Liz Morgan

How can you know your market value?

Take into consideration your experience. Leverage the scale of your prior experience when defining your market value.

Chat with your peers. Not all sources of salary comparison, like Glassdoor, can be reliable. Start the conversation with peers in your field for more understanding of salary range.

Take into account the size of the company and scope of the role. Companies of varying sizes may have common role titles, but that doesn’t mean the scope of work is the same.

A director at a 50-person startup is completely different than a director at a thousand-person company. While they have the same title, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to command the same salary.

Mallory Mazer

How do you go about exploring multiple offers?

It’s okay to set expectations. Let the recruiter know that you’d like some time to decide on the offer, especially if you’re still exploring other opportunities.

Express gratitude and let them know you appreciate their consideration.

Take time to make the best decision and not the quickest one.

What are some tips for presenting a counteroffer?

Countering an offer comes down to your comfort level. When making a counter, your comfort level matters for whether you plan to make a verbal or a written counteroffer. If a company is quick to rescind an offer upon a counter, it may not be the right fit for you.

Come in with a specific ask. When preparing to make a counteroffer, make sure you come in with what you want, whether that’s additional compensation in terms of salary or benefits.

Sometimes they’re unable to negotiate on salary because of internal equity. They may not have flexibility on the base salary but may have other ways to compensate.

Don’t let the dollars take away from your happiness and your career growth.

Mallory Mazer

You can check out some of the roles Gray Scalable is hiring for here, and you can also sign up to receive their newsletter, where they share great content, white papers, and business updates.

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