Especially if you are interviewing at a startup, spend an hour doing your research. Here's the formula:— Jensen Harris (@jensenharris) May 16, 2018
1) Crunchbase. Find out funding, investors, etc.
2) LinkedIn. Who works there?
3) Glassdoor. What do people say about the company?
4) Company web site. Read all you can stand.
while I'm on it, my DMs are always open if you want to send me your salary. especially if you work in data, work in Toronto, or work in a "technical" role with 0-3 years of experience. if you're an URM, I'll tell you mine too. knowledge is power 💪— Sharla Gelfand (@sharlagelfand) April 15, 2018
one of the things that should go without saying, but here we are, is that it's important to handle rejection gracefully. data science positions can be highly competitive. having a public meltdown and/or sending the hiring manager nasty/demanding emails is... bad.— Jesse Maegan (@kierisi) May 29, 2018
For the initial offer, you may get a phone call, an email with the details, or an email asking for time to go over the offer by phone. In all cases, make sure you express your excitement and gratitude for the opportunity. Don’t accept right away: get the full offer in writing, say you need to review it, and ask if you can reconnect in a few days. This sets the stage for negotiating and gives you time if you’re considering other offers. If you need more information (e.g. starting date possibilities, health insurance information), you should ask for it before your second conversation so you can have the full picture.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t get offers (or rejections) from all the companies you’re interested in at once. More likely, when you get an offer, you might be in the final round for another company, just finished with the phone screen in another, and waiting to hear back from others. What if one of the ones you’re waiting on is your “dream job”?
If you’re in or very close to the final round with a company, tell them about your other option. Reiterate how interested you are in their company (and if they’re your first choice, tell them!), but explain that you’re received another offer and would appreciate if they would be able to give you a decision by X date. Recruiters understand that you’re likely to be interviewing with other companies and deal with this situation all the time. If you’re very early in the other process, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to speed it along enough to have an offer in time, and you may need to decide whether to accept the offer without knowing your other options.
Even if the offer is more than you expected or it would be a big increase from your current job, you should negotiate. Tech companies expect you to negotiate. You can almost always get at least another $5k or a 5% increase in base salary and very likely more depending on the company and original offer. You could also ask for a signing bonus or more stock options. Remember that it’s not selfish or greedy to negotiate:
Other thoughts: it's not about the salary you make now. It's about the salaries of your peers at the new place. It may be a large bump for you now, but once you're hired you'll be doing the same work for less pay.— bletchley punk (@alicegoldfuss) May 2, 2018
Also think about the non-monetary benefits you’re interested in. For example, maybe you want to be able to work from home one day a week. Maybe you want them to cover the cost of two conferences a year. If it’s a smaller company, you can ask for a different job title.
How much you can negotiate for depends on your bargaining position and the company. A non-profit will probably have less room on salary. If you have another offer or you’re well compensated in your current job, you have a strong alternative. If you have a rare skill that they recruited you for or the role has been open for a long time, it’s going to be harder for them to find someone else. You should do your research on the salary websites mentioned above so you can explain why you’re asking for the numbers you are. Aim high so you have room to compromise and give a number, not a range - if you say you’re looking for between a 5k and 10k increase, they’ll probably give you the 5k. Reiterate why you’re excited about the company and position and how you bring X, Y, Z to the table. Finally, start the conversation with the set of things you’re interested in instead of raising and settling one issue after another. This way, they’ll both feel they have the picture of what you want and you can do compromises among issues (e.g. you might accept a $5k base salary increase and $5k signing bonus instead of a $10k base salary increase).
I highly recommend reading more about how to negotiate well; this comprehensive two-part post by Haseeb Qureshi on his 10 rules for negotiating (with many specific examples from his own successful tech job search) is an excellent place to start. I also like these HBR articles on 15 rules for negotiating an offer and on advice for women (who unfortunately need to sometimes modify negotiation tactics).
It is very, very, very rare for a company to pull an offer because you negotiated. If they do, you do not want to work there.
One caveat: if you’re negotiating and you get everything you ask for, the company expects you to accept! You of course don’t have to, but you shouldn’t be stringing along a company you’re not serious about. And knowing you’ll accept also allows you to say the magic words, “If we can get to X, Y, and Z, I would be thrilled to accept the offer.”
Job hunting is stressful, especially if you’re working full-time and/or looking to change industries. I hope this post has given you a good starting point for understanding the hiring process in data science, what mistakes to avoid, and what strategies you can leverage in the process. If you’re still looking more, this is an incredibly comprehensive guide from Favio Vazquez, which includes his own thoughts and links to dozens of resources.
As I said at the start, feedback and additions to this post are very welcome! Thank you to Ilana Mauskopf, Dana Levin-Robinson, Jesse Maegan, Philipp Singer, Jonathan Nolis, Naoya Kanai, and Michael Berkowitz for their additions to this post.