Hacking The Hiring Process: Salary Expectations, Offers & Negotiation

This is a joint post by myself and Kaitlin O'Neil, Recruiting Manager at Bishop Fox. When she's not at the Fox Den, she writes, guests on podcasts and does all manner of cool stuff. Check her out here!

Imagine the scene: you've shone like the beacon of charisma you are, passed all the interviews, and have a job offer sat in your inbox.

Fantastic! Time to break out the champagne and start writing an uncharacteristically long LinkedIn post about how the struggle made you a better person.

Before you pop that cork though, let's talk about what comes next. Accepting a job offer isn't just about saying 'yes' to the paycheck. It's about knowing your value, your needs, and how to negotiate them.

And believe me, it can get more complex than assembling IKEA furniture in a power outage.

Hacking The Hiring Process is a series of deep dives into each stage of the technical hiring process, with real, actionable advice and examples you can take away and implement immediately in your next job search.

Yeah...we happy

BLUF - Bottom Line Up Front

If you just want a specific piece of advice in this article, the below list details the areas we'll be going through in this piece:

  • Reacting to a Job Offer
  • Non-compete Clauses: An Employee's Guide
  • Behind Enemy Lines: How Salary Bands Work
  • How To Answer "What Are Your Salary Expectations?"
  • Breaking Down A Job Offer Into Its Components
  • Counteroffers: A Poisoned Chalice?

Reacting to a Job Offer

You're sweating, Mr. Bond.

Especially if you've been through a lengthy and exhausting job hunt, it can be difficult to not throw caution to the wind when you finally get an offer.

It's worth taking a quick second before turbo-accepting and getting celebratory blackout drunk, to make sure that everything is as it seems and that you don't inadvertently spoil things at the last hurdle.

Here are some do's and don'ts to consider when you get the fabled "We are delighted to inform you...." and you feel the head high coming on:

  • Express gratitude - thank both the person that sent the offer over directly and the entire hiring team that you dealt with over the course of the interview process. This is just plain good manners and it never hurts to say thank you for all the time and resources spent.
  • Evaluate the offer fully, going through and highlighting any potential information or aspects that you find interesting or require further questioning. You haven't signed anything yet, now is the time to ask anything you still want cleared up!
  • Seek advice and run any job offer through a trusted friend or confidante. Third-party perspective can help shed light on some iffy offer clause you were too jazzed to spot, or tip you off that you might be wearing some rose-tinted glasses and thus missing some red flags.
  • Never instantly accept - this will go against every fiber of what your body wants to do, but always ensure that you give yourself overnight to think on any offer. Plenty of people have been bitten by nasty contract clauses that they might have caught if they'd read through things with a cooler head instead of signing in the heat of the moment.
  • Don't let your poker face slip. Even if your stomach is full of butterflies and relief is flowing through your bloodstream, you do not want to put out the impression you're desparate - even if you are. It will undermine your negotiating power significantly.
  • Don't forget to consider the whole package - base salary doth not an entire compensation package make! We'll get into the specifics later in the article.
  • Don't ignore your gut instincts. Even if everything looks right on paper, it's in a company's best interests to paint the rosiest picture possible. If it doesn't feel right, reason it out and if you still feel that way, it might be worth reconsidering.

Be polite, express gratitude and buy yourself some thinking time. Do this, and you'll be just fine!

Non-compete Clauses: An Employee's Guide

Disclaimer: This is just an educational description of what a non-compete clause actually is, this is absolutely not to be construed as legal advice in any shape or form. Information is power!

So, let's say at this point that the stars have aligned, you knocked it out of the park, and you now have yourself a job offer.

Congratulations, it took a lot of work and preparation to get to this point! However, now it's time to put our reading glasses on and get to examining the offer provided to us.

It is of paramount importance that you do not let the excitement of getting a job offer go to your head, as this is a prime opportunity for potential red flags in offer and contract language to go undetected.

You have leverage over the negotiation right up until the point you sign and accept the employment contract, don't give it up so quickly!

The first thing we're going to look at is called a non-compete clause.

First off, what the hell is a non-compete clause?

Non-compete clauses (sometimes also referred to as restrictive covenants) are clauses in employment contracts that appear commonly across many industries.

The general purpose of them are to protect the employer in the event that you, an employee that already has/will gain access to sensitive company information or employees, cannot immediately turn around and establish their own competing enterprise within a certain ammount of time after leaving the company.

Often, these clauses will extend this to cover working for direct competitors of the company utilizing the clause, but as we'll get into, the validity of this coverage can and routinely is disputed.

It's pretty likely that in the year 2023, any employment contract you receive alongside an offer is going to include one of these clauses. Aspects of non-compete clauses you want to look out for are:


Certain aspects of a non-compete clause need to be deemed reasonable to be deemed enforceable, and one of those aspects is the non-compete's scope.

For example, you should examine a non-compete clause for mentions of:

  • its duration,
  • its geographical area,
  • the nature of the restrictions.

Then, look at the situation you're in honestly, to see if they seem reasonable in context.

For example, a clause preventing you from working in any cybersecurity role worldwide for five years would very likely be deemed overly broad in scope.

You would not be able to make use of your skills to make any money in the industry for a very long time, and as such the non-compete would be very likely unenforceable.

However, a clause preventing you from working for a direct competitor in the same market niche in the same geographic area (say 50 miles of the city) for a period of six months to a year is a lot more reasonable and does not stop you from working in a tangential part of the industry during that period.

A judge would likely look far more kindly on a non-compete clause like this.


A lot of people forget that once the offer has come back from your prospective new employer, the negotiation phase isn't over!

Plenty of important aspects of the agreement being brokered between yourself and the company are still very much up for grabs.

For example, a very good friend of mine recently interviewed for and successfully received a job offer for a company at another consultancy firm.

That consultancy firm offered him a very healthy employment package but the contract had a non-compete agreement with a scope he felt was overly broad and lasted for too long (roughly 18 months).

My friend wanted to ensure that should the new company not work out, he wasn't hamstringing his ability to go elsewhere - totally fair enough.

Before signing the offer, my friend highlighted the clauses of his contract that he wasn't happy with, and asked the recruiter he was dealing with to see which were negotiable for more favorable terms.

His argument was that the definition of "competing enterprise" in the penetration testing space was too broad and the length of time too long to be fair to him, should he wish to leave.

The company argued that this was standard contract wording, but after my friend reiterated his concerns, changes were made to the non-compete clause to shorten the length of time and make the scope more specific.


Your mileage may vary drastically based on what you do, who you work for and which country you work in, but the general rule goes something like this:

You are giving up your ability to work for other companies within a specified series of conditions for a specified length of time, you need to have valid consideration for giving that ability up.

Valid consideration here refers to what you get in return for signing away your ability to work for a competitor.

Many companies will argue that the employment offer itself is valid consideration, and there's merit to that argument, but make sure that if you're being asked to sign one after you've started the job, that you're getting something out of the deal too.

Legal Advice

I am absolutely not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. I haven't even finished the last season of Suits, yet!

If after reading a non-compete clause, you're still confused and unsure, it could be worth booking a brief consultation with an employment lawyer to get an answer one way or the other.

Should you do this for every job you apply for?

God, no. It would be very expensive!

But if you are in the final stages of getting the job of a lifetime and this is what is hanging you up, it could be worth the investment for the peace of mind.

Things to Remember:
  • Broad geographic scope (e.g. an entire state or country) is something to bring up as a potential red flag.
  • Very long clause duration (e.g anything over 18 months, really) is something to also bring up as a potential red flag.
  • "Competitor", "competing enterprise" or "competing activity" not fully defined is very much something to bring up. You need to know exactly what is and is not covered in the event you do need to leave the company before you sign!
  • Severe, disproportionate penalties for breach of the non-compete are also things to bring up. The penalties for breaching a non-compete should be proportional and make sense.
  • Don't make the mistake of thinking that a company won't go after "the little guy" (you, in this case) and ignoring this altogether. Employers have, do, and will go after individuals who breach these agreements if they feel they have legal standing to do so.
  • Remember, the deal table doesn't close till both parties sign. If there's something you don't like or feel isn't proportional - now is the time to ask!
Don't give your leverage up lightly, my friends!

Behind Enemy Lines: How Salary Bands Work

You're not the only one in the interview process that's trying to work out the best possible answer for the "salary question".

While you are trying to maximise the absolute amount you're able to take home to align with your requirements, the employer has to make sure that they simultaneously pay you enough to get you on board and remain fair in comparison to everyone else already at the company.

The most common way many companies solve for this problem is by using salary bands. So, what are salary bands?

Salary bands are the minimum and maximum range a company is willing to pay for a role. Salary bands allow an organization to provide a structured approach to compensation and ensure that pay rates are competitive.

In addition to a minimum and maximum, many bands will also include benchmarks, like pay at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile of the band. Generally, there is a band for each job grade or level of the role.

To help you picture salary bands, here’s an interactive salary band from ZipRecruiter and a multi-level band from Lattice.

Information is power! Information is power!

It is is common for salary bands to have some overlap, like this sample salary band from Lattice. The overlap in the bands is by design.

Broad ranging salary bands with overlap give a company compensation flexibility, like the flexibility for employees to receive larger merit increases without a promotion.

Overlap is also important when it comes to promotions, as the average pay increase with a promotion is just 7-12%.

Salary Band vs Target Range

As you can see in the examples, salary bands can be quite broad.

With the increase in pay transparency laws, companies are posting increasingly broad bands online to make it more difficult to gauge the actual pay rate for a role. Take for example this simple Security Analyst I band:

Information is power!

This salary band is really broad ranging, so the recruiter likely has a narrower target range within the pay band.

The Security Analyst I band is $70,000 - $125,000, but the target range is likely $85,000-$100,000, or somewhere between the 25th-75th percentile of the band.

If the recruiter isn’t forthcoming with the target range, but there is a salary band posted on the role, you can guess that the target range is approximately the 25th-75th percentile of the band.

You may assume that companies want to bring you onboard as cheaply as possible, but the target range isn’t usually the bottom of the band.

Conventional wisdom is that companies shouldn’t offer much lower than the 25th percentile of the band because it can lead to employee dissatisfaction and cause the employee to fall behind in compensation as they grow with the company.

Just like it is dangerous to pay employees at the bottom of the band, it is risky to pay at the very top of the band. Starting at the top of the salary band can mean there is less room for pay increases without a promotion and a bump up to the next salary band.

The average promotion is 2-3 years in the making, which is a long time to see no compensation growth! Even when an employee is fairly compensated, it can be really frustrating to see no compensation growth and that frustration can lead to turnover.

Furthermore, if you’re paying at the top of the salary band, it begs the question of level. If a candidate’s skills, abilities, and experience put them at the top of the salary band, perhaps they’re incorrectly leveled and in the wrong band.

Companies will likely consider the risks of starting too low or too high in the band and come up with a target range that is safely in the middle of the band. This isn’t a bad thing for you as a candidate, especially if you are looking to build a career with this company and long-term compensation growth is important to you.

Where do salary bands come from?

Now, where do these bands come from?

Salary bands usually encompass things like job responsibilities, skills, experience, and qualifications. Recruiting and HR teams have a range of tools at their disposal to help them weigh these factors and create salary bands.

Some popular pay data companies are Radford, Mercer, and Lattice, while sources like Payscale and Comparably provide self-reported data that can also prove valuable.

If the company is large enough, they may even have a compensation specialist who will regularly assess the organization’s pay structure, using data to examine salary bands and salaries across the company/industry.

How can you access salary bands?

The easiest way is to check the company’s website or job description and see if they have a salary band published. Pay transparency laws are making it more common for companies to publish salary bands with job postings. If there is no information readily available, you can do your own searching.

Some of the best bands come from the pay data companies listed above, so you likely won’t be able to access their content. The self-reported data you can find on Payscale, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc. can be a valuable tool for gathering information, but shouldn’t be taken as absolute fact.

As someone who talks to hundreds, if not thousands, of people each year about their compensation, I have a pretty good sense for what people are making. This is why I don’t always trust the self-reported salary bands.

These bands are only as good as their information sources and there are many companies that just don’t provide full salary information publicly, so what you’re seeing in the tool is incomplete.

For example, here’s the penetration tester salary band from Indeed:

Information is power!

Per Indeed, these are the top companies for penetration testers in the US:

Information is power!

I have never come across testers from any of these companies.

While their salary information is interesting, I’m not going to use it to make concrete judgments, as I don’t see any of the big players in the pentesting space listed here. Those are the companies I want to benchmark my pay data against.

If you can’t trust the salary band information you get online, what should you do?

  • Look at multiple sources and try to identify the overlap/trends.
  • Talk to your friends in the industry and then ask about their friends in the industry to gather anecdotal salary evidence.
  • Remember that you want to avoid the bottom and top of the salary band, and try to honestly consider experience, performance, and tenure as you determine where you fit in the salary band.

How To Answer "What Are Your Salary Expectations?"

Ah, the most dreaded question for any jobseeker.

It's like guessing the amount of jelly beans in a jar, but with the fun addition that it affects your ability to pay rent!

How fun.

State something too low, and you're selling yourself short and leaving real money on the table.

State something too high, and you risk pricing yourself out of the job altogether at the final hurdle.

If you've been following the Hacking the Hiring Process articles so far, you might remember that in our technical interview guide, we talked about the link between nerves and preparation. The reason many people are so terrified of giving the wrong answer to this question is due to a lack of prior preparation.

This is the absolute peak of your ability to exert leverage in the interview process, so it makes sense to stack the deck as far in your favor as you possibly can before putting your cards out on the table.

Here's how to navigate this question:

Do Your Homework Information is power!

Before you're able to give a solid answer to this question, you need to have a solid idea of how much you're worth.

Whilst your parents might say you're a priceless gem in a sea of pebbles, sadly the CFO of your prospective employer can't do FP & A with that. We need to find out how much your general skills and experience are worth on the open labor market.

So where do we start looking for this stuff?

A fantastic place to start when it comes to looking for industry-standard salary data to benchmark your answer from is the Hays Salary Guide.

Hays are an international staffing and recruitment firm that put together a yearly salary guide by quizzing thousands of professional on their salaries currently and their plans to move, quit etc.

Whilst you might not be able to find your exact desired role in this guide, most of the jobs within the industry you're likely looking at are in there or at least have a usable analogue.

Information is power!

Another place to start building your industry benchmark is Glassdoor.

Glassdoor (if you're unfamiliar) is a site that collects the feedback and salary data volunteered by thousands of working professionals in hundreds of different roles.

Whilst it's useful to gain some sort of vague financial "ZIP code" to start looking at, Glassdoor has limited usefulness for our purposes here. The reason for this is due to the kind of people who post to Glassdoor and those who don't:

  • Those who do post to Glassdoor tend to have been requested to by their employer and thus are being overly positive/potentially dishonest or are extremely disgruntled, thus are being overly negative/potentially dishonest.
  • The salary data is unverified, so you must account for this when incorporating Glassdoor data into your analysis.
  • The type of people that you really want the information from (people currently working in this job) are usually too busy doing the job to post to Glassdoor!
Information is power!

The last place we'll brush over that you can use to gather benchmark data is Levels.fyi. Levels.fyi is a much newer site that was mostly centered around software engineers working for the top tech companies (you might have heard them referred to as FAANG employers).

They have since expanded from pure software engineering to cover a huge range of technology jobs, but their data starts to get a lot sparser the further you get away from software engineering jobs.

I trust their output a little more if only due to their far more active user base and their own incentives to keep the information on this site accurate.

Other sites that are worth potentially looking at are:

  • Cyberseek - This site provides useful, actionable information on supply/demand in cybersecurity jobs.
  • CyberSN - This is a recruitment firm that have mapped salary and career data for over 45 roles.
  • r/AskNetSec and r/cybersecurity - Your mileage will vary massively in terms of the veracity of your data, but plenty of cybersecurity professionals have posted historically about their jobs and compensation on Reddit.

Also, my personal advice here is if you have a person you trust and know well working in a job you're interviewing for - consider talking to them about what salaries look like at their employer.

Obviously, only do this if both of you are completely comfortable doing so!

Craft A Range, Not A Single Value

Now we've got our industry benchmark data, we need to start incorporating our unique experiences and skills into the mix.

Plenty of things that you might have done during your career can increase your overall worth on the open labor market:

  • Have a few rare and difficult-to-get certifications? That's going to affect our eventual answer.
  • Have some rare skillsets (telecoms, 5G, hardware security, blockchain, AI etc.)? That's also going to affect our eventual answer.
  • Won any well-recognized industry achievement awards? That's definitely going to affect our eventual answer.
  • Can you do multiple different things to a professional standard? That's absolutely going to affect our eventual answer.

Don't be shy about factoring this stuff in to your salary expectations answer - I certainly did!

I absolutely factored in that I have written to a professional standard (and published a book), consulted to a professional standard, instructed to a professional standard and audited to a professional standard within the last 4 years when negotiating for my current role.

Think hard about what unique route you took and experience you have and add them into your calculations!

Now comes the part where you come up with an acceptable salary range to answer the question with:

Information is power!

This diagram roughly summarizes the process I've used to answer "What are your salary expectations?" for more than half a decade now.

I update and gather new data every single time, and couple it with information garnered from friendships with recruiters and headhunters currently hiring for these roles whenever I look for a new job.

My advice with this range is to place the number you're truly after somewhere in the middle of the range you send back:

  • Everything above that number until the top of the range is a bonus, and the employer is unlikely to give you a number near the top end of the range.
  • Everything below that number until the bottom of the range isn't great, but is still acceptable due to it being above the floor you set when setting your salary range.
  • Ergo, anything the employer returns with within this range should work, if you've done this process right.

Plus, I've found that in salary negotiations both parties tend to want to appear conciliatory and this often results with an offer somewhere in the middle of the offered range.

Be Ready To Justify Your Choice

This is the part where everything we've just been talking about comes in clutch for you. If you're asked to explain your salary expectations, you need to be ready to justify them.

We've collected:

  • Industry benchmark data,
  • Info about your skills and experiences,
  • Info on any unique valuable aspects you bring as an individual.

This is where you tie it together and make a convincing case to get your true market worth. Remember, you're not just asking for a salary. You're building a business case for your value.

This information will end up going back to the hiring manager and HR and likely up to the CFO/CEO at smaller companies, depending on what you ask for. The more you can give them to work with, the better a case that can be built to get you what you want.

Respond to "What are your salary expectations?" with something like the following:

Based on my research, I've found that the overall industry median salary for this line of work is -$X amount-. However, I bring multiple additional factors to the table including multiple certifications, -X years- of industry experience and a proven track record. I can also perform -A, B and C skill- to a professional standard.

I have factored all of this into my requested salary range and believe it is fair compensation in line with my peers in the market. Any offer within the range of -$lowest amount- and -$highest amount- is more than acceptable to me, but I am happy to discuss any sensible offer you may suggest.

Breaking Down A Job Offer Into Its Components

There’s a tendency to only consider base pay when thinking about an offer of employment, but there can be many other factors that contribute to total compensation.

Let’s break down a few:

On-Track Earnings (OTE)

On-Track Earnings (OTE) is probably one of the lesser-understood components of a job offer. It's a common term used in sales-related roles to refer to an employee's potential total compensation, if all sales targets are met.

Normally an OTE offer will consist of three main parts:

  • Base salary, which is just what you take home as a regular guaranteed paycheck.
  • Commission, which is money you make as a percentage of a sale or deal you close.
  • Bonus(es), which is a lumpsum of cash given to you for hitting a certain milestone, number of sales or multiplier of your target sales number.

Add all three together and you have your OTE earnings!

If you're looking at a job with OTE earning structures, make sure you have good answers to the following questions:

  • What's the breakdown of the OTE? (i.e. how much pay are you guaranteed irrespective of the sales you make?)
  • How are targets set? If they're insane and have no bearing on reality, the OTE number is meaningless because you're highly unlikely to hit the required targets.
  • What happens if targets aren't met?
  • Is there a cap on commission amount or bonus amount?
  • How often are compensation plans, performance and pay reviewed at the company?
Performance Bonus

Companies usually have a standard bonus philosophy that applies to every employee in the role.

Determine what the performance bonus is for your role and ask questions around bonus pay out history to understand how the performance bonus fits into your total compensation package.

Signing/Sign-On Bonus

This one is pretty straight forward - it’s a cash bonus that you receive upon signing, or in your first paycheck.

This may be a way to just generally sweeten the offer, or it could be framed as a guaranteed year one bonus or commission, a way to help cover the costs of relocation.

Alternatively, a sign-on/signing bonus can represent an equity buy-out to make it easier for you to walk away from your most recent employer.

One thing to watch out for with signing/sign-on bonuses is golden handcuffs. A lot of companies will tie a signing bonus to you returning a certain length of time to the company.

Leave before then, and the company will almost certainly come after you and demand you pay back the balance of your signing bonus. Check your contract and offer language carefully to ensure you know how long the golden handcuffs stay on for and when your bonus liability ends.

Commonly, this period is around a year to 18 months, depending on how sizable the bonus is.

Equity Bonus

Equity, as part of a job offer, is the ownership stake in a company that an employee receives. It is usually in the form of stock options, restricted stock units (RSUs), or other equity grants that vest (become available to purchase) at intervals the longer you stay at the company.

If a company isn’t publicly traded, it can be hard to assign true monetary value to the equity. Still, equity provides employees with the potential to benefit financially from the company's growth and success.

401(k) Match

Many companies offer a 401(k) match that is based off a percentage of your base pay, and hinges on you contributing to your 401k as well. A common match is 3-4%, which can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of the year.

Not financial advice here, but if you can afford to contribute up to your match percentage, you likely should. It's about as close to free money as you're ever going to get!


There are so many stipends out there!

I’ve seen some pretty awesome ones, like stipends for streaming services and gym memberships. Some more common, still awesome, stipends are for home internet or a cell phone plan.

These may seem like small beans, but over the course of the year the money saved through these stipends can add up to thousands of dollars and therefore should be considered as a part of your total compensation.

Profit Sharing

Profit sharing is a program in which employees are eligible to receive a portion of the company's profits based on predetermined criteria.

Profit sharing programs tend to be more common in companies with a strong worker culture like a credit union or a co-op.

It provides an opportunity for you as an employee to share in the financial success of the company, and incentivizes you to perform and contribute to the company’s profitability.

Benefits Packages

In addition to those big financial components of an offer, don’t forget to consider the benefits package, including:

  • Insurance coverage (especially if there are monthly premiums),
  • Paid time off,
  • Training budget,
  • Employee discount programs,
  • Parental leave,
  • Travel allowances/fuel reimbursements.

There are also important lifestyle factors that go beyond monetary value to consider, like:

  • Working environment: Do you have the ability to work remotely, or in a hybrid environment? If you are working in office, what does your commute look like? Can you work flexible hours, or is there a rigid schedule?
  • Company culture: Are you in alignment with the company mission and values? Did you connect with your manager and coworkers? Does the company seem to be stable and have a path to future growth?
  • Career growth: Will your daily responsibilities contribute to your long-term professional growth? Are there opportunities to promote? Does this job provide you with opportunities for learning and development? Is there a training budget or stipend to help you with continued education?

These factors may not have a dollar value attached to them, but they can still impact your quality of life and work satisfaction, so don’t forget to consider them in the offer process.

Counteroffers: A Poisoned Chalice?

Information is power!

There are two ways to define a counteroffer.

The first is your response to the initial offer a competing company makes. For example, Company A that you interviewed with offers you $100,000, and you send back a counteroffer of $110,000.

It takes some serious balls on your part, but it can and has been done in the past, if you've got conviction in your market value and strong backing for what you're asking for!

The second way is an offer made by your current employer in response to a job offer you receive out on the market. For example, Company A that you interviewed with offers you $100,000, and your current employer offers you a pay increase to $110,000 if you stay on board.

For the sake of this section, we will be using the second definition as they are far more common.

Counteroffers have become more common in the tech industry as the competition for top talent is tight. In addition, the cost to find, select, hire and onboard new talent is high.

From an employee perspective, the average promotion increase is only 7-12% whereas the average increase for changing jobs is 10-20%.

Job hopping pays, but if you can get your current employer to provide a counteroffer, you might be able to secure a big pay raise without the tumult of changing jobs.

The conventional wisdom is that counteroffers should be declined because statistically, most employees who accept a counteroffer will still leave their current employer within a year.

While I’m not arguing with this data, I am offering up a counterpoint. I went through a rigorous interview process and received a very competitive offer to join another firm.

My employer at the time came through with an equally competitive counteroffer that included:

  • A sizable pay bump,
  • Increase in equity,
  • A title change.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on both opportunities and ultimately decided to accept the counteroffer and stick with my employer.
Here’s why this worked for me:

  • My issues were with my pay and title, not my manager, teammate, or work.
  • Additionally, I knew that if I accepted the counteroffer, I would not be subject to retaliation from my current employer.

This is not the case every time and for every person. Ultimately, you will have to do your own cost benefit analysis should you receive a counteroffer, but some things to consider are:

  • Will your fundamental issues with the job be resolved?
  • Are you at risk of retaliation from your manager, executive leadership, or your coworkers?
  • Will you still have opportunities for growth and professional development if you stay?

Personally, if you're at the point where you're interviewing for other jobs, extra money isn't likely to fix the problems that drove you to do so in the first place.

However, trust your instincts and make the decision that suits you and the people who depend on you best.

TL;DR / In Conclusion

Phew, this was a long one!

This is a stage of the hiring process where a lot of candidates take their foot off the gas, because they think it's safe to stop paying attention.

It's worth just using that little extra bit of energy to make sure you cross the finish line in the best possible shape to succeed at your new job.

Some things to remember:

  • Do not accept any job offer the same day you receive it.
  • Sleeping on a role for a night will help you think with clarity, and anyone who wants you to sign an offer there and then without thinking about it is almost certainly trying to hide something from you using pressure tactics.
  • For the love of all that is holy, spend the time to read your contract front-to-back.
  • If you can scroll Twitter for 3 hours, you can scroll through a PDF to see if there's anything that concerns you for the contract you're about to bind yourself to!
  • If your offer comes with a non-compete clause (or your current contract does), make sure you're acting in accordance with it, and that anything you sign isn't overly vague, broad or otherwise restrictive.
  • If you truly want the top-end salaries and perk packages, earn them by doing the research beforehand. A company isn't out to give you as little as possible, but they're extremely unlikely to go out of their way to hand you something you didn't think to ask for.
  • Help your internal recruiter and future boss build a strong business case for your salary expectations by building up data and reasoning for what you ask for.
  • Don't get caught up in base pay alone. A job with lower base pay may make up for it in spades with other package components.
  • Only you can decide whether accepting a counteroffer is the right decision for you, but remember there was a reason you were looking for work elsewhere in the first place!

If you enjoyed this article, check out the other articles in the Hacking The Hiring Process series: