AMA – Answers

I receive quite a few questions regarding Product Management etc on Linkedin and twitter. While I try to answer as many, many end up being repetitive. Hence I made an open form to ask any question. This page captures the answers.

This is a LIVING page

Q1 : Hi Mathur, I would love to know your thought process on salary negotiation.
A: First my name is not Mathur :). I had a write a full blog on this due to people constantly misspelling it.
Regarding negotiations: I consider myself not good but overall it has been pretty good for me. I don’t consider myself underpaid or too behind the curve.
My Strategy
I have never been fired or put on any “performance improvement plan” in my career (yet), so If I am looking out It’s because I want to or have been approached for something pretty exciting.
At the start of the process I generally have a number in my head on what would make me move. This is the most important part of the whole negotiation process.
This number would be based on how badly you want to move . Eg: in Microsoft I was pretty happy so when I was ready to move, my number was ~40% bump.

I generally end up on a round number in my head, say 40 Lakhs, 50 Lakhs etc

I typically let the company make the first offer and if they are close to what I have in mind, I push them to meet the number and am pretty open about it. You can’t logically explain why you deserve 45 instead of 43.

If they are too off in the start , then I typically refuse politely. People say you should still tell them the number, but I have not seen that work. Also if someone is trying to lowball me too much, it’s a red flag for me that either they do not value me, or the position I am being hired for is not important enough. Nevertheless any offer that is lower than my current comp or where they want me to “work for a great experience ” are out

Regarding Offer shopping
I have never offer shopped or pitched one company against the other in a bidding match. I think you get used to the money in 2 months and have in the past refused offers where a company I had turned down came back and offered to beat any offer I had. Here is why
– Assume you beat my offer by 5lpa, post taxes thats about 3.3 LPA or about 20-30K a month.
The moment you put the number into perspective you realise it may not tilt the balance. Unless that 5LPA is way higher, it wont matter much. Most companies have a budget and may not sway that much

Money in. my opinion should be a gating criteria not the joining criteria

After the company meets the number
In my mind, once a company has achieved that threshold , they all are at equal footing monetarily and then it’s just a question of work. I consciously try not to then look at the salary component then and it ceases to be decision criteria.
I may still push the companies to move more if there are other higher offers, but its non consequential for me

Overall this system works for me, as it makes me only have 1 decision point and makes the whole offer process less stressful. I have multiple times in my career not taken the highest offer and even though I may crib about it sometimes (Who does not), I don’t really regret it
PS: I have been told I need to negotiate better by more than 1 person