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I’ve received an verbal offer from a small company offering X amount base, n% guaranteed bonus and discretionary bonus (as an industry standard structure). The whole package is merely 10% more than what I’m making now, so I called to negotiate with my HM, only to get lecture on what a growth opportunity it is (and it indeed would be imo). HM further persuaded me that the discretionary part will be the biggest chunk of pay as the industry has no “upper limit”. I decided to say ok. Then couple days later, this Monday, I saw the final written offer, which only offered X base, and 20% less on guaranteed, with no discretionary in first year. This will total out to be less than what I’m making now! So I sent back a negotiation email stating a raise and everything else as promised per verbal offer, but at a same time I think this gives me a really bad red flag on integrity of the company.

With the background, both HR and HM haven’t got back to my negotiation email and the offer deadline is this Friday. I would really appreciate any suggestions from everyone: should I call to confirm (I don’t really care if they rescind offer), or wait out (so not giving them an upper hand all of a sudden)?

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    I went through something similar recently. Honestly, your mortgage/grocery/utilities bills will not care about this "discretionary bonus". I would not use discretionary bonus as a decision maker in accepting a job. It's nice when it happens, but there should be no expectations that you will get it at all.
    – Catsunami
    Dec 18 '19 at 17:20
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    @Catsunami I guess in SW equity will pays out even better right? I’ve seen senior guys with 1mm equity 4yrs vesting etc. but in hedge fund circle even juniors would expect to get at least 50% base with unrealistic hope that one day we will all become PM and have million $ bonus haha. So if it’s a good fund it’ll be worth that wait, but for some place that’s so frugal to begin with, prob not a good idea.
    – Mandosa
    Dec 18 '19 at 18:55
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    What is an "HM"?
    – nvoigt
    Dec 18 '19 at 19:53
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    "no upper limit" - "great! And what's the lower limit?" Dec 18 '19 at 20:24
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    "discretionary bonus" means "We have no formal, measurable or achieveable bonus program and award them at our discretion, which is based on nebulous, unquantifiable metrics, so you'll probably never get one". - Companies that do the things you've listed in your question are not trustworthy and should not be trusted. If it were me, I'd pass on this opportunity.
    – joeqwerty
    Dec 18 '19 at 21:45
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I would send them one, and only one, confirmation email, to confirm that they have received your counteroffer. If they choose not to respond, then after the deadline you should send another email confirming you will not accept the offer. You may want to explain why you will not accept the offer; I always like to provide feedback whenever I am causing a negative outcome for someone else, for their benefit. I would mention:

1) Benefits too low
2) Deal was reneged on (causes lack of trust)
3) Ghosting you
4) Anything else you may care to mention not mentioned here

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    Hi Ertai87, thanks for the good advice, it sounds very reasonable and professional from my side!
    – Mandosa
    Dec 18 '19 at 18:17
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The phrase "No upper limit" is one of the biggest red flags there is, exceeded only by "growth opportunity."

RUN, DON'T WALK FROM THIS ONE

If they can't quantify something, it doesn't exist. Multi-level-marketing (pyramid) schemes use this term all the time.

There is no upper limit to what you can earn

or

The growth potential is immense

That's all nonsense. Run from it. It is just code for "We have no money"

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    Hahaha I enjoyed this answer! In fact I might steal your line to leave a Glassdoor review. But what I don’t understand is, they’re already paying me a six digit salary, why still so cheap on the side?
    – Mandosa
    Dec 18 '19 at 19:26
  • @Mandosa: The presence of money does not directly correlate to good business sense. People can get money from a lot of places, but that doesn't meant that they won't still try to be cheap. Most likely, someone is looking for a means to cut costs/corners, and that means low-balling you. If a person with your skillset typically costs X, and they can con you into doing it for X-Y, then they've still saved (short term) money. That's likely the logic they're following. Dec 19 '19 at 15:06
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To quote another known for their aggressive negotiations..

I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.

Joking aside - you came to what you thought was an agreed package that was acceptable to you, now they have lowered that package without consulting you. Now they are ignoring your response indicating that you will only accept the original deal. Why is joining this company still even on the table at this point?

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