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I am interviewing for a senior tech management role. The position is critical to the organization and my interviews were positive across the board. I have been offered the position at 1 level lower than the original position (M1 vs M2).

The M1 position pays significantly more than my current role and, truthfully, I probably don't have the experience to justify an M2 role. The role has been open for 6 months looking for the right candidate and the HM has stated that I'm the right candidate he's been waiting for.

My concern is that I would be accepting an M1 role for M2 responsibilities (difference of about $300k per year).

How should I approach the negotiation for this role and what should I focus on to ensure that my career progresses even if I take the M1 role?

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    What are M1 and M2?
    – Brandin
    May 5, 2020 at 5:17
  • They're typical engineering management levels - M1 is entry level up to around 25 employees including the occasionally manager but mainly IC, M2 is manager of managers up to around 80 people.
    – Sophie
    May 5, 2020 at 5:18
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    300k ? Assuming that's in the US and in US$, that's a rather large difference between M1 and M2.
    – Hilmar
    May 5, 2020 at 10:43
  • Yes, 300usd. No - I have never negotiated before :(
    – Sophie
    May 5, 2020 at 13:34
  • Can I ask what you do now/what level you are at now? I find it surprising that you have made it to the point in your career where you manage tens of people without having negotiated before May 7, 2020 at 15:22

1 Answer 1

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This seems like an oddly basic question for someone in a leadership role at this level, and I'll take a stab at how I would address it anyway. Your mileage may vary.

First you need to understand the motivation behind the down-grade. It could be something financially motivated. It's also possible that during the interview process the role itself changed because of the needs of the projects/clients/etc involved. It's also possible they interviewed you, heard your ideas and realized that the role was originally posted at too high a level.

Second you need to identify if you feel you can fill an M2's shoes based on your description in your comment. If you feel you have those skills and you feel the role still requires the same M2 responsibilities (also from your comment), then you should be blunt and direct. Ask very plainly why the role would be down-graded and indicate that you feel the M2 is more appropriate. I wouldn't take a hard stance necessarily, but it's also possible they're trying to low-ball you into accepting an offer. If your resume can't back up the skills of an M2 solidly, you may need to accept the M1.

Third there are general pay scales involved at companies of the size you're hinting at. You should ask to see them and look to negotiate an offer that is at least at the median. Bring facts and data to back up your claims of being worth this kind of investment. You should be able to show exactly how you're going to improve the company by excelling in the role.

Lastly, you should ask very clearly what the advancement track is. You should ask about the resources available for professional growth. You should have a candid chat with the person who will become your leader and ask them "Based on how I interviewed and the vision you have for this [division|department|whatever], what skills will be necessary for me to work on and how do you anticipate assisting me with that growth plan."

You should have some ideas on what they should expect from you at that level and how you plan to meet their expectations. You should have your own goals and a stated plan for achieving them and be able to show how those goals fit within the company's strategic vision or at least tactical application.

It's ok to accept a down-graded position even if you feel you're qualified for the higher one so long as you feel there is a clear and achievable path to the one you want. If that path isn't there, you may be locking yourself into a unenviable position. A red flag for me personally is that it really shouldn't take 6 months to fill an M1 level as you describe it. It'd certainly be something to bring up.

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  • Thank you - while I appreciate this may seem basic - I am somewhat flying blind and I want the job but haven't ever had to negotiate before.
    – Sophie
    May 5, 2020 at 13:35
  • @Sophie: That's what I mean by that. I find it highly unlikely that you've interviewed as "the right candidate" without being able to show this elemental soft skill during the interview process.My bet would be that might be one of the reasons this role was down-graded. Those kinds of monetary figures are non-trivial. May 5, 2020 at 14:24
  • I understand where you're coming from (genuinely, I do) - I'm perfectly happy negotiating in organizations and leading cross-functional projects. The simple reality is that I have built my career reasonably steadily in a small number of locations and, when moving, have typically uplevelled significantly so have not needed or had the desire to negotiate.
    – Sophie
    May 5, 2020 at 14:27

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