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I applied for a position of Staff Software Engineer at a top gaming studio and got the great news yesterday that they'd like to extend me an offer, though at a lower level of Senior Software Engineer and that management wants to put me on a track to reach Staff.

Due to local governmental laws regarding equity, they had to state the salary bands when asked:

  • Senior: $143K - $180K
  • Staff: $183K - $210K

The direct offer was $145K base. I'm currently sitting on four other offers, some I've started to negotiate, that sit at around $170K. All things considered, benefits are competitive with other offers but they are the only company that requires relocation to cities with the highest cost-of-living in the country. All my other offers are remote full-time, which means their base salaries go much further.

Three things that strike me as odd about this offer from said gaming studio are:

  1. Their initial offer is lower than any offer I've received by at least $20K, including from start-ups or companies that don't bring near the revenue of this one. If you consider relocating to high COL cities, this gap widens drastically
  2. This initial offer is about $30K lower than their reported average on levels.fyi, Glassdoor, etc. for this title and my YOE.
  3. When I tried to open a discussion about salary negotiation, and mentioned competing offers, they made it very clear that competing with the base salary of my other offers would be "an extremely tough to sell to management" and that they'd, "get nowhere near $170K".

I've negotiated salaries before, but nothing as high as $30K/21% over initial - which means I'd probably need to start the discussion even higher in order to "meet in the middle". Is it possible that being down-leveled in my application title is impacting this offer or my room to negotiate?

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    What does this job offer that the other offers do not, other than lower pay? And did they give a reason for down-grading the level? Feb 23 at 17:22
  • @thursdaysgeek I would have said that the company name would be a resume booster for future opportunities, though I've managed to land interviews and make it to final rounds to Meta, MSFT, Google, Amazon, and gaming companies, so I'm not sure if that would be accurate. I'm not sure it's rational, but they're my favorite company by far and this position is on my "dream team". No reason offered yet on down-level, but I have a meeting about that next week with the manager to discuss that as well as the Staff track. Other benefits would be company culture and cool events on-site.
    – 8protons
    Feb 23 at 17:26
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    Are your other offers in the gaming industry? Supply and demand keeps wages down there. Feb 23 at 17:37
  • @PhilipKendall One offer is - another well known company but not on the same prestige level. Their offer is higher and no relocation required.
    – 8protons
    Feb 23 at 17:38
  • If the band for the applied position starts at $183k and the offered position starts at $143k I think it is fairly obvious it is impacting the offer. I think the real question is why they have made that offer and the nature of the 'track' to staff. If it's your dream job you should be asking them that before you make your mind up to accept or reject the offer.
    – Dustybin80
    Feb 24 at 16:30

1 Answer 1

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Is it possible that being down-leveled in my application title is impacting this offer or my room to negotiate?

Sure.

It's possible the company doesn't place the same value on your skills that you do, or that other companies may.

If getting top dollar is important to you, be prepared to move on to a different company's offers.

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