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I'm applying for a Software Engineering Manager (EM) at a US company. During the first interview I was told the company has a "No Negotiation" policy, which is a novel concept to me. It reminds me of Pay Transparency with a twist. This first interview was with their internal recruiter and it was brought up in a, "Knowing that, are you sure you want to proceed?" context.

They publicize a salary range per position, but once they extend an offer, it's a "take it or leave it" situation. This applies to equity as well, although I won't be told the details of the stock options until an offer is extended. Compared to ranges on job boards for EM positions, I'd say their salary range is middle-of-the-road for my area.

Given that I've never heard of such a thing, I'm lacking perspective and insight: in what ways does this policy benefit me as an employee and benefit them as a company?

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    The obvious benefit is that they don't negotiate. The obvious negative is that they don't negotiate... They just removed a step in their hiring process.
    – Nelson
    Feb 1 at 1:12
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    It doesn't strike me as something that's meant to "benefit" anyone, other than to make the hiring process less onerous for everyone by removing any salary negotiations from the process. To me it simply says "We're not playing the back and forth salary negotiation game because we have better things to do. Here's our offer. Take it or not. It's up to you. Have a nice day."
    – joeqwerty
    Feb 1 at 1:21
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    @joeqwerty Be that as it may, the unintentional benefits may be worth considering more than the intended benefits, a la The Cobra Effect: The British government, concerned about the number of venomous cobras in Delhi, offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially, this was a successful strategy; large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising people began to breed cobras for the income. Feb 1 at 3:38
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    Tell them you have a "No No-Negotiation" policy
    – jla
    Feb 2 at 1:51
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    Whatever you do just don't fall for the age-old startup scam of offering equity instead of a proper salary. I assure you if take equity instead of money two years from now the only use you would get out of that equity is if the toilet paper in your house runs out.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 2 at 11:33

9 Answers 9

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  1. One possible benefit for the company is that it saves them time: there is no negotiation back and forth, and if you don't like their offer, they can drop you and give the offer to the next candidate.

    For example, if they have to negotiate salary with you and after a few weeks if they still can't meet your salary requirement, they may lose out on other good candidates who may be willing to take their first offer.


  1. One possible benefit for you: it probably saves you time too. You know that they won't negotiate salary. So, if you don't like their offer, you can drop them immediately, and move on to the next company.

    For example, if 2 companies are offering you a job, you can easily know how to respond in this case.

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    Maybe they will reconsider their time-saving tactics when the post is vacant for 6 months.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 2 at 11:13
  • @NeilMeyer, Haha... Yes, it is possible. Feb 2 at 12:42
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Given that they were upfront about it, I think it would be appropriate to just ask them — provided you frame it as a way of learning about their corporate culture, and not as a way of trying to negotiate the negotiablity.

There are various reasons why they may have this policy. One advantage, for example, is that it reduces pay discrepancy that's based one one's comfort and ability to negotiate, rather than one's performance in the role. This factor has also been linked to some of the pay discrepancy between men and women, so the company may be doing it as a good-faith effort to reduce systemic biases against women in tech. If that's the case, it speaks well of the company!

But the only way to really know their reasons is to ask them.

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    This! Men negotiating makes them look good and they often do negotiate, women negotiating can be taken poorly, if they try at all. Same difference between white and not-white. Getting higher pay for a skill that is only used in the process of getting the job, not for the job itself, is not a way to have equitable pay between genders and races. Feb 1 at 16:35
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    @thursdaysgeek Being efficient at interviewing is an integral part of all working professionals. Negotiating is a part of it. If women are bad at some part of interviewing then it would be better to help them become better than just banning the practice. I was also bad at it and I'm not a woman. It is just one of the plethora of job skills that people have to learn.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 2 at 11:28
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    @NeilMeyer that is very true, and I know that being poor at self-advocating has hurt me in more than just job negotiations. However, if you have three people acting exactly the same, the white man is forceful, the white woman is bitchy, and the POC is uppity - and THOSE perceptions also need to change. No negotiations means perhaps there will be less disparity in pay for the people you hire (providing you still hire minorities). Feb 2 at 16:33
  • @thursdaysgeek when we speak of equality it is better to elevate people to a higher level than to tear people down to a lower level. Everybody being equally bad at something is hardly the standard to strive for.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 7 at 10:09
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    @NeilMeyer definitely! And if companies offered non-negotiable pay 40 years ago, I'd be earning a LOT more now. Feb 7 at 16:43
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"No negotiation" is a farce. If they want you bad enough, they'll negotiate. This is a way to get candidates who aren't sure of themselves to accept low offers. If they are told that the rules are "no negotiation", they're less likely to balk.

On the other hand, more confident candidates will push back. Desirable candidates WILL be given a better offer, even though the official policy states otherwise.

It's a game.

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  • This is true. There's usually different job levels, and the higher job levels (same position, just different level) pay more. If the salary was really non-negotiable, they'd happily share the range with you. Once they do all the work determining that you're the person they want to hire, they don't want to lose the hire as long as it is a reasonable amount of money you're requesting.
    – Edwin Buck
    Feb 1 at 17:27
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    Does also strikes me as the type of authoritarian business that would not pay well.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 2 at 11:35
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    It's a game. Are you speaking from firsthand experience: did you interview at a company with a no negotiation policy and successfully negotiate with them when the time came? Feb 4 at 1:18
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    Some evidence would make this answer a lot better. Feb 4 at 12:15
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They publicize a salary range per position, but once they extend an offer, it's a "take it or leave it" situation. This applies to equity as well, although I won't be told the details of the stock options until an offer is extended.

Keep in mind that some companies actually have very inflexible salary policies. This can mean, although there is a salary range for a given role, the position within that salary range is determined by some assessment of "level". The level (e.g. beginning / fulfilling / exceeding) is initially made during the interview rounds, and updated in performance reviews.

And so after the interview process, the Hiring Manager / HR can make an offer, but this is essentially fixed, as it is based on the assessment from the interview rounds.

"No Negotiation" just makes this clear, and avoids disappointment.

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  • I've worked for a company like that. There's still room for negotiation: what will be the starting level?
    – Abigail
    Feb 1 at 9:59
  • The starting level comes from the pool of interviewers. It is decided before the offer is even made. Feb 1 at 10:04
  • US Government is one example. What grade and step that dan be offered is often determined by someone else other than the individual who has selected you for the position. There is very little room for hiring negotiation coming into federal employment.
    – Donald
    Feb 1 at 10:08
  • I think this is the best answer. Company I worked for had a pay range for each title, and performance reviews decided where you landed on that pay range. Beginning salary was always median of that pay range, no exceptions. "Truly great" candidates that other answers mention would just get a higher title. This is nothing malicious, just a way some companies do it.
    – InBedded16
    Feb 1 at 15:00
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This is absolutely normal in many locales and industries. It befits everyone by saving time by cutting out negotiations.

Often you just want a qualified worker, you don't need a genius or a prima donna, so there's no need to negotiate, people who like the pay will apply, the ones who don't are no loss in time or energy.

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  • Right. All software companies do not look for geniuses like Einstein to invent a new theory of relativity, which is not what software companies do. Don't get me wrong. I am a software engineer too, and I understand the value/talent of software engineers. But, often there are many software engineers with similar skills applying for the same job. However, in the US, most software companies at least are willing to hear from the candidates about the offers given to them by the companies. Feb 4 at 5:58
  • People who like the pay will apply and people who don't will not and if nobody likes the pay the post will remain vacant and then the chance to develop something revolutionary that changes the world will pass to a rival company and then the CEO will have to explain why they did not just pay the engineers what they wanted to get the job done. All things that are very much possible.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 4 at 9:34
  • @Job_September_2020 The word genius was ruined by the Apple company, but software development does take above average intelligence to do. These concepts are not entirely easy to learn and an authoritarian on-boarding policy is unlikely to be conducive to getting good programmers
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 4 at 9:40
  • @NeilMeyer, Haha... Apple physical stores have the "Genius Bar" section. I was surprised when I first saw that. Feb 4 at 9:42
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If the salary are non-negotiable are the pay increases too? If they are going to play hardball on the salary then I would play hardball on the increases. If you refuse to negotiate on the pay then I want a clear-cut representation of what the raises will be and what I have to do for one. Put it in the work contract. If your non-negotiable clause concerning salary extends to raises as well then all that what you offer is going to have to be very attractive.

It has been my experience that if you have been given the choice between somebody else's way or the highway, then the highway is almost always better for your mental health and general well-being.

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    If the salary are non-negotiable are the pay increases too? That's a good question I didn't consider asking. They told me the salary range for the position is adjusted over time but the most I could make as an EM would be the top of that range. If I recall, the raises are given annually during a specific month/season. If I get a follow-up I'll ask your question. Feb 4 at 1:29
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In theory

A Company with such a Policy would usually expect to offer a premium salary in the first instance.

If you think of it like putting a multi-offer on a Home - you put in your highest offer first.

So, if I have a salary range of between 10-20 and you as a candidate are ticking my boxes, I would likely be offering in the 17-19 range depending.

However, I said 'In theory' - It could also be a platitude to justify giving low-ball offers and using some in-vogue concept.

The only way to tell is when you go through the process, you've done your own research into the Salary band in the area and your worth in terms of experience/skills and then evaluate the number they give you. If it's in the 75th or above percentile for Salary for the Position - then likely they are the sort of company that believes in the practice of offering the best and paying the best. If it isn't - then probably not.

I would also enquire about inflation-linked salary adjustments - as my assumption is that if the company doesn't negotiate, then you had better believe I want to make sure that my salary is adjusted upwards for inflation yearly.

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  • Absolutely. Your counter is "When would I be eligible for a significant raise, what are the criteria for that, and how much would it be?"
    – keshlam
    Feb 1 at 13:21
  • Companies paying a premium, if there is such a company I have not yet experienced it.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 2 at 11:25
  • This presumes that the candidate is in the 75th percentile of the people in that role already, which may not be the case. No candidate wants to hear " We're offering you a job but you are only mid-level in our current staff.", but it could easily be true.
    – cdkMoose
    Feb 2 at 19:05
  • @cdkMoose - true but at that point the company has a need to fill and if they are that far through the process, they have made a time/effort investment. Feb 2 at 20:18
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    @NeilMeyer - I think this is a little uncharitable, there are certainly companies with a reputation for paying well (but conversely demanding excellence) Feb 2 at 20:20
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You need to know what you are worth, that’s all. If you pass the interview, and the company passes the interview, then an offer will be made. The simple cases are an offer where you instantly say yes, or where you instantly say no. In between you can ask for time - if they accept that then in a week or so you might know if you want to go for a better offer elsewhere. If they don’t accept, remember a little bit less money may be better than a little bit more in three months time, and you can always leave. Depending on how much more you could make and how much you enjoy the job.

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One additional reason not yet mentioned is that it may be part of a strategy to improve pay equity. Those that are willing to negotiate will be paid more than those who don't. By refusing to negotiate, the company keeps all employees within their target pay bands and doesn't create any pay disparities between groups of employees.

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  • Pay negotiation during the hiring process ONLY, is very unlikely to do with pay equity. Feb 7 at 4:59

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