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A Software Engineer Worked at Tesla, SAP, and Salesforce. Here's How He Negotiated His Salary, Including a $520,000 Meta Offer. He job hopped "quite a bit," but he used every switch, including a layoff, to land a better role with more pay.

By Shubhangi Goel

Key Takeaways

  • Hemant Pandey's job switches led to significant pay and role improvements.
  • Pandey's career includes stints at Tesla, SAP, Salesforce, and Meta.
  • Pandey recommends negotiation and leveraging multiple offers for optimal compensation.
Hemant Pandey via Business Insider
Hemant Pandey shares his tech salary journey.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Software engineer Hemant Pandey worked at four tech companies in six years.

Every switch was an opportunity to land a better role and better pay, the Bay Area-based engineer said.

"I've hopped quite a bit. I optimized for money and career growth," he told Business Insider.

He shared his compensation journey since graduating from university in 2017. His career path has brought him to Tesla, SAP, Salesforce, and his current role at Meta.

Tesla

Pandey joined Tesla in February 2018 after his master's in computer science. He got a standard new graduate offer for software engineers.

He was offered $150,000 a year for a base salary, restricted stock units, and an annual bonus. He negotiated his sign-on bonus from $8,000 to $12,000.

Five months after starting, he was laid off with 4,000 other employees.

Since he needed a work visa to stay in the US, he had about three months to find a new role. He began applying and landed a job at SAP at the end of July, seven weeks after he started looking.

SAP

Pandey joined the company in September in a new graduate role, like at Tesla.

"I had no competing offers so I did not have much leverage," he said. "But I negotiated base by 6% and sign on by 20%."

It added up to $165,000 annually, plus a $12,000 sign-on bonus. Pandey spent the rest of the year at SAP and received an annual performance-related appraisal of 5%, which brought his compensation to $173,250.

Friends spoke highly of Salesforce's company culture, and he thought he might be better compensated there. After a little over a year at SAP, he decided to apply for a job.

Salesforce

He moved to Salesforce, joining in a slightly more senior software role from his last role at SAP.

Salesforce offered Pandey a 30% increase on his total compensation, bringing the package to about $190,000.

His base salary was about $150,000, stocks would amount to $17,500 per year, and his annual bonus was $15,000.

Before accepting the offer, he negotiated with Salesforce. That netted him a $10,000 sign-on bonus — the company hadn't offered one at the start.

"I always make sure to negotiate because there's always room from when they give you the initial offer," he said. "Most of the time they're willing to go 15% or 20% higher, so you don't want to miss that."

He suggests that all candidates negotiate, especially if they have leverage.

"If you have competing offers, if you have pending interviews, all these kinds of things — then definitely negotiate. You can increase the compensation between 20% to 30%," he said.

Pandey was promoted at Salesforce after 15 months and got a 20% bump from his previous pay, bringing his total to around $240,000.

The new role moved him from software engineer to senior software engineer. He led projects with two to three engineers and worked with product managers and customers. He also found that his work had more visibility.

After two years at Salesforce, he applied to Meta in 2021.

Meta

He joined Meta the same year he became a senior software engineer. It was still a vertical move because of the different ways Salesforce and Meta establish levels.

"The most significant thing happened in my career when I made the move from Salesforce to Meta, which was close to almost 80-90% hike" in pay, Pandey said.

Around the time he applied to Meta, Pandey also applied to TikTok, LinkedIn, and two other companies. He used offers from these companies to negotiate his compensation at Meta.

"Be very transparent that you have other offers, even if you have interviews going on mention those, because it's also leverage," he said. It signals to the recruiter that they have to move fast and work with your parameters.

Having other offers meant that Meta's recruiters tried to match the base salary and restricted stock units from the highest of all offers.

Aside from being transparent, Pandey said it is important to be proactive and research how compensation works in different companies. For example, candidates should compare how stocks are refreshed, he said. A refresher is when the stock option portion of an employee's compensation is updated.

"I also negotiated my sign-on bonus and said, 'Hey, at Salesforce, I'll be leaving my 30 to 40k of annual bonus if I join you. Can you help me accommodate that?'"

Pandey was offered $520,000 in annual pay in that 2021 move.

He is currently a senior software engineer at Meta's Menlo Park office.

Business Insider has verified his offer letters, employment history, and Meta compensation.

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