Monday, May 14, 2012

Choosing between jobs

One question that occasionally comes up at the end of a Negotiation cycle is, "Ok, now I have all these offers, how do I choose?" Typically, if you end your negotiation cycles in this state, it means that you've done an amazing job in your negotiations, since frequently, there's one stand out company and it's clear which one you should go. (When I had a choice between Yahoo, Google, and Versign in 2003, the answer was pretty obvious. Similarly, in 2010, when one of my friends had a choice between Google and Facebook, the answer was also obvious, even when the compensation numbers were ostensibly close)

In An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups I mention creating a spreadsheet so you can compare the companies involved. Well, one of the contributors to the third edition, Santhosh Srinivasan, has actually gone ahead and created it and shared it on Google Docs for all to use.

Santhosh writes that the inspiration behind the spreadsheet was LAAAM, the Lightweight Architecture Alternative Assessment Method. The idea is that you create a weighting that's important to you, and then rank each job offer independent of the weightings and then the highest scoring total would be your preferred offer.

In reality, I've never actually had to use such a spreadsheet, and neither do most of my clients. The intuitive approach works for most of us because ultimately, if you do a good job with negotiating compensation, the money difference should be so minor that who you want to work with should determine where you land. Since people are the least fungible of all, that approach works well unless you end up at a company so unstable that people come and go without your having an opportunity to work with the people you joined in order to work with. (That can happen, but your interview process should weed out such companies)

I do have friends who've built compensation models using spreadsheets, and then used that to get corporations to bid up their offers by showing that spreadsheet around to various companies. That's a viable approach.
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