Offer Evaluation

Last Updated: 2023-09-19

Base Salary

The amount you will earn annually. Some companies pay bi-weekly, some monthly. Of course you need to pay federal tax at least; depend on your location you may also have to pay state tax and/or city tax(e.g. if you live or work in San Francisco, you pay an extra 1.5% income tax).


Usually a "target", like 10% or 15% of your base salary. Then based on your performance, and/or company performance, you may eventually get more or less than the target.

Sign-on Bonus

Usually for new grad, but can(and should) be negotiated if you are experienced. Pay attention to the terms, in some cases you need to pay this back if you decide to leave the company within a certain amount of time, usually one year.


In most cases for long distance relocation only. (Some company once gave credit if you move to within 10 miles from the campus.)


Options vs RSU:

  • Options: you are given a strike price, when you exercise your options, you need to pay that price to get the stock.
  • RSU: Restricted Stock Unit, company grants you a certain amount of stocks, no need to "buy" them.

RSU or Options will vest following a pre-defined schedule, for example, in most cases 4 years, 25% each year; sometime after 1 year cliff you get 25%, after that stocks vest quarterly; even better some do not have cliff, you start to collect your stocks monthly or quarterly right after you join the company. The notorious Amazon will only give you 5% after the first year, unless you can negotiate a better deal.

Don't be fooled by the amount of RSU, usually you only get 60% of the promised amount, the rest are sold for tax. (Think of RSU like this: the company pays you $X bonus, of course Y% is withheld for tax, the rest you bought company's stock)

If options, ask for:

  • ISO or NSO?
  • Strike Price?
  • Grant shares? Total shares?(percentage of the whole company)
  • Revenue?
  • Price of last round?

ESPP is another stock program, but less common. Usually you pay a discounted price to buy your companies stock.

401k Match

Small companies may not have 401k match, some do not even have 401k.

For example, "match 100% for the first 4%" means if you earn 100k base salary, and you contribute 4k, company will match 4k so you have 8k in your 401k in total, if you contribute more you can still defer the tax but company would not match it; another company matches 50%, then if you max out your contribution($19,000 in 2019) the company will match $9,500 per year. So not a small difference.


Medical insurance + dental + vision. May not be a big differentiator.

Free Food

Quite common in the tech world, however not all free food is created equal. If it is important for you, ask for how many meals are provided, especially when would diner be served, some starts at 6pm, while some at 8pm.

Take a quick look at the microkitchen if you care in between your interviews. I was looking for pistachios...


Bad commute can make your dream job miserable.

Companies may give you free pass for public transit, or reimburse the cost up to an amount, or allow you to pay with pre-tax dollars, or Uber credit if it is Uber...

Some companies may have commuter shuttles, probably one of the best benefits, you get free wifi and an excuse to leave office. Route map and schedules are usually not public, so not available before you officially join, but you can pay attention to the buses near your home, and tell the company from the head-sign(e.g. MTV/SVL=Google, MPK=Facebook) or logo(unusual, so many protests) or color of the bus.

Other Benefits

Small things can add up. Some other benefits you may care:

  • Onsite gym or reimbursement
  • Activities reimbursement(e.g. Ski Pass)
  • Car share(if you are not driving to work, you can "rent" a car for errands)
  • Your own company's credit(Ad credit at Facebook, Uber credit at Uber)
  • Music room/game room

Offer negotiation

https://medium.freecodecamp.org/how-not-to-bomb-your-offer-negotiation-c46bb9bc7dea https://medium.freecodecamp.org/ten-rules-for-negotiating-a-job-offer-ee17cccbdab6 http://www.kalzumeus.com/2016/06/03/kalzumeus-podcast-episode-12-salary-negotiation-with-josh-doody/

Extra Note: Exempt vs NonExempt

"Exempt" positions are excluded from minimum wage, overtime regulations and other rights and protections afforded nonexempt workers. You will receive a "salary" instead of hourly wage, no extra pay for extra working time.