Should I take a lower salary than my previous role?

I applied for an L5 Program Manager role at Amazon. Before moving forward in the interview process, they asked me about my compensation expectations. Based on my preliminary market-rate research, I would be looking for a salary between $145k - $165k. (base $120k - $140k | stock 5k | bonus 20k). The recruiter, however, told me that they were looking at compensation that would be about 30-50k below what I am looking for. He told me that I should provide a salary based on what I actually need and would be feasible, as there is a lot of misinformation out there about Amazon’s compensation. However, this number seems quite low, especially for an L5 position in the Seattle area. If I take this role, it would mean a pay cut of 50k from my previous role as product manager on my current team at Microsoft.

It does not look like there is room for negotiation. How should I proceed?

You have a few options:

  1. Continue your job search without considering this opportunity
  2. Continue with the interview process
  3. Pass over this role and ask the recruiter for a different opportunity instead

Because of COVID-19, companies have more leverage than before when it comes to extending job offers and negotiating salaries, so you want to proceed with caution. There are many more people on the job market now and companies are offering less because they know people will take it.

If you continue with the interview process, keep in mind that negotiation is common. While they might not increase to the level you are expecting, there are still opportunities for you to speak with them about compensation. Perhaps they can’t increase base salary, but they can increase equity or other benefits. It might also make sense to continue with interviewing because you can use their offer (or even just their name) as leverage in your negotiations with other companies.