Get hired as an Engineering Manager - part 5: Closing the Offer

Get hired as an Engineering Manager - part 5: Closing the Offer
Mizuki Heitaro: Abstract Pattern Portfolio (1930)

We’re covering the entire process of getting hired as an EM together with Péter Batiz, an experienced consultant who’s been helping startups and scale-ups find tech talent for more than a decade. We divided the “getting hired” process into five parts:

🔎 Capturing your Preferences
📝 Perfecting your CV and LinkedIn profile
📥 Searching and Applying
💬 Interviewing
🤝 Closing the Offer - this article!

Hopefully, you’ve arrived at the final step of the process and received an offer (or more!). The gut feeling at this point is to be happy about it, quit your current job, and prepare for the work ahead. Not so fast, there are a few aspects left to discuss before you accept the offer.


If you followed our advice in the interviewing article, you hopefully have a few days to make a final decision on the offer. Take out the list of preferences you started this whole process with. Relying on this document will bring some objectivity to your decision. You just finished a long interview process where you were immersed in the company and its problems – this recent experience is probably clouding your judgment. 

Score the job offer on the various categories you’ve set up for yourself. You can try to stay super-objective and come up with a scoring formula for the offer, multiplying your preference numbers with the offer’s scores. Still, I think there’s much more value in your internal discussions and realizations during this evaluation. Every job is a compromise, what’s your gut feeling, is this compromise you’re about to make worth it? What would need to change to make it an easier decision?

You should identify a list of items you’d like to improve in the offer, ordered by personal importance. This explicit list of preferences will help you stay on track if you go into negotiations. Start with reaching out to the recruiter, asking for a call with them or the hiring manager, and explain that while you’re excited about the offer, you have a few questions left to ask before you can make your final decision. Understand though that in the current climate, there’s a chance that a longer delay could result in a rescinded offer, as they might already have other candidates advancing in the pipeline.


Books and articles about this stage often give the advice that you shouldn’t accept an offer without negotiation. Because of this, companies frequently calculated with some back and forth with their offers and tried to have some internal wiggle room to handle this case, making a negotiating strategy even more worthy to pursue.

There are a few things that make this approach more risky now than a few years ago:

  • More candidates for fewer positions, giving companies more options;
  • Increased transparency in compensation information, pushing for companies to adopt stricter salary bands that force them to pay the same for everyone at the same level;
  • Tight budget control to get closer to, or stay profitable;
  • Decreased pressure to fill a position because organizational growth is not as much of a priority. 

So it’s up to you: if you have multiple applications going strong, a comfortable job, or a lowball offer in front of you, then sure, try negotiating, because you don’t have much to lose. But if you’re out there without any income, and this is your first offer after a long search, then it’s probably not the right time to try a bluff in hopes of higher compensation. 

Either way, if you decide to negotiate, don’t start the process by showing disappointment with the offer. You need to be enthusiastic about the role while pushing your proposed changes. Be respectful and professional; aim for a win-win situation. Create a setup where you explain why it’s simply a fact, almost outside of your control to accept the current offer as it is. This way you’re not negotiating about changing your preferences and requirements but working together to find ways to create a mutually acceptable compromise. Treat the recruiter or the hiring manager as a partner in this work, come up with different options, and brainstorm ideas. Always underline how excited you are to be joining their team. If only this small annoyance would go away that's preventing you from accepting their offer. By treating your preferences as objective criteria, you move the negotiation discussion from “satisfying a candidate’s wishes” to “working together to solve a problem”.

Remember that the base salary is not the only aspect you can bring up in a negotiation. Equities and bonuses can be part of a compensation package and therefore could be discussed, or you might have a chance to fit in a sign-up bonus if you justify any one-time cost of changing companies. You could also try adding a performance evaluation round after a few months, and a guaranteed raise if you pass requirements.

Beyond financial aspects, healthcare or pension details can be an important part of a package, or you could push your start day and take a longer break if it’s important for you. Look at your list of preferences, and try to come up with ideas that can close the gap for the company you're about to join.

If you’re about to join a distributed team, you can try negotiating a lot of the remote work aspects too. The company could cover some of your home office setup expenses, or pay for a coworking space for you to work from. Make sure you clarify who bears the cost of company-required trips, and how often they expect you to travel. Similarly, if the job requires you to relocate, have the details of that mutually agreed: timeline, help in the expenses, or access to services for apartment search, education, etc. 

Whatever you end up achieving during negotiations, make sure you have it in writing too, even if just in an email – companies change, staff change, maybe by the time you use something that was discussed during the interviews, the person making that promise will not be at the company anymore.

Again, the current job market is benefiting companies, so be prepared to risk an offer being rescinded if you don’t move fast enough or stretch the limits too much.

Multiple offers

If you’re successful enough to have multiple applications going on with a good chance of resulting in an offer, try to arrange schedules and timings in a way that they end more or less at the same time. Accept the earliest interview dates available in the process where you’re behind, and ask for more time where you’re ahead. Partner with the recruiters, and explain that while you’re excited about their companies, you have another attractive process in progress, and in order to be able to make the best decision, you ask their help to be flexible with meeting schedules. They’ll appreciate your honesty and if there’s some trust built in between you, as we explained in the Interviewing article, then you have a good chance to work something out.

If you manage to land multiple offers, you’ll need to solve an arguably good problem to have: choose. Use your previously recorded preferences, and identify if there are further questions you need to ask to be able to decide. While nobody likes to stretch this process longer than needed, especially in this tight job market, if you have a few critical questions to ask or changes to make, it’s better to ask for an extra call than jump into an uncertain or hard-to-accept situation.

You can use the fact that you have two offers as a strong bargaining point too: going to a company saying you want 10K more because… reasons, or because you already have a higher offer on paper that you'll be ready to accept, makes a huge difference. Still, everything we said above is true: be prepared for zero flexibility from companies in this climate, or even losing both offers if you're stretching the process too long.


Hopefully, you’ve reached a point where it’s final: you have a formal job offer that you’ve accepted, and you’ll start at a new job soon. Thank the recruiter for their help during the process, and consider sending a note to your new manager too explaining that you’re looking forward to the work together. Finish your application tracking stats, as explained in an earlier article, to give closure to your whole search process (and create some cool infographics). Reach out to any companies where you're in various stages of interviewing, notifying them that you're withdrawing your application.

If you’re currently employed, this is the time to announce your decision to your current manager. (And not before – a lot of things can go south in a process, a sudden hiring freeze for example can happen without the knowledge of the recruiter or hiring manager, and you might end up without any job, or having to make an extremely awkward conversation.) Explain your main reasons to your boss why you accepted the other opportunity. Stay grateful and future-focused: thank them for the opportunity you had here and ask how you can make your departure as smooth as possible. You might have had your conflicts, but now you’re moving on, and it’s in nobody’s interest to burn bridges. Break the news to your team as soon as possible, so they hear it from you first, and if possible, during one-on-ones, so they can react in a safe space. 

Your manager might ask if matching your new salary could change your mind. I rarely found counteroffers working well and leading to a long and happy relationship. Engineering Managers rarely leave for financial reasons only, so there’s not much chance that a salary bump would change their minds. It also tells a lot about a company where someone needs to present a job offer just to get the raise they believe was long deserved – and this culture will not change just because the person ends up staying on board. As a manager, I hardly ever give counteroffers; and as an employee, I would be skeptical about a company’s culture that would offer me one.

During your offboarding, focus on making the process as smooth as possible for those who stay. Ask both your team and your manager what they need from you before your last day. Build LinkedIn connections, and give recommendations to people you’ve worked with. A strong social network can be a great asset to rely on in future job searches. You’re not allowed to take company materials with you, but while you have access to internal systems, take a look at your achievements, formal feedback you’ve received, announcements you’ve made about your team’s accomplishments, etc., and save a summary of those for your files – it can be useful for future reference next time you’re out on the job market again.

It’s important to rule out any second thoughts you might have after you make your choice. Accept that you made the best decision based on available information. If you end up being disappointed about the new job, give it at least half a year to try to make it work, and if despite all your efforts, it's still a huge disappointment, start interviewing again. 

This series on Getting Hired as an Engineering Manager ended up way longer and more extensive than I imagined more than a month ago when I started writing it. I’m grateful for the help and feedback from everyone during the writing, especially Péter Batiz, whose deep knowledge of the recruiting field helped fill the gaps in my experience and challenge or confirm my advice. 

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