As offers begin to role in, is there room to negotiate on salary? I appreciate that this increases with seniority (partner vs year 1 associate), but what about experienced hires entering at consultant or senior consultant level? Should one try to negotiate their salary package? And how much leeway are they afforded?
Is there room for negotiation?
as mentioned by others, the main thing you can negotiate is your entry level in the firm (eg Senior Associate with 12 months to Consultant vs 6 months to Consultant). It would be very difficult to negotiate a different standard salary for a fixed seniority level, as this would create inequality in the firm. On the other hand, if you can negotiate a higher initial entry level, this should bring a higher salary or faster promotion track without creating imbalance in the company, thus would be feasible.
You can definitely try to negotiate your entry level in the firm. The degree of negotiation depends obviously on how valuable you can be for the company (usually the more senior, the more valuable). In any case, you should be aware that with a higher level, expectations on your performance will also be higher.
Don't do it.
You risk starting off on the wrong foot, and most are non-negotiable. The only exception might be if you have a 'cross-offer' (e.g. an offer from BCG and McKinsey), then you might be able to negotiate on the starting bonus. But it's not worth the risk in my opinion.
In USA Bain, BCG and McKinsey base salaries for all levels excluding partner are fixed and non-negotiable. They are also fixed across cities without any cost of living adjustments.
What can be negotiated is:
-tenure recognized when joining (e.g. I've seen several people being offered a Consultant position with zero months of tenure negotiating successfully to have 1 year of tenure being recognized to them)
Hope it helps,
- top ranked firm typically will pay less (because they can). Use a counter-offer to bring their base to the highest possible.
- If base seems inflexible, definitely get a large signing bonus + guaranteed yearly bonus locked in at a higher %age of base.
- Relocation bonus is usually not negotiable.
Typically, there is a upper & lower limit. it depends on your particular case, but sometimes you may negotiate and sometimes not. The upside: 5-8%. But! I would encourage you to think multiple times before doing so. You may start from the wrong leg and then create a certain reputation within the firm.
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