Office Hours: I’ve had an eclectic career in tech, including big tech (LinkedIn), biotech (Sanofi), VC, and startups (3x founder). Now I’m building an AI co-pilot for job seekers. I’m Gerta. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas! I’m Gerta Malaj. I have an eclectic 10+ years of work experience spanning from big tech (LinkedIn) to global biotech (Sanofi), startups (3x founder, advisor) and VC (SPC).

I moved to the US from Albania to study Math at Wellesley College, and later received a Master’s in Logistics Engineering from MIT. I’m currently building an AI co-pilot for job seekers,, including salary negotiations.

During my down time I enjoy building and nurturing communities, including Sandbox and Gerta’s Negotiations Community.

Ask me anything about tech, job negotiations, being a founder, product ops, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @gertama!Elphas – please ask @gertama your questions before Friday, August 4th. @gertama may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
When taking informal interviews to place you in various levels at a company, what do you say to increase your range if you know the company typically pays less (Washington DC) than your typical normal range in your area (Silicon Valley)?
Get another offer. :)
Hi @gertama, When applying for a job with a published salary range, do applicants have an advantage if they tell the recruiter their target salary is lower than the published maximum? Example: A job for a Software Engineer has a range of 130k-170k. Applicant has a personal target of 160k. When the recruiter asks what their salary expectation is, do they say $170k because they know that's possible for this role, OR, do they say $160k, hoping that the lower rate will give them an advantage over other applicants?
Definitely don’t undersell yourself, but what I actually recommend you say is that you’d prefer to discuss compensation after you’ve determined the role is a mutually good fit. Because it’s likely their budget for the role is even higher than $170K. If this is in tech, they’re hiring for skills and fit, not cheapest labor.
I see u Gerta 👀 I didn't realize you are building an AI co-pilot!
Thanks for joining Gerta!My question is age-old: how much does it matter on who shows their cards first? If one of the first things potential employers ask for is the desired salary range, is it still wise to disclose or to politely hold off till the post interview stage? (I have always been told to hold off)
I can’t overstate how much it matters. I would never reveal my preferred salary. Even if you have access to valuable and statistically significant market data, it might not be up to date in this environment, or you might not know how desperately they need to fill the role, or any other information that affects their budget for the role. Thank you for this important question!
Thank you for your answer!
A job posting I'm in the final stages of interviewing for included a minimum salary, but no range. They also required a minimum salary requirement in the cover letter, which I set near their minimum. I'd actually like to target a higher salary, because I believe I'm a stellar candidate for the position. How would you approach negotiating when they make an offer, without knowing the top end of the salary range or having insight into organizational salaries? Thanks in advance!
Get at least another offer and ask open-ended questions about how much they can move on compensation. Be professional, nice, and persistent.
Hi Gerta! Sounds like you've had a fascinating career journey. I am switching careers to software development after being on the brand side of startups (including as a founder) for 14+ years, so I am unsure where to anchor my salary expectations in my job search given my junior-level development skills & senior-level experience. Would love any ideas on how I should position myself to maximize my first (and future) salary as developer!
Congrats on the new career! It will really depend on industry, company stage and size, etc. but one of the best ways to anchor yourself is to talk to a lot of people who have a very similar background to yours and are in companies you want to join. Real time data is more meaningful than Glassdoor/Levels data IMO. I would also apply to a lot of jobs to test my “market value”.
Thank you for the thoughtful advice!
Thanks so much for answering our questions @gertama. Salary negotiations can be a difficult conversation. When you are given a salary range, what are your thoughts about trying to negotiate above the range?
I recommend only negotiating after you have a *written* offer in hand. And get another offer to have more leverage. Negotiating at or before the verbal offer stage can backfire on you and make it more likely for them to rescind the offer without much consequence to their reputation, which is why getting a written offer should be top priority.
Hi Gerta, I'm so fascinated by your new AI app and your salary negotiation product! I have questions as technical recruiter, and unfortunately a jobseeker at the moment (ughh it's brutal out here for recruiters). Regarding salary negotiation, would your advice be very different for those of us in job functions typically impacted by layoffs (and especially currently in tech and finance sectors - marketing, recruiters, data scientists, even engineers) than what you might advise for those with in-demand skill sets and more executive level roles? For example, I was hired peak when recruiters were in demand and had a great total comp package. But now, I'm competing against every other recruiter out of work as layoffs from FAANGs and many many other companies so I don't expect to get anywhere close to what I was making because companies can hire senior skills in a non senior level job and we have to be flexible in salary. Ex: you apply to a Linkedin remote job and there are over 4,000 applicants (we know that # is not actual applications but even if that's cut down to 1,000 actually applicants) in less than 24 hours. That's the highest I've seen but on the regular, it's over 1,000 applicants in 24 hours. This has been the case for the 4 months I've experienced.Thank you so much I look forward to your advice!
Thank you for your question and kind words! I’ve seen non-technical job applicants get amazing offers even in this environment. The advice is not too different for technical vs non-technical roles. I mentioned above a couple tips: (almost) never share your preferred salary/range, try to get multiple offers, always be professional and nice.
Hello Gerta,Very nice to meet you! Thank you very much for taking the time to interact and respond to questions.Do you have any concrete tools/techniques that could help job seekers in salary negotiation? Ex: providing a range, but how to calculate the range? and when providing the range if the employer offers the lower limit, how to make them reconsider? or negotiating benefits, how to initiate the discussion?
Thank you for your kind words! I have a lot of practical tips. A couple are: get another offer, (almost) never share your preferred salary/range, and don't start negotiating until you have a written offer in hand.
Hi @gertama - When you're in the final stage of negotiations? What do you when you can't close a large salary/equity gap and other levers such as time off are unlimited but the job is a dream job? The thought of trading one's worth is tough. Thanks for your thoughts!
One of the best ways to create leverage is to have another offer. Otherwise would need to learn more about your specific situation. You’re welcome to DM me.
That’s awesome and so exciting to hear what you are doing! I graduated from Smith College and now do a lot of different things in IT leadership at a SMB size company. It’s nice to “meet you”!
Great to meet you too, fellow seven sisters alum! Would love to learn more about what you’re up to.
Such a wholesome experience!I'm curious to hear your take on industry specialization for product folks... Specifically, how was it to get into biotech?Congratulations on your new venture!
Biotech/health tech is tough because it’s a highly regulated industry. There’s also a lot of gatekeeping from having a real seat at the table if you don’t have an MD or PhD. Startup scandals like Theranos and Cerebral haven’t helped. However, I would love to see more people go into health tech, especially now that we have breakthrough AI. I think it will need to be a concerted effort from different stakeholders such as VCs, incubators, founders, big health tech corporations, etc. to attract talent to the industry.
Thank you for joining us Gerta! It is super nice to meet you and massive congrats on all you've accomplished to date - very impressive. I am currently an early stage investor and I am curious what drew you into it and now why did you decide to leave?
Thank you for your question and kind words! Career choices are very personal decisions where so many variables come into play, which is why I’m building to help people with their career exploration.Personally, I’ve always wanted to be a founder so every role and career along the way was a learning experience to become a better founder.
Greetings @gertama! Although it's changing, there are still quite a few entities that do not include salary/salary range when sharing their job postings. What would you recommend our course of action be in finding out the salary range, to ensure that we're not wasting the time of either the entity/recruiter or ourselves?I've had experiences of going through two-three rounds of interviews to then find out that they are offering a salary below my expectations. I'd like to ensure that I no longer waste one of life's most valuable commodities (to me) - my time.TIA!
You can definitely ask about their budget (not just range) on the first call with the recruiter. Remember that even the ranges on job posts are not firm - companies can still pay above or below. If it’s your dream job, apply anyway. I helped increase my last client’s offer by 41% in total compensation (salary + RSUs), so it’s very possible to get an offer significantly above the range they post or share.