May 16, 2022

Riva Job Negotiation Pulse: How to Negotiate a Raise during a Downturn

Riva HQ

PALO ALTO, CA (June 15, 2022)—More U.S. tech companies are initiating hiring freezes or layoffs as they face cost-cutting pressures and market challenges. There have been at least 17,000 employees laid off in mass job cuts in the U.S. tech sector so far this year, per a Crunchbase News analysis. 

Riva, a salary negotiation coaching platform, observes in its latest Job Negotiation Pulse that those looking for a raise or a promotion in their tech job work still have plenty of leverage with their employer. 

“For current workers, layoffs can present an opportune time to ask for a raise—especially in an overall strong labor market. There are fewer people available to do the same amount of work, creating a vacuum that’s immediately felt across the company. Having data and knowledge about your position, skill set and high-value contributions can give you the leverage you need to earn more,” said Ben Cook, CEO of Riva.

Riva also observes:

Some employees are more valuable now. There are still over 11 million job openings, and tech companies can’t afford to lose their best workers. Companies must show that layoffs are having the intended effect with minimal risk to operations. Workers should take stock of their unique skill sets, tangible contributions and even their reporting structure to push for salary leverage. Another tip: Focus on intangibles like a higher title over cash, which can accelerate career progression over time.

Play the inflation card. Employers know that the current 8.6% inflation could drive a new wave of quitting unless they address worker pay. Now is the time for current workers to leverage economic conditions to gain cost-of-living raises or broader merit increases. “Workers should get ahead by presenting the 8% number before employers can anchor on a smaller amount,” says Cook. “Know that if an employer is not giving at least 8%, it is effectively a pay cut – and get comfortable positioning it this way,” he says. However, in instances where the company may also be struggling, Cook suggests instead bargaining for more alternative forms of compensation like a year-end bonus or increased equity package.

Top tech employers are flush with cash. Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are positioned to come out of the downturn stronger because they have a cash cushion and will continue to invest in product innovation. This is a negotiation point for workers at big tech firms, who can either ask for a large signing bonus if they have a new offer, or negotiate for a substantial raise to keep pace with new hire salaries. For startup workers, aim for a large equity increase to secure retention.

Even laid-off workers can negotiate severance. Losing a job can be unfortunate, but there are ways to make the loss less painful. Tech workers can often secure severance packages that extend well beyond the initial offer – provided they don’t agree to any specific figures on the day they’re laid off. “Our number one piece of advice for workers facing layoffs is: ‘don’t sign anything,’” says Cook. “Be polite and agreeable, but tell HR you need some time to think through what this means for you, and then seek help as soon as possible, whether from negotiation experts or the many books and free guides available online. You often have far more leverage than you think.”

Riva uses a combination of technology and coaching to train corporate recruiters from top tech companies to be true negotiation experts on behalf of workers and job seekers. Their coaches have the data and knowledge to impartially advise workers on ways to gain better pay in a company or industry and quickly progress their career.

The Riva Job Negotiation Pulse provides periodic market observations based on Riva’s data gathered over more than 5,000 successful negotiations to date. To learn more visit

About Riva

Riva is a salary coaching platform founded by the world’s top negotiation experts out of Harvard Business School. Using proven approaches to building leverage and a validated, data-driven coaching methodology, Riva is working to end the “Negotiation Gap” by giving people of all backgrounds the tools and support they need to earn what they are truly worth. 

Media contact

Katherine Dvorkin for Riva 

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