Capitalist Note - On the road today, and had a conversation about this again with a candidate this morning. So I'm re-running my last rant on when to ask (more importantly, when not to ask) about stock options in the interviewing process. Get it together, high end candidates that read somewhere they need to be hardcore negotiators...
I have friends and candidates ask me from time to time for advice related to job searches they're in.
One of the places they struggle is where/when/how to talk money with a hiring manager. But if they miss frequently on talking about standard items like base salary and bonus, they are lost children when it comes to talking about stock options.
Repeat after me - Never talk stock options until you've actually been offered a job.
Why? 3 Reasons:
1. You look like a moron asking for something most of the world doesn't really understand. It doesn't make you look upscale to ask about stock options on a first or second interview. It makes you look strange. When I'm ready to talk to you about ownership in the company, it will probably coincide with me making you a job offer.
2. You're not going to get rich from stock options, and odds are, any options I give you are going to have zero impact on how you live your life and will likely be valued in 5 years at - you guessed it - zero. Exception shout out to big companies that basically treat option pools like annuities. For the rest of the world (which is most of us), options will have little impact on our lives. If it's going to have little impact, wait until you have a job offer to ask if they are included. You're asking for something that has a 1 in 10 chance of actually paying off.
3. The smaller the company, the less they have their act together on standardizing option offers. Big companies who grant options will have the standard option grant by type of position - most of you who ask for options are doing it because you're going from big to small and one of the reasons you'd like to do that is to get rich. There's just one little problem - most of the small companies won't have the grant size standardized when it comes to options. How many options? The answer is usually the number it takes to get you to shut up.
Stock options? Slow down, Charlie. How about we date for awhile before we get married, OK?
Stay classy. Wait until the offer to ask about stock options and look like a grown up. All the uncertainty will still be there waiting for you.