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How To Negotiate Your Salary As A Developer

catalinmpit profile image Catalin Pit Updated on ・3 min read

Knowing how to negotiate your salary as a developer is a must. When I received my first job offer, I was so excited to get a job, that I blindly accepted it. I did not even think of negotiating the salary. After all, I did not want to risk losing the offer. You have been in the same situation at least once, right?

However, most of the time, we leave money on the table by not negotiating our salary.

The first offer

The first offer is never the best or the final offer. Companies always leave room in case the candidate wants to negotiate it. By not negotiating, you leave money on the table.

But how should I know how much to ask for? Use websites like Glassdoor to find the appropriate salary for a similar position and a similar experience. Once you have this information, adjust the salary based on your circumstances. At this point, you should have a rough idea of how much you deserve.

However, you should not blindly ask for more without reasons. If you ask for money, come with reasons why you deserve that compensation. Specify what you bring to the table.

What is your current salary?

I think I received this question millions of times. First of all, in many countries and states (USA), it is illegal to ask for the current salary. The rule of thumb is never to specify the salary you are making.

There are two options when answering this question:

  1. Avoid the question and try to move on
  2. If they keep insisting, use the salary you want as your “current salary.” Anyway, the best thing is never to mention the current salary. Companies and recruiters should not care about your current situation in terms of salary.

Do not be afraid

Another reason why people do not negotiate is that they are afraid the company rescinds the offer. I do not think any respectable company is going to revoke the offer if you negotiate the salary.

In the worst case, they are going to cancel the offer. However, would you like to work for a company that does this? You just saved yourself from the trouble.

Therefore, do not be afraid to negotiate. In the worst case, they are going to say ‘no’. In the best case, you are going to get better compensation. On the other hand, if they rescind the offer, you do not want to work for them anyway.

Having alternatives helps

This advice is not actionable straight away, and it depends on the circumstances. However, having alternative offers helps a lot because it puts you in a favourable position. If your negotiation does not go well, you always have a second option. The company also knows that you have nothing to lose.

However, I want to repeat that it depends on the circumstances. The more offers you have, the better it is for you. One the other side, if you do not have multiple offers, it is not the end of the world.

Let us pretend you have alternative offers. How can you use them to leverage your position?

You could say something along these lines: “I have multiple offers from x, y, z with better compensation. However, I like your products and your mission the most. As a result, I would like to work here because I think it is a better fit for me.” Of course, this is just an example, but you can use something similar.

Thus, if you have other offers, learn how to use them at your advantage.

Conclusion

These are my tops tips when it comes to knowing how to negotiate your salary as a developer. The list is not exhaustive, and there are many other aspects of negotiating.

I hope the article gives you some insights and helps you see negotiating with other eyes. The essential thing is to negotiate your salaries. Otherwise, you leave money on the table.

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catalinmpit profile

Catalin Pit

@catalinmpit

AWS Community Builder ∙ Technical Writer ∙ Blogging on catalins.tech ∙ Interested in Web Dev and Cloud ∙ GitHubbing at github.com/catalinpit

Discussion

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Something else to consider. Negotiations aren't always about more money.

I have successfully negotiated more time off, or more recently, a better job title, simply by asking my employer for it.

In the current climate, an employer can't always afford the pay you want... but maybe there are other benefits you can have, that don't cost your employer anything.

 

Very well said, I might edit the article and touch on these topics as well!

 

Yes, you're right. Always need to take into consideration a total benefit.

 

As someone that has sought a lot of jobs, and hired a lot of devs, this is great advice. A few more to add:

  • Understand the relative pay scales at the top-tier (FANG), mid-tier, late stage startup, early stage startup. These types of companies do NOT pay at the same level, but they do generally pay comparably within their cohort.

  • At the top tier and late stage startup, stock grants can be a large part of your compensation. Understand the grant's present vs. future value. Stock from other types of companies should usually be excluded from your comp calculation.

  • Similarly for the FANGs and the wanna-be-FANGs, level is everything. Generally more important to negotiate your level than the exact comp number.

  • Some other good sources of comp info include Gitlab and Buffer.

 

This was the post I needed to read today. Currently I am being scouted by lots of enterprises at the moment, but I don't wish to leave my current company but I need to have a talk about my wage. Thank you for this I will be using these tips.

 

It's also often effective just to say you were hoping for a higher offer, such as "In order to make it worth leaving my current position, I'd really like to see something closer to the $X range." Of course, if you're leaving your current position because you're just not happy, that might not be true, in which case, you might just want to say "My own research shows the market rate for this position should be closer to $X. Is this something we could negotiate?"

When comparing offers, make sure you're considering the whole package, too. A place offering fully-paid insurance with low copays versus one where family coverage is $300+/month for 80% coinsurance is a big difference for some people. I've had benefits make up over $10K in total compensation package alone. And at my current company, I gave up some PTO in the job change, so I negotiated more money and ensured they had a flexible unpaid leave policy in case I needed or wanted to take extra time off -- which I will be doing for the first time toward the end of August.