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Thoughts On "Getting Paid More As A Software Developer"

stereoplegic profile image Mike Bybee ・4 min read

This video recently appeared in my phone's Google News feed: "Getting Paid More As A Software Developer"

For those quick to attack this, actually watch it and note he's proposing that developers add more value than they're paid for, no matter what they're being paid. He covers simply stating that he was ready to move on to something bigger, more challenging, and that he frankly could make more money elsewhere, which led to a 20% increase in his extension offer without any negotiation,

"because me leaving would have left an Eric-sized hole in their team."

"When I work for somebody, I'm 100% in their service... I don't renegotiate on a contract... but I expect, and I demand, to be paid enough; and if I'm not, if I feel like I'm being taken advantage of, I know what my options are, and I always move to those other jobs... You're constantly improving yourself, and demanding the value that you deserve."

My resume shows that I'm clearly not afraid of contract work, but I don't see it as the silver bullet he promotes it as (for me, it has just been a sign of the industry since the Great Recession - and one of the economic canaries in the coal mine that I've warned about ever since, no matter how strong the Dow is nor which party is in power); I do, however, support the underlying point he's promoting: That workers need to (borrowing from pro sports, when referring to players who take short-term "prove it" deals) "bet on themselves."

"...you still have to be constantly looking. I would say that if you're being paid [absurdly low salary], you are still on the job market; I don't care if you have a job, you should still be looking; in fact, I think, no matter how much you get paid, you should still be looking... And when I talk about that, a lot of times people will say, 'Well, what about employee loyalty?' ...You're only responsible to... yourself and your family."

Loyalty goes, and is earned, both ways. Undervaluing isn't loyalty, nor worthy of it. If you can't afford to pay what they're worth, be honest about it and do what you can to make it up in other ways (rather than insulting intelligence and banking on low self-esteem); even then, though, don't be surprised when they leave for greener pastures.

"...I was done with them; they were dead to me..."
"I realized after the fact that the only reason... they would have increased my pay, was if I had other options...."
"...I swore to myself, that I would never put myself in that position again..."

Again, should an employer ever be surprised at this?

"...there are gonna be companies out there that are gonna want to pay you less than you're worth... After the pandemic, there's gonna be a lot of them... And some of these companies can't afford to pay you what you're worth, but you still have to make that case..."

They're not going to make it for you. It's up to you to put forth a body of work which proves that you are the better candidate initially, and that it would ultimately cost more to hire someone else for less than to pay you what you're worth.

"I don't care what they would say... 'Oh, but the benefits, you've got medical, you've got life insurance' and all this stuff... I was like, 'pay me enough and I'll get that stuff on my own.'"

...Yeah, approach that again like a pro athlete: Your primary concern should always be the "guaranteed money." Not benefits you may not use, not bonuses that may never come no matter how well the company does (not that they're not nice to have, you just can't count on them to feed you and yours, nor to keep a roof over your heads).

"I could kick myself for going into that office and asking for a raise with nothing to back it up; with no sense of my own value... not even knowing what else was out there on the job market, and I will never do that again... You're not getting paid enough... You may not be in a good bargaining position at the moment, but you need to get yourself into that position, and I will say that to any software developer. Don't fall for the employee loyalty trap..."

Since the end of an extremely toxic relationship that lasted for far too long, I've refused to ever compromise again on the things necessary for a good relationship. The same applies to jobs; I can't reasonably expect you to value me in the long term if you can't show it at the onset.

As I did in my last tech talk, he compares work to romance (because they should work the same, as a mutually beneficial exchange):

"...any kind of relationship; even if you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and they're constantly improving themselves and have other options... and you have other options... and you're constantly improving yourself; but you stay together... because of the value that you bring each other, then that is pure and that is the way that it should be."

Exactly. I told the woman with whom I had BY FAR the easiest relationship of all (and any with long-term potential since) this: "You're free to walk away at any time, for any reason, and so am I. If this isn't about mutual joy, then it's completely pointless."

"...the assumption should always be that they're looking out for their best interests, over your best interests, and you should always be looking out for your own interests over theirs."

Of course, and an employer is foolish not to assume the same of you. But isn't that selfish? Yes, of course. That's natural, rational, and not the horrible thing society has led us to believe. Run as fast as you can from the employer (or employee) who preaches selflessness and sacrifice. That is the rhetoric of someone who expects to receive a value in exchange for a lesser or non-value.

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Mike Bybee

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Strong opinions, loosely typed.

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Thanks @kspeakman for inspiring/reminding me to post this.

 

Glad to help!

Not too long ago, I posted this about job loyalty which I think lines up with what you are saying here.