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This post may contain some of the most important career advice you’ll ever receive — no, really. Using this information, you may be able to earn yourself hundreds of thousands or even a million dollars or more over the course of your career.
The reason why is two-fold.
First, if you negotiate correctly, you can increase your starting salary at a job you take by a fairly large amount — much more than you can ever expect to get from raises.
And second, raises are almost always based off of a percentage of your current salary.
That is why it is absolutely critical to get a good salary when starting a new job and to negotiate as best as possible.
Unfortunately, most developers severely undercut themselves and either don’t even negotiate at all, or immediately roll over and accept the first offer they are given.
I fully understand this mentality, especially if you just want to get a job, but it’s important to think about the long term.
In this report, I’m going to take you from first getting an offer and the things you need to consider, all the way to the negotiation phase, where I’ll give you some of the best advice I have about making a counteroffer.
Looking for more on salaries and getting a job? Check out these great links:
- The Software Developer’s Guide to Getting a Job
- How to Get a Web Development Job
- How to Land a Development Job Without Experience
- Best Programming Languages For Job Demand and Salaries
- How to Create a Portfolio Site That Will Get You Hired
- Podcast: Job Interviews, and Tips for Getting a Web Development Job
Check out SitePoint Premium for books, courses and free screencasts for web developers.
Know Your Salary Range
The first thing you should do is know your salary range, the area of technology, the job title, and the geographic location of the job you are applying for.
Let’s break some of these down.
You should know what the salary range is for the specific job you want at the company. Sites like Glassdoor.com can help you with that.
You can also ask around.
If you know someone who is working at the company, don’t ask, “How much do you get paid?”
Instead ask, “Is x to y dollars a reasonable salary expectation based on what you know? And if not, what would you say is reasonable?”
Whatever number they say, increase it by at least 10%, since no one wants to help someone else get paid more than themselves.
You are not going to have perfect data on this, but before you go into any kind of salary negotiations or evaluate a job offer, you should at least have a pretty good idea of the range whatever company you are applying for usually pays someone in an equivalent title or position.
In fact, large companies might even have an actual official pay scale that you can get your hands on.
For example, when I worked at HP, my manager had an official pay scale with different pay grades that he could show me.
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.
However, you shouldn’t use this as your only data point.
You should do additional research to find out what software developers of different levels of experience and working with specific technologies are being paid on average.
Ask around and search for this data. It won’t be that difficult to find.
Yes, I know this is extra work, but it’s also plain old common sense.
Any time you are about to enter serious negotiations on a money matter, you should have your facts straight.
If I’m going to buy a new or used car, you can bet I’m coming prepared with the car’s Kelly Blue Book value, what other dealers or sellers are pricing the same or comparable vehicle at,and the dealer’s invoice, if I can find it.
So many software developers ask me what number they should name when asked about their salary requirement (hint: don’t name any), or whether an offer is good or not, but if they had taken the time to do a little research ahead of time, they’d already know.
Trust me, this research can pay off well, so do it.
Getting the Offer
So, let’s skip ahead a little bit — since negotiations can happen before or after the offer — and talk about when to expect an offer and what to do when you get one.
Most companies will tell you ahead of time if they are going to send you an offer, although I’ve received a surprise email or courier with one from time to time.
It’s debatable whether it’s more beneficial to negotiate before the offer is made or after.
If you negotiate before getting the offer, you risk not getting one in the first place.
But, if you negotiate after, you risk not setting the stage properly and getting an extremely low offer that will be difficult to negotiate out of.
All in all, I prefer to do the bulk of the negotiations after getting the offer, because at that point the hiring manager has made a firm decision to hire you, which will be an advantage in negotiations.
When you get an offer, it’s important to remember that an offer is just that: an offer.
It does not mean you absolutely have the job — although chances are likely — and it does not mean you are guaranteed anything in any way.
Offers can easily be rescinded, although it rarely happens.
You should carefully read the offer and pay attention to any deadlines for responding. (Those can be negotiated.)
Look for the details like the start date, yearly or monthly salary, job title, benefits like vacation or health insurance, and any other details that are important to you.
All of these points are negotiable, so it’s important to consider everything.
You may be tempted to just immediately accept an offer, especially if you’ve been looking for a job for a while. Don’t.
It’s always worth trying to negotiate, at least to some degree.
Before we move on, let’s talk about one more important point when it comes to getting an offer: the time frame.
I’ve had plenty of job interviews where I’ve waited for weeks before getting an offer or a rejection letter.
Chances are, if you got the job, you will get the offer fairly quickly within a few days of the interview — although this isn’t always the case.
It is always a good idea to follow up, especially if you can indicate subtly that you have another option you are considering.
Many programmers are afraid to follow up, but I can’t understand why.
Do you think that someone who wants to hire you for a job is going to decide to not hire you because you sent them an email asking about when to expect a decision or you followed up in some way?
It’s more likely that being aggressive and a go-getter will move a hiring manager from a “maybe” to a “yes,” so definitely follow up.
Continue reading %The Software Developer’s Guide to Salary Negotiation%
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