How to Negotiate a Salary for a Tech Job

Although securing a job is something everyone has to go through, it is not advisable to accept a job offer as soon as you get one. It’s important to make sure the culture fit is right, conditions are fair, and you are getting a fair market salary. One of the most challenging things for job seekers is to pause and try to negotiate for a higher salary. When you’re deep in the search, your instinct might be to take whatever comes first. However, most companies will not make the best offer in their first offer. StackCache will help you navigate the negotiation process so you get a fair offer.

Some companies already have a specified salary budget so the key is to try and nudge your way up to their upper limit. Especially for tech jobs where the hourly wage can be quite high, we suggest you share a range of what you’re looking for during the initial rounds of the interview process so you don’t waste each other’s time.

Negotiating a salary is never an easy task, but it is possible to get a good deal for yourself even under stressful conditions. We will give you a few guidelines that will help you pass through the negotiation process with less stress and result in a salary you and the employer can agree on.

When to Negotiate your Salary

The right time to bring up salary after setting expectations around your range is when an offer has been made. It doesn’t make sense to ask for a higher number if the company hasn’t indicated they want you yet. Once an offer letter has been received, you can gauge the salary along with other aspects of the job. 

Items you may want to keep in mind are benefits (e.g. time off, health coverage, 401K plans, etc.), your title, and potentially other jobs you are still interviewing with.

Research Market Salary Ranges

Either before or after you receive a job offer, you should do your own research to make sure it’s a fair offer. There are now sites that aggregate earnings info by location so there’s no excuse to make sure you’re on solid ground. Look for job titles and role descriptions that sound similar to what your new tech job would entail. Also, consider other filters like the size of the company and location. If the job is within a large, multi-national corporation, it’s likely their budgets for personnel are larger. If it’s a job located in a lower cost of living area, you may not be able to secure a salary as high as a job that is in silicon valley for example. 

Below are some places where you can find this kind of info:

  • Payscale.com
  • Salary.com
  • Linkedin.com
  • Glassdoor.com
  • Postings for similar jobs
  • Discussion with people who have a similar job
  • Salary reports issued by various tech
  • Government census stats
  • National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

Consider Other Factors of the Job

In case you are offered a salary that does not meet your expectations, it may still be worth considering the job. For example, if the company offers a remote opportunity, you may live in a lower cost of living area that offsets the lower salary. When deciding on your next career move, it’s important to look at the opportunity holistically. Also, there may be other monetary benefits that go beyond a base salary.

  • Reimbursed expenses such as tuition assistance, charity donation match, health and wellness stipends, or home office subsidies.
  • Level of health insurance coverage.
  • 401K match
  • Bonus structure
  • Company stock

Other nonmonetary benefits that could add up and help save money include commuting reimbursement or free snacks/meals at the office.

All these extra elements can be used to complement your salary. Find out what the company offers and consider those additions when negotiating your final salary package.

Push for the Higher End of the Range

As you conduct your research, you will eventually come across a range that represents your market value. Although it is tempting to ask for a figure in the middle range, ask for a figure that is above the range instead. You should have confidence in your skills and experience and your employer will almost negotiate. That means it’s better to start high and take a hit to meet your actual salary goal rather than start at what you want and the employer pushes that salary lower.

Also, it’s well known that the biggest salary increases typically come from changing companies. Most companies may give raises to their employees for promotions or adjustments for inflation, but they may need more competitive salaries to attract people for open positions. Thus, it’s best to increase your salary as much as possible when taking a new job if you plan on staying with your employer for a few years.

Be Positive in Your Negotiations

When you bring up salary expectations with the hiring manager or recruiter, you should remain calm, polite, and positive during the discussion. Even if the initial offer was below your expectations, use the research you did to set a level on what the company would need to offer for you to take the job. Remember, the interview process was just as time intensive for the company as it was for you. It takes time, money, and resources to find the right candidate for the company so if they’re able to offer a fair salary within your target range, it’s worth it for them to give a little bit more. Refrain from showing anger, disappointment, or rudeness as these discussions should stay professional at all times. Instead of getting emotional, you should focus on telling the employer how interested you are in the job and how best you can contribute positively to the company. With your arsenal of skills and value to bring to the company, try to emphasize that there’s a set salary you’re looking for in the next organization you join.

Be As Transparent As You Can (But Don’t Overdo it)

The main goal for salary negotiations is to make sure you’re getting a fair offer and that the final amount works for your budget. It can be helpful to bring up the research you’ve done in order to get to that amount. If the starting range is much lower than what you’re looking for, it’s okay to say so at the beginning to save everyone some time. 

In the event that you are talking to multiple companies at the same time and have gotten to final round interviews, it can also be helpful to let the hiring manager know that you have already received other offers. This could speed up the process and if the company really likes you, they may move you into later rounds to make a decision more quickly. If you’re lucky enough to be deciding between multiple great offers, you can also try to leverage your position by seeing if the role you’re most interested in is able to meet the benefits or salary of a different offer.

One area that you shouldn’t be too transparent about is if you’ve received a salary range estimate much higher than what you were looking for. Try to keep your excitement contained as the company may not be open to any negotiations if they know their salary allotment is already really sought after by you. Or, it’s possible that they even lower the base salary when they make an offer as they know you’re very interested in securing the job. Sometimes, it’s best to keep some cards up your sleeve so that you end up with the best offer possible for your situation.

Accept a Written Job Offer

Once you and your prospective employer have come to an agreement on the complete job package, make sure you get a written job offer letter to secure the deal. There are instances where sketchy companies take advantage of unsuspecting individuals and they don’t send a contractual agreement to future employees. In these cases, there’s no written agreement that you can refer to ensure you’ve gotten the job. Companies could use the lack of a written offer to back out of a verbal agreement or end up paying less than what was agreed upon. Cover your future by asking for a written job offer to sign if your future employer does not mention one automatically. Also, at this point of the process, you should not try to renegotiate any of the terms of the job.

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