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I’m curious if some of the people here in software(or hardware) have any tips for negotiating salary for engineers with 1-5 years of experience.

What are 2-3 top pieces of advice you would recommend for negotiation of salary, benefits, PTO, equity, etc.?

As I am approaching a job change, I would like to be prepared on how to ask for more money, or if money isn’t possible, how to translate that into asking for increased benefits or PTO. I hope this can help some others.

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    One thing I think is useful:

    It doesn’t matter what you were paid at your previous gig, and don’t answer if they ask.

    “Since this is a different engagement, with different technical and team needs, my previous compensation is not a useful datapoint.”

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      Also, in some places it’s not legal for them to ask (though they can still ask what salary range you want).

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        “My current compensation is part of the reason why am looking into other opportunities”

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          I would avoid saying this. It provides signal that your current pay is low and will lead to a lowball offer, which is the opposite of its intention.

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            Last week we had to get rid of a bunch no-demand electronic components, so we sent the spreasheet (with purchase prices removed) to one of the scavenger companies. First thing they asked was, what we paid for them originally?

            Seriously, this is a super common tactic in purchasing, and you are a resource being purchased. They are minimizing the cost. No polite retort here would make your negotiation position worse vs revealing the figures.

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            “My current compensation is part of the reason why am looking into other opportunities”

            Respectfully, I see this as an anti-pattern. Here are things potential employers might well read between the lines of this statement:

            “I only value money and don’t care about the work”

            “I’m a self important primadonna”

            “I’m not loyal and will cut and run if things are not precisely to my liking.”

            I recognize that your statement doesn’t ACTUALLY say any of these things.

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              Fair points I guess… but consider that asking your current salary is an attempt to gain negotiating leverage on you using power imbalance. You know it and the interviewer knows it, there is absolutely no other reason asking for it. And I mean it’s not something you blurted out of blue, the comp was the question they brought up in the first place. Only so much ways for a polite retort, and none of them is 100% safe if someone insists to read between the lines deep enough.

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                Oh totally it’s a CRAPPY thing for a potential employer to do and should be a red flag to anyone looking, I’m just suggesting that explicitly saying that crappy salary is why you’re leaving your current gig, in my opinion, weakens your position.

                YMMV.

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            It doesn’t matter what you were paid at your previous gig

            Strong agree

            don’t answer if they ask.

            Or do answer, with a number that sets an expectation for future negotiations. Depends how you feel about lying.

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              It can be dodgy to lie since that can be discovered, but “It would take $X to get me to leave” is probably always better than a lie and give you a lot more flexibility…

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                Or do answer, with a number that sets an expectation for future negotiations. Depends how you feel about lying.

                Problem with that one is that a new employer sees your old income on your P60 (in the UK at least,) with lying during an interview being grounds for dismissal.

                That being said past wage shouldn’t matter to a new employer unless they are trying to lowball a potential hire. On principle I never ask during interviews I host and have in the past hired people on nearly double what they came from; usually wages are negotiated by an intermediary such as a recruiter.

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                  Your wage is not technically secret information in the US, but if you don’t share it yourself, there’s no plausible mechanism for a new employer to find out. Your previous employer almost certainly won’t share it, and if they do, you’ll have cause to be very upset with them. (A functional, professional HR department will confirm dates of employment and possibly job title, and nothing else.)

                  That said, I’m definitely more comfortable redirecting or answering “how much are you currently making” with “I’m looking to make $X” than lying outright.

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                    Problem with that one is that a new employer sees your old income on your P60 (in the UK at least,) with lying during an interview being grounds for dismissal.

                    So why dodge the question if employers have access to this information? I don’t know about the United States if companies also have this information.

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                It doesn’t matter what you were paid at your previous gig, and don’t answer if they ask.

                What if it’s required?

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                  Walk, if you can. There are fewer gestures more powerful than walking away for something that an HR person would believe is so small in order to convey how serious it actually is and how serious you are about your financial privacy.

                  When it’s been required for me for a job I was earnestly interested in seeking, I told them to put down “something absurd so we get past this hurdle” and when pressed for a real answer, I would say “one dollar” or “ten million dollars” to make it look like a typo on their part.

                  Also, I’d remind them that asking current salary is illegal in several states and there’s a bill in almost every state legislature now that would outlaw it.

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                    For entry level folks at big big tech co’s, they’ll let them walk away, and offer to pay them much less if they don’t make up counter offer numbers.

                    So to me the answer is obvious, and representative salary numbers aren’t hard to find these days.

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                      Entry level is a whole different game. You have essentially zero leverage at that point. Given that nearly half of job offers are at or near entry-level, I feel like these posts really should distinguish between the kinds of advice given.

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                    Tell them you have an NDA

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                  The most important thing in my experience is: absolutely do not disclose your current salary, and ideally do not even disclose your desired range. The first person you will speak with at a prospective employer is commonly a recruiter or someone in HR. When you are asked what your salary expectations are, just tell this person that your primary concern is that you find the right fit, and that if this opportunity is the right fit for both parties, both parties can be flexible on salary. Then salary is not made to be a blocker up front (as with any negotiation, your BATNA can help your confidence, so being currently employed (rather than job-hunting while unemployed) can be a big asset, at least if your personality is like mine and you don’t automatically tend toward great negotiating confidence).

                  Giving the prospective employer any number n makes n + a tiny little bit the absolute maximum that you will be offered. If you cannot proceed without giving a number, it would be greatly beneficial to determine the approximate salary bands at the company you are applying for. I have randomly messaged people on linkedin (outside of my comfort zone, but it comes from my primary advice oracle, see below) and found them receptive to coffee, text chats, linkedin chats, etc - most working developers are various degrees of happy to discuss most aspects of their job with you. Most people who you aren’t already friends with will not disclose their precise salaries in the US in my experience, but any guidance is helpful, as the range is all over the place. For a 5-7yr experienced Rails dev (in my personal experience) you could reasonably expect to ask for anywhere from 90k to 170k, depending on a whole load of factors/circumstances I cannot even pretend to understand. The variance is enormously high in our field. The place you are applying, the level you are applying at, etc are all huge factors that will be unknown to you if you don’t actively try to discover some hints from people who work there or have worked there.

                  To put it mildly I don’t generally subscribe to what I take to be his world view, but I have benefitted extraordinarily from the salary/negotiation/career advice in three Patrick McKenzie articles. Most of what I recommended above comes from these three articles (though what I recommended has also proven true in my own decade of experience, and I am consequently making generous salary/benefits/equity I would be happy to discuss in further approximate detail via PM) and I re-read these three articles before any potential job change, salary/promotion discussion, etc that I may engage in:

                  https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/ https://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-programmer/ https://www.kalzumeus.com/2015/05/01/talking-about-money/

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                    I can absolutely subscribe to the first blog post (and curiously, also share your unease with patio11). I was reading this when interviewing last time and the company did everything right by the book as the blog post explains, so I could see right through what and why. To the point where it felt kinda ridiculous since I could basically quote the paragraph by which they are playing.

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                      The most important thing in my experience is: absolutely do not disclose your current salary, and ideally do not even disclose your desired range.

                      This does not always work. Sometimes the potential employer will say “we need to know a ballpark desired range so we can decide if it’s worth continuing or not. We’ve had people ask for unreasonably large amounts at the end of the interview process and it was a waste of everyone’s time.”

                      I think that’s reasonable. However, the reverse is equally true - if they need to know a ballpark number to proceed, maybe you do too. Assuming good faith on both sides, something digitally equivalent to “each of us writes down a range and simultaneously hands it to the other” would be fair. (I haven’t actually tried this - can anybody suggest an online way to do this?) Otherwise they’re getting to see your cards when you can’t see theirs.

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                        This does not always work. Sometimes the potential employer will say “we need to know a ballpark desired range so we can decide if it’s worth continuing or not. We’ve had people ask for unreasonably large amounts at the end of the interview process and it was a waste of everyone’s time.”

                        Yeah, I think it’s much less-bad to give a desired range than a current salary (or specific expectation), as long as you understand that the bottom of the range you give is effectively “the number” in their eyes. I have said “mid-hundreds” (mid-hundred-thousand-dollar range), which is a nice phrase if you are in the position to negotiate like that, since it’s vague about the bottom of the range.

                        Also, when very pesky employers have repeatedly and pointedly asked what I am making now, I have said as a last resort “This is how much I need to leave. My salary now is not a topic of conversation.” and then given a number. I haven’t ended up taking any of those jobs, though I have gotten offers that way.

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                          as long as you understand that the bottom of the range you give is effectively “the number” in their eyes.

                          Yeah, there’s the rub.

                          I have said “mid-hundreds” (mid-hundred-thousand-dollar range), which is a nice phrase if you are in the position to negotiate like that, since it’s vague about the bottom of the range.

                          Nice trick!

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                          I agree that both parties should know early in the process what is the ballpark number each is thinking. As long as they talk about that after they share the number. But having been on both sides of the hiring process I suggest to not give the number first. If you’re applying and they ask, “what kind of compensation are you thinking?” Respond with “I’m still deciding as I learn more about the role, what is the salary range for this role?”

                          In California the employer cannot ask you for your current comp, but they can ask what your desired comp is. But you can ask them (and they’re supposed to answer) what the salary range is for the role.

                          Reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” helped me get better at this. And there is a create episode from NPR called “An FBI Hostage Negotiator Buys A Car” that I think could be useful.

                          https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/12/21/167802325/episode-425-an-fbi-hostage-negotiator-buys-a-car

                          The bottom line is either the company has money to throw at problems like having enough people to do the work or they don’t. Get a feel for that and if you think that might make it difficult to get a comp you want… be ready to show what hep you can bring to their company right from the start. And this is the big one, show them how much you can grow with their company. Hiring is expensive and they should want to invest in people.

                          If they’re not engaging in a discussion and are just sticking to an existing range for the role, you’re competing against a market that they think has plenty of other candidates or it is a red flag around how they view their staff.

                          Good luck!

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                          BATNA is incredibly important! Being able to (plausibly) just walk away from a deal gives you much much stronger negotiating position.

                          I’ve had situations where the employer said “No, we can’t pay that much”, and when I said “Bye then” (with more pleasantries, that’s a short version), they later came back accepting what I asked for.

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                            I’ve had situations where the employer said “No, we can’t pay that much”, and when I said “Bye then” (with more pleasantries, that’s a short version), they later came back accepting what I asked for.

                            I have had that experience as well - the first time, it was not a negotiating tactic, it just wasn’t worth it for me to take an offer $15k lower than my other offer, even though it was a job I really wanted. I felt that I had walked away, but a week later they called me and had made that $15k happen. It was my first “officially” fully remote job, and I worked there for over 4 years!

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                            The most important thing in my experience is: absolutely do not disclose your current salary, and ideally do not even disclose your desired range.

                            This seems like bad advice. If you have a current job, you should give a number (which should be your current gig + $10k or $15k, depending on what you want to go up to). If they can’t afford you, it’s best to get that out of the way right off the bat and not waste anyone’s time.

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                              I disagree a great deal. Giving a company a number will peg your salary at that number (maybe plus 5% or so), and it will make negotiating much harder since you’ll be negotiating against a number you provided. It should be feasible to discover whether a company “can afford you” or not before applying, but if not, why limit your potential salary to avoid a potentially waste of time? The risk of wasting ~4 hours of interview time vs the risk of leaving 20k/year over 4 years on the table seems worth taking in my opinion anyway.

                              Even philosophically, having a number that you “want to go up to” seems like the wrong mental approach: in the ideal case, you determine what a company is willing to initially offer you, then try to go 5-10% above that.

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                            Just sit down and think about what you need. Then ask for it maybe some surplus. Be confident about it and make clear this is not negotiable.

                            If this is reasonable I am sure you will succeed. Don’t be greedy and don’t compare yourself to others. Even if they have a largely greater salary: if yours is enough to pay your bills and to keep you happy everything should be fine.

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                              This is an interesting comment because it brings in the missing component - a philosophy of life. At one end, there is Tolstoy, whose answer to “How much land does a man need” is “just enough for a grave” (much less if you are Hindu, possibly). This spartan answer is a little extreme, but it does point to remembering to balance living your life and working to provide for it.

                              It also brings to mind the studies which suggest that it’s not how much we earn in absolute terms that is important but how much we earn in relation to our peers. Which suggests that the happiest man is he who does not compare anything!

                              To pause from going down this philosophical rabbit hole, the correct answer is that there is no correct answer but I will point out one phenomenon I think is fairly universal - your lifestyle expands to fit your income. If you can fit your lifestyle within your income, with some buffer for the inevitable economic turndown you are doing as well as you can.

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                                Very wise advise. Like they say, comparison is the thief of joy.

                                It would still be pertinent to check what market salaries are and negotiate. For persons who are able to accurately tally what they “need”, the number will likely be much less than what their work is worth . Any extra headroom can also bring a person closer to retirement. A benchmark rather than a comparison i suppose.

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                                Can’t say enough good things about Valerie Aurora’s guide. The first page’s quick-and-dirty directly answers your question.

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                                  Always act slightly disappointed, no matter what the job offer is. Ask for time to think about it (i.e., plan your strategy) before getting back to them.

                                  This one could be slightly risky if you know other people are also in the running for the position. If it’s a close race they might end up going with a person who seems excited rather than one who is acting a bit disappointed. At the very least, if you do accept the offer don’t do so with an air of disappointment.

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                                    I totally agree with your point. I feel like employers are actively looking for excitement and if the interview process removes that excitement… that’s not encouraging to the potential employer. I’m also not really sure what the “acting disappointed” is supposed to add to a level-headed/non-emotional, “Thanks for your response, I’m going to take some time to consider the offer and will get back to you by Tuesday.”

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                                  Old-goat opinion:

                                  Go check out a pension calculator. What do you want to do when you’re retired? When do you want to retire? How much money do you need to make?

                                  How much do you make now? What rate of salary increases will you need in order to make your goals? Is that realistic (compare to previous increases, or if you don’t have any, take a conservative 5%)

                                  It always seems like you have plenty of time to figure this out when you’re young, but if you put it off too long, you’ll almost certainly realise you’re behind by the time you do it.

                                  Once you know what you want (need), salary negotiation is easy: Just say what you want. If they won’t pay it, you’re not going to meet your goals so there’s no point in continuing further. If you think they can pay more than this, then go back and reconsider your other estimates – or reconsider (upgrade) the lifestyle you want to have when you’re no longer working to live – or consider asking for the difference in PTO and other benefits.

                                  Equity is very difficult to valuate. If you’re early in your career (1-5 years) I’d recommend discounting it entirely. I work for a public (listed) company, and I’m a lot older than you so equity in my case has a cash value I can consider (it’s something like a 15-20% of my compensation). Software is one of those things where you think you can do it long past when other people retire, but you’ll find it’s a very different job at 40 than it is at 20, so it’s important to get a formula early you can adjust, instead of trying to figure it out late and being sad that your lifestyle will be so much different if you stop working.

                                  Simple “tricks” like not revealing your salary just cause you to benchmark yourself against the rest of the industry, and I look at this as a sucker move. Not that you have to reveal your salary or your expectations, but it’s much more important to price yourself correctly so you know whether this is going to make you happy or not. Have the number in mind, and you’ll know what you need to do.

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                                    Early in your career is the time to push hard on compensation, and save as much as you can. It just makes negotiating later on way easier, and if you have some savings, you don’t feel as panicked about running out of money when your skills become irrelevant. But you can drive it up at any time, as long as you have the ability to ask for more and accept a higher rejection rate for some time until it works. It will work if you apply your problem solving skills to it.

                                    Over time I found it’s actually not so important that I make a lot as long as everyone I work with makes about the same. It’s really nice to cut out all of those political thoughts about “that unskilled person negotiated waaay better compensation than me because they had a competing offer from COMPETITOR”. I could be making 10x more than my tiny German salary right now but it doesn’t matter because the things I’d use that money on anyway simply are not issues in a society that takes care of its people. Early-20’s me working hard in NYC would not have believed I would have ended up with this opinion, but time tends to make your priorities clear :]

                                    Working for one of the big names in SF, NYC, Zurich, Singapore, Beijing etc… is a pretty surefire way to get high lifelong earnings. Get competing offers from competitors. Interview when you don’t have to. Tell people your requirements are higher than you think they are, and you’ll be surprised how eager people are when employers are willing to pay them. It’s easy to ask for more than you could imagine anyone paying you when you don’t need a job. And then someone will offer you the job. Reach and you shall find, with persistence.

                                    Then you’ll realize you’re just sort of comfortable one day and you can focus on happiness.

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                                      Beyond what others said: negotiation starts long before you are discussing salary. Salary negotiation is often within a particular range for a particular job title, and you’ll do much better if the range is higher. And that happens much earlier in the process.

                                      So for example, in resume and interview, if you were the one who took initiative to make something happen, make sure that’s very clear. There’s big difference between “someone told me to X” and “I recognized need for X and went and did it”, and often people don’t make that distinction (see also https://codewithoutrules.com/2018/10/10/beyond-senior-software-engineer/).

                                      Another useful thing is to interview at multiple places at once. Then you can mention that during your interview process, to make you look more in demand. Even better is having another job offer in hand—“I’d love to work for you, but I am also considering this other offer…”. If the other offer is higher make sure to mention that too.

                                      It’s easier to get big jump in salary at new company. But if you want more free time, e.g. shorter workweek, you’re actually better off starting negotiating at your current job: https://codewithoutrules.com/2019/01/25/4-day-workweek-easy-way/

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                                          Just want to chime in in favour of those posts.

                                          They are actually quite informative!

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                                          I would like to be prepared on how to ask for more money

                                          Just ask for more money. Whatever they offer, ask for a bit more.

                                          If you are forced into giving a number first, give a number a little bit higher than what you optimistically think is the most you could make. They will likely come back with something a bit lower, but not wildly so, and everyone will think they’ve done pretty well out of the negotiation.

                                          The later you can leave this the better, because people are more invested in you once you’re through the interviews.

                                          or if money isn’t possible, how to translate that into asking for increased benefits or PTO

                                          I’m not sure that additional benefits or PTO are actually easier to get than more money. Hiring managers can make a case for a bit more money - that’s a normal part of internal discussions about a hire. But asking for special rules for an employee could be a lot harder, and they might be out of the purview of the people who’re normally involved in a hiring decision (eg, they’re highly unlikely to create a remote work policy just for you, if there isn’t one in place already). It’s going to depend on the org structure (small companies are likely to be more flexible) but be wary of anything that’s not in writing. I’ve seen informal arrangements work out just fine, but there’s always a risk that they’ll just get stopped one day. It’s usually easier to arrange that kind of thing - “Oh, Jane always works from home on Tuesdays” - after you’ve been there for a while, and have built up trust and a good reputation.

                                          Having said that, it never hurts to ask. Hell, you should just ask anyway, even if the salary is great. “If I could have another week of PTO that would make a huge difference, I really value PTO, I think it’s important to take time to recharge so I can be focused at work blah blah blah”. Maybe they’ll go for it, who knows. You lose nothing by asking.

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                                            I’m not sure that additional benefits or PTO are actually easier to get than more money.

                                            I actually think this is backwards. Even in massive enterprises individual managers tend to have great leeway outside of salary. Typically salary requires input from higher in the chain, HR, etc. Other benefits are often something that your manager has a far more direct remit over.

                                            I try to include a sign on bonus in all of my negotiations. My last few jobs that I left had an annual bonus and saying “a sign on bonus of $X seals this deal and helps me not give up that guaranteed money” was typically agreed to in a phone conversation - no “let me think about it” needed, it was completely in my managers budget and control.

                                            And saying “I have a planned vacation this year” up front is functionally equivalent to negotiating extra PTO days in year one. Don’t want to lie? Go write “VACATION” on an arbitrary week in your calendar late in the year, and tell your new boss you have some flexibility as to when it is taken ;)

                                            Beyond that, I or someone I directly work with has had success negotiating:

                                            • an increased annual bonus percentage
                                            • extra PTO days per year
                                            • dedicated annual training/conference funds * a biennial office equipment refresh fee for their home office
                                            • a fixed company match to a charity close to heart (no joke!)

                                            These asks are often easier for the company to satisfy, give you a meaningful improvement in quality of life, and position you as someone who isn’t strictly driven by money.

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                                            I personally consider this article by patio11 to be the authoritative source of information on this topic. Highly recommended, if you haven’t read already.

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                                              A lot of the negotiations tactics mentioned here are for me very related to playing poker. If you don’t like playing poker then don’t put yourself in a position where you have to do things like manipulation, reading people, conscious control of your communication/expression, taking risks where you’ll have to dealing with the possibility of winning and losing. Recruiters/hirers will be most comfortable when someone does not know what they want or does not have complete information about the market and tells them everything they want/need off the bat.

                                              There are some fundamental points that you need to understand to make sure you get what you want, and don’t get what you don’t want.

                                              • How much do you want the job? (people that are a fit for you, good environment, interesting work, meets personal goals etc. etc.)
                                              • What is the fair market rate and compensation package for someone with your skills in this kind of role?
                                              • How many jobs like this are available?
                                              • How will you feel if you make a high request and get turned down?
                                              • How will you feel if you make a low offer and get the job?

                                              You should able to balance all these factors and have some self awareness about how good you are at the poker skills. The better you are at poker, the more you can play with the risk factor and negotiations. If you don’t like poker/negotiations/risk, get all the facts straight for yourself and make sure you know what you want and work with objective information only.

                                              Re. translating money into benefits/PTO it’s also risk management, and knowing what is available in the market right now. Take stock/options if you understand the risk and that fits with your goals; negotiate PTO and other benefits according to what you want/need in terms of real life considerations, etc. etc.

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                                                At least my union in Denmark, IDA, has a wage report that they make every year, and publish to members.

                                                If you have access to something similar, you can get an idea of what other people earn and use that to calibrate your expectation.

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                                                  I’m a big fan of Josh D’s fearlesssalarynegotiation.com, personally. Lots of good strategic advice, but also spot-on “do this, don’t do that” tactical advice with scripts, email templates, etc.

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                                                    Yes! His site and his book were immensely helpful to me when I was getting my first job, as was patio11’s writing (mentioned elsewhere on this page). Josh D’s writing is so straightforward and well-organized. Just really good stuff.

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                                                    I can highly recommend this article, how to negotiate like a boss. It’s title is a bit too overblown, but it will help you if you work in tech. It hugely helped me make things less awkward once you accept this is a normal conversation with a regular cadence and you’re allowed to follow-up in between.

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                                                      After I had already matched with my team at Google and we were at the compensation stage, this is the letter I sent to the recruiter They gave me ([big co] base + $2000) and 30 more GSUs. In retrospect, I should have asked for more. :)

                                                      Hi [recruiter name],

                                                      I’m excited that we’re near the end of the process. I am especially happy that I found a good team fit, and that the team is excited about having me joining them soon.

                                                      I appreciate that you could tell me about the preliminary offer, but I was really expected a more fair offer. As the numbers stand now, I’ll be compensated less than I am at [big co] when taking into account NYC’s income tax and cost-of-living. The offer is about 7-12% higher than my current compensation, but the income tax increase on its own erases 9% of that. I’m also concerned that the base salary doesn’t even nominally match my current salary. While that leaves room for growth, my current compensation package at [big co] does the same. How about we look at a salary of ([big co] base + $2000) and (initial offer GSUs + 50) instead?

                                                      I’ve had a strong start to my career; I’ve been promoted both years. I’d love to bring my drive and talent to [manager]’s team at Google, but I can only do that with a fair offer. I hope we can finish up this part of the process so I can get to work on [manager]’s team as soon as possible.

                                                      Again, thank you so much for being patient and working with me so far.

                                                      Warm wishes, [name]

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                                                        Some great advice I got was its a combination of three things and you have to be happy with it. Each of these may have non tangible things beyond financial aspects, work flexibility etc.

                                                        1. What you think you should be paid
                                                        2. What the company thinks you should be paid
                                                        3. What the market is paying

                                                        Now given these survey the market, the best way I have done this is using the Visa application data for the US. It’s very transparent… https://h1bdata.info/index.php

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                                                          With a bachelor’s degree, I’ve tripled my starting salary from my starting gig in 2011, from 40k to 120k. I live in the american midwest.

                                                          The top-line advice I can give is that it’s a lot easier to get a pay raise by switching jobs than it is to ask for a raise from your current employer. You just have to be careful not to be seen as a job-hopper.

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                                                            Ask for what you think you’re worth (you’re probably worth it). And pad it. Then when it’s negotiated down, you still get what you wanted.

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                                                              In my experience confidence is key. Set a number that you want in your head and ask for that and depending on how much you want the job you can make it clear that there is room for negotiation there, but if you come off as anything but radiantly confident they will smell it and low ball you.

                                                              At my first job interview in the industry decades ago, the guy I was interviewing with had decided to pay me 25K/year, but because I came off so despareate for the job he offered me 23 and I took it gladly. Had I a different attitude I could probably have gotten 27 or maybe even a little more.

                                                              (Yes I worked for 23K/year in my first job in the industry. I’m old :)

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                                                                It’s important to know the going market value of your skills. People have mentioned looking at the H1B database, straight-up asking people who work at the company, Glassdoor (apparently tends to low-ball pretty badly), etc.

                                                                So, here’s another resource I’ve found useful: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-compensation/calculator/ – GitLab makes public the salary calculator that they use for their employees. They pay reasonably well (not stellar, not awful) and that might give you a better sense of what you can reasonable ask for.