Negotiating for the salary you deserve is one of the trickier (and emotionally fraught) parts of your career. Fortunately, there are many tried-and-true techniques for getting it done—whether you’re entering a new job or trying to boost your compensation at your current one.
The following tips come from the Ultimate Guide to a Successful Technology Career. Whatever your current career stage, the Guide has advice that you can use to get what you want—including a bigger salary. So without further ado…
Negotiating Your Salary at Your Current Organization
If you want your current company to give you a raise, your annual review is the best time to make that ask. Raises are often hard to obtain outside the standard review cycle. Even if you feel intimidated or uncomfortable with negotiating, we strongly recommend doing so; in a recent survey by Robert Half, 36 percent of managers said they were more likely to negotiate salaries than the year prior, and 50 percent were equally likely to negotiate.
Your chances of a beneficial discussion are high, in other words, so how should you go about negotiating? Check out a few pro tips below.
Show Your Value
Sit down and explain to your manager how your current scope of work makes you more valuable than what you’re currently being paid. If you can bring data that backs up your argument, do so. For instance, if you’ve created a new line of business or figured out how to save the company lots of money, you have substantial leverage in negotiations.
Find out which industries and tech hubs are paying top dollar for tech talent in Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report.
During your annual performance review, your manager may proactively offer a raise that you feel is too low. If that’s the case, you don’t have to automatically accept it. Instead, you can take a chance on asking for more, especially if your scope of responsibilities has increased over the past year. Similarly, if your manager proposes a raise in exchange for an expanded scope of work, you’ll need to analyze whether the extra dollars are worth the increase in your workload. More responsibility can help your career long-term, even if the money isn’t quite what you want.
You Can Negotiate for More Than Money
Whether you’re a newish or long-time employee, you can negotiate for increased benefits in lieu of cash. Perhaps you want funding to take educational courses, or more vacation time. The rise of hybrid and remote work also gives you much more leverage to negotiate a schedule that works for you; for example, if you want to only come into the office one day per week, your manager might be amenable to a conversation about that. Whatever perks you desire, a company may agree to those instead of a salary bump.
Don’t Be Intimated by Remote Negotiation
If you’re working remotely, you can still effectively negotiate salary. When you begin the virtual negotiation, make sure to spend a little time on “small talk,” which will put everyone at ease (and substitute for the usual in-office rituals, such as a handshake and coffee, that people use to settle into the discussion). Eliminate distractions, maintain eye contact and keep your language positive. From there, the discussion should proceed very much as it would in-person; make your ask, justify it by explaining your responsibilities and listen to what your manager has to say in return.
Negotiating Your Salary: New Job at a New Company
If you’re applying to a new job and want more money than they’re initially offering, keep the following points in mind:
Don’t Reveal Your Current Salary Ahead of Time
A recruiter or hiring manager might ask for your current salary, but that doesn’t mean you need to provide it (in some states, it’s actually unlawful to ask). If the initial ask is part of a written application, you can either leave that section blank or write that you’re willing to talk about salaries in person. If it comes up during the interview, you can say something like, “If I’m right for this role, I’m sure the salary will work itself out.” You may consider flipping the question back on the interviewer: “How much has the company set aside for the position?”
Don’t Start Negotiations Too Late
Don’t accept a job and sign a contract, only to come back a week or two later and ask for a belated money bump. The time to negotiate is before you sign, which is your moment of maximum leverage.
Don’t Aim Too High or Low!
Just because you live in a major tech hub full of technologists (for example) doesn’t mean you need to offer yourself up at a low salary in order to seem more appealing to a prospective employer. Believe in your abilities, but also don’t ask for an absurd amount of money, even if you do possess those highly specialized and rare skills. Sure, some machine-learning and A.I. experts are earning millions; that doesn’t mean you can ask for a seven-figure salary just because you’ve mastered TensorFlow. Use resources like Salary.com to get a high-level idea of current ranges for your role in your area code.
Do your research to figure out what technologists with your skills and experience tend to earn.