The future job outlook for developers is promising, at 24% projected growth between 2016 and 2026. Developers are becoming more and more in demand and their salaries worldwide are increasing, seeing a 2018 US median of $50 per hour. If you’re a recent grad looking for work, negotiation classes can prime you to prepare for agreeing your first offer with these four tips.
Understand your skill value
What developer skills do you possess that are relevant to the post you’re applying for? Your skills are a mix of your developer training (technical skills) and your people skills (soft skills). Base your negotiation on the measurable professional value you can provide to your organization.
For instance, if you have some experience in sales, then prepare to demonstrate how this can add value to the business by better understanding your stakeholders’ needs, and perhaps promote what your department can deliver in non-technical language.
If you’ve previously attended contract negotiation classes, you may offer additional value to the developer team at your new company. Understand what skills, qualities, and attitudes your employer values and position yourself accordingly.
Research and prepare
It’s important to thoroughly research what you can expect from your industry, company, and role. Having the knowledge that comes with extensive research allows you to be prepared when exploring your options and when deciding to agree on your first offer.
What’s the median salary for entry-level developers in your area? What kind of perks can you expect? Familiarize yourself with the industry standards before you walk into your interview.
Some great places to begin your research include:
Another aspect you should consider is the company culture. To determine if a company’s culture is the right fit for you, consider:
- What working environments do I work best in?
- Do the company’s values align with my own?
- How are the interpersonal interactions between staff and management?
- What does my career trajectory look like, and can I achieve this with the company?
Perks and benefits
Research the perks that developers in your area of expertise and with your level of skill may expect. For example:
- Do developers get ongoing training?
- Are other employers offering equity in the company? This is highly relevant to tech startups.
- How many paid sick days and vacation days are you eligible for?
- Is there usually a probationary period for entry-level developers in your area? If so, you should be aware of the length of probation and perhaps negotiate the criteria against which your performance will be judged.
- What kind of medical and dental insurance can you expect?
- Do you get better perks and pay if you’re a member of a professional association?
- Can you work from home?
- Are phone and computer included?
Set your expectations right
With your well-researched knowledge of industry standards, set your salary expectations ahead of the salary negotiation. Prior research can help you have a number in mind and a relevant contract negotiations course can help you use that number as your negotiation anchor. Your negotiation anchor acts as your reference point whenever you have salary discussions.
If the offer is too low, you can decide to walk away and keep looking for better opportunities. If the offer is close to your anchor, use your negotiation training to improve your rate. If the company makes an offer that’s much higher than your salary expectations, give pause to understand the reason. Might you have undervalued yourself? Is the company expecting longer hours or more deliverables than its competitors? Does the company offer far fewer benefits, so that everything is built into their higher rate?
While some recruiters may ask about your salary expectations during the initial screening process, some may hold off salary discussions until you’ve met face to face. Additionally, some recruiters will ask directly what you expect salary-wise, or they might ask you to respond to a salary range offer.
Whichever method your recruiter or interviewer chooses, it’s best to either not give any number or wait until the interview. Alternatively, if you prefer to share a number, ensure you don’t allow your current or previous position to limit your salary aspirations. Do not share your current or previous salary unless this bolsters your aspirations. When you have a set salary expectation, it shows that:
- You know your worth.
- You are clear about the value you bring.
- You are confident.
- You are aware of the company’s pay scales for developers at entry level, mid-level, and high proficiency level.
Know your strengths to match the required job role
Expert negotiation classes equip trained developers to get to know the threats and opportunities their employers may be facing. You can leverage the information gathered to work out the best value exchange that can result in a win-win contract between you and your employer. Try and find out:
- Why does the company need a new developer? If the underlying need isn’t shared with you early on in your process, then ask.
- What is the company’s budget? While you may not be able to get this number out of your boss, it’s worth asking. You will be surprised how often a company will divulge their ceiling.
- What is your prospective boss’ strategic goals for the year? Bosses love a team who do their best to make their boss look good.
- Where are the developer pain points faced by the company? Virtually every role is filled to address a problem or pain point.
- What are the competitors’ goals for the next year? This places you head and shoulders ahead of other developers who don’t think expansively enough.
- How much time and how many resources have the prospective employer invested in recruiting and retaining a developer of your skill level? If they have invested a lot of resources and time, then their motivation will likely be high to choose, and so they should be more prepared to be flexible in negotiating your remuneration package.
It may be more difficult getting a high salary from a cash-strapped company. However, there’s still room for negotiation if your developer skill set is going to result in an increase in the company’s revenue or significantly reduce expenditure or risk. For instance, if you develop software that automates customer acquisition and increases marketing Return On Investment (ROI), then you can justify asking for a higher salary or other benefits.
Most developers find salary negotiations to be uncomfortable and awkward. Especially after getting a job offer after a protracted search in a competitive field. As a developer, don’t let fear and uncertainty deter you from negotiating for the salary you deserve. You’re more likely to achieve a sizable increase in salary and benefits at your first negotiation than subsequent reviews once in the role.
Research industry standards to set justifiable expectations. Know your worth and strategically use leverage to create a win-win relationship between you and your prospective employer.
James Tighe is a long-time content creator and editor. Through his writings, James brings the best and most important lessons from negotiation classes in NYC to a business audience. He also enjoys the opportunity to work with skilled negotiators, integrating best practices into his own life.