Negotiating and navigating the salary conversation

As the year closed this week I got 3 LinkedIn messages asking about the risk of changing jobs.

Risk? There’s no risk, if you have a job already, interviewing at other companies is literally not a risk to you.

The most common reason people do it is because they want to see how much they could earn.

The “what to ask for” is the most recurring and nerve breaking question, so I thought I’d write up a guide of how I have negotiated mine in the past.

Why? I feel that after 10+ years in software industry, I managed to handle this situation pretty well.

Usually you’re asked about your salary expectation during the initial process and at the end.

Let’s break it down in rounds like, during a boxing match.

🔴 First round:

I suggest you act proactively and ask during your first talk with the HR person, what the expected package for the position would look like.

This will give you a good idea if the position is even worth of your time:
In our economical climate, it’s not uncommon that a company will offer you a lower salary than what you discussed at the start of your interview vs the end of the interview. Massive red flag!

When you talk with the HR person at the start of your interview journey, be aware they don’t give a fuck about you, or your salary.

They’re just making sure you’re not a scammer or a psychopath.

Talk to them and ask for the expected package range and aim for highest peak.

If you have no idea what your salary should look like it means that you haven’t done enough googling around.

The best thing to do if you don’t know how to google is to ask people on LinkedIn from your network - that have a very similar job title to what you want to do - what they think a good range looks like for their position.

When you go into a salary discussion with an HR professional, always add 10% to the number you heard. If someone told you $100K is the base salary, ask for $110K base.

🔴 Second round:

Congrats, it’s likely that if you’re gonna be asked about salary/compensation again it means that you’ve passed all the bullshit white-board coding interview and met with some potential co-workers/managers.

Take a breather, pour yourself a drink of choice.

Someone is gonna ask you again “what are your salary expectations”. Very soon.

Remember that number from earlier? Now add another 10% to that number. $~120K

👉 Here’s why

You want to get to the point just before they say “this is too much”.

Becuase they didn’t use this sentence during Round 1, it means there’s still room for negotiation.

If you’re unsure how to back it up just use this:
“I will be transparent, my current compensation is $110 but I think $120K for this role makes more sense, given the fact that I made to this point of the interview I think this is a good number to use as the base salary - did you have something else in mind or have other perks to offer?”.

You made it this far so it’s likely that they have other candidates.

As long as you are respectful and polite you won’t get rejected. This never fails

Now, they either agree that $120K is good or they will try to lowball you again.

Here you can do 2 things:

  • Take their lower offer - hopefully still above $110K
  • Boomshakalaka 🤯 Use the “I’m interviewing elsewhere and they offered me a package with a base comp of $120K”

Now you just wait and see what they say: if they say that’s too high and they can’t do it, you just gotta have to make your mind up and decide whether it’s worth accepting something between $110K and $120K

This money usually doesn’t mean anything to a large company, $10K to get you to work for them and your happiness - easy.

At a startup with VC money - likewise - unless it’s pre-seed or something. The value that you add to a company once onboarded is much more than a mere $10K over a year!!!
Good luck!
Ok this is a big chunk of text, I hope someone reads it and finds value.