After you have successfully completed a job interview, the inevitable question of your new salary will come up. If you are just starting out as a new engineer, it can be difficult to figure out what salary you should ask for, and whether or not the number you have in mind is correct. In fact, many new software engineers, data scientists, and web designers skip the salary negotiation process altogether, even if employers are flexible on compensation, because the process can be tedious and nerve-wracking.
Salary negotiation can be scary, especially when you’re just getting started. However, if you have a specific salary in mind, or think you are worth more than the salary offered by the job, you should not hesitate to negotiate. While you may not have as much experience as other engineers, if you can prove your worth to an employer, you’ll be surprised at how flexible they can be.
To help you navigate your first salary negotiation as a new tech worker, we’ve compiled a list of top tips. These tips will help you decide how to approach your first salary negotiation as a new engineer so that, if and when your salary negotiation comes up, you’ll be equipped with the information you need. With these tips, there’s no reason for you to feel awkward when the topic of salary comes up.
1. Research Salaries for Similar Positions
Before you walk into the interview room to discuss compensation, make sure that you have spent time researching salaries for similar positions. Websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed crowdsource salary information make it easy to find out how much people in your desired position earn. You can use the information you find on these sites to help you determine what number you should mention in the interview room when starting a new career in computer technology.
In addition, make sure that you know your value relative to these salaries. If you think you deserve money on the higher range of the salary spectrum, don’t be afraid to ask for a higher amount. The key is to have a number in mind so that you can mention it confidently in your interview. However, you need to make sure that you can justify your number later on, so you should only choose a number you think reflects your worth to the business.
To get you started, here are the average salaries of some of the top tech jobs:
2. Be Confident and Patient
Confidence is key in any negotiation, and salary discussions are no different. When a company brings up the topic of compensation, make sure that you are clear and confident in the discussion. If the number they propose is too low, do not be afraid to say so and respond with a reason as to why you are worth more to the company. In every discussion, make sure that you know your worth and stay positive.
However, while confidence is key, so is patience. Salary negotiations should only occur when you have been offered the job, which gives you more leverage. Further, when you do finally bring up the topic of compensation, make sure that you are patient with the employer. They may want a few minutes to check if they can authorize your desired salary, or may need some time to think about you in more depth.
3. Prove Your Worth
Before you start negotiating your salary, it is helpful to make a list of reasons why you are worth the number you have in your mind. Call it your “brag list,” if you will. If you attended a coding bootcamp, be sure to mention it to the employer; if you have worked on open source projects, mention that, too. The more you talk about your accomplishments with an employer, the easier it is for them to see the value that you can provide to their organization.
4. Have a Specific Number in Mind, but be Flexible
As we discussed earlier, you should do some research and prepare a specific number that you intend to propose in an interview. This number should be going through your mind throughout the hiring process, and as soon as you are asked about compensation, you should be willing to say that number proudly. Don’t use a range of salaries, as doing so suggests you may be able to concede in the negotiations.
While having a specific number in mind is important, you should also be flexible on that number. Of course, if a company is proposing a salary that is too low, you don’t have to continue with the negotiations. But if an employer has a slightly lower number in mind, and you are interested in the position, you may want to consider lowering your expectations — after all, not everyone can make a 6-figure salary out of the gate! Or you can say something like: “I am excited about this position, but I was expecting a salary around $45,000, based on my experience, passion, and educational background. Are you open to discussing this further?”
5. Listen and Stay Strong
This one almost goes without saying, but given its importance in the salary negotiation process, we’ll state it again: you should listen actively throughout the negotiation. By paying attention to the other person, you can get to know their needs in more depth, and use that information to come to a solution that satisfies both you and the employer.
Listening also means that you should be able to respond well when someone says “no.” Instead of resisting a “no,” use it as an opportunity to get to know the other person. After all, salary discussions are negotiations, and hearing a “no” is very common. Stay strong, and keep listening even if an employer says “no.”
6. Ask Questions
Throughout the negotiation process, it can be helpful to ask questions to learn more about the employer’s needs and desires. For example, you may want to ask an employer “What are your biggest organizational priorities?” and “How do I fit in with those priorities?” to get a better sense of how much they need someone to fill your role. These questions, for example, allow you to get a better sense of where the employer is at, and where you may fit in.
Asking questions can also be useful after you have pitched a number to an employer. If an employer seems surprised by the number you have stated, for example, you could ask “Does that number fit in with the money you have budgeted for a web developer salary?” or a similar question. Not only will asking questions at this stage help keep the conversation flowing, but it will also give you useful information about moving forward.
7. Keep Negotiating
Negotiations on salaries can go on for days, even weeks in some cases. So it’s no surprise that you should be in this for the long-run. If an employer is not ready to reach your desired salary, or make a compromise, don’t be afraid to propose a counteroffer. Keep in constant contact with the employer and remind them of your worth — the more valuable you appear, the more money a company will offer you.
Negotiations are difficult, especially those that relate to your salary. Asking someone for money is never easy, and often you have to do this in front of an actual human who has the capacity to decide whether or not you will be hired. But if you follow the tips we have outlined above, you’ll be ready to walk into your first job negotiation as a new engineer with confidence! Remember that negotiation is a skill — albeit a complicated one — and the more you practice, the better you’ll get.