First off, may I say, I really SUCK something awful at negotiating salary. And why wouldn’t I? I do it maybe once a year, if that; I’m negotiating directly for myself (no middleman), and it’s outside my core skill as an engineer. I want to move past this as fast as possible and get back to doing what I love: everything BUT talking about money. Well, guess what? That’s the story of every other programmer I’ve ever met.
I’ll do you a solid and not drone on endlessly what you can read in more detail (and much better written) elsewhere. But, it does come down to these points:
- Never give a number.
- Salary negotiation is the most important financial decision you make. More even than owning a home.
- Your actual (fully loaded) cost to an employer is several times your base salary. They will not get a bonus by nickel and diming you, and they will not be offended if you ask. You will not be blackballed. $5,000 is, in the scheme of things, chump change.
- They’ve sunk thousands invested in just talking with you, so – assuming you have agreement-in-principle after several rounds of interviews – they want you. Negotiating will never make worthwhile offers worse.
- Once again, never be the first to give a number.
- Use words like “We” and “You” (which is better, since people care a lot more about their problem than yours.)
Ahead of time you should know the following:
- What the marketplace will support.
- What you are worth, what value you provide – with specific examples.
- Know your three numbers – the money you want, a good “settle” number, and the drop dead bottom line. NEVER tell them that third number!
Do NOT say – “What’s the salary range?” You should already know this from your market research. Dice and LinkedIn exist, use them! In your tone, don’t be adversarial – and give longer answers than in interviews. Iterate that you’re excited about the job. The tone is, I want to be here, I’m going to add a tremendous amount of value, here’s what I’m worth – let’s find a fair # that works for both of us.
So here’s some scripts to talk from:
“What’s your current salary?”
- Do NOT say: A specific number. You can’t lie here. But you are backed into a corner… and this isn’t the time to So you evade:
- I’m willing to entertain any reasonable offer.
- I’m confident I’m within your range.
“I really need a number to move the process forward.”
- Do NOT say: First and foremost, NEVER give a number. They’re trying to get you to compromise your negotiating position.
- Say: “I’m more concerned about discovering whether we’re a mutual fit. If we’re a great fit, then I can be flexible on the numbers with you and you can be flexible with me. If we’re not a great fit, then numbers are ultimately irrelevant, because your companies only hires A players and I only work at roles where I would be an A player.”
- Honorable mention: “It’s so important to me that this is a good mutual fit. Let’s talk about why I’m a great fit for this position; I know you’re concerned about ____. In addition to my previous successes, I have some great ideas on what I’d do on this… Would you like me to drill into those or is there another job area you’re more concerned about.”
Well, you know, I would hate to have to walk away from the negotiation over this. Working with your company looked like it would have been such a wonderful opportunity. The market is tight right now. Hmm. Well, salary is one part of the total compensation package. In terms of total compensation, we’re probably looking at something like $200K, correct? (30-50% + FT salary)
- OTHER AREAS: Training. Vacation days. Project assignments. Travel.
- “Hmmm. This is an important decision where we both have to walk away happy. That means me taking a specific number to my wife for consideration.
“We were thinking about $60,000 and maybe throwing in a can of pork and beans.”
- “60,000 is interesting but not quite where we need to be to get this done. Do you have any flexibility on that number? … That isn’t quite what I had in mind, but the right package offer could make that attractive. How much vacation comes with the package?… If you could do X days a year (or a bonus of $___, etc), I could compromise on $*****.”
- “First off, I just want to say, I’m very excited about this opportunity. I really want to work for XCORP. The experience I bring to the table in previous roles directly translates to this and I believe warrants a much higher salary. In terms of my own research on the marketplace, the range is more like $XXXX to XXXX. Given my experience and my ability to deliver value, I believe I deserve to be at the higher end of the scale.
- At the end of the day, I would look at this as an investment. At the end of the day, I think I’ll be able to deliver more than that $XXX difference.
OK, I talked with my manager, and he’s offering $67,000. Plus two cans of pork and beans. Would that be acceptable?
- “You know, one of the things we didn’t talk about was all the things around salary. Stock options, bonuses, vacation days. What can you come to the table with here.”
- “I think that goes a long way towards closing the gap. I really appreciate your flexibility there, because I am committed to this role, and options are a great way to demonstrate you’re committed. What would the review cycle be for my performance as far as evaluating my candidacy for a promotion and a raise? My understanding is that it tends to be a year, ”
- Great video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY5SeCl_8NE#t=121
- Love the book Getting To Yes. http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Yes-Negotiate-Agreement-Without/dp/0743526937