Podcast on Salary Negotiations

For those software developers in pursuit of a new job or getting a raise, this podcast on Kalzumeus on salary negotiations is filled with great advice.

How to answer “What’s your current salary?”

The next time you are on the phone with a recruiter or receive a message from human resources that asks what you are looking for in terms of salary, you should remember this advice:

The best way is to be honest. I mentioned, when I summarized the question, that there are really two components, your current salary, and then your desired salary.
I think the best way to answer the current salary part is to say something, like that you’re not comfortable sharing that information, and you prefer to focus on the value that you can add to the company, and not what you’re paid at your current job. I think that’s a very honest answer, I think it helps you demonstrate that you want to add value to the company that you’re talking to, and that’s a good sign, and it’s a good signal to send to them.
In terms of the desired salary part of it, I prefer to focus on, again, the value that you can add. My kind of pat answer to this that I like to suggest is, “I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility, and compensation,” and I think you’re signaling a lot of good things there. “I want to do more than I was doing before, I want to get paid more than I was doing before, and I want this to be a big step forward,” by not giving that juicy nugget of information, which is your desired salary.

Non-salary components of a job offer

Benefits and non-salary components of the job offer are important and the article has some more great advice on this. If you cannot get more salary, you may be able to get other things in lieu of salary, such as more vacation days or higher training budgets.

To put a finer point on some of the things you said, for me, I always emphasize that base salary is the most important thing. It should probably be the most important thing to you when you’re negotiating starting salary. I could think of exceptions, but for the most part, I think that’s a good rule of thumb.
Then, you just prioritize the other things that you think might be available. Your tactic is really great, starting with something that’s important to you. If they shoot it down, then asking them what’s available, what levers are available to pull. I think it’s important to start with some sort of priority in your mind so you can try to get the best thing.

Getting a raise

If you are already working at a company, there is advice in the podcast on negotiating a raise and salary increase. You must keep track of your accomplishments and any new responsibilities you have gained and gather information on how much someone with your new job description would be making. If you were hired again today, how much more salary would you be getting with your set of responsibilities? The advice is excellent:

…if you go to your manager and say, “I would like a raise because these conditions have changed. It’s been this long since my salary was set, and I think my value is closer to this other number,” then you have a conversation that can be very productive. Your manager has very specific, tangible things to evaluate and give you feedback on.
I think you should start by figuring out what your target salary is. Then, it’s important to catalog all the things that you mentioned earlier in terms of what are the things that are different now than they were when we set my current salary.
Am I leading a team and I wasn’t leading a team before? Have I learned new technology? Am I managing more projects? Am I managing a bigger portfolio? Am I doing more sophisticated reporting that demonstrates what my team is up to? All these things that you could be doing, I call them your accomplishments.
You want to specifically catalog what are the things that you’re doing that are adding additional value since your last salary was set. You also want to get social proof. I call it accolades. What have other people said about you?
Here’s all the stuff that I’ve been doing since my salary was last set to add value to the firm, to continue to take on responsibility. Here are a few things other people have said about me. Can we talk about getting a raise to X for me now?”

Fearless salary negotiation

We really appreciate the advice of Josh Doody, who has also written a book titled “Fearless Salary Negotiation”. While there may be other books on the subject, this is one we enjoyed reading.

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