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Negotiating salary

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

So I might get an offer from this other company, also as a software engineer.  They want to know how much I want to make.  I've made the mistake of disclosing my salary expectations before getting my current job, and my relatives told me I was stupid for doing so.  I don't want to tell them, but the company keeps asking me the same question. 

 

The thing is, my current job is very easy.  Hypothetically, I don't even need to work 40 hours a week.  I work around 40 hours a week now and management told me I'm doing great.  If I go to this new job, I'm sure I'll need to work at least 50 hours a week to do a great job.  With the social problems in my life and the fact that I'll be turning 30 soon, I want to take advantage of my youth while I still have it.

 

Therefore, if I don't get at least 10k more at this new job, I'll stay put.  I don't want to ask for too much and make myself seem too expensive, but I don't want to ask for too little either.  However, the last time I told someone my rock bottom price I got less than I could have.

post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LooksGood View Post

So I might get an offer from this other company, also as a software engineer.  They want to know how much I want to make.  I've made the mistake of disclosing my salary expectations before getting my current job, and my relatives told me I was stupid for doing so.  I don't want to tell them, but the company keeps asking me the same question. 

 

The thing is, my current job is very easy.  Hypothetically, I don't even need to work 40 hours a week.  I work around 40 hours a week now and management told me I'm doing great.  If I go to this new job, I'm sure I'll need to work at least 50 hours a week to do a great job.  With the social problems in my life and the fact that I'll be turning 30 soon, I want to take advantage of my youth while I still have it.

 

Therefore, if I don't get at least 10k more at this new job, I'll stay put.  I don't want to ask for too much and make myself seem too expensive, but I don't want to ask for too little either.  However, the last time I told someone my rock bottom price I got less than I could have.

 

10k increase for a software engineer doesn't sound too high. don't know what your current salary is, but friends in their 30's with a few years of experience are making 120k+, adding 10k to 120k would only be like an 8% increase which seems on the low end.

 

See if you can get an info on salary ranges for the position from say glassdoor.com or similar, but when talking to them I'd ask them the salary range for the position. Get them to come up with a number first, and then you negotiate up from there. 

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TiberiasUSA View Post

 

10k increase for a software engineer doesn't sound too high. don't know what your current salary is, but friends in their 30's with a few years of experience are making 120k+, adding 10k to 120k would only be like an 8% increase which seems on the low end.

 

See if you can get an info on salary ranges for the position from say glassdoor.com or similar, but when talking to them I'd ask them the salary range for the position. Get them to come up with a number first, and then you negotiate up from there. 


I make about 100k now.  I was saying at least 10k, it's more like 15k though.  Are these friends in their early 30s, mid 30s, or late 30s?  I looked on glassdoor and my minimum is like their maximum that they have offered historically for that position.  In my previous experience when I asked a company for a range, they either lowballed the range or gave one with a really wide span that wouldn't tell me much.

 

Are you and your friends software engineers in the bay area too?

post #4 of 16
I have done this repeatedly, although at much lower sums and now earn about 30% more than my peers.

My strategy has always been " I would need to be offered at least $10 to consider the position, but I believe that $15 is much more in line with my experience and skill set"

9 times out of 10 they come back with something between 10 and 15, so simply set your minimum as Current +10% and max as Current +30%. That way even if they low-ball you, you still end up with your minimum desired increase.

The other popular tactic is "I don't feel that my current salary has any impact on the work I will by carrying out at your organisation. I prefer to negotiate salary based on responsibility and skills rather than previous employment". That can go either way, as they may feel that you're not playing the game by their rules.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

I have done this repeatedly, although at much lower sums and now earn about 30% more than my peers.
My strategy has always been " I would need to be offered at least $10 to consider the position, but I believe that $15 is much more in line with my experience and skill set"
9 times out of 10 they come back with something between 10 and 15, so simply set your minimum as Current +10% and max as Current +30%. That way even if they low-ball you, you still end up with your minimum desired increase.
The other popular tactic is "I don't feel that my current salary has any impact on the work I will by carrying out at your organisation. I prefer to negotiate salary based on responsibility and skills rather than previous employment". That can go either way, as they may feel that you're not playing the game by their rules.


Your post gave me a great idea, I should say "I would need <minimum amount to definitely leave my current job>, but I believe <max paid for position on glassdoor + 5k or whatever> is better aligned with my skills and what I can bring to your company.  Thanks!

post #6 of 16
I'm sort of in the same scenario.

I currently work 33 hours a week, and make $75k a year. I just interviewed for a position that would likely require me to work 50-60 hours a week.

It is an internal position, and I know they will be asking my salary expectations on the second interview, and I fully intend to leverage this change in work hours to ask for a raise substantially higher then I normally would. Even just going back to a 40 hour work week, the same hourly rate puts me over $90k/year .. and I would not be interested in this new role for anything less then $90k.

As long as you can justify it .. ask for it. Negotiating is a two way street .. I wouldn't want to work for someone (the hiring manager in particular) if he gets scared away from the negotiating table after just 1 offer.
post #7 of 16
I'm about to go completely go off topic, as I'm not going to offer an advice on "negotiating salary", other than to make sure it's what you want to do before you do negotiate anything.

As to whether it's a good move? In my opinion it depends on a bunch of things.

Will you be learning new things/technologies?

Do you work in a niche (or outdated) technology?

Is there more room for advancement at the new company? (or do you even want to manage developers?)

Do you like where you work? Would they freak out (i.e. fire you ) if they found out you were working on a side project?

Are there other considerations? (i.e. Debts?, Upcoming babies? )

If I could get into a time machine I would definitely do things differently with trading hours for dollars . The way I look at it is this. If you make a 100k and work 40 hours a week, you are making $50 an hour. You bump that up to 50 a week you need to either be getting 125K or experience that you can turn into atleast that much in short order. Now that may sound like "money" is everything, but I'm not even suggesting that you need to make more than you do now, but the more hours you work, the harder doing anything outside of work becomes. Whether its' learning new technologies, starting a new company, or playing golf. It's real easy to do whatever you want when you work 35 hours a week. At 55 it becomes hard to do much outside of the weekend. Find one of those great paying jobs were you work 70 hours a week, and you can't do anything except eat, sleep and work and when you work that much you end up spending extra money on stupid crap you don't need anyway.

Used to be developers tried hard to get into "management" to make a few extra dollars, but lately it seems that good developers are in pretty high demand and the salaries I hear from the good developers I know are getting pretty high (and with the projected shortage of developers in the US in the next 10 years I assume it will only get worse). But with all the open source projects/ frameworks and they way the landscape changes so rapidly now the best way to keep your salary "up" is to keep your skills "up". If you take a job in a slow to evolve shop and grind on something for a year using nothing but one technology and build some proprietary software (i.e. some Winforms app build on .NET 2.0) and then think you are going to be in a great place to go interviewing next year think again.

I know quite a few really good developers and I'm always amazed at what they spend their free time on. They either

A.) Kill themselves working themselves to the bone for a software company that doesn't give a crap about them.
B.) Work at a normal job and spend all their spare time playing HALO or something else similar.
C.) Work at a normal job and keep coming up with terrible ideas for side projects with their coworkers that they spend a year coding on the side. Even if they do ever produce a product there is usually no way to monetize it.

I also have no idea what technologies you are working with, or where you live, but I know a developer on the top of his game (C# .net guy) that got offered stupid money. Granted he's 40 and been around the block. But he got a lot of experience with different frameworks etc floating around on 2 to 6 month project for the last couple of years. Obviously everyone handles work life and risks definitely, but I would be asking lots of questions about technologies and roadmaps in every one of my interviews if I was you.

I wouldn't trade 10 to 20 hours a week for an 10% raise unless I really needed the money or I was getting a great opportunity to learn something new. If you take the 10 to 15 hours a week and actually use it productively on your own, in one year you can be an expert in just about any technology and or get a really good start on a product to sell if you have an idea. I'm 40 and trying to get my work week back to reasonable (I'm an ERP architect/consultant) so I can work on my development skills so I can start on a "software" project I want to write. If I was 30 and single again, I would find a decent idea (a monetizable one), probably find a like minded developer and attempt some "Side Project" with a one year time line. If it fails try find another like minded developer and try again. Rinse repeat and by the time you are 40 I'd bet one of the 10 projects succeeds and even if one doesn't you'll have all kinds of crazy experience you can flaunt in job interviews.

Good luck.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakmerchant View Post

I'm about to go completely go off topic, as I'm not going to offer an advice on "negotiating salary", other than to make sure it's what you want to do before you do negotiate anything.
As to whether it's a good move? In my opinion it depends on a bunch of things.
Will you be learning new things/technologies?
Do you work in a niche (or outdated) technology?
Is there more room for advancement at the new company? (or do you even want to manage developers?)
Do you like where you work? Would they freak out (i.e. fire you ) if they found out you were working on a side project?
Are there other considerations? (i.e. Debts?, Upcoming babies? )
If I could get into a time machine I would definitely do things differently with trading hours for dollars . The way I look at it is this. If you make a 100k and work 40 hours a week, you are making $50 an hour. You bump that up to 50 a week you need to either be getting 125K or experience that you can turn into atleast that much in short order. Now that may sound like "money" is everything, but I'm not even suggesting that you need to make more than you do now, but the more hours you work, the harder doing anything outside of work becomes. Whether its' learning new technologies, starting a new company, or playing golf. It's real easy to do whatever you want when you work 35 hours a week. At 55 it becomes hard to do much outside of the weekend. Find one of those great paying jobs were you work 70 hours a week, and you can't do anything except eat, sleep and work and when you work that much you end up spending extra money on stupid crap you don't need anyway.
Used to be developers tried hard to get into "management" to make a few extra dollars, but lately it seems that good developers are in pretty high demand and the salaries I hear from the good developers I know are getting pretty high (and with the projected shortage of developers in the US in the next 10 years I assume it will only get worse). But with all the open source projects/ frameworks and they way the landscape changes so rapidly now the best way to keep your salary "up" is to keep your skills "up". If you take a job in a slow to evolve shop and grind on something for a year using nothing but one technology and build some proprietary software (i.e. some Winforms app build on .NET 2.0) and then think you are going to be in a great place to go interviewing next year think again.
I know quite a few really good developers and I'm always amazed at what they spend their free time on. They either
A.) Kill themselves working themselves to the bone for a software company that doesn't give a crap about them.
B.) Work at a normal job and spend all their spare time playing HALO or something else similar.
C.) Work at a normal job and keep coming up with terrible ideas for side projects with their coworkers that they spend a year coding on the side. Even if they do ever produce a product there is usually no way to monetize it.
I also have no idea what technologies you are working with, or where you live, but I know a developer on the top of his game (C# .net guy) that got offered stupid money. Granted he's 40 and been around the block. But he got a lot of experience with different frameworks etc floating around on 2 to 6 month project for the last couple of years. Obviously everyone handles work life and risks definitely, but I would be asking lots of questions about technologies and roadmaps in every one of my interviews if I was you.
I wouldn't trade 10 to 20 hours a week for an 10% raise unless I really needed the money or I was getting a great opportunity to learn something new. If you take the 10 to 15 hours a week and actually use it productively on your own, in one year you can be an expert in just about any technology and or get a really good start on a product to sell if you have an idea. I'm 40 and trying to get my work week back to reasonable (I'm an ERP architect/consultant) so I can work on my development skills so I can start on a "software" project I want to write. If I was 30 and single again, I would find a decent idea (a monetizable one), probably find a like minded developer and attempt some "Side Project" with a one year time line. If it fails try find another like minded developer and try again. Rinse repeat and by the time you are 40 I'd bet one of the 10 projects succeeds and even if one doesn't you'll have all kinds of crazy experience you can flaunt in job interviews.
Good luck.


What you posted was intelligent and helpful, and the kind of advice I was hoping to get.  I suspected what you wrote, but just didn't know for sure because I don't personally know anyone of your stature(architect) to ask. 

 

I've thought of the marginal rate and the upper range of what I ask for is proportional to that.  The reason I didn't make my lower range proportional to that is because this company doesn't know how many hours I am capable of working.  I think that at my current job, my 35 hours would produce the same perceived quantity/quality of work as 50 hours at the new job.  A major reason is due to the quality of people.  I am definitely a good engineer, but I'm no genius.  Not to be arrogant, but comparatively, I seem better than I really am because my co workers are not very good.  Compared to them, I am awesome, but at a place like, say, Google I'd be average.  Another reason I'm thinking about leaving is the growing hostility I receive from coworkers that is bred from pettiness and jealousy. 

 

As for the technologies and potential for growth, I'd say it's OK.  I'm learning stuff, neither old nor cutting edge.  At this new company I would be learning slightly more and it would be better for my resume.

 

Living in San Francisco, I am lucky to be able to go to many tech meetups and meet a lot of people.  It is a little hard to get gigs though because there is a lot of competition.

 

In conclusion, working with the level of people I do has pros and cons.  The pros are that I look great, which is good for job security.  I also don't have to work very hard.  But the cons are by working with weaker people, I am not staying afloat with the tech market's competition.  Also, it's a pain to deal with these people.

 

Both have huge pros and cons.  I love being able to take advantage of my dwindling 20s, especially because I haven't before(in terms of being young, socializing, etc).  But I also love money because I grew up without it.  I love being able to do a good job without having to bust my ass(I know this sounds terrible but it's because I've busted my ass for the majority of my life and failed plenty of times).  But I don't like dealing with office politics. 

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imschatz View Post

I'm sort of in the same scenario.
I currently work 33 hours a week, and make $75k a year. I just interviewed for a position that would likely require me to work 50-60 hours a week.
It is an internal position, and I know they will be asking my salary expectations on the second interview, and I fully intend to leverage this change in work hours to ask for a raise substantially higher then I normally would. Even just going back to a 40 hour work week, the same hourly rate puts me over $90k/year .. and I would not be interested in this new role for anything less then $90k.
As long as you can justify it .. ask for it. Negotiating is a two way street .. I wouldn't want to work for someone (the hiring manager in particular) if he gets scared away from the negotiating table after just 1 offer.


Yeah, negotiating is a two way street.  As for your situation, I couldn't really tell you because I hear Canada is pretty different than America in terms of currency value, buying power, health insurance, etc.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LooksGood View Post


Your post gave me a great idea, I should say "I would need , but I believe is better aligned with my skills and what I can bring to your company.  Thanks!

I assume they know your current salary? You might reword that to "I'm prepared to join XXXX but a significant pay raise should be involved" and counter with "you're asking me to take on more responsibilities and more complex work, I feel that deserves a slightly higher salary".

Being on the other side of the desk now I see how HR departments work around salaries. Usually they are offering you the 50-70th percentile, unless they really need you or are an outlier they dont often go to 80th or 90th. I've got to follow the guidelines they give me, so sometimes I lose hires because of salary, but I can usually work it our. If they want you, 5k isnt going to kill it.

You have to nail the starting salary because unless you get promoted you're stuck in 1-3% comp adjustments, you'll never get where you want to be.

Don't know you, but you sound a little soft on this front. Dont be afraid to ask for what you want.

I'm amazed at the range in salary requirements. I've seen resumes asking for 1/2 the going market rate. Wont bother because if they dont know what they're worth I wont see any value from their work. You risk coming across this way.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by idfnl View Post


I assume they know your current salary? You might reword that to "I'm prepared to join XXXX but a significant pay raise should be involved" and counter with "you're asking me to take on more responsibilities and more complex work, I feel that deserves a slightly higher salary".

Being on the other side of the desk now I see how HR departments work around salaries. Usually they are offering you the 50-70th percentile, unless they really need you or are an outlier they dont often go to 80th or 90th. I've got to follow the guidelines they give me, so sometimes I lose hires because of salary, but I can usually work it our. If they want you, 5k isnt going to kill it.

You have to nail the starting salary because unless you get promoted you're stuck in 1-3% comp adjustments, you'll never get where you want to be.

Don't know you, but you sound a little soft on this front. Dont be afraid to ask for what you want.

I'm amazed at the range in salary requirements. I've seen resumes asking for 1/2 the going market rate. Wont bother because if they dont know what they're worth I wont see any value from their work. You risk coming across this way.


Thanks, I have a problem looking at it from a strictly logical point of view when I've been told I really shouldn't and just be bold.  SInce this is the same level position though, it wouldn't be good to mention taking on more responsibilities and complex work because that makes my previous experience sound weaker.

 

You mentioned being on the opposite side of the table now; just out of curiosity why did you switch from engineering to HR?

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LooksGood View Post


Thanks, I have a problem looking at it from a strictly logical point of view when I've been told I really shouldn't and just be bold.  SInce this is the same level position though, it wouldn't be good to mention taking on more responsibilities and complex work because that makes my previous experience sound weaker.

You mentioned being on the opposite side of the table now; just out of curiosity why did you switch from engineering to HR?

Just understand you are not being bold, you're being a business man. The place you are coming from was weak-soft to bold. In reality its just logic, I earn this, hey everyone understands I expect a raise, so if you want me where is it? Ok, I guess you dont really want me. Seriously look at this. No significant raise? You're not valuable and will be a layoff candidate in 2 years.

You're right about the complex work, better to say "I've developed experience in my current role which would enable me to handle the tasks here on time and on budget". On time and on budget... you want to be a star? Do that. I haven't delivered a project late and over budget in 14 years and I earn way more than my peers. I add value. One of the goals I document for myself every year is to save my org = to my salary in project savings. Think about the money, and get close to the money, help people budget and ASK about finances of the project, it raises good eyebrows.

Yes, I switched from engineering to architect, to director. I run a group. I topped out in terms of potential software architect salary so I made the move to management. It suits me actually, I wasn't sure it would because I loved the solutioning side of things but I like managing staff and a portfolio even more.

You'll be fine. Just understand this paradigm shift away from bold to it being about business. You want to be taken seriously? Come across as you have what they need, just deliver though.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by idfnl View Post


Just understand you are not being bold, you're being a business man. The place you are coming from was weak-soft to bold. In reality its just logic, I earn this, hey everyone understands I expect a raise, so if you want me where is it? Ok, I guess you dont really want me. Seriously look at this. No significant raise? You're not valuable and will be a layoff candidate in 2 years.

You're right about the complex work, better to say "I've developed experience in my current role which would enable me to handle the tasks here on time and on budget". On time and on budget... you want to be a star? Do that. I haven't delivered a project late and over budget in 14 years and I earn way more than my peers. I add value. One of the goals I document for myself every year is to save my org = to my salary in project savings. Think about the money, and get close to the money, help people budget and ASK about finances of the project, it raises good eyebrows.

Yes, I switched from engineering to architect, to director. I run a group. I topped out in terms of potential software architect salary so I made the move to management. It suits me actually, I wasn't sure it would because I loved the solutioning side of things but I like managing staff and a portfolio even more.

You'll be fine. Just understand this paradigm shift away from bold to it being about business. You want to be taken seriously? Come across as you have what they need, just deliver though.


Thanks man.  In terms of long term career goals, I'm still trying to figure out where I want to be.  Ideally I will go to a top b school and then start my own company, but if that doesn't happen I was thinking either ending up a software architect or a director of some sort(engineering, product mgmt?).  I'm not the strongest people person though so maybe I'll keep things technical and go the architect route?  I'm pretty confused because I've had all sorts of roles, software developer, software engineer in test, sales engineer, I'm not entirely sure what I'll stick with.  I wish I could find a mentor of some sort who's been through all this and could lend me some regular advice.

 

Anyway, it's interesting you mentioned become a director to earn more money.  At least in Silicon Valley, software architects make more than directors.  Software architects make like 200-250k a year while directors make like 140-180k.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LooksGood View Post


Thanks man.  In terms of long term career goals, I'm still trying to figure out where I want to be.  Ideally I will go to a top b school and then start my own company, but if that doesn't happen I was thinking either ending up a software architect or a director of some sort(engineering, product mgmt?).  I'm not the strongest people person though so maybe I'll keep things technical and go the architect route?  I'm pretty confused because I've had all sorts of roles, software developer, software engineer in test, sales engineer, I'm not entirely sure what I'll stick with.  I wish I could find a mentor of some sort who's been through all this and could lend me some regular advice.

Anyway, it's interesting you mentioned become a director to earn more money.  At least in Silicon Valley, software architects make more than directors.  Software architects make like 200-250k a year while directors make like 140-180k.

You've got to follow you're gut. Do you want to stay technical or dive deeper in the business?

For me, I felt like I mastered the architecture side and wanted to move in a different direction. Career wise my goal is to reach CIO. I was mapping out that path and for the most part you're not considered unless you have the business relationship aspect worked out and the soft skills associated with it established. You can pay people to be enterprise architects (logical end for the software engineer route) but relationships and $ management matter a lot more when the CEO asks questions. '

Luckily my org is flat and I report to the CIO so I see how she works and can ask pretty invasive questions about how to go about her job, so its an acceleration of the whole career path which I am grateful for.

You're in a different world in SValley. Tech cred is heavily valued, but in the rest of the IT world those kinds of $ numbers are skewed. And frankly now that you have exposed that, you seem way underpaid at the 100k rage in that location. I know QA guys earning that level in SV. What I see a lot is resumes of Indian/Pakistan heritage with H1B visa problems and they low ball themselves to get in the door. I had a guy on a phone interview openly admit he was willing to work for less rather than go back to his country.

In the rest of the non-SV IT world I think a director is much more valuable than an architect. Its more valuable to be able to manage money and people than the some random code base or architectural footprint. That shit is all logic, while it requires thought it doesn't require managing the illogical and disparate interests of staff. Nuancing that shit is hard.
Edited by idfnl - 1/10/13 at 6:54am
post #15 of 16

You obviously have awesome skill if you're cruising through pulling <40 hours / week in a 100k role. So kudos!

 

I'd put it on the employer. They've always got a figure in mind since they've already budgeted for position.

If anything focusing on selling your skill set and team added value or whatever the job description maybe to convince them to spend invest over their budget.

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