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11 Ways to Negotiate Your Way to High Pay in the Tech Industry

By: Contributor (Nick R)

The tech industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Over the next decade, there will be a need for over 1 million more STEM-qualified workers. As a tech recruitment agency, we understand a candidate’s desire to negotiate for a higher salary. 

Salary negotiation has slowly become a lost art. The idea of asking for more money in an interview or on the job is often seen as unprofessional, and it’s not something you talk about with your co-workers. However, the tech industry is in demand, and figuring out how to negotiate a higher salary to match the competitive nature of the industry can help you earn more.

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According to a survey by ZipRecruiter, 64% of job seekers accept the first offer and choose not to negotiate for higher. Not negotiating salary can cause an accumulative loss of pay throughout your working career. If you miss out on negotiating at the beginning of your career, it could cost you $750,000 by the time you retire. Worry and anxiety often prevent people from negotiating, but a little bit of confidence can have a lifelong effect on your earnings.

Here are 11 things to keep in mind that will help you negotiate a higher salary in the tech industry.

1. Understand the Market Value of Your Skills

The first step is figuring out what the market rate for your position is so you know what amount of money will be considered reasonable when negotiating a new pay package. To get the salary you want, be prepared to do some research.​

First, get a sense of what the going market rate for your position is—the salary range and benefits package—in your geographic area. This can be tricky depending on where you work, but there are online resources that list salaries by company. You can research on sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, Salary.com, or jobs boards with companies that have posted their desired salary range. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter about reasonable salary expectations for your skills set; they’re interested in getting you the highest salary possible! You can also ask people in your network what their salary range was when they were hired. If you have a friend who recently got a job in the field you’re going into, reach out and ask. They will most likely be glad to share this information with you. You want to find a company that ranks well in pay compared to other companies on the market.

Once you know where the pay level lies for your position, consider why you would be worth more than that amount of money. No matter where in the tech industry or job function you work, there will likely be factors that make you more valuable than your salary range. These factors are often called your “value add” or your “unique value proposition.” Document them and prepare to speak about how you add value in your interview.

2. Document Your Accomplishments

When negotiating salary, the employer will ask why you are worth the money you’re requesting. Asking will only establish that you are looking for more money; by demonstrating the value of your work, however, the company will be better positioned to offer you more.

You’ll need to be able to explain why your skills, experience, and education make you a fit for the position and deserving of higher pay. The easiest way to do this is to have actual numbers in front of you that support your case. Make sure you’re able to showcase what you’ve accomplished with past employers and discuss how they relate to the new position.

Your resume should reflect your technical skills and present your work experiences professionally. Seek opportunities where you create products or applications from scratch. If you cannot find such opportunities at your current employer (this occurs often for software developers in the non-software industry), consider taking online courses to build up a portfolio that represents your true value.

You can showcase your portfolio on websites like GitHub and provide links to prospective employees so they can see the work you’ve done so far.

3. Be Upfront About Your Desired Salary

There is always a worry when negotiating that you might be asking for less than what your employer budgeted for the posted position. However, a popular negotiation technique advises to use the anchoring effect to your advantage and be the first to mention a number.

Anchoring is a common cognitive bias where people tend to give too much weight to the first number presented. Use this technique and mention what you want to get paid before they tell you their range. This bias arises because people rely too heavily on the first piece of information that they receive when making decisions.

4. Negotiate Your Pay Early

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According to tech recruiters, you have the most leverage for negotiation once a job offer has been extended. Decide if you want to work for the company during the interview stage. This is where you’ll need to focus on finding out more about the role and if the employer fits your expectations.

Upon receiving a job offer, express how grateful you are and take this opportunity to negotiate and request more salary. At this point, the employer has chosen to hire you; they value your tech skills set in this competitive job market.

If you’re just starting out with your current company, then this is an especially good time to discuss your salary expectations. You should be vocal about wanting a higher salary and any other benefits that will ultimately help you be better at your job because when it comes down to it, no one wants someone on their team who doesn’t care about their work or whether or not they’ll get paid for it. In fact, unhappy workers cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion every year.

5. How Much Should you Negotiate?

Employers often want to feel like they are making a deal, and you want to feel satisfied with your pay! Try requesting 10% to 20% over what was initially offered; if you negotiate much higher they’ll likely dismiss your request as ludicrous. Typically, negotiations will settle in between the offered amount and your initial negotiation.

Make sure you consider the details of the whole package as well, as their vacation policy, bonuses, benefits, retirement plan, or flexible work schedule could complement your pay nicely. And don’t be afraid to negotiate for these aspects of the compensation package also. However, if you ask for more vacation along with more salary at the same time, the employer might feel inclined to meet you halfway and only grant one of the requests.

6. Request a Phone call to Negotiate Salary

​In general, not being able to see someone when communicating greatly reduces trust and the ability to build rapport, which is essential for establishing an effective relationship. This leads to less than full disclosure of information, which is vital for negotiating effectively.

Emails are easy to ignore, and it’s easier to decline a request via text than over the phone or video call. Cloud calling, where you can digitally see each other “face to face,” can be a great way to discuss the offer with your new employer. Be sure to let them know how they can profit from having you as their employee.

7. Prepare Yourself for Rejection

Sometimes, if you negotiate for more salary, the employer can rescind the job offer. Don’t let that dissuade you from negotiating! You can always find another job or try again later on down the road. If you negotiate reasonably and the employer removes their offer completely, this should be a warning sign. This means that the employer likely wasn’t very interested in hiring you or it might be difficult to ask them for raises.

8. Asking for a Raise in the Tech industry is Tough

You’re doing great work. You’ve created some of the best software your company has ever seen and you know it. Your customers adore you, your team loves working with you, and your manager is happy to recommend you for any position in the company. So why isn’t your salary reflecting this?

Many tech workers have found themselves stuck at a certain wage because they are too afraid to ask their bosses for that big raise. They assume that if they are given a higher salary then the expectations for their work will skyrocket or their bosses will think less of them for asking. This common fear can keep even the most dedicated employees from getting all they deserve out of their jobs. When asking for a raise, be prepared to remind your employer of your dedication and achievements so far.

9. Thank Your Boss and Co-Workers for their Work

​When we do a good job with our work, people rarely notice. However, when you are recognised for it in front of the team or around the office, they’ll realise how valuable your contribution has been, and hopefully that will translate into a pay increase for you later down the line. Contribute to a culture where you appreciate each other’s work by thanking your bosses and coworkers when they’ve performed exceptionally. They will end up doing the same for you!

10. Salary isn’t Everything

​Don’t settle for a job you are not passionate about just because it pays more than the one you want or where you’re at now. If money is your only determining factor in staying at a job or finding a new one, you might be unsatisfied in other ways. Having a little extra money can make you happier, but only up to a point. It’s important to find value in the work you do and enjoy your work environment too. If you’re considering taking a pay cut to find a job that’s more satisfying, online finance courses can help you make better use of the money you do earn.

If you choose to work somewhere that pays more but ultimately means less to you, try negotiating for more paid vacation so you can spend time with people you care about outside of work.

11. Negotiation Takes Practice!