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    How to Effectively Negotiate Your Salary in a Tough Market (5 Tactics)

    Salary negotiation is not easy, and that may be especially true in an uncertain economy. While a down market presents its challenges, this doesn’t mean you have to settle for less than you deserve. Let’s talk about how to approach salary negotiation as a jobseeker navigating a tough market. 

    Tip: Before you enter any negotiation, it’s essential to research your industry’s average salaries and determine your worth. Try Hired’s Salary Calculator to do just that. It’s powered by real salary offers on the Hired talent marketplace.

    Is now a good time to negotiate your salary? 

    In our virtual event, Ahead of the Curve: Adapting and Advancing in a New Era of Tech Careers, Rora’s General Manager Jordan Sale shared some of her negotiating expertise. Jordan prefers to avoid promising whether it’s a good or bad time to negotiate. She views salary negotiation as personal and dependent on individual circumstances. 

    Related: 2023 Tech Hiring: 7 Ways to Stay Competitive in Tough Job Markets 

    “If you have a job, three job offers, savings in the bank, and you are maybe going to take some time away from work, then it’s a great time to negotiate. If you have been unemployed for months, are running out of runway, and were barely able to get a job offer after interviewing over and over, it may not be quite as good of a time to negotiate.”

    Jordan encourages jobseekers to not get swept up in the urgency and scarcity of the market. Instead, really think about where you are. Evaluating your current situation is what will truly shed light on whether it’s a “good time” to negotiate. 

    Jordan also explained how “companies are certainly trying to use the current market to dissuade candidates from negotiation.” Jordan adds, “I would be shocked if anyone tries to negotiate right now and doesn’t get a stock line from the company such as: 

    ‘Because of the market, this is the top of our range’ 

    ‘This is as high as we’ll be able to go’

    ‘We have a lot of other candidates in the pipeline’

    Expect to hear this and don’t pay too much attention to them.” 

    Ultimately, Jordan emphasizes jobseekers must distinguish the company’s stock language around the offer and what they’re hearing from the hiring manager. The hiring manager is the person who owns the role. Jordan says, “If they are reaching out to you every two days to see how you’re feeling about it and saying they are really excited for you to join, you are in a great position to negotiate.” 

    The hiring manager is responsible for extending an offer (or taking it away if circumstances change). So, if jobseekers receive “consistent messaging from the hiring manager and recruiter saying it’s competitive and they can’t move on the offer because they have other people in the pipeline, it’s probably not as good of a time to negotiate.”

    Approaching the salary negotiation during a tough market: 5 tactics 

    1. Practice your pitch 

    Ginny Cheng, Global Head of Talent at Oura and another panelist at the Ahead of the Curve event reminds jobseekers to “think of negotiation as a conversation.”

    She adds, “Regardless of the market, you should get comfortable with asking and negotiating because practice will make it less awkward. You’ll continue to need to influence and negotiate once you start working in the company. We’re always negotiating at work.” 

    While you want to be assertive and communicate your needs clearly in the conversation, you should also be empathetic and open to listening, i.e. read the room. Understand that businesses too face challenges during economic downturns. That doesn’t mean you should undervalue yourself but achieving a balance portrays confidence and understanding.

    2. Find new avenues for salary research

    Ginny says, “Pay transparency on job descriptions offers a foundational understanding and helps jobseekers know if they are at the higher end of the salary range or vice versa.” 

    Salary transparency is a key aspect of Hired’s matchmaking service and a core part of our mission to make hiring more equitable, efficient, and transparent for all. Jobseekers list a preferred salary on their Hired profile as part of the transparency of the marketplace process. This provides better matches with employers and eliminates one of the biggest potential obstacles to efficient hiring.

    Related: Empower Your Career: Understanding Salary Inequality in Tech (2023 Research) 

    So what can talent do as part of their research? Ginny recommends they “look at competitors’ job descriptions that have the job pay range. This gives an idea of the company you’re applying for. Is it similar in size or scope? This provides better knowledge to do that research.”

    Another idea for doing research: Ask about compensation philosophy. Jon Dobrowolski, Hired’s VP of Product (and the virtual event’s moderator) adds, “This is something so many people miss out on. Ask folks doing similar work to you. It gives you an idea of pay ranges at their companies without directly asking how much they make. That could put you in a position to have a good conversation with a recruiter or a hiring manager.” 

    Quick Tip: Feel awkward asking or don’t feel you know them well enough to ask? Try this method. Ask if it’s “more than X.” Yes? Ask again, increasing “X” by 5-10K. Try to understand the salary number or the compensation package, as respectfully as possible, in order to compare apples to apples, as best you can. 

    3. Consider non-monetary perks

    While the base salary is essential, don’t forget about other benefits. Perhaps the company can’t budge on the base salary but is open to offering more vacation days, flexible work hours, professional development opportunities, or even stock options. These perks may even outweigh a higher salary in the long run.

    Tip: Discover what you can negotiate (besides salary) in our Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation 

    Jon reflects on his own experience as a hiring manager: “I saw this recently with someone that we had to, unfortunately, turn away: They had a very high salary ask. We were dying to get them into the company. But they didn’t help us understand what they valued as much as the money. Help us help you by explaining where we can offer additional learning development opportunities, a sign-on bonus, or something else that gets you where you want to be.

    Without understanding what is valuable to you as a jobseeker, it’s difficult for us to construct an offer that makes sense for everyone. The more information brought into those conversations, the more successful everyone will be.”

    4. Have a Plan B

    Always be prepared for the possibility that negotiations might not go your way. This could mean having another job offer in hand or being ready to decline and continue your job search. It’s essential to know your bottom line and be willing to walk away if it isn’t met.

    5. Consult a salary negotiation mentor or coach

    If you’re uncertain about how to navigate the negotiation process, consider seeking guidance from a mentor or a professional coach experienced in salary negotiations. Our recommendation? Rora – a group of experienced job offer negotiation professionals (like Jordan Sale) dedicated to helping top researchers and engineers land the right job. 

    Related: Hired partners prepared to equip jobseekers for every phase of their job search.

    Stay optimistic while negotiating your salary in an uncertain economy

    Negotiating your salary in a down market may not be ideal. However, with preparation, empathy, and a clear understanding of your value, you can navigate the salary negotiation process successfully. Remember: tough times don’t last but tough negotiators do! More

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    Where Do Engineer Salaries Pay the Best (Highest) Standard of Living?

    Opportunity shifts from higher cost-of-living markets

    The rise in remote work prompted engineers and other tech workers to move, freeing many from higher cost-of-living (CoL) markets. Because an engineer’s salary goes farther in lower cost-of-living markets, tech workers are reconsidering where to live. 

    Hired data in the 2023 State of Tech Salaries showed positions based in higher CoL cities continued to decline from 78% in 2020 to 59% in the first half of 2023. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco (one of the priciest markets to live in) saw the biggest decline change. Positions based there were cut in half. They dropped from 38% in 2020 to 19% in the first half of 2023.

    Medium CoL markets gained the most, expanding from 20% of positions in 2020 to 32% in the first half of 2023. Lower CoL markets increased from 2% in 2020 to 9% in the first half of 2023. While mid-market’s growth of 12% is higher, it’s worth nothing lower CoL markets more than quadrupled their previous percentage.

    Average software engineer salary offers

    Here’s the list of average salary offers made to software engineers on the Hired platform in 2023 (compared to 2022):

    SF Bay Area: $186,629 (up 4%)

    San Diego: $174,643 (up 20%)

    Seattle: $171,314 (up 1%)

    Los Angeles: $162,471 (up 2.5%)

    New York: $159,847 (down 1%)

    Boston: $156,510 (up 1%)

    Washington DC: $153,412 (up 1%)

    Austin: $150,246 (down 5%)

    Denver: $149,883 (up 0%)

    Philadelphia: $144,911 (down 0%)

    Dallas/Ft Worth: $139,742 (down 4%)

    Chicago: $138,795 (down 2%)

    Atlanta: $135,240 (down 8.5%)

    Houston: $134,711 (down 8.5%)

    Tampa: $129,323 (down 10%)

    Columbus: $128,854 (down 2%)

    The draw of lower cost-of-living markets 

    While it’s useful to compare top offers in top cities, these average offer numbers are most compelling in the context of actual living expenses. For instance, what does a salary of $149,000 actually get you in Atlanta? And what would you need to earn in San Francisco dollars to maintain the same standard of living? This is where it gets really interesting.

    After the CoL adjustment, most major metros offer more than their counterparts in San Francisco and New York City.

    When you compare city-specific salary offer data with the actual cost of living in San Francisco, surprising winners emerge. Namely: Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Phoenix where tech professionals are offered an average of $40K more than those in San Francisco. Unfortunately, New York is the only place where adjusted tech salaries are less than in San Francisco. 

    These adjusted salaries tell us a few things about the cost of living in each city, and where salaries might help you afford more in one city than another. 

    Sign up to join Hired’s talent marketplace and find a new engineering role. It’s totally free for jobseekers!

    Average software engineer salary offers — in SF dollars

    Houston: $228,000

    Atlanta: $227,000

    Philadelphia: $223,000

    Phoenix: $218,000

    Denver: $217,000

    Austin: $210,000

    Dallas/Ft Worth: $209,000

    Chicago: $201,000

    Los Angeles: $199,000

    Seattle: $196,000

    San Diego: $195,000

    Tampa: $193,000

    Boston: $191,000

    Washington DC: $190,000

    New York: $156,000

    [Tweet “TL;DR: Let’s all move to Houston.”]

    In all seriousness, these adjusted salaries tell us a few things about the cost of living in each city, and where salaries might help you afford more in one city than in other cities. (Read how C2ER’s Cost of Living Index is calculated here). 

    Here’s a breakdown of average salary offers, average/median living expenses, and other metrics that might affect your quality of life, by some example cities:


    Average software engineer salary offer: $137,000

    Average monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment: $1,087

    Median home price: $370,650


    Average software engineer salary offer: $149,000

    Average monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment: $1,507

    Median home price: $485,182


    Average software engineer salary offer: $151,000

    Average monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment: $1,138

    Median home price: $450,913


    Average software engineer salary offer: $140,000

    Average monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment: $1,179

    Median home price: $559,132

    Sources: Apartment List, PayScale

    Originally published in September 2016 by Whitney Ricketts. Updated by Hired Content Team September 2023. More

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    9 Do’s and Don’ts of Asking Questions in Job Interviews

    The path from unemployment to employment has several steps, and for most, the first step after application is the job interview. The primary function of the interview is to allow the hiring manager to interact with candidates in order to determine if their qualifications and experience are a fit for the job’s requirements, as well as how they might fit into or add to the company’s culture and values.
    However, the job interview has a secondary function, but equally important for job seekers – the chance to interview the interviewer. The questions job seekers choose to ask in the interview are of paramount importance for two reasons:

    They demonstrate candidates’ preparation for the interview and interest in the job and company.
    They balance the scales in candidates’ favor, allowing them to determine if the job and company are truly a good fit for them.

    As a job seeker, choosing the right interview questions should be part of your interview preparation. Though there are many articles and blogs listing questions that candidates should ask in interviews, choosing the right ones and tailoring them to the role, the employer and your individual needs will help set you apart from the competition. Let’s look at nine best practices for asking questions in job interviews.
    1. Ask About Job Duties and Expectations
    Hiring managers love inquisitive minds. They want to know you’re interested in the role beyond what you’ve been told and that you’re anxious to learn more. Prepare questions on what the role will involve and what will be expected of you.
    2. Ask About Learning and Growth Opportunities
    Employers don’t want to hire people who are satisfied working the same job for the rest of their careers. They want to hire employees who are interested in constantly learning, growing, and evolving. Show the interviewer that this is a priority by asking about training, continuing education, and mentoring opportunities.
    3. Ask About Company Culture and Values
    Asking a generic question about a company’s culture is predictable, but tailoring the question based on elements of the culture that the company is known for or that interest you shows you’re familiar with the employer brand. Every company has values that are ingrained in their culture and essential to their employees. By showing interest in them and how they align with your values, you show that you’re interested in more than just a paycheck.
    4. Ask About Success
    Finding out how the interviewer defines success, what makes others successful at the company, and what will define success in the role for which you’re interviewing demonstrates your interest in achieving the same.
    5. Ask Follow-Up Questions
    While preparing questions in advance is essential to a successful job interview, it’s also a good idea to ask questions based on topics that you just discussed with the hiring manager. By following up on these topics later in the interview, it shows you were astute enough to take note of specific details in the conversation, and inquisitive enough to want to know more.
    6. Don’t Ask Anything That’s Easy to Research
    By asking overly simplistic questions about the company that can be answered with a quick Google search, it shows you weren’t willing to do any advance research or put any thought into preparing your questions. The same goes for questions about the role that can be answered by reading the job description.
    7. Don’t Ask About Salary or Time Off
    It’s never a good idea to convey a “what can YOU do for ME” attitude in a job interview, and calling attention to salary, benefits, or time off does just that. Though you will make the ultimate decision as to whether or not to accept an offer, keep the focus on the job, the company, and how you can contribute to both until the interviewer broaches these subjects or after an offer is made.
    8. Don’t Ask Anything Predictable
    If a question is general enough to be asked by any candidate at any job interview for any company, it’s probably not a good question. Spend time preparing your questions to ensure they are unique to your situation; they make the interviewer think and show you did your homework.
    9. Don’t Ask Anything Controversial or Negative
    If the company or one of its leaders has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons, don’t call attention to it in the job interview. Though this may be a valid reason for rejecting a job offer, posing questions to the interviewer about scandalous news or controversial topics won’t work in your favor.
    How you respond to a hiring manager’s inevitable closing interview question, “Do you have any questions for me?” can make or break your chances of landing a job offer. In addition, it’s an often-underutilized opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of and interest in the job and company, gain an advantage over your competition, and determine whether or not it’s where you want to spend the next several years of your career. By preparing questions in advance tailored around subjects that employers use as determining hiring factors, you can control the direction of the interview and, as a result, the direction of your career.
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    Empower Your Career: Understanding Salary Inequality in Tech (2023 Research)

    A guide to Hired’s 2023 Wage Inequality Report for tech workers and jobseekers! Download the eBook

    There’s no question this job market is wildly different than a year ago. It’s more competitive and even intimidating. If you’re currently looking, finding a job is your number one priority, but equally important is an employer embracing qualities such as diversity, equity in opportunity and fair pay, as well as an inclusive workplace.

    We’ve curated the most valuable insights from Hired’s 2023 State of Wage Inequality report, and they’re all yours within the pages of this eBook. Consider it your ultimate resource for navigating the hiring market and guiding your search for a job where your contributions are appreciated and your voice is heard. Use this as a resource to understand the hiring market and guide your search for a job where you feel appreciated and empowered.

    Inside this eBook for tech talent you’ll discover:

    Findings on wage inequality and DEI in today’s job market

    Strategies to negotiate fair compensation 

    Real-life success stories from individuals who championed DEI

    Practical tips for identifying inclusive workplaces

    Actionable steps to promote positive change within organizations

    Impact of Salary Transparency legislation

    Are you ready to take control of your career, embrace diversity, and secure fair pay? Don’t miss out on this invaluable resource – download our eBook now and unlock the doors to a brighter future!Remember, the job market may have changed, but your potential for success remains limitless. Together, let’s create a world where diversity is celebrated, equity is embraced, and inclusion is the norm.

    Extra Resources

    Be sure to check out other resources from Hired, including:

    Virtual Event for Candidates June 27th, 2023

    Breaking Through Bias: How to Overcome Discrimination & Get the Tech Job You Want

    Blogs, Videos on Demand, & Guides

    Competitive Tech Job Offers? 6 Ways to Compare and Find the Right Fit

    Invest in Your Success: The Ultimate Salary Negotiation Workshop (Video on Demand)

    Your Guide to Salary Negotiation More

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    The EU Pay Directive Cements a Move Towards Global Transparency Legislation. Here’s What the UK Needs to Know.

    The pay transparency era is here. Last year, we saw a steady drumbeat of new pay reporting requirements in Europe and around the globe, a post-pandemic revival of Gender Pay Gap reporting in the UK, a laser focus on pay range transparency in the U.S., and more employees openly discussing and sharing their pay. With the new EU Pay Transparency Directive approved, we can expect to see even more transparency on the horizon.
    With a steady stream of new regulations for companies to digest and internalize, here is a summary of what the EU directive is and what it could mean for your organization:
    What is the EU Pay Directive?
    The new EU Pay Transparency Directive aims to establish rules for more transparency and effective enforcement of equal pay principle between women and men, as well as to improve access to justice for victims of pay discrimination in EU member countries. The new directive will require that employers have pay structures in place to ensure that there are no gender-based pay differences between workers performing the same work and between workers performing work of equal value that are not justified by objective and gender-neutral factors.
    With Britain departed from the EU, the new directive will not apply to organizations within the UK. Still, it does signal a growing direction of travel-for-pay legislation that UK employers may ignore at their peril. Initially, UK-based businesses that hire internationally may model their policies on the Directive, in a bid to create global harmonization of pay regulations and company culture. And that will impact the UK labor market more broadly, meaning more progressive organizations will be more attractive to potential employees. In any case, ignoring the regulations will only delay the inevitable.
    What Will this Mean for the EU?
    Employers will have to move from just thinking about pay between workers in the same role to comparing pay between roles of equal value. This will require organizations to establish a methodology to compare the value of work with objective criteria.
    This directive also means that pay scale disclosure laws — and more transparency — are coming soon to Europe. Employers must provide information about the initial pay level or its range in the job vacancy notice or before the job interview. Pay secrecy will be banned as the Directive bans pay secrecy confidentiality clauses. Employers will not be allowed to ask prospective workers about their pay history. Job titles must be gender-neutral (i.e., no “fireman”).  And finally, employers must make accessible to workers a description of the gender-neutral criteria used to define their pay, pay levels, and pay progression.
    Also included in the Directive are better employee information rights and compulsory public pay gap reporting for employers.
    The Global Mindset Shift
    While the Directive itself is not unexpected, many of the requirements are, and will demand a new approach to pay equity and transparency in the EU.
    With these new regulations emerging in the EU, leading UK companies are already taking the initiative beyond just mandatory pay gap reports. Instead, they embrace pay scale transparency as a principle, not just a legally required chore. Without a doubt, it will be the companies that make a start now who will excel when the UK eventually enforces transparency legislation.
    Regardless of what companies make of pay transparency legislation, the growing move towards global harmonization proves that similar laws could soon arrive in the UK. With the information we have access to regarding the EU’s movements, there is a plethora of instructions on which organizations in the UK can and should take advantage of.
    By Zev Eigen, Founder & Chief Data Scientist, Syndio.
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    My Learnings from Helping 1000 Software Engineers Negotiate Job Offers

    As the Founder and CEO of Rora, I’ve helped thousands of tech professionals negotiate job offers over the past five years. A common theme across these conversations is that the negotiation process is shrouded in secrecy – leading job candidates to feel anxious, awkward, and afraid. 

    That’s why I’ve written the below guide – which will share negotiation strategies to help software engineers best position themselves to negotiate one offer or several.

    Why salary and job offer negotiation matters

    When people think about negotiation, it’s common for the focus to be financial. After all, not negotiating can cost you over a million dollars over the course of your career. It’s natural for getting the highest compensation possible to be your top concern. 

    Negotiating just a $5,000 increase at your first job can actually lead to a $1M difference in lifetime earnings when you take into consideration how investments compound, and how your future pay will also be higher because of higher bonuses and raises, etc.

    The chart below shows the difference negotiating a $5,000 increase in your first year can have 45 years down the line, assuming you receive a fixed annual raise each year.

    However, the process of negotiating impacts your career in more ways than just financially. Taking time to go through this process and ask the right questions gives you a chance to learn about the company and negotiate a scope, role, and mentorship that will set you up for successful growth. We’ve seen this countless times throughout our work with software engineering clients.

    What we’ve seen

    One of our clients – a Senior Software Engineer – accepted an offer but, within one year at the company, he was reorganized to different teams (and managers) four times. He quit soon after hitting the one-year mark. 

    In another unfortunate situation, an engineer interviewed for what he believed was a machine learning engineer role, complete with an interview process to match (with complex technical ML questions throughout). Upon starting his new role, he discovered that he’d spend his days doing little more than running SQL queries – it was a bait and switch. 

    What do these stories have in common? They’re prime examples of how negotiation – or the lack thereof – has a massive impact on your career. In these cases, deeper digging as part of the negotiation process would have uncovered aspects of the role that weren’t a fit and allowed the candidate to move on to something better (or ask for more money to make it worth their while). 

    In fact, we’ve seen exactly that situation: clients who initiate the negotiation process sometimes realize that the company or role they’re interviewing for is the wrong fit and continue their search, often finding a better, higher-paying role within a couple of months. 

    3 steps to an effective negotiation 

    Companies have a vested interest in hiring the right person, but they also have a financial interest in adhering to a budget. After helping over a thousand software engineers negotiate higher and better offers, I want to share three negotiation steps for productive experiences.

    Step 1: Build leverage

    Leverage your BATNA

    Your first step is to build leverage. Put simply, this is providing proof of the value you bring to the table and why the company would benefit from giving you what you’re asking for. Common examples of leverage are having competing job offers, having a very niche expertise, or not actively looking for a new job (so in order to take a new role it’d need to be particularly great).  

    What jobseekers frequently fail to do is increase their leverage, or BATNA. 

    What does BATNA mean? 

    It stands for your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.

    The best BATNA is the confidence in security outside of this one job offer. That could be in the form of self-employment or other employment security. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and start your own business from scratch just for negotiating power! It does mean, however, that your strongest negotiating power comes from having a financial and professional identity outside of a full-time job: 

    a side hustle

    freelance work

    advisor engagements


    volunteer commitments

    part-time work

    For example, one of our clients had been laid off and – a few months later – received an offer for a more senior role than she’d previously had. However, during the negotiation process, she picked up on some red flags along the way. Because she had ongoing freelance work on the side (even though it wasn’t paying what a full-time role would), she was comfortable enough to turn down the offer and keep looking. Seven weeks later, she received a higher offer from a better company she was much more excited to join. 

    It’s also imperative to build self-confidence: your thoughts create leverage and, over time, self-worth. Holding your standards high creates financial value. If you believe in your skills and talents and that you deserve what you’re requesting, you’ll be set up for more success.

    Related: Try Hired’s salary calculator

    Be open to possibilities 

    That said, you do need to keep your options open. It may seem exhausting to remain constantly on the lookout for your next job, but knowing you’re not tied to any one option will give you stronger leverage. Spend some time researching companies you’d like to work for and people you’d like to work with. 

    Keep track of the companies and people to stay in touch with – a simple spreadsheet should suffice – and check in with them annually. It may feel awkward or “disloyal” to your current company, but remember that your career comes first and you’re under no obligation not to explore. 

    Also, make sure not to decrease your leverage. Don’t schedule your first interviews at your top-choice companies; start with companies you’re less excited about to get some practice. At the same time, avoid glorifying companies: no company or role is perfect, and it’s always worth having options. 

    Consider the companies you’re interested in and then explore their competitors, too. Give a chance to companies that you’re less enthused about; it’s great to have a backup plan and it’s worth building your confidence by talking with companies that are interested in you.

    Finally, don’t let lifestyle creep cut into your leverage. You hold leverage by not needing to accept a wrong-fit job, so be sure you’re spending and saving wisely. While it may be tempting to spend more as you make more, be realistic and practical. When your savings and financial runway allow you to be choosy about jobs and only accept the best, you’ll be glad you did.

    Leverage the company’s BATNA

    Next, you’ll need to think past your own BATNA and dig into that of the company. This will help you better suss out how much leverage you have to negotiate. In general, jobseekers don’t do enough due diligence to understand the BATNA of the companies they’re considering and it does them a disservice when it comes to negotiating. 

    How do you do this? Ask your recruiter or potential future teammates these questions throughout the process:

    Why is this role open? 

    Did someone leave? If so, why?

    How long have they been trying to fill it? Is it urgent?

    Is the hiring manager currently back-filling this role?

    Are there any other candidates at the offer stage? How do they compare to you? 

    What are the company’s highest priorities and needs, both immediately and in the long term, that you are most equipped to help with? 

    What do they need that you don’t bring to the table? 

    You have greater leverage when the company believes their BATNA to be weak and you know yours to be strong. Their BATNA may seem weak if the role has been open a long time, is urgently needed, and you bring the necessary experience and skills to achieve their goals – and their other candidates don’t measure up. The more you know about their situation, the more leverage you have. 

    Step 2: Create and invest in building social capital

    Most engineers underestimate the impact of power and influence in negotiating a job offer. They want their skills to stand for themselves. Plus, companies design their hiring and compensation practices specifically to prevent influence – as it inherently leads to biased decisions – but power and influence play a role regardless. This shows up in a few ways.

    The individual you typically negotiate with (likely a recruiter or HR professional) is intentionally separate from the person you’ll actually work for (your manager). While this may help reduce bias (companies don’t want a manager with a strong bias toward a candidate to push for that candidate to be paid outside of what the company deems fair), it also disempowers the candidate by forcing the negotiation to be distributive rather than integrative. 

    It’s true that managers don’t usually have much control over the compensation offered, but the common refrain of “your compensation is up to HR” is a misconception. That said, the argument for higher pay can’t come from the recruiter themself; to have an effect, it needs to come from the hiring manager or leadership team. 

    A manager who is especially excited about a candidate can influence a lot more than HR or Recruiting. This includes the leveling of the role, where in the pay band (or outside of the band) an offer falls, whether the role is designated as critical, if a signing bonus is offered, deadlines, and more.  

    The significance of deadlines

    On the topic of deadlines, it’s important to be aware that the hiring manager defines offer deadlines. If a manager wants to extend your deadline for needing to make a decision, the recruiter will wait. 

    One of the most common ways recruiters create pressure and out-negotiate candidates is by setting false deadlines. In reality, timelines for interviews, offers, and start dates are much more negotiable than most candidates realize. 

    Not long ago, an engineer we worked with received word from a third-party recruiter that she needed to respond to a job offer right away – and that because she hadn’t responded yet, it showed a lack of interest in the company. 

    Rather than get caught up in the pressure, the candidate reached out to the hiring manager, who happened to be both on vacation and completely unaware of the alleged deadline. The hiring manager encouraged the candidate to take another week or two to think everything over, allowing her to close out another interview process and make the most informed decision about which opportunity was best. 

    If a company isn’t willing to be flexible and give you the time you need to think things over – what’s it going to be like to work there? This is an area where self-confidence and leverage come strongly into play: if you know your worth and what you’re willing to accept, you can push back and get what you need. 

    Step 3: Make a strategic ask

    Think beyond the money

    The biggest wins often come from non-monetary asks. Don’t focus on just your annual compensation, but on your compensation five years from now – or even further out. 

    Think like Louie Bacaj. A former engineering leader at, Louie has published his earnings over time. At first glance, it looks like a consistently steady increase, but if you look closer you can see some strategic decisions that kept his pay stagnant – or even slightly reduced – in the short term, but ultimately led him to a huge opportunity with a high payoff. 

    For example, when he joined in 2015 he actually took a step down in pay – and made a lateral move in terms of title. However, he had learned that the new role would give him management experience and he was really excited about joining a startup on the ground floor. Within two years, he’d surpassed his previous earnings and had more than doubled them within four years. 

    As counter-intuitive as it may be for me, as someone who owns a negotiation company to say: sometimes, the non-monetary aspects of a role – and where it will take your career – are worth a temporary step down in pay. 

    Level up

    Another non-monetary area to consider in your negotiations is level. This may require additional interviews but often pays off! 

    Recently, an engineering leader was offered a Senior Engineering Manager position at a Series B startup but asked to be considered for a Director-level position. After four more interviews, she received a Director offer. Not only did she end up with a $50K/year pay increase, but she also got the satisfaction of knowing she was joining at the right level. 

    Avoid a bad fit

    We’ve also had clients identify bad or wrong-fit jobs through the negotiation process, saving them from the stress of finding out once they’ve already started. One client negotiated with a CEO who was increasingly uncommunicative, so the client rejected the offer – and found out soon after that the person he’d report to would be leaving the company. 

    Collect career capital

    Career capital – the skills, connections, and experiences that set you up for future success – should also be an area of focus. Just like Louie Bacaj, you may find that while a role isn’t a massive increase in compensation, it brings connections or credentials that will help you grow (and maximize your earning potential) in the future. 

    Freedom in flexibility

    Of course, you shouldn’t forget flexibility. The ability to work remotely (or even part-time)  can have an impressive impact on your mental health and family life – or give you time to focus on that side hustle and keep increasing your BATNA! 

    It all comes back down to leverage; this applies to how you should (or shouldn’t) evaluate a career option. Two important variables to assess here are:

    The role scope/opportunity for you to make an impact 

    The company’s opportunity for growth and impact 

    The best career choices are those that offer the chance to make the highest impact or provide the opportunity to be paid to learn. Over time, this leads to financial gain.

    Take smart risks

    In our experience helping thousands of people negotiate, the data shows less than a 1% chance of losing your offer from negotiating. To further reduce that More

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    Invest in Your Success: The Ultimate Salary Negotiation Workshop (VIDEO)

    Attendees of this webinar left with the need-to-know points from Hired and Pathrise’s Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation and their very own salary negotiation script to help them face their next negotiation with courage. Now, we bring you this discussion and interactive strategy session on demand! Keep reading for the first point the experts want you to take away from the guide.

    You’ll hear from:

    Read the beginning of the conversation here and scroll down to access the full webinar. 

    Let’s review the first key takeaway from the guide. 


    Research is really the most important thing for a salary negotiation. In my opinion, research should be done before you even start the interview process. You may have a number in mind based on your previous salary and that’s really a great jumping-off point. But doing your research can actually help you validate if that number is reasonable and help you achieve it as well. 

    Companies entering the process with a salary range in mind will consider a number of factors that determine where you fall within that range. 

    One of these factors is industry. If you’re doing your research on what average salaries are, don’t just look for the average salaries for anyone serving in your role across the board. Make sure you’re doing research on the type of company you’re interviewing with and the industry they’re in – not just what the average salaries are at that company. 

    Also, include their competitors. See what the average salaries are for a similar role at those companies to see how they stack up. There really can be different averages just depending on if you’re looking at fintech, health tech, all of those things. 

    Seniority is another one. Check out what the average salaries are, not just for the role that you are in because roles are different at different companies. You may be leveled at Software Engineer II at your current company but that could be considered a Senior Software Engineer at another company. 

    Related: Code Your Career: Staying Competitive in the Developer Job Market (VIDEO)

    Make sure that you’re doing this research to determine if you put your best foot forward and make yourself stand out in the interview process, where do you think you could be leveled? That can actually change a lot based on not just your previous performance and work history, but how you perform during the interview. Make sure you’re feeling confident going into all those conversations. 

    The last thing I’ll call out is location. The graph references some average salaries in different cities. No matter where the company is located, the salary is actually based on your home location. This is particularly important with so many of us being remote right now. 

    When you’re analyzing the average salaries for a company, keep in mind they may have employees in cities with very different cost of living than your own. Ask that question maybe during the conversation: where’s most of the team located? 

    If you’re looking for more information on calculating cost of living since it can be a little tricky, you can actually read and reference our 2022 State of Tech Salaries report and use one of the online tools suggested in the Salary Negotiation Guide to calculate and compare cost of living.

    Related: Hired’s Salary Calculator


    Cost of living is important to consider for your personal finances, but it’s not going to be an effective argument for your negotiations. Companies factor in location when determining pay bands, but they don’t actually look at the cost of living. They look at the cost of labor. 

    Cost of labor refers to how much it takes to hire and retain employees with the qualifications to do a job in a certain industry in place. The formula itself is not important, but you do need to understand that since they are looking at the cost of labor, doing research on the market rate for your role, level, and location is what’s actually important. 

    When you go into the negotiation, be ready to point to a source on the market rate. Don’t worry about showing how much it would cost for you to live in a particular area because the fact is, honestly, employers don’t actually care about that.

    Other key topics from the conversation include: 

    More key takeaways from The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation 

    How to create a salary negotiation script  More

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    The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation

    What You’ll Learn

    Which factors contribute to your salary

    What not to say during a salary negotiation

    How to negotiate beyond base salary

    About this Guide

    Whether you’re looking for a new job or simply hoping for a raise within your current company, salary negotiation is a skill that can not only help you secure higher pay, but positively impact how your work is valued as your progress through your career. To ensure that you’re not only prepared but ready to land the salary you deserve, make sure to arm yourself with the right information.  More