Developer Salary Negotiation Strategies


On Tuesday’s I discuss various strategies for preparing for a development interview job, and today I’m going to cover the topic of developer salary negotiation strategies.

Talking about money is a sensitive subject for many individuals and when it comes to negotiating how much you’ll be paid it also comes with the added stress of knowing that if you ask for too much you may not get the job and if you ask for too little it could negatively affect your lifestyle. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of developer salary negotiation tips.

Developer Salary Negotiation Strategies

  1. Know your skill set – this may seem like common sense, however it’s vital that you know and can articulate your full set of skills since this is going to be one of the main factors that dictate your salary. You can start with listing out the programming languages you know, the frameworks that you’ve used, and put together a portfolio that showcases your expertise. As an example, if you’re a full stack developer who also has experience with data science you will be more a more valuable asset to companies that require a unique skill set like yours.
  2. Know the industry – over the years I’ve been fortunate to work as a VP of Engineer and a software Director in the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry has historically had a difficult time attracting software developers compared with other sectors, and because of that developers are able to command a premium salary. I would make a much different salary if I applied to work for the automobile manufacturing industry compared with the oil and gas space. Therefore it’s important to understand what industries pay for developers and not to simply assume that the same skill set is paid the same amount across all sectors.
  3. Know the organization – no matter what your skill set is and what industry you’re working in, no factor will determine your salary as much as the organization itself. If you’re applying to work for a bootstrapped startup you’ll be paid significantly less compared with a startup that just finished raising $20 million of venture capital. It’s been my experience that small to medium sized companies, with around 500-1000 employees pay the most. If you are applying to work with a bootstrapped startup, they may be willing to negotiate with stock options which could eventually lead to a much larger payday than any salary would, so that is also important to keep in mind.

With all of that in mind, how can you research salary rates? You can always simply Google “software developer salary” and then name the industry that you are interested in. However I typically like to use Glassdoor, which I’ve found to have the most accurate salary rates. You can also have it filter by the location that you want to work in. One key item to keep in mind is to test out multiple job types. For example, when I search for ‘web developer’ jobs in Scottsdale, AZ, it showed an average salary of $65,000, however when I looked up ‘software developer’ jobs in Scottsdale it returned an average salary of $78,000. That’s a pretty big salary bump for a single word difference, so make sure that you check out all of the potential job types that you’re interested in.

I hope that this guide has given you a system for negotiating your next salary.

developer salary negotiation



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