Getting paid what you are worth can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know your worth. Before digging into how to get paid more, you should understand your compensation (or prospective compensation if you are looking at a job offer). Once you’ve got a handle on the components of your total compensation, it’s time to evaluate what you are currently getting or being offered, look at your accomplishments, and prepare yourself to negotiate compensation.
The very first thing to do is to find out if the compensation in question is fair or not. If you can get reliable information on what other people in your role at your company are getting paid, then you have a great starting point. There are many ways to research salary, but especially for tech salaries, there aren’t any as good as Blind. Blind verifies that users are employed by their employer for real but is otherwise completely anonymous, allowing users to be open to discussing difficult topics like compensation. In fact, Blind users encourage discussion and are very open to giving others advice and passing on tips about what is expected and how to do better. So go onto Blind, use its Total Compensation tool and get detailed information about salaries at target companies.
Of course, also use other salary tools and look into different ways to get information, including the job posting and careers pages of the companies you are interested in. See if you have any connections to people at the company in question (again, Blind is a great way to do this) and reach out to see if they will help.
The next step to get even more detailed information and advice is also to use Blind, but this time in the discussion section. Go search for information about the positions and companies you are interested in and read the resulting discussions, including the comments. Be skeptical about everything you read because it is social media, and not everyone is helpful. But you should get a picture of what you might expect. Finally, go into the Blind discussion forums and post any questions. You might be surprised at the help you get from other Blind users.
Now that you have some realistic idea of what the position you are in or looking to gain is worth, it’s time to make a case for why you should get more. There are two possibilities: you are already underpaid or have discovered your offer is low. Alternatively, you found out that the pay is reasonable, but you still think you should get more.
Make a list of your accomplishments and compare them to the goals and objectives for the position, whether it is one you are being offered or your current position and you think you deserve a raise. Be as detailed and specific as possible, and always include numbers and data. Rather than saying, “I made commits to the XXX project that made users happier,” say, “I made N commits during the last quarter to the XXX project resulting in a 33% increase in usage of the features involved.”
Build a case, using these accomplishments, for why you deserve extra consideration. Go through every point and provide as much concrete evidence as you can. Think through any objections someone might make and how to counter them. Then go through the ‘soft’ skills for your role around teamwork and communication and other factors that go into success. Do the same thing and quantify whenever you can. Be prepared to present or discuss both these lists in any compensation discussion.
You have several avenues of attack to get better compensation. You can ask for more across the board and focus on one component, such as salary, stock, or bonus. Be ready to pivot to another area if you are countered with a statement that the company can’t possibly give you more stock, for example. Simply ask if there is room for movement in the bonus or salary, etc. If you have a specific goal in mind, ask for a little more, but be prepared to switch to your particular goal.
If you receive a job offer and want to see if it can be pushed a little higher, perform all the steps outlined above but also be aware that many companies are expecting you to ask for more. So make your case and ask for what you think is reasonable, or 10% more than you were offered if you can’t get a point of comparison.
The very worst thing that can happen is that the company says no. The second worst thing that can happen is that they get upset and withdraw the offer – at least, in that case, you have learned that they aren’t serious about compensation, and you can continue your search for a better position.
But most likely, they will come back with an increased offer. If they match what you asked for, then you are done. Asking for more a second time is a sure way to start off badly. If they come back with an offer that is in between but acceptable, do the same, and accept gratefully. If the counteroffer is still not good enough for you, you must decide whether to tell them what is acceptable or walk away. At this point, unless you are firm about what you need and won’t take less, it is often a good idea to just decide yes or no rather than go back a second time.
Also published on Teamblind’s blog