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4 salary negotiation rules for software developers 1

4 salary negotiation rules for software developers

Salary negotiation may always appear to be an awkward conversation. Yet, it is important to learn the skills required for this sort of conversation. A large number of software developers are not familiar with this and the lack of knowledge can result in less pay. Read this article to learn the salary negotiation rules for software developers.

It is observed that in the software industry, there is a high pay variance. Developers with equivalent experience may have a salary difference of thousands of dollars. Sometimes, this variation is due to the company size and salaries for the very same profiles may widely differ due to a variety of factors such as more experience, additional qualifications and such in favor of the employee.

However, this could also be a result of skillful salary negotiation. A employee study conducted by Payscale revealed 28% of employees felt uncomfortable asking for a pay raise.

The difference in developer salaries among various job profiles can also be stark because programmers are never taught how to lead salary negotiation talks. Hence the lack of understanding of the rules of pay negotiations results in settling for less pay. Whether you are a beginner developer or have years of experience, salary negotiation skills will play a key role in deciding your earnings.

Here we share some essential salary negotiation rules that developers should know.

1. Learn to be strategic with timing

One of the leverages you can have as a candidate is to have multiple offers on the table. When you have offers from various employers, you can push the interviewer to match other offers or compare benefits. The problem arises when a developer gets staggered offers, making negotiation more challenging.

You cannot negotiate the salary skillfully if the offers are too close. You might lose multiple offers if the negotiations fail. It is why you need to plan the timing of interviews carefully. For instance, if you have an interview lined up with one company and the second round of interviews with another company, choose the latest interview slots to keep them separated as much as possible.

Another scenario when the timing is essential is when pursuing a pay raise. Often developers ask for a raise during the review season. By this time, most managers have already decided who will get a raise and who won’t. Asking for a pay raise early on will be helpful for both developers and managers. It will provide feedback to the managers about the pay raise expectations, or it can result in an immediate pay raise.

However, a necessary precaution to take is to be polite with your words and avoid ultimatums. No manager will like to be told “or else.”

2. Do not tell the salary you want 

Another important rule of salary negotiation is not to specify a number when discussing your expected pay, even when you know what your skills are worth.

When you explicitly give them a number, you set a ceiling. That’s the maximum salary you will be offered, but often interviewers will negotiate the pay lower than the number you quote. In the worst case, you might mention a number lower than the company is willing to pay, lowering your payments. There is no win-win in telling them what salary you want; it will only go down from the figure you state.

Instead, ask the interviewer about their developer salary budget. They must lowball the budget, and it will give you a salary floor to negotiate up from. Similarly, you might be asked about your current compensation. Avoid answering this question as well.

You can answer such queries with something like, “I’m not comfortable sharing my current salary. Rather I would like to focus on the value I can add to the company.”

3. Focus on what the company wants, not what you prefer

All salary negotiation talks ultimately come down to what you can do for the company. You undermine the negotiation if you lead the argument by stating that you want or deserve higher pay.

When you are not logically justifying why you deserve the salary you expect, you are just making an empathetic request to the company to fulfill your desire for higher pay. It will damage salary negotiation efforts, so you must focus on the company’s needs. Tell them how you can meet them. Focus the conversation on what you bring to the table and let the company see how your skills deserve fair compensation.

Even if your developer salary demands are rejected, ask the company about its requirements. Ask what performance they expect in the next six months to feel comfortable approving your salary raise request.

The onus will be on you to prove that you can deliver what’s asked for.

4. Practice your negotiation strategy

Salary negotiation, as you read here, is easier said than done. It would help if you practiced before you could successfully negotiate your salary. Do mock negotiations with a friend to eliminate the fear of talking about money; it is an essential negotiation strategy. We are conditioned not to do so, but it’s crucial for a raise.

Practice will help you develop a natural flow to ensure you walk through the critical salary negotiation points without being anxious.


Salary negotiation is one of the essential soft skills for a developerIf you are a skillful negotiator, you can earn steeply more. We hope these developer salary negotiation rules will help you confidently walk into your next negotiation.

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Saurabh Kale

Saurabh Kale

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