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Tips on negotiating salary

Patrick McKenzie is a software engineer and writer that works at Stripe, and he has a brilliant article on negotiating salary. Although it's targeted towards software engineers, the key takeaways can definitely be applied to other industries.

Negotiating is not a bad look.

Get rid of the notion that negotiating is shameful and only engaged in by poor people or greedy people. As Patrick puts it, "If I told you I would pay you a hundred thousand dollars if you did five minutes of poetry recital while standing on one foot, would you do it?" Think about negotiation like a poetry recital.

Understand how much you cost your employer.

After factoring in insurance, benefits, and other miscellaneous costs, employees end up costing their companies anywhere from 150% to 200% more than their salary. "The fully loaded cost of an engineer receiving market salaries these days in California or New York is close to $20,000 a month." That's $240,000 a year! Asking for $5000, or 3% of that, is not as unfathomable as you might think.

Never give a number.

Very common advice, but a couple of tips I thought were noteworthy:

  1. You’re not being difficult, or immoral, or unprofessional.
  2. You are making sure it is a good fit first. You are looking for a role you can excel in and the company is looking for someone to excel in that role. Patrick recommends saying something like "If we’re a great fit, then I can be flexible on the numbers with you and you can be flexible on the numbers with me."
  3. If negotiations can't continue without a number, give them your last salary times a multiple you're happy with.
  4. All the above points vary based on your bargaining power, e.g. junior engineers often don't have the luxury of picking a salary range because position they need the company more than company needs them.

You can read the full article here, as well as another banger from Haseeb, who negotiated a $250,000 salary within a year of learning to code, and a great video example of a negotiation from the cofounder of Levels.fyi.