6 Tips for How to Negotiate Your Salary as a Software Engineer

Two women sitting at a desk during a job interview

As technology continues to develop, there’s a big demand for software engineers. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the demand for software engineers to expand by 22% by 2029. That’s compared to the average predicted growth rate across all occupations, which hovers around 4%.

That demand doesn’t necessarily mean that getting a job offer or negotiating a higher salary will suddenly become easier. It’s always good to have a few strategies in your back pockets for how to negotiate your salary as a software engineer.

How to Negotiate Your Salary as a Software Engineer

A new job offer is always exciting, whether it’s your first job or if you’re negotiating multiple offers. That said, it’s important to make sure you’re being compensated fairly. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you can take to successfully negotiate your salary:

  • Do your homework
  • Consider the full offer
  • Let them lead the numbers
  • It’s what the company needs
  • Advocate for yourself
  • Practice beforehand

Let’s take a closer look at these tips to learn more about how to secure a higher salary

1. Do Your Homework

To successfully negotiate your salary, the first and perhaps most important step is to do your homework. You should know the national average salary for the job title and how it varies for your region.

Research the company and the role you’ve been offered, and come to the meeting prepared with examples of how you can fit into the work and culture of the organization. Also, have a good idea of your bottom line before entering negotiations. This will help you keep your confidence and remain steadfast in your own value during the process.

2. Consider the Full Offer

Yes, salary is important, but other aspects of your employment agreement might also contribute to your happiness. Does the offer include stipends, equity, or bonuses? What does your benefits package look like?

Also consider the job duties, workplace culture, travel, hours expectations, opportunities for promotion, company investment in employee development, and more. Remember that a high salary could come with higher hours and less desirable benefits. At the same time, it’s possible to choose a path that yields a lower salary right now but might have better prospects down the road. Many of these decisions depend on your outlook on the value of the full offer.

3. Let Them Lead the Numbers

As a general guideline, it’s best not to be the first to share any concrete numbers. It’s usually a better strategy to wait for them to make the first offer, then counter it.

Here are some more specific pointers from Mark Rodriguez, a Senior Placements Manager at App Academy:

  • Don’t provide a figure right away. If you’re prompted to do so, write “competitive market rate” or “000000” in the salary expectation section of the application.
  • If you’re asked for a salary during an interview, say something like, “While I’m aware of the market rate for this region based on conversations with other local developers with similar skills, I understand every company’s needs and budget constraints are different. Can you share the budget range for this position so I can compare it with my expectations? Culture, fit, and scope of work are also very important to me when choosing a team to join.”
  • If they’re insistent on a number and don’t let it go, give a range based on the local average. This will prevent you from looking unprepared or difficult to work with.

4. It’s What the Company Needs

During the interview, position yourself to display how you can help the company, not how they can help you. Show that you have faith in your abilities to advance in this position.

You can say something like, “Given my expertise in X, I can see myself excelling in…” or “I look forward to leveraging my talents to…” Statements like this will help you highlight how your background and skills can enable you to contribute to the company.

Employers value candidates who show enthusiasm for the company’s work. At the end of the day, you’ll be doing work to help move the company forward. When you put yourself in the position of being of great value to a company, they might be more likely to pay you a higher salary to get you on their team.

5. Advocate for Yourself

Businesses most likely won’t offer you the highest amount they have in their budget for the position. You need to advocate for yourself to ensure you’re getting paid the salary you’re worth.

Here are some more insights from Mark Rodriguez:

  • If an offer has been made with a range, shoot for about $10K more. For example, if you’re offered $100K, you can say something like, “I was hoping to land closer to the $110K range in total compensation. If there’s anything your team can do to get me closer to this number, I’d greatly appreciate it.”
  • If the offer is rescinded after a good-faith negotiation, you’re better off elsewhere. Imagine trying to ask for a promotion or review in the future.

6. Practice Beforehand  

It’s always a good idea to enter negotiations prepared. Try talking through the main points in the mirror. Practice thanking your interviewers for the opportunity and explaining how you know you can contribute to their team if they meet your compensation requests.

Practice different versions of your foundational statement, something along the lines of, “As I have research the market for this position and the salaries of those with comparable experience to mine, I have determined that X amount of money is fair compensation for me to take the position and put forth my best effort to contribute to the success of your organization.”

Looking for More Insights from Mark?

If you want to know more about how to negotiate your salary as a software engineer, check out this Career Coaches Q&A. App Academy’s Associate Director of Outcomes, Anna Paschall, and Senior Placements Manager, Mark Rodriguez, answer questions about the job hunt and how App Academy’s Career Coaches have helped thousands of graduates find their first jobs as software engineers.

How to Negotiate a Raise as a Software Engineer

So, you’ve got the job, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself negotiating your compensation again. You’ll always want to ensure you’re being paid fairly, and that’s in terms of promotions and raises as well.

Many of the same tips apply, but there are a couple of specific things you can do to ensure your success.

1. Consider Scheduling

Asking for a raise at the right time can have a significant impact on whether you receive it. Think about when your company examines their budgets and how the company is doing financially. If you time your negotiation well, your employer will likely be more present and receptive to what you have to say.

2. Prepare Your Presentation

You want to enter the meeting with a compelling story that illustrates why you deserve the raise. Even if you’re not officially presenting, having that mindset can help you cover all your bases and deliver your message more effectively. You might start with a short introduction detailing your request and justifications for granting it. Be prepared to answer any questions your manager may have and come with specific targets, whether it be a higher salary, more vacation days, or another benefit.

3. Come With Examples

Reflect on your work over the past year, how you’ve helped the company, and how your role has changed if you’ve taken on more work. Providing concrete examples can help prove that your contributions to the company justify a higher income.

App Academy Supports You on Your Journey

Salary negotiations are just part of the job search. Following these tips can help you be better prepared for these negotiations. If you’ve completed a bootcamp here at App Academy, you can rest assured that we’ll support you every step of the way through your job hunt. Our career coaches are available to help our graduates up until their first day at a new job. If you want to learn more about the admissions process, reach out today.

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Written by Dev App Academy

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