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Software Engineers: how to negotiate your job offer

  • Publish Date: Posted 12 months ago

Did you know that when you receive a job offer, there’s a secret third thing you can say besides “yes” and “no”? In the current market, software engineers are in a great position to negotiate on pay and benefits. Read on to discover why it pays to say “maybe”--and five steps to make it pay as much as possible.

What’s in your job offer package–and what’s negotiable?

Look beyond your base salary–that’s the fixed, guaranteed part of your pay. You’ll probably also receive an annual performance bonus and other benefits.

For base pay, your employer will have a set range for software engineers at each level. They’re unlikely to be offering you the maximum. You need to determine the top of the range and negotiate up.

Your performance bonus will usually be a percentage of your base pay, tied to both your performance and the company’s. For obvious reasons, this one is usually not negotiable.

Benefits and perks may include private healthcare, relocation assistance, gym membership, childcare stipends, and more. These are usually not negotiable either, unless you can make an under-the-table agreement with the hiring manager.

The most important benefit right now, of course, is remote and flexible working. This one may very well be negotiable. Ask about it during your interview.

Five steps to negotiate your software engineer job offer

1. Understand what’s in your offer package.

This one is easy–we’ve already outlined it above.

2. Ask the right questions.

If there’s anything that hasn’t been made clear in the job offer, don’t be afraid to ask for specific clarification. It won’t offend anyone–instead, it demonstrates your interest in the role.

3. Research the going rate.

Look up pay benchmarks for software engineers at your level, in your area–or for remote software engineers if the role is fully remote. Check multiple resources such as Glassdoor and Payscale. Remember that pay on these sites is reported by current and past employees–new employees may get a different offer. At the very least, you should push for the middle or top of the range for the SDE level.

4. Send a counteroffer

Once you’ve decided what you want to ask for, make your counteroffer politely but confidently. Explain in professional terms why your skills and experience merit a higher offer. It’s much better to do this over email rather than on the phone–you’ll have everything in writing and avoid being caught on the back foot.

5. Persist (but know when to stop)

Maybe you’ll get an immediate “yes” to your initial counteroffer, but usually, the hiring manager will come back with reasons why they can’t increase your offer. Explain calmly that while you understand their position, you’d appreciate it if they could take your thoughts back to the team for a last look at your offer. Be respectful but be persistent. If you can get them to agree to this, you should receive a better offer.

Mistakes to avoid

● Don’t tell them your salary expectations before they make an offer. What if they were planning to offer you more?

● Don’t be afraid to negotiate. We’ve never seen an employer retract a job offer because the candidate tried to negotiate.

● Don’t skip the research. For example, expecting a non-tech company or a startup to pay you the same as Google or Apple is unrealistic.

Every software engineer can and should negotiate the full compensation they deserve. Following these steps with every new role will help you gain a tremendous advantage throughout your career.

The best way to negotiate your package is to work with a recruiter. We know the going rate of your role in the market and can tell you what your skills are worth. We work with thousands of software engineers; therefore we understand what salary and benefits are being offered UK-wide. For a comprehensive job search, upload your CV.