Position: Senior Software Engineer
Previous salary: $90k
Negotiated salary: $180k + $30k bonus
I was working at a company as a defense contractor for several months making $90,000. A founder of a startup reached out to me to share a new role he was having trouble filling.
When we spoke I realized I was in a strong position to negotiate because I knew he was having a hard time finding candidates with my specific credentials and their salary range was higher than what I was currently making.
I used several points to calculate my salary expectation:
1 – I knew their salary range and that they had not been able to fill this job for a long time.
Lesson: Know the salary range for the position. Also, know the level of difficulty they have trying to fill this position. Create several questions you can use throughout the interview process to discover their pain, such as “how many candidates have applied for this role” or “What specific skills are required for the role”. Then you can research LinkedIn to find the available talent in your location to determine the number of potential applicants. A low number of candidates means you are in demand and in a good position to negotiate.
2 – The company was based in New York but I was based outside D.C. I decided to research salaries in the more expensive market of New York rather than base my estimates off my market.
Lesson: Know any differences in salary expectations for the market where the role is based.
3 – I had security clearance they valued and I knew there was an additional salary boost that should come with this clearance
Lesson: Pay attention to any specific skills or credentials that can increase your value. Also, search LinkedIn to find how many other candidates may have these skills.
After researching this I decided that a reasonable salary was $150k plus another $50k per year increase due to my security clearance credentials.
I was able to negotiate via email which helped me to edit my response and discuss with my husband.
I was speaking by phone with the CEO but when he started discussing compensation, benefits, and clearance. Then their lawyer and security clearance officer joined the call.
The CEO asked what salary I wanted, to which I replied $200k, but didn’t mention any additional benefits.
They said there were some details that needed to be looked at and they’d respond with an offer.
Their offer came back with a salary of $160k and a potential bonus of $50k, which depended on reviews.
I countered with $180K salary + $30K bonus + the same stock options.
They accepted my counter-offer, which meant I had just doubled my salary.
Lesson: Make sure to research the details and look at as much data as you can. I looked at location, experience, specific skills, clearance, and the pain of the company. The more evidence you have for your salary request, the more confident you are , and you can defend your request when the employer has objections.