Most people anxiously squirm thinking about negotiating their salary.

This is an area where people usually just wing it because they're too uncomfortable to negotiate but winging it could literally cost you thousands of dollars.

Why not give yourself the opportunity to get a much higher paying salary?! Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective so that's exactly what we're going to do here.

Here's an easy way to think about negotiation...

You, or someone you know, have likely sold your car on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace before. You would never just post your ad online without doing any kind of research.

You'd want to know what your vehicle's worth in its current condition, what features increase its value, and how much it can sell for to a private party in your local area or how much it's worth as a trade-in.

You don't want to be low-balled on the price or overshoot and have no interested buyers. So, you do some research by checking out sites, like Kelley Blue Book, and equip yourself with knowledge.

That knowledge gives you the power to confidently sell your vehicle for the value it's actually worth so you and the buyer can both win at the end of the day.

Two hands shaking from above with view of table, smartphone, a pencil jar, and a laptop

Negotiating your salary is a lot like selling your car on Craigslist. You have to know your worth, set your price, and make the ask.

1. Know Your Worth

Research

Similar to researching Kelly Blue Book for your car, you need to know your own value. Like knowing what makes your car so special and worth more than the others being sold that are similar. Think of the base features versus added customizations. What's that look like for you as an employee?

What value are you bringing to the role, the team, and the company?

There are a few ways to identify your value.

You can use sites like Glassdoor, Monster, and CareerBuilder to narrow down and hone in on your value and see what others are currently being paid in the industry. A few things to help you determine an appropriate salary are:

  • Average salary for the role in your local area
  • Level of experience
  • Training or educational background (FYI: Your V School Certification is equal to a 4-year university!)

Understand Your Added Value

Be mindful of the skills you've mastered and keep track of any special awards, achievements, or goals you've accomplished along the way that help show what you're able to bring to the team beyond your tech skills.

Consider your mastered skills, unique experience, and find similar salary ranges in the marketplace for the roles you want to apply for.

Ask Recruiters in the Industry

One way to find out how much you're worth or how much companies are willing to pay for your skills is to ask recruiters directly. We regularly invite industry recruiters to speak at V School to give you the opportunity to ask them these kind of questions directly so make sure you're attending our events regularly!


2. Pick Your Number

It's good to have an ideal range in mind but it's even more vital to pick a specific number. During a negotiation, you'll go slightly higher that your specific number (like selling your car on Craigslist). From there, you can negotiate a fair agreement you're both comfortable with.

It's important to note that you also need to know when to walk away. What is your absolute bottom number you'd say "Yes" to and when would you walk away?

Think through this now and it'll be like giving yourself a raise from day one!


3. Make the ask

Don't beat around the bush. Be direct. Be positive. Be passionate. Be excited! Employers expect to negotiate so not going there could instill negative confidence in you. You don't want that.

Most company owners are usually ready to negotiate in order to get the best talent at a fair rate. Always remember that good employers are willing to pay good money for good people, especially in tech.

Be respectful and professional at all times. Do NOT burn any bridges around this conversation.

Sell it! Be confident. If you loved your car and you know it's worth, you won't be uncomfortable asking people to pay for it's true value. The same goes for you!

Here's how the conversation will likely go:

Interviewer: What salary do you expect to make?

Your response: "My expectation is that I'd be paid the market value. I've very interested in adding value to the team and want to make sure there's a good culture fit. Do you have a range in mind?"

From there, you've put the ball back in their court and have some information to work from so you can confidently negotiate and land in a comfortable spot.


YOUR ASSIGNMENT

This is the final piece you'll need under your belt when you walk into the job search during Stage 2: Experience. When you know your worth, set your price, and know how to make the ask you'll have sky-high confidence going into any interview.

  1. What value will you be adding to the company (beyond your tech skills)?
  2. What is your ideal salary range?
  3. What is your specific target salary?
  4. What's your absolute bottom number you'd say "Yes" to?

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