By: Brittney Elko, Chemical Engineer
The #1 rule that everyone needs to read and ingrain in their brains is:
NEVER, EVER, EVER, under any circumstance, give a recruiter or company the current salary you are making or the salary you would be expecting BEFORE they give you any information on pay range/benefits for the position.
With that, let’s get started on the negotiation points you want to be sure to consider and discuss.
The salary question usually manifests itself in this way from the recruiter:
- How much are you making now?
- What salary range would you be expecting for this role?
The company ALWAYS has a range they can pay for the role and will usually share it very easily, and you have to ask. They ask this question first to see how easy it will be to get you to give up the information. I have spoken with 20 companies over the course of my career when changing jobs, and every single one has given me this range after I’ve asked.
Example response to that question:
What is the range for the position Company X is targeting? Can you please share that with me?
If they still push back, you can say: “It really depends on the entire package, which includes things like benefits, so I do not really feel comfortable providing a number on salary when I don’t have the entire picture. I’m sure you can understand.”
If they still are unwilling to share the range with you, hold firm and move along with the process but still do not share anything with them. At this point, you’ll find out if you get an offer and then can assess if it’s worthwhile to consider.
If they do tell you the range for the position – follow-up questions to ask.
- Does that include a bonus – if so, what is that percentage?
- What is the target equity (if any) for the position?
- What is the PTO/vacation structure?
IF and only IF the range is below what you are looking for, this is the point you can share what it would need to be competitive for you, as an example, “Inclusive of any bonus it would need to be closer to this total amount to be attractive for me.”
If it is above what you would expect and is acceptable, say that range is realistic for what I am looking for. Thank you for sharing. I would be willing to proceed with the process based on this information.
Professional Development, Misc. Asks
I always ask for time and $ for SWE travel – I tell them that every company (big & small) I’ve worked for has supported this.
- I estimate the days needed (not taking vaca or PTO) and the expectations that I am working during these trips / responding to emails / still calling into meetings where needed.
- I also give them an estimate of the funding needed for the travel.
- Get this in writing via an email, not over the phone, if you can
- I would negotiate this through the hiring manager directly, but you can include HR as well if you would like
Be prepared to talk about WHY this support is beneficial.
Equity is usually negotiable so if you want more stocks than they are offering, just ask. They may have target amounts based on the position’s level, but it never hurts to ask.
A lot of times, companies will offer this if you are walking away from a yearly bonus amount – you can just tell them what this # is (the amount you are walking away from)
Vacation/PTO (Paid Time Off)
Many companies aren’t negotiable because they have a set amount based on the time at the company. Definitely make your case on this based on what your current days off are. For example, one company I talked to had only PTO but no sick days, and the total was equivalent only to what my current vacation was, so I asked for 10 days additional to make up for it.
Flexibility – do you want to work remotely 1-2 days a week? Discuss this now with the hiring manager, set expectations in the beginning.
These are the main items to cover but please, if you remember one thing from this post, it is that you should NEVER, EVER, EVER, under any circumstance, give a recruiter or company the current salary you are making or the salary you would be expecting BEFORE they give you any information on pay range/benefits for the position. I will scream this until I am blue in the face with every woman I talk to. Even if you take your current salary and add 10-20% on top, you could still be underselling yourself. What if you are grossly underpaid in your current role? By giving up that information, you are continuing to limit yourself from job to job to make less than your colleagues, and that just isn’t good for any of us engineering working moms! DON’T DO IT!!!
Chemical Engineer/Director, Supply Chain in Pharma Industry
Pleasanton (Bay Area), California
1 Year old daughter Luna + husband Stephen
Changed companies 4x in 13 years of career
From Company 1 to Company 4, increased salary by 2x+ in 5 years
2 thoughts on “Negotiation 101 – How to Get What You Want and Not Undersell Yourself in the Process”
Good article. Thank you.
What if the application has ‘current salary’ as a required field? I often experience this!