Many of our graduates from the Web Development Immersive program take our course to find work in the tech field as junior developers. As I support them with negotiating their first offers for those roles, there are certain steps that I cover with them, as a Career Coach, to make sure they set themselves up for success. Half of the negotiation process is the prep work you put in prior to negotiation. If you, too, are interviewing for your first role as a developer, here are 3 steps you can take to position yourself for a well-negotiated offer.
1. Understand the value of your skills.
What skills do you have and are they relevant to the job to which you are applying? Your skills can be a mix of hard (technical) skills and soft skills. You should be able to provide real life examples and accomplishments where you have used those skills in a professional setting and be able to articulate how you plan to use them to benefit your new employer. Even if you’re applying to an engineering role, showcasing your soft skills can be a plus if they are transferable. For example, some of our students who come from a sales background and want to find work in technology use their sales skills to land Sales Engineer roles.
Additionally, you should know the going rate in your market for the role to which you are applying. Check out Robert Half’s salary guide for jobs in the technology field as a starting place for your research. You can also use Glassdoor to research specific roles in your city and see average salaries. Consider if your additional skill can be used as leverage for an even higher salary.
2. Know your salary requirements.
Have a salary number in mind that you can provide to the recruiter as early as the phone screen stage. There’s a lot of debate around whether one should give salary expectations up front and whether it’s best to give a range or an exact number. Being transparent with your recruiter about your salary expectations allows the recruiter to better support you throughout the process and be your advocate to the hiring manager. If your salary ask is out of the budget, chances are the recruiter will let you know and help steer you in the right direction. It’s also best to give an exact number to the recruiter instead of a range. If you give a range you run the risk of being offered the lowest number you provided and it’s easier to negotiate down rather than having to negotiate up. Be sure to tack on a couple of thousand dollars to your ask so that you have room to go down during the negotiation. Lastly, be confident when you give your salary expectation. You don’t need to rationalize how much you think you deserve – after all, you did your research and your ask is aligned with the industry standard, right?
3. Gather feedback and information on job scope responsibilities.
The interview is a time for you to get to know the company and role, as much as it’s an opportunity for the company to learn about you. Be sure to use your interviews to ask questions about the role and get a full understanding of your responsibilities. If you’re interviewing for a junior role, it’s understood that you will need some mentorship and support. If the company expects you to jump in and work alone and build things from scratch without much support, that’s good information to have and to leverage during the negotiation. However, if they are willing to train and mentor you, it may be hard to ask for more money. Knowing that information may help you feel comfortable accepting a reasonable offer if the role can be a good stepping stone for your career. Additionally, you should ask for feedback throughout the interview process. A good time to ask for your interview performance is after you’ve been approved for the next round in the interview process. Ask for anything you should review as a way to gauge areas for improvement.
4. Learn about company perks.
If you want to explore alternatives that you can bring up during the negotiation, find out if your employer would be willing to pay for you to take additional classes to grow your skills. Some companies also offer to have you attend conferences, which is a great networking opportunity on behalf of the company and also for you to grow your own personal network.
Having all this information handy by the time you are ready to negotiate your offer will make the entire process a lot easier and less scary. Once you know how much your skills are worth and you have an understanding of the job responsibilities, including your personal strength and weaknesses, you will have a much more realistic expectation about what you deserve to receive an offer. From there, you can devise your target goal, as well as any alternatives that you can ask in order to find an offer that makes sense for you and your future employer.
Neda Jafarzadeh is the Career Coach at General Assembly in San Francisco. She works with the full-time immersive students to empower them with their job search by providing coaching on branding, goal setting, resume, interviewing, and other job-search related topics.