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Ask HN: Negotiating Salary
177 points by 2bor-2n on May 30, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 167 comments
I have recently finished interviews for Frontend dev role with a remote company and expect a decision from them by next week. During my first interview with the HR I set an expectation of $40 for my hourly rate. But during my subsequent interview with the CTO, he complained about my hourly rate and said that it was too high compared to your skillset and expertise. I deliberately pitch too high in the start so I can get away with a good deal later.

The interviews are over, right now it is not guaranteed they will go with me. But assuming they give me an offer, I have a feeling they will offer me some where around $30/hr (just this rate, no other compensation) for this position which I am happy to accept.

The question is, when they offer me with a lower rate how should I deal with the situation so that I don't loose the position and get away with the best deal?

P.S The company is US-based with a development team spread all across the globe. I am from South Asia and even $30/h is a very big deal.

I would try to gently put them on the back foot when they offer a wage.

When you receive the offer, you should comment on the differential between expected and offered wage, even if you intend to accept. For example, you might say with a gently puzzled tone, "this is lower than what I would ideally be earning, based on my experience and capabilities. Can you explain how you came to this number?"

You may be able to push back on them a little bit. You will be able to tell if there's room to negotiate, based on the response to you. Don't overdo it, as simply commenting on the differential and seeing how they respond is a way of gently squeezing them. If it seems the number is negotiable, ask if they can compromise with (for example) $33. The art is in doing this in a confident and friendly way, so that the position doesn't collapse.

Whatever number you set as the price you want, don't waver on it after it escapes your lips. Let them consider the number unless it's clear there will be no budging. If possible, do some research on other roles or other engineers you know in the business, so that you can justify your ask. It's not your standard of living that sets the price, it's your alternative job and their alternative hire.

Your question resonates a bit with the "Never Split the Difference" method of asking an open ended question immediately after receiving an offer. "Can you explain how you came to this number?" is similar to the "How am I supposed to do this?" kind of open ended question the author uses as an example. Happy you posted this, feel like an idiot that I've never thought of using that exact phrase lol.

> Your question resonates a bit with the "Never Split the Difference" method of asking an open ended question immediately after receiving an offer. "Can you explain how you came to this number?"

While the general advice of open ended questions is sound, this question rarely works with companies. They'll simply respond with a vague answer.

"We did market research and determined that this is a competitive rate for your skills."

You have to counter that showing actual market data that disagrees with them.

I'm a but surprised no one mentioned the other "trick" in NSTD: Politely insist on a fringe benefit that they cannot provide (e.g. N weeks of vacation). This will make them more likely to increase the compensation to counter the benefit they cannot give you.

This. I have recently went through this rather annoying exercise. Received offer was noticeably lower than what I expected for average for the region. I responded saying that what the job entails is worth more based on publicly available information and that does not account for my experience/certs/actual knowledge of how this shit works. They relented, but I learned through the grapevine later that they were unhappy about it, because they had internal data showing otherwise.

>You have to counter that showing actual market data that disagrees with them.

Where's the best place to pull this data from?

This is almost exactly what I got as well. Where do all the recruiters learn the things they say? It’s clear that they’re all learning the exact same material. Very poorly too... The ones who don’t go by the script are usually the ones I have the best experiences with and end up joining - ironic I guess. Maybe they’re just more seamless with the script than the others I’ve worked with. ;)

Sure, the follow-up to "how did you get to this number?" is -- whether or not they actually reply in detail -- always "See, I did it this way, and I ended up with this other number. What do you think causes the difference?"

> whether or not they actually reply in detail

In my experience, they never do (if they're a decent sized company).

> "See, I did it this way, and I ended up with this other number. What do you think causes the difference?"

This does work at times to increase your pay, so I recommend it. However, when it doesn't, they are not going to respond to your question. It will be another "We're sorry, but our data suggests otherwise. We aim to be competitive."

Of course, if you're a very senior position and they really want to, they will have a conversation. In the remaining 99% of cases, they'll adjust the salary to an extent, and then you'll hit a wall. That's when you start negotiating on non-salary stuff.

"I appreciate that you're trying to be competitive, and it is a generous offer you have presented. The problem we have is, as you know, that I had pictured something different from a company with your resources. I have shared with you how I arrived at that. If you're not willing to share your process, how can I trust you have my best interest in mind?"

Any good negotiator on the other side of the table would eventually throw you a bone if you are nice, don't relent, ask for reasonable things (if I sign up for you to own the fruits of my labour, I want to know I'm being cared for), and apply the right amounts of awkward silence.

With most companies, the issue is that the person you are dealing with is not someone you will have a relationship with. It will not be your new manager. It will be someone from HR. They'll have a salary range, and will be willing to move to near the top depending on how much the hiring manager says how good you are. At an individual level, they don't care if you "trust" them.

If you're asking for something beyond their upper bound, they'll have a few other levers to offer you (more stock, one time sign on bonus, etc). But keep in mind: If the manager said you were "good, but not great", they're not going to go much higher than their initial offer to you.

In all these scenarios, they have zero incentive to discuss how they came up with that number. If you indicate you can't trust them if they don't, they'll agree and drop you and look for another candidate. The HR person is dealing with multiple hires for multiple positions. He/she doesn't have the time to do a detailed discussion with every one. What's more, what is the point of them sharing it? Put yourself in their shoes. They've come up with a compensation strategy for the whole company. If they're offering below market and they know it, your pointing it out to them doesn't strengthen your position. They know the information your providing them. If they were trying to save money, they'll increase the offer. If their policy is to underpay, they're not going to raise the offer unless the hiring manager indicated you're well above average.

> and apply the right amounts of awkward silence.

Silence is awesome for certain scenarios, but not when dealing with an HR person on a compensation package. Remember: Your asking a question (like the one in your comment) does not throw the ball in their court. They'll either ignore you or give you a canned response. Every offer has a deadline, and they'll ping you again near the deadline. If you continue the silence, they'll withdraw the offer and move on.

If you're joining a small company/startup, your tactics will work. Not so with established companies.

There are stories here on HN about people who had been hired, but were not happy with some of the paperwork they were being asked to sign on their first day on the job. They stood their ground and that was their last day at work. If a company is willing to do that after they've gone through the headache of hiring a person, then don't assume that you have any decent leverage with notions of "it's too painful for them to withdraw an offer and hire another person - they'd rather negotiate."

Contrary to what you might think, I agree with most (if not all) of what you're saying. They might decline to give me a reason to trust them, even after I've given them several opportunities. In that case, I have a strong signal to decline, and they have to do other things very well to compensate.

I'm not saying one should be picky, I'm just saying that if the worker and the employer have very different ideas of the value the worker brings, and one side is not open to discussing their perspective of things, my experience is that doesn't turn into a fruitful partnership with long-term prospects.

At best, it's a temporary gig and then the worker leaves with a bunch of knowledge. It's not a desirable position for anyone. (But that does happen, very often in larger companies, as you say.)

Another question might be something like: I know you need to pay me less than the value I create, because this needs to be a mutually profitable arrangement. How much value do you expect I can bring to the company?

Or maybe the more open ended question is better?

I do like Never Split the Difference, great book. The most common complaint against it is that the author is a bit arrogant, but having read a couple other negotiation books first, I found the author's approach more fair and "real" than the bag-of-manipulative-tricks I found in the other books.

Also, since it's the CTO your talking to, try to establish an (for lack of a better term) "tech people versus the rest of the world" mentality, then he will be more likely to side with you. As we've all seen, people side with their own perceived group. I don't mean this to be as aggressive as it sounds, just try to use the natural camaraderie between tech workers.

> I know you need to pay me less than the value I create, because this needs to be a mutually profitable arrangement.

This is the most awkward thing you could say.

And unless you are doing something very specifically tied to revenue generation (so, sales basically) impossible to answer sensibly.

Like, what value does an SRE engineer bring? Or a cyber person? For a large company; basically nothing on average, until you save them from a major incident, then potentially loads.

>...I know you need to pay me less than the value I create... How much value do you expect I can bring to the company?

I would never use this sort of phrasing, that sound really painful. Have you ever actually used that in a negotiation?

Rather I'd highlight my experience in achieving results at reduced cost, identifying efficiencies, and developing new sources of revenue to highlight my own ability to bring extra value. You're the one asking for more, so you need to justify it.

I'm not the person you're asking, but I tried a question very similar to that once. It -- the question -- did not have the intended effect. The negotiation itself left all parties happy though, so what do I know?

It seems most think it would be awkward, so it probably would be.

I'd like to hear more about how it went for you. It seems like one of the ultra logical views which people find weird (or offensive) when spoken out loud. I mean, the principle here is clearly true, both the employee and employer must profit, if this condition doesn't exist the company soon dies.

It wasn't that it was awkward, it was just very hard to reason from the number that corresponds to future profits in a complicated way down to current compensation in a principled way.

Never Split the Difference is a great book.

A lot of these comments are not fond of the author's arrogance... Which seems to be a little nitpicky.

The techniques won't work if you use them verbatim because someone else who has read the book will recognize it.

He simplifies things to a set of rules, but it's up to you to be judicious on when to use them and to do your homework on what the underlying principles are.

> A lot of these comments are not fond of the author's arrogance... Which seems to be a little nitpicky.

Arrogance is one thing. Outright misleading/lying about what other books say is another.

I see you recommended a few books and also said that 'a good book on negotiations will differentiate between strategies where the relationship is important and where it isn't'. What is one such book?

I'm new to negotiations, having been avoidant my whole life. I've started with GTY and Chris Voss's masterclass, but I know there's more out there. Someone here on HN mentioned once that 'salience models' are the now the cutting edge of negotiation theory, but I haven't been able to find much useful beginner/intermediate stuff on that.

> 'a good book on negotiations will differentiate between strategies where the relationship is important and where it isn't'. What is one such book?

Bargaining for Advantage does this. I expect most "academic" books do it.


As an add-on to this; whatever they offer first is likely below what they are willing to pay.

So even if they do offer the 30 you'd be happy with, still negotiate. The outcome can only be happier for you.

On the contrary: on today's candidate market company is interested to give the best offer it can afford, to close the position with suitable engineer.

That doesn't make sense for the same reason individuals should negotiate.

The market is currently incredibly hot, which drives up average wages. But a good company will make a sensible offer on the low boundary with a willingness to go up. Then if someone offers you 4k more at least that sets me a marker.

You never been in position when you desperately need to fill several engineering roles but can't find suitable candidates for weeks, right?

Disclaimer, I'm a CTO.

Here's how I evaluate this if I was evaluating you:

1. I already have a salary budget already allocated for this role based on industry average for position and location (but location _could_ be irrelevant depending on skill mostly).

2. I look at your skillset and put you at the bucket for the position where you are at: low-med-high

3. I make my offer based on my evaluation.

4. If you are "worth it", meaning in the high bucket, then I would go out of my way to give you a good offer, up to max of my budget or to match how much you are asking. Else, I would say the offer is where it stands and either you take it or don't.

But to answer your question, it doesn't hurt to push back as long as you are confident in your skills and know your value is worth more. That one you have to make up for yourself by evaluating yourself with peers and other factors.

Oh. And if you do push back, make sure to give a good reason why it is so. For example, if I happened to put you in the low bucket, I might have evaluated you wrong or the tests did not show much of your skill, then make sure to outline why you deserve that salary increase with good reason. As a quick example, if the industry average in where you are is $50,000 and you are offered $30,000 which is the starting for a junior, you can say that you've been developing for awhile with at least 5 years experience and that $50,000 would be a fair salary etc etc.

'disclaimer', pet peeve coming up.

> Disclaimer, I'm a CTO.

That's not a disclaimer, it's.. a claim. It's not even a 'disclosure' (which is what people saying 'disclaimer' often mean) really, it's more like a 'source', or just.. remove the word?:

> I'm a CTO, here's how I evaluate [...]

Sorry, just bugs me.

Seems like "full disclosure" is a perfectly good way to say what they were trying to say. Your version is ok too, but does not have the same implication of "I have a particular bias here, so I am disclosing that so that you read my comment through that lens".

Yes that's fine, disclosure is usually the word 'offenders' are looking for, for sure.

I just thought that here the tone was more 'here's why I can give you a good answer' than 'I'm aware my answer may be biased'.

Basically, the three things that are conflated into 'disclosure' are (all 'for example'):

1. (Disclosure) I have a vested interest in this because I work at the company being discussed [but I really think everything's fine and this isn't an issue];

2. (Actual disclaimer) I left the companh being discussed years ago so I have no knowledge of this issue [but my opinion is..];

3. (Source/background/listen to me!) I work at the company being discussed [so I'll pass on your feedback]

For me this is more a 3 than a 1, because there's no 'but' I suppose is the simple way to put it. You disclose a relationship because it might put what you're saying in a different (worse) light; here it's just why it's worth listening to. (If they'd said 'Company X is the best for negotiating salary IMO', 'I am CTO there though' would be a good disclosure!)

No worries, valid point. I have ESL (English as Second Language) but noted.

Ah, then no hard feelings I hope; you just picked it up from so many others getting it wrong! It is a common error for sure, just a pet peeve of mine for some reason, so I call it out occasionally.

What "tests" do you mention?

How do you evaluate people? Given the following information, how would you determine someone's skillset?

- hobby projects on the same technology stack

- open-source contributions (library with 15,000 monthly downloads)

- hobby projects on a different technology stack

- hobby projects on a different technology stack that made it into production with thousands of users

- previous companies

In our company, our interview process goes like:

1. Paper screening the candidate. Looking at resume to see if they have skills for the job on paper. If so go to Personality Screening.

2. Personality Screening is done by talking to them and seeing if there's a cultural fit and also throw in some programming questions or feature discussions to see how they think.

3. Technical Screening by way of pair programming on a problem set that is based on the position that should show a mix of skills, tracing bugs or implementing features. If Frontend, mostly JavaScript and a Frontend Framework like React if needed.

As far as your questions go, we put weight on hobby projects but just so that we can see their code writing and some logic up front. As an example, I have seen one candidate with a recent Ruby on Rails project that had all their spaces and newlines everywhere, and I'm not talking about spaces or tabs here, think one chunk of code has 2 spaces, next had 3, another had 5, just everywhere that made the code super hard to read together with the messy logic/abstractions, from this, I assumed that they are still junior. On the contrary, I've seen a candidate that has really good code on a similar Ruby on Rails hobby project that reflected well on their work.

I think the problem with your last point is that while you, as a CTO whose job it is to know this, know the market salary, the person you're hiring probably does not. Like, I am more experienced than the OP, and my sense of what market salaries are in different places for different skillsets is incredibly hazy. So in light of this, it probably makes more sense for a candidate to, as a rule, push back even without specific knowledge of "$50,000 would be a fair salary" (to use your example), in case it's true. It would be a lot easier of course if there were more salary transparency, but employers don't want that.

I'm curious, what industry is offering roughly minimum wage (30k) to programmers in the US?

$30 per hour is way more than a $30,000 salary. Technically $30/hr is double that - roughly $60,000 per year. If you are a full-time employee in the U.S. then typically other benefits such as health insurance, 401k, vacation time, etc will be factored in, so typically if you were interviewing a U.S. citizen for the job, then whatever “hourly rate” the salaried employee would be at ($60k salary ~ $30/hr) should be multiplied by something like 1.3 or 1.5 for a contractor rate to account for the employee benefits they are not receiving from you. So $30 would become $40+ instead for a contract rate.

FWIW, that's double the federal minimum wage. I'm mostly pointing out how absolutely absurd our minimum wage is.

I believe the US federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr


$30k is far beyond minimum wage in most of the world.

Looking at the list of countries by minimum wage [1] containing data for 201 countries:

* only 5 countries have nominal, effective minimum wage above $30k (Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland)

* when accounting for Purchasing Power Parity no country has minimum wage allowing to buy more than $30k in US (obviously ignoring Argentina, as it data is not reliable)

Additionally earning $34,000 in 2012 made you into the richest 1 percent globally [2]. So we may guess that today $30k easily lands you in the richest 5 percent globally.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_minimum_w...

[2] https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/02/27/were-all-the-1-percent/

30k Euros is what I got with 5 years experience as a developer in Italy, and it's quite normal here.

Yup. German minimun wage is 19.968 € (~ 24.353 $)

Interestingly a couple of high-wage countries that come to mind don't have a minimum wage at all: Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden.

20 Euros per hour is a lot better than $30k per year.

It's about top 20% in Malaysia, which is #37 in GDP.

He may not be in the US.

In most of the world you can hire a junior programmer for $30k.

Gaming? (at least here)

You’re a CTO so I imagine you’re hiring mostly directors and VPs and it comes down to whether you like the candidate or not. At a lot of companies you just have to be noticeably better than everyone else because after 5+ employees interviewing 5+ candidates, most managers have had enough with the time the team has sunk into that process. As a candidate, if you can find out how long the role has been open, you can really play ball.

FYI, CTOs at startups often directly interview and hire technical candidates...

While I don't know about this specific person, more likely on HN "CTO" is just a self-appointed "fake it til you make it" title. The amount of times I've casually poked at a "CTO" profile here only to find them to be a recent bootcamp grad working at a company of 2 with no funding...

The fun part of this exercise is that some people on HN give their real name or a way to find out their real name like the commenter did. They’re part of a pretty small company as far as I can tell. Closer to 25 people.

even in medium-sized companies cto often participates in hiring process for high-level engineers. Basically the rule is if you are hiring person you are gonna interact often, you want to evaluate him yourself

Depends on company size. I am in a <100 employee company that is not a software organization. I lead the IT group (12 including myself). I report to the COO. He participates in interviews for candidates who would be in my group -- even those that report to one of my supervisors.

Even in larger groups, I wouldn't be surprised if the CTO participated deeper than you might at first assume.

> The question is, when they offer me with a lower rate how should I deal with the situation so that I don't loose the position and get away with the best deal?

There are no guarantees in negotiation. Projecting confidence and being willing to walk away from a lowball offer will help you negotiate.

If you give the impression that you have no other options and that you will be taking the job even at the lower price, they will likely offer the lower price.

If you give the impression that you are not interested in the job unless they accept your higher price, they will be more likely to negotiate. However, they might also look for alternate candidates who are willing to accept the lower rate. This is a risk you must accept.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to continue searching for other jobs until you have accepted an offer. Getting too attached to any one job will diminish your negotiating position and the other side may sense this. There will always be more job offers, so don’t sacrifice your requests just to take the first one.

Yea! The best way to negotiate is to have leverage. You can fake leverage, of course, but that's where the risk of losing the deal materializes. So rather than fake leverage, create it. Get other job offers.

That said, keep in mind that in a negotiation, you always have leverage. Some of the best negotiation advice I ever got was "the very fact that they're still talking to you means you have something they want."

That sentence helps both with confidence and understanding the dynamics at play.

(The trick to negotiating well, then, is being good at finding an agreement that leaves you both happy while still talking to each other. But keeping the talk alive is the most important bit.)

Unless the hiring managers is looking for a cheap pushover who would work overtime and be on call 24/7 at no additional cost.

Then as soon as they realize you're not that they'll stop talking to you, and the comment still holds. Perhaps a better phrasing of the phrase might be "...means (they think) you have something they want", but it still applies.

a bit off topic but long ago I was impressed by someone much smarter than. So impressed that I was a bit scared. Then someone told me : "if the guy is still talking to you then it means he thinks you're an interesting person".

To expand on that, there are two obvious forms of leverage:

- have another offer

- have a job that’s better the offer you get

In my experience, having the job is easier timing wise. When Company A wants to extend you an offer, you can’t really get Company B to accelerate their hiring most of the time (and pushing them might just make them say you should take the other offer).

It's much more relaxing to be in a situation you're perfectly comfortable with and basically be in a position to tell someone "Make me an offer I can't refuse." Vs. being in a lousy situation, getting a very fair offer from someplace you want to work, and not wanting to risk extending/messing up things. (I've been in both. In the last case of the latter, I really wanted to just close things now and relax--and I'm pretty sure that was the right decision.)

This is the best advice I've seen offered in the thread.

This is the best single source of information on the topic: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

I’d just read through that.

This is a really good read. I’m commenting here so other folks follow that link.

Boy did I got fucked a few time at hire. I think it’s better now ? Who knows. Probably still getting fucked.

Literally opened thread to also post this.

Summary (for OP or anyone else reading): assuming you bring a useful skillset and are likely to actually argue over $30/hr or $40/hr rates, you should charge more.

Do not assume $50/hr is off the table, if you bring that much value.

Do not assume $100/hr is off the table, if you bring that much value.

Do not assume $150/hr is off the table, if you bring that much value.

Potential employers care about what value you bring, and what compensation they can talk you into. Nothing else matters.

That’s not the entire truth. At some point marginal cost versus other options comes into play, especially if I’m in a business with generally fixed rates for work (like outsourcing/contracting.)

The OP should negotiate up (especially if they have data on comparable pay they can use), but what others in the market with comparable skill are willing to take also matters.

Thanks will read. Not OP

Don't think that you're worth $40/hr, know that you're worth $40/hr. It sounds like you're unsure, and any good business negotiator is going to pick up on that and use it to their advantage.

The way you know is to get paid that much already, or to have multiple firm offers for that much from other potential employers. If neither of those are true, then you don't know what your value is, and you're negotiating from a point of weakness. If you can't reach that level of confidence, then the next best thing is to find out exactly what the job entails, and learn what the local market pays for that skillset. If you bring extra skills, point them out and use them to bring your price up. If you bring only a subset of those skills, use that to set expectations for future rate increases when you can prove you've added value.

It sounds like you're guessing as to your worth, and negotiating based on the pay you want. Do the research, get competing offers, and know what you're worth. Be prepared to explain to a potential employer how you arrived at the number. It's the only way to get paid fairly.

You yourself said you pitch too high deliberately in the start, expecting some haggling.

If $30 an hour pleases you, then don't mess it up by getting greedy.

If there are other issues with the job that you haven't told us about, bring those issues up and perhaps they will go higher.

The way negotiation works is by joining people with different expectations. It's not a contest or a battle of wits you have to "win." For them $30 an hour is great; for you, it is great. That sounds like a successful deal to me.

Agree - there's nothing that stops you from asking for more. Even if you don't get it now, it sends a signal that you will expect more $ later.

But, if you are really satisfied with $30ph (if you don't have a better offer to fall back on), you probably won't get (much) more. Your weak negotiating position will inevitably shine through.

It’s all about who has the better 2nd option. How long will it take them to find someone else like you at the rate they want to pay? How long will it take you to find the pay you want somewhere else?

The best thing you can do is find another alternative at the rate you want. Then you can say, “I want to work for you. You are my first choice. Just please match my other offer.”

The other offer shows you are coming from a position of strength, and validated your market price.

> It’s all about who has the better 2nd option

Bingo. Know your BATNA:


1. Try to get them to throw out the first number. You never know, they might offer more than you would have asked for. (This isn’t always possible, especially for entry-level jobs.)

2. Always politely reject the first offer.

Then make a specific counteroffer, don’t just say “More money, please.” Give a specific, reasonable-sounding justification. It doesn’t even have to be that great.

“I am excited by the opportunity to join $COMPANY as a $ROLE. It is directly in-line with my career path, and I’m confident that I will bring my skills and enthusiasm to this role. However, based on my research into prevailing industry wages/salaries in our region, I believe $X is more appropriate for someone with my educational background and level of experience.”

3. Ask to see the entire compensation package, not just the wage/salary.

Stock options/RSUs? Employee stock purchase plan? What kind of health insurance do they have? How many paid holidays? Vacation policy?

This is an eternal question. I’m not great at this but one thing that’s helped me is to have more than one job offer, then go with the best. By having multiple offers you can see what the market can bear.

This then of course needs to be managed - you need those offers to come in about the same time.

A lot depends on your circumstances but I’d counter with reasons that you are special and don’t budge on the price. A 33% haircut is a lot!

For example “unlike most other developers I make a solid habit of providing end of day progress reports with re-estimates if there have been problems or things were easier than expected, this makes it a lot easier to manage me as you can see my progress without chasing me up”

And $40/h is a bargain for the US company and most likely they pay local people double or triple for the same job. But I get a lot of companies are playing the “what’s YOUR cost of living game”, so they pay less for offshore because capitalism. Some aren’t - so get multiple offers.

Can I give you a honest opinion since I was in a similar situation some time ago? Just take the $30-35 whatever offer they give and do the best work you can.

In the long run, if you’re good, they will come around and you can get a better deserved rate.

Having said that, $30 is a great hourly rate for South Asia (I’m from there), and will mean a lot of quick financial buffer and it helps stress wise.

We aren’t in US and it’s better to accept our reality. If the work culture isn’t what you are happy with, you can always use this experience and interview again in 6 months.

> In the long run, if you’re good, they will come around and you can get a better deserved rate.

No. The chances of this happening are extremely low. If a US based company is trying to hire in South Asia, almost certainly they’re trying to keep costs down.

Try to get as good a deal as you can during signing, and then renegotiate after to get an even better deal if you know you’ve provided that much value. Don’t leave money on the table.

The hiring market is insanely hot right now, don’t let it go to waste.

In the long and short run, a better deserved rate will be offered by a competitor, not by a company who doesn't value the employee very much.

6 months of potential time and money lost is a high cost for treating it as an experiment.

They already expect you negotiating the offer that's why they lowballed on your expectations. 40 to 30 is already 1/4th of a cut in negotiations.

Just call them up and say all the nice things like great company, thanks for taking time, but then start counting your strengths and finally say that I think I bring a lot more value and these were my expectations and please think and talk about this internally and let me know.

They will most probably come back with a higher number.

Here's how my salary negotiation usually goes:

"So yeah, your interviews were great and we'd like to move forward. What are your salary requirements? (By the way, we pay really well!)"

"Can you tell me what the position pays? It wasn't clear from the job listing."

"Hahahah, right. No, you must give us a number or else!"

"OK, well if you look at similar positions at [company x, y and z] they pay in this range."

"Hahahah, right. No way we could possibly pay in that range. We were thinking [small percentage of entry-level salary.] Goodbye."

"Yeah, there's no way that could possibly work for me either. Thanks anyway."

Read "Ten Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer" https://haseebq.com/my-ten-rules-for-negotiating-a-job-offer...

Discussion (two weeks ago): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27160934

One strategy I've used is to bake a raise into the negotiation. This raise should automatically kick in when the company reaches some measurable goal (MRR, ARR, MAU, whatever...not profit, not VC funding) or a certain amount of time has elapsed. The 'or' is important here as the time component should reflect your worst-case expectation for getting the raise.

There are a couple important things to keep in mind here:

1. You have to trust the other party to some extent. You have to be willing to believe they'll be up-front about the metrics and willing to execute the raise.

2. You have to be willing to work at the lower rate at least until your time component kicks in. Despite any growth projections, do not count on meeting the first criterion before the time component.

Let's use your situation as an example. You'd like to get to $35/hr, but you're willing to work at $30/hr. You've already anchored $40/hr so negotiating a follow-up raise to $35 should be doable.

Let's assume the company has 500k MAU. You might suggest a raise to $38/hr when the company reaches 1MM MAU or after six months of FTE.

If they're not willing to engage in this level of negotiation, that's fine. You've lost very little in terms of leverage and you can still take a more traditional approach.

If they are will to engage, then you have a few more knobs to turn in the negotiation process.

Of course the main risk is they'll renege on the contract, but that's always a risk (I'm assuming this is an at-will contract). You should be prepared for that. But, if they're an ethical employer and you do a good job, I bet they'll be willing to pay a bit more per hour to keep someone who now has a decent amount of domain knowledge and proven themselves to be competent and reliable.

> so that I don't loose the position

The negotiation is over if you are not willing to walk away.

I feel like the comments are fixated on a particular number. It's true, $30/hour is insultingly low for a software engineer. But, it's a data point. That's your current value, because that's what someone is willing to pay. You can say "yes" and start getting $30 every hour, right now. Writing this HN post, $0/hour. Reading this HN post, $0/hour. Saying yes to that offer, $30/hour! Regardless of whether you accept, you can interview at other places, and use that guaranteed price as an anchoring point. You can probably get $40/hour from someone else, and now that guaranteed price has gone up. You don't really have to negotiate because there's a forgone conclusion. Company A that pays you $30/hour can be told "company B offered $40/hour". They can match or you can walk -- you're guaranteed that $40/hour no matter what.

You're not really in power if you can't walk away from the negotiation with what you want. All these power plays to set the first number, or to talk about your value to the company, etc. don't have an inevitable conclusion. They could end with "that was a really moving speech and you're absolutely right that we should pay you $200/hour, welcome aboard", but most of the time they end with "great speech, anyway $30/hour is our final offer". If you don't have the option to say no and go make what you think you're worth, they win.

Finally, if you're really 10x more valuable than any other employee at the company you're interviewing at, you can probably just put them out of business in 6 months. I never hear of this happening, so maybe we're all not quite as great as we think we are.

> It's true, $30/hour is insultingly low for a software engineer.

It's dependent on location. It's low for the US, but it's high for most of the world.

Even in western Europe that's what engineers with 5 years experience make, and that's not a low cost of living area.

I presume the OP is going to be hired as a contractor, so out of that $30 comes payroll taxes, health insurance, office space, computer equipment, software tools, ongoing training, conferences, etc. If you work as a traditional employee, then the employer is paying for all (or most) of that, and it's not cheap.

No one here is mentioning this, and you can only say it if you’re truly good and this is the truth: “I believe I will bring much more than $40 an hour in value to the company, so this will be a good opportunity for both of us.”

Yeah, they may be negotiating with other people, but if you are the best candidate then it would be stupid to save one or two dollars an hour to go with someone who is less well suited for the job. Then they hire the wrong person, they’ve now wasted 3 months of wages and were set back by 3 months, and will need to hire someone again, and you may not be available then.

They may have hard caps, and if they do, they may say “look, the most we can do for this job is $35 an hour”. Take it if you’re happy with it, and don’t mention salary again - put up work that justifies your wage.

People need to frame the conversation in what value you bring to the company, not what you’re costing the company to be employed. If you weren’t bringing in greater value to the company than your cost, you would be fired. How much of that added value that you can take home is what is determined through negotiation.

In my experience it's very unlikely you'll lose the offer for negotiating a higher salary, although to be clear I'm basing this on my experience with applying for positions here in the UK.

In the past I've just been very clear about what I'm looking for because the reality is if you don't get what you're looking for you're likely to look elsewhere eventually and if they like you enough to want to bring you onboard presumably they don't want you to leave in 12 months because you can get slightly extra pay elsewhere. Recruiting is expensive for companies. If they're sensible they won't mind paying slightly more to ensure you're fully commited.

If you applied through a recruitor they are normally willing to help you negociate the best salary, but I'd advice against doing this where you can. In my experience recruitors are quite good at negociating salary, but I prefer doing it myself to avoid miscommunication.

Personally I would just tell them that you feel $30/hour is a fair wage and that this is what you be able to get elsewhere. In the past I've framed it like this:

   "I really want to work for this company, but from experience I know without a competetive salary I'm more likely to move on if something else comes along. If you can go to $30/hour, or at least agree to a pay review in [X] months I feel I would be fully committed to this role."
They won't always agree to what you're asking, but in my experience they will always at least counter offer. Sometimes larger companies simply don't have authority to go as high you would like because of pay brackets and in these cases they may try to offer other incentives like a work laptop, remote working, etc. If they're unwilling to negociate or reassure you that they will continue to reassess your pay I'd consider this a red flag.

In any negotiation, your best bet is having leverage. In this scenario that would be other offers at the rate you would like or other benefits/flexibility.

In terms of framing, instead of saying you're in S. Asia and $30/hr is a big deal, you could figure out a rough $ value of your work to the company. In this case it's clearly more than $30, but is it $100 or $300 or $500? Having that clarity in your mind and articulating it to potential clients is going to be super helpful in the future, and change how you see yourself and sell yourself to clients.

Finally, you may want to invest in building your negotiating experience. I would start with the Appendix: Negotiating one sheet and ideally read and practice what's mentioned in Never Split the Difference: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08W57YLHR/.

Good luck!

100% unless you have another offer or otherwise don't need the job, don't counter.

Don't let perfect become the enemy of good.

When negotiating salary, always throw the first figure, and make it higher than you expect. It's called anchoring (read about it in Thinking Fast and Slow). It is a lot easier to come down to 120->100/hr then it is to come up from 50->100/hr.

This can be applied to selling/buying a home and a lot of other things.

That is exactly why you never throw the first figure. If you throw out 120, and they expected to pay 200, you just lost out big time.

If you're living in a world where people are prepared to pay much more for your work than you first thought, eventually you're going to end up pretty happy

i understand the psychology behind it but it's also a bit dangerous: where i work (europe) we don't even engage when the candidates claim a much higher rate than what we would agree on

Right, it should be higher than you expect but it shouldn't be too high. If you expect €100 and ask for 20% more it should be safe if the company is willing to pay €80. If they aren't it's probably too much of a mismatch in expectations to make everybody happy.

But a candidate can only do this well if they know the market to within 20%, which might take a fair bit of research and asking around.

Presumably you're probably filtering out extremely talented engineers that know what they are worth then?

Perhaps? They could also be filtering out candidates that lack adequate self awareness.

Hiring in many ways relies on heuristics, and isn't perfect.

Aren't we all underpaid? I for one :)

Others have pointed out that your main point in negotiation is that you bring $X in value to the company so you should be paid something based on $X but I think there are some other questions to be resolved too:

- Does the company _need_ $X in value? That is, perhaps you're overqualified for the position and it's in their interests to employ a cheaper developer. You might need to convince them that they really do need (and need to pay for) the skills you have.

- Is your desired hourly rate competitive globally? If they're looking at remote developers, perhaps you could be undercut by somebody in India or Eastern Europe or even somebody in your own country.

- What is the position worth to _you_? If you reject their offer, what does it cost you? What's the delta between your current earnings and their proposal? How easy is it for you to find another job and do you expect similar pay?

You can suggest you'd accept the "lower" wage in return for some other options: more flexible hours, more vacation (paid or unpaid), access to an electric car charger, etc. Whatever makes sense for you. This allows both sides to gracefully accept the trade.

The key to all negotiations is to avoid "you vs them". Don't engage in an arguement over money, ask "what would it take for you to justify paying me the extra"?

Your partner in the negotiation (note, partner not adversery) has a whole bunch of worries NOT connected to the dollar amount: will you fit in (will he look bad if you don't), will you leave too soon, will you phone it in, will you be reliable, will you refuse $X/hr (will he look bad if you don't AND will he look bad if he pays you more than that).

You're job is to find out what he is concerned about and then deal with those concerns. That allows him to pay you extra. You're working together on this.

In my second job in tech I had two issues: I wanted about 10% more cash and I wanted more time off.

I knew they had had issues with staff turnover. So I suggested delaying the higher pay and split it in two raises: one wasn't until I'd been there 6 months and the rest at 12 months. So I got a 20% raise, more than I actually wanted, just by dealing with their bigger concern.

I got the raises in writing of course.

For your case, what do you need to do to be worth the extra $/h? Presumably the CTO wants you to reach certain milestones so ask them to be specific, and tie things to that. Maybe if you had qualification Y he would feel happier justifying the higher rate. So if the company pays half you could do that in your spare time right?

The added advantage of this is that it makes it really hard to say no. He sees you as a reasonable person, willing to work with him, able to give as well as take etc. He doesn't want to look petty or uncooperative in front of whoever else is involved. So he will also make offers.

Don't expect to get everything you want or to get it immediately. You won't. But also remember you will regret not at least asking.

There are a bunch of "tricks" (really just tips eg "don't name a number first") you should Google but the overall mindset is much more important.

I know not the advice you're looking for but this thread makes me sad. For those wages, even at what your initial ask, it's impossible to get good developers in the US unless there are extenuating circumstances (someone's first job, etc).

This company thinks you are worth less just because of where you're from and not what skills you bring to the table. If they offter you something you will take, accept it, but keep in mind that this company is actively looking to exploit you and your situation and likely will not treat you well.

The reality is that if a company is willing and able to pay local wages, they’re going to hire local workers.

Remote opportunities work because the wages are lower than local hires for the company, but higher than local opportunities for the employee. Negotiation happens in the middle ground between these two bounds.

If the OP receives an acceptable wage that is higher than what they could make locally (they suggested this was the case in their text) then it’s a stretch to say that this company is going to treat them poorly. It’s just not realistic to expect companies to outsource work to distant remote hires only to pay them the same amount that an easy local hire would ask.

Please. Not every remote hiring company works this way.

There's great examples like Basecamp where they have a fully remote staff paying 90th percentile of SF wages.

Some companies cast a wide net to get the best talent.

There is nothing wrong with voicing displeasure against companies who cast a wide net because they're cheap. Moreover, if companies are trying to skirt around putting money back into the local economy and employment taxes, let's not do business with them anyway.

Companies like Basecamp are the exception that proves the rule. Why do you know of Basecamp’s practices? It’s because they specifically do something different than the norm (and they make a lot of noise about being different).

It’s true that the top performers can get remote jobs just about anywhere. If someone is a top performer with extreme talent, they should absolutely apply to companies like Basecamp. However, Basecamp is a tiny company that receives huge numbers of applications, so its extremely competitive.

I’ve done a lot of remote hiring, and we paid well above local wages for people. What you don’t see if you haven’t done remote hiring before is the absolute flood of applications you get from around the world. A local in-office posting may get in the 100s of applications for a reasonably well known company. Our remote job postings would receive in the 1000s or tens of thousands of applicants. It was unreal to see how competitive it was.

Giving people the idea that any remote worker can walk out and collect US level wages is not realistic. Aspiring to be one of the top performers who can do just that is a good goal for those who are sufficiently motivated, but the reality is that it’s an extremely competitive space and the majority of companies prefer to hire locally once the wages get higher.

Have worked remote fulltime for many years, have hired locally and remotely and am fully aware of how competitive it is.

All the justifications in the world about how everyone is doing it does not justify paying people what you can get away with vs the value that they provide when asked to.

Generally most people fail the ethics questions. It's like if you picked up a wallet full of cash and kept the cash if nobody's looking. Sure, it's what most people would do. Sure, it's justifiable. Sure, you're still in the wrong to do so.

So yeah, it's the reality that most companies pay this way. It will also continue to be so if we act like that's okay when it isn't. Engineers need to start asking for what they're worth just like folks in sales and marketing do. Instead we compete with each other and companies divide us and conquer. The truth is that most engineers who are great at what they do are far underpaid, even at standard US wages.


And just to let people know that it's possible, I have throughout my career been able to ask for more than the average engineer in my position because I have a track record that can justify it and I deliver on my promises. I know exactly how much value I provide and that leaves me okay with asking for more money.

I built an entire new platform and resulting new capabilities for my company that enabled us to land 8-figures worth of new ARR last year and a significant multiple of that in pipeline. I have knowledge that most of the rest of my engineering org does not have and is extremely difficult to hire for. There's no way my company just pays me the going salary for my position in my location.

Counterpoint: a very senior financial services software consultant I’ve worked with told me multiple times he’d be happy to find a job paying under $100k that would allow him to return to India and work from there. He understood employers might find it challenging for him to be so far away and was willing to trade half his income for that point.

$30/hr ~> $60/k per year which in a huge swath of the USA is a pretty good annual income.

What's wrong with that? An employee in a far away country can only offer his or her programming skills. A well-spoken presentable employee in the HQ, available on a quick notice, brings a lot more value to the table. It's not the knowledge of the C++ standard that makes the difference between 50k/year and 500k/year

the rich expect price of goods and services from poorer countries to be lower than in their own country. This is standard, not just in IT, but also in clothes, manufacturing, etc. It's capitalism at its finest.

>the rich expect price of goods and services from poorer countries to be lower than in their own country

So the poor expect what? Can you tell me what you think a poor person from West Virginia expects the cost of goods and services in Mexico to be?

Sounds like you have an interesting point but it might be too subtle for me. Can you rephrase?

I take it that the “poor person” benefits from cheap imports as a consumer but might at the same time they might be poor because they can’t get a job, because so much industry had been outsourced to other countries.

I have spoken to homeless people and cost of housing seems to be the big factor not cost of cotton pants or food. Cost of housing is not really related to imports.

> This is standard...

That's what people tell themselves to justify their exploitation.

I am in the business of providing value. That's what you pay me for and it's commensurate with the amount of value that I can provide.

Your recruiting costs also don't get any cheaper just because I'm not in the same location as you. If you're just looking at a calculation of how many asses can you get into seats for as low an amount of money possible, sure, but I guarantee that makes you a shitty company to work for. Also getting quality output out of a globally distributed team isn't exactly cost-free either.

People really need to stop thinking like employees and more like they're in business for themselves.

I shop out work to artists/artisans all over the world and I can assure you that the illustrators I've contracted in the Philippines and metalworkers I've contracted in China all charge high (normal for US) rates when their work is good. And I'm happy to send them repeat business.

Everything you say is true but provides no actual tactic to get the employer to offer a higher pay.

> I am in the business of providing value. That's what you pay me for and it's commensurate with the amount of value that I can provide.

"I can get the same value as you provide from someone else in your city/country for cheaper than you ask for."

When you go shop for products, will you pay more for a product made in an expensive country despite it having no advantage over the one made in a cheap country? (Assuming no sweat shops, etc are involved).

The services are not of equivalent value. And while I'm not saying you can't have a distributed remote team, the approach of outsourcing software labour to cheaper markets has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not work.

Unfortunately, few people in this field have the career longevity and experience to have seen this play out.

Remote work works when you've expanded your talent pool to get _better_ talent. And while it can help you stretch your budget, if you're at the point where you're lowballing the foreign talent that you're already getting at a 50% haircut on a newly-minted local developer, you're fucking doing it wrong.

> And while I'm not saying you can't have a distributed remote team, the approach of outsourcing software labour to cheaper markets has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not work.

If your goal is primarily to cut costs, yes. If your goal is to hire good engineers and you want to access a global market, the data likely shows the opposite.

2 jobs ago, we had teams in 4 different countries. The top performing team was in a 3rd world country. The US based team (which was the "home" team) was 3rd in terms of performance. All teams worked 40 hours a week or so.

When you can pay above market wages in a cheaper country, you can get pretty good talent. They couldn't afford to pay above market in the US, and frankly, it didn't matter. Most jobs will not benefit from having everyone be outstanding. This wasn't a startup or a FAANG level position. Hiring people in a poorer country was a win-win.

Even if we start going to FAANG companies, they have teams in other countries. I guarantee they are paying them less than what they pay in the Bay area. And I'm pretty sure that "it does work" for them.

Thirty dollars per hour is a really good wage in a lot of countries where the cost of living is much lower. Nobody is making OP work for the company that they’re interviewing for.

Also, would we be complaining if the company opened up an office in the OP’s home country and offered the same wage? There are companies that are location agnostic as well when it comes to salary which the OP could be interviewing for.

Here is my take.

1. If what you ask for was completely out of budget, they would not have spent time interviewing you.

2. If you are happy with $30 but still quoted $40, and now you accept $30, you are opening a can of worms. It means, you CAN and WILL be pushed around financially as long as you are in the company.

3. If you have faith in your skills, walk away. You will always find another company willing to pay you the money you ask for, as long as it is realistic.

If I was in your place, I would have walked away if it was a penny under $40.

I am thinking this strategy. If anyone thinks, this is horrible please let me know.

1) I will create my bare minimum number below which I will not accept for X company.

2) I will ask company after successful interview : "What is the maximum you can give - final number?"

3) If that is number is less than 1) , end of discussion. I find another job. Not wasting any time

4) If 2 is slightly greater than 1, I will try to get better number by medium negotiation

5) If 2 is way greater than 1, I accept offer. Done

Did I miss something?

Rarely will a company give you 2, so your algorithm breaks right there.

I have a similar question -

If I am applying for a remote position, is it justifiable to ask for the average salary of the country the company is incorporated at, even if living cost in current country is much cheaper? I know that some remote first companies (such as Gitlab) has a complex salary calculator which takes into account all sorts of things, while some companies (like oxide.computer) pays a flat compensation for any place on earth.

Working for a company where the salary is based on location means when you eventually go to meet up (at a retreat, a conference, etc) you will know that you're paid much less than your colleagues for the same work. That will suck. Avoid those companies.

It's the norm in international companies.

I'm in Europe and work daily with colleagues doing exactly the same work, with the same bosses, but located in a different country (like Germany, the US…). Everybody perfectly knows that they are paid much more than us. Some people also worked there for a while and accepted a large pay cut to move where they wanted.

Well if we're not happy with that, we can try to find a job over there. Honestly I don't think most people feel bad about it.

I was in this situation: the (remote) company paid based on location, but also they paid about 2-3x as much as top companies from my country, and definitely 3-4x as much as what I earned in the previous job (local company).

Just want to say that it doesn't need to be all bad.

> That will suck.

It will only suck if you decide that it's supposed to suck.

People in more economically developed countries already get paid much more for the same work. It's not in your favor if you decide that you better never share an employer with them.

You can tell yourself that it doesn't really matter, but it will eventually.

For a start, your colleagues probably won't see you as an equal. We equate pay to seniority, so someone who is paid less is considered more junior even if technically they're not. That leads to getting the sucky work and not being trusted with complex tasks as much. If there are layoffs then you'll been seen as the least likely person to be let go because you're cheaper, so others will resent that.

Obviously companies deny this happens, and some actively work to stop it if they're good and progressive, but it still goes on.

Admittedly this is from the perspective of working in the UK and looking at US companies employing remote workers here, so the pay difference isn't so great as other places. If you're somewhere that pays significantly less so the remote job is still hugely better than local wages I imagine that would go a long way to mitigating the cognitive problem of working with people who are paid a lot more for the same role.

> You can tell yourself that it doesn't really matter, but it will eventually.

It's not a hypothetical, I've worked a lot with US companies (I'm in Eastern Europe) and it doesn't have to matter at all.

> We equate pay to seniority, so someone who is paid less is considered more junior even if technically they're not. That leads to getting the sucky work and not being trusted with complex tasks as much.

This has also not been true (I mean generally, it can sometimes happen, but actual cause might not even be the pay discrepancy).


Only do such things if you're in for the exprience and want to leave soon.

From my limited experience talking about the topic, it seems it's usually somewhere in the middle. The company has the same benefits (assuming you're good) as when hiring local people, but they also very well realize that you'll be paying maybe a fifth of the rent as when you need to rent in Amsterdam (or where ever they are). You can get some benefit there by getting a good salary, but also be reasonable about it.

Of course, this doesn't apply if the very reason they're hiring remotely is because they want to cut on costs. Some companies hire eastern European or Asian people because they're cheap, not because they can find enough people locally. In such a case, I presume they'll try to get you as cheaply as possible...

Man, there's some bad advise here.

"I'm very eager to start, and can accept the offer immediately for $X/hr, but if this is the best you can do I'll need Y days to get back to you."

If you phrase it this way, there's basically zero chance they'll revoke the offer they've already extended - it'll just make them a tiny bit worried they've lowballed you and think you might be entertaining other options.

Your location probably will be one factor in the offer you receive. They will assume that your other options may not be as good as someone who is located in more expensive areas. Ideally you would show your hourly rate for past projects or other offers you have now.

That will show that they can't pay you based on your living situation. Instead they have to pay you on the rate you can otherwise get in the market.

There’s a reason they’re negotiating rate with you whereby they want to hire but could also have another they’re negotiating with in parallel. It depends on the value of the position to you. Sometimes they have a budget to fund the position so they genuinely can’t meet your request. But if they’re close to your number they can often figure a way to make it work.

When people start whining about your salary expectations the first thing to do is to make them state their expectations. If they don’t give you a number that means they want to bully you by making you feel insecure. This is a disrespectful tactic and it’s almost guaranteed that working there will be an unhappy experience.

If you can't walk out of the deal, you're not negotiating a salary - but rather the terms of your servitude.

So the first step is to get into a position where you can negotiate.

Once you're there, ask for a number that would make you excited to go to work. This means higher pay the more boring a job is to you.

+1 for Fearless Salary Negotiation. I read it when interviewing 3 years ago and used a variation of one of the email scripts to negotiate a ~25% increase from first offer.

Also, I don't personally recommend talking about salary expectations until after you have an offer in hand. Focus on the value you're bringing to the table and your fit for the position, and let the company make the first move in terms of putting a number out there.

Also, never, ever answer the "what are your salary expectations?" question from recruiters. You're automatically limiting yourself.

General tip when negotiating: never ask more than 50% of what the other party had in mind before you talked.

Asking too much is a rookie mistake, you can quickly look like a clown if you do.

Do your homework, you can't negotiate blindly, you need to understand the market and the current trends.

> Asking too much is a rookie mistake, you can quickly look like a clown if you do.

It is crucial to realize that exactly zero fucks should be given about this, outside of general desire to get that particular job.

Well, this is not a specific advice about job interviews, but general business.

And you should give a fuck about signing the contract, otherwise you shouldn't lose your time and try negotiating in the first place.

Funny thing is, you only look like a clown in the eyes of the company you're interviewing with.

Just because they are cheap, doesn't mean your request is unreasonable.

I got laughed at by some companies for the hourly rate others would pay without asking twice.

It depends on your situation. If you’re confident that you can find another opportunity that pays what you want, why wouldn’t you just let them know what you expect and then negotiate from there?

If there isn’t a match, then that’s just how it is.

Not that it’s not a good idea to let them offer first, but mainly because you might lowball yourself.

My 2c: never name the price first. If they undercut you, act extremely shocked. always ask for higher than you're willing to settle for.

Ask for things in the margins at the last minute. Another vacation day. An upgrade on some ergonomic equipment. Etc.

Absolutely the worst advice. Whoever names the price first psychologically anchors the discussion around that price. Name a high price first and they'll have to justify their lower price so they're more likely to go to the top of their range (you know employers have a pay range right?). Let them name a much lower price first and you'll have to work hard to justify a much higher rate.

I've had good success both ways. If you have less leverage, I'd say avoid naming a price first. If you clearly have the upper hand, then it doesn't really matter.

To get the best deal possible, you have to be willing to walk away. Higher risk, higher reward. It's also really important to be polite, friendly and honest (a little bit of bluffing is ok though) the whole process. You really do need to do the research beforehand to know what's reasonable to ask for. The other side did.

Name a high price first and they'll either have to justify their lower price or walk away altogether . Or if you don't have enough knowledge of what you're worth to them, maybe you miss out on an even higher initial offer they were willing to make.

Whether it's best to anchor really depends on whether you can accurately estimate the top end of what they'll actually be willing to offer, or know they aggressively lowball everyone.

You really want them to refuse your initial price and haggle. Then you know you're getting a good deal and couldn't have got any more. A little research and justification goes a long way.

I dunno, I've seen folk negotiate up to salaries that they probably would have never gotten an initial offer had they started with that amount.

Also - work for an employer who values you and who can justify your number.

Be sure to know if you're learning or earning. Eg is the employer paying you to learn and implement a new tech or are you the expert? Getting paid to learn can happen and may be worth the wage sacrifice.

If you're just executing and you're the expert, imo, don't settle

> Be sure to know if you're learning or earning

I used to agree but in my experience, though mainly with internships, the places where I was learning were also the places I was earning. Not that it invalidates the sentiment, but accepting a crappy salary with hopes of learning something new... be skeptical and make sure that it will actually be like that.

I'd actually disagree here. If he has a job lined up then yeah, your advice is solid. But if he doesn't it's better to accept and then immediately start looking for someone that values you.

Also, get multiple offers so you do not have to worry about them buying your bluff, and continue shopping for more buyers for whatever you are selling for the rest of your life.

There are some nice resources to understand Remote salaries here: https://tiny.school/skills/salary-negotiations

Just because $30/h is a lot in your country it doesn't mean you should get yourself exploited. If you really have the skill, then you have very very valuable asset and you would want to sell it at appropriate price.

I normally go with a range, not a specific number. I would be happy if I made between x and y. This allows you to set the actual minimum and give a higher max than you expect. Normally, they will pick a number in between.

I'm confused. Why wouldn't they pay you the minimum you requested. Why would you put an upper limit to your salary? Is this some strange game people play?

It’s kind of the opposite of a game, it’s very transparent. In reality you would accept a minimum of $X and reasonably think there’s a max of $Y. Companies don’t treat employees as purely cost, they want to give them good packages for retention and morale so they don’t just offer the lowest salaries imaginable.

The minimum you request should be a number that would actually make you happy and content to accept the job. The upper number should be a high ball that you yourself don't actually expect to get. It shouldn't be some outlandish number way outside of what someone in your field can attain. This gives the company room to bid for your expertise with other companies without having to worry too much about putting yourself in a position like the original poster. And yes, I kind of think of it as a game, but an important, open and transparent one. The range you put forth leaves room for interpretation and makes the company uncertain. If you say one minimum number and they want you, they will pay you that minimum number. If you give a range, it opens the door to the possibility that they will pay you more. The more that they like you and the more that they are worried you might accept a competing job offer the more likely they are to bid more.

There is lots of advice that says to avoid giving any number. Sure, you can try to do that, but in my experience it comes off as a more aggressive tactic that may leave a bad taste in their mouth. I'm not sure if anyone else recommends this strategy, but anecdotally it has worked well for me. You still need to do research on what your field pays and you need to understand how well you do whatever it is that you do.

edit: Over time, being assertive but not overly aggressive in salary negotiations will pay huge dividends. I've heard of far too many stories of timid engineers that accept 5% raises or salaries for new positions year after year. Each one of those small increases in salary puts you further and further behind the curve. Companies don't ask what the history of your pay raises are, just what you are currently paid. Getting more now, means getting a lot more later. Early in your career if you are good at what you do, you can be more aggressive than later because it does not impact the balance sheet of bidding companies much. I had a good 4 to 5 year stretch early in my career where I was making >50% more than I was the previous year. Switching companies usually meant bigger increases in pay, but not in all cases if you prove yourself to be a valuable asset. Doing what you do well is still extremely important and if you do it well enough, the ROI of hiring you far outpaces your salary and companies will gladly make that investment to hire you and to retain you by keeping you happy and productive.

I disagree with the above advice (as an employee, you should never ever state the number first), however I think the assumption behind this advice would be that you the company believes it's competing against other companies for you. So, they wouldn't do the lowest because they want to outbid the competition, and the higher number acts as an anchor.

But again, as a candidate, never say the number first.

US employers value reliability, communication, discipline and willingness to accomodate US time zones.

You may say that lower rate developers will give them lower quality of above. Which is true.

The fact that you accept means you don’t value yourself. You know they pay $85 in the USA and the only reason they’re going to South Asia is they know you have no balls to stand up for yourself with. So not only do you screw over an American taking that pathetically low salary, you screw yourself by letting them keep an extra $50 for every hour you work, just because Asia... wtf?

Premise: I am a decent negotiator, I have negotiated my fair share of deals, from salaries, to buying stuff around the world markers, to VC rounds. I believe that negotiations is about leverage and not bluffing, about fairness and about negotiating/exchanging informations.

Having said that, if you asked $40 and they are thinking in the $30 range, if I were in the company's shoes I would not extend an offer, since:

1. if there's too much disparity, you would not be happy (no allegiance) and you'd stil be looking for something else


2. if you asked a too high fee, there's no genuinity in your dealings/negotiation

Alas, that's me.

If they come back with $30 and you believe that "I am from South Asia and even $30/h is a very big deal", just take it.

If you want to negotiate more, just say nothing, act a bit surprised, and tell them that you'll have to think about it. Let some time go by, anywhere between 1/2 and 1 business day, then ask them if they could raise the offer. If they don't... counter something higher, $33 or $35, and see how it goes, you might have to settle half way or... at $30.

Beware that when negotiating the other party might actually walk away from the deal.

When I am seeking for a job, usually I make is so that I have 2 or more offers on the table. When I am hiring someone (employee or contractor) I make sure I have 2 or 3 suitable candidates that would fulfill the position.


The difference between $30 and $40 is not much. I think a 100% difference is hard to reconcile (unless the parties really want it) but it's almost always more important to get the right person than pay 25% less.

There isn't really much to do - you've already concluded negotiation of salary - your choice will be take what they offer or walk.

Your problem is you have only just worked out you negotiated poorly.

Okay, cool, you are expecting an offer — congratulations — and you are trying to figure out how much you “should” get paid - i.e. what’s the market price for you, and how you’ll feel if you get offered less, and how to get the best price.

To figure out how much you should get paid, you need to understand what labor market *you* are in first. Then you’ll need to understand what labor market the company is in.

Just to remind you, $40/hr for a high quality frontend dev is exceedingly cheap in the US. Especially if it’s truly an hourly rate, not a contractor rate. FAANG companies all in pay at least probably $165k/yr + benefits (so call it at least $100/hr) for a solid junior frontend dev. Startups that don’t pay that must compete with better stock offers, interesting and compelling idea / mission / founder team.

So, do you meet the standards that would let you charge this rate? Broadly speaking that means: excellent English and communication skills, ability to live and work in the US, top-tier educational background, good to very good engineering skills, and relatively young.

If you don’t meet this profile, then you need to look at another market to assess your own current potential. I’d probably check out fiverr, toptal and upwork right now, today, and check out what people “like you” charge on those sites. You will probably be surprised to see a really big range for frontend dev. I’m guessing $15/hr to $225/hr at least at upwork. What’s the difference? Quality, communication, speed of work, oh, and also the really big one - picking good customers. The best paid engineers pick great companies to work for, and you should consider this carefully while you decide what to do about an offer.

As a side note, you may find that people like you are typically charging 25-30/hr on upwork, and that might help you feel good about a lower offer from the company.

I’m going to read between the lines from your report and say that the CTO was not lying - It sounds like they routinely hire people with your background for less than $40/hr. As you said, you were lying (to him) when you said you’d only take $40, and I would guess that getting this offer would put you in a much better position than your local peers or vis-a-vis your current gig. So, at some level, don’t worry - your first job is to get the gig, then get the best price.

Given this, the first thing to say is that you should be friendly with the recruiters and get an offer, any offer. Once the company has made an offer, they will be emotionally locked in on recruiting you.

While you’re waiting for this offer, you should know there are three types of US companies who do this kind of outsource distributed team type recruiting - some of them provide low value technology work - usually contracting services, sometimes just bad startup ideas. Some of them provide high value technology work - better contracting or good startup ideas. Some of them are principled super high value companies (like github say). You are not being recruited by the last one. Generally I would expect that a well run “high value” company like this would have a different conversation with you than just grinding you down on price through shock, so I think you should understand you’ll likely be working for a company that has to watch its margins.

For instance, if the company makes $100k/yr off each dev, that’s a very different amount of negotiating room for you than if they make $1mm/year off each dev. You should try and figure out what situation you’re in.

With all this in your mind, when you get that offer, holding in your mind the fact that you can go get rolling at upwork or toptal tomorrow and if they lowball you, and you still want the job, you can just start out saying “Thanks, the offer is exciting, the company is great, I want to start tomorrow, but can you explain how I can accept this number?” And, then wait. You could ask that a few times. It’s not no. It’s just “please tell me the reasons I should accept.” You could say “The CTO said my fair rate was super high for your company; do your frontend devs ever get paid at that rate? It seems well below market to me for where the company is located.” These are powerful questions and they signal you’re thinking about your value to the company as well as the labor market.

Psychologically, even if they are like “25/hr or GTFO”, you can say “Look, I’m worth more than that. Let’s do this, I’ll take $25/hr for a two months. That’s long enough to assess me, and for me to assess you and make sure I want to continue. Make me an offer that ratchets up to $40/hr in two months; you can let me go at the two month mark if you’re unhappy.” That doesn’t cost you anything - the company can almost certainly still just fire you regardless — but it solves the company problem: hiring in budget, and they will definitely make more than $15/hr from you if you are any good. So, this sort of counter can be effective. And, paired with “How can I say yes to this offer which doesn’t even promise you’ll get me to a fair number ever? How can I do that?” Will make anybody but the most sociopathic of recruiters feel something.

Good luck!

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