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Yeah, being willing to walk away for a better offer is the most encouraging thing to have in your pocket. That's worth working to get.

Another tip I heard, and tried out, is to start with a price higher than the highest you think they're willing to part with. Even if you cringe to say it. On the logic that the price can easily come down, but it's far harder for you to push it back up. (If they accept your first offer, the reasoning goes, you didn't go nearly high enough. Remember, that first price can affect you for years.) It worked for me, though of course YMMV.

(For those who cringe in salary negotiations, Graeber's _Debt: The First 500 Years_ may give you some perspective on why it makes you feel bad.)

Definitely helps to get in a position where you interview people. (Not to mention salary negotiations.) Then it'll be clear what employers want, and what other developers do. Based on that, you can present what they truly desire.

Take for example do-at-home projects. If you can solve them, then you can really hit them out of the ballpark. The first time I reviewed the solutions, I saw that only one or two had neat complete-ish solutions. (Most had significant cut corners; one was written by an insane fellow.) It was easy to see how to go beyond the best ones: make a build file, a readme that's worthy of a good opensource project, etc.




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