Discussing salary or going into a salary negotiation conversation can be nerve wrecking for many reasons -- and you’re not alone. Some may feel like they lack enough (of the right) data to discuss numbers, while others might not feel confident in the actual words to use when approaching a salary conversation to appear fair while achieving a salary they deserve. Both instances can cause unnecessary anxiety for job seekers, and can prove especially difficult for candidates of underrepresented communities, even though it continues to be the top motivator for tech candidates to look for and accept a new role.
Leveraging salary data can help empower job seekers to not only ask for the compensation they deserve, but also expect it. In our webinar, “Staying Empowered With Data: Knowing & Asking For The Compensation You Deserve,” I had the opportunity to discuss with our guest speaker, Virgginnia Buccioni-Hillman -- an experienced D&I recruiter, HR professional, and DE&I Program Manager at Tile -- about why it is important to seek pay equity, how to uncover accurate data sources, and approach salary discussions.
With a wide variety of resources available online, job seekers must be keen to know where their salary data is coming from. Salary information can be presented as base salary or total compensation, which may include equity, stock options, and bonuses. In addition, salary data can be characterized as employer-reported or self-reported data, the difference being that self-reported data cannot be confirmed by employers. While both types of data sources can be helpful for research purposes, this is what can confuse job seekers and make salary discussions more intimidating and possibly misleading.
For technical candidates, there are various factors that should be considered when researching salary data and defining a target salary range, including the career field and role you are in or interviewing for, your current city, the location of the prospective role (if it differs from where you live), your core skill-set, and your years of experience (i.e. overall, within a role, coding in a particular language/framework). In her recruiting experience, Buccioni-Hillman shares that this is how different salary bands are developed and how candidates are evaluated for starting salary within the interview funnel.
On Hired, we encourage a type of salary discussion at the first introduction between a candidate and recruiter to establish a preferred base salary on both ends. While this is not set in stone until a final offer is extended, it elicits a conversation around this early on to ensure there are no surprises or time wasted for both parties. It can also be common for salary discussions to happen as the process approaches an onsite interview.
Job seekers should invest themselves into the role and team you are interviewing with and lean into these conversations. When asked what your target compensation range is, you can lean on the data you’ve gathered and share your preferred base salary range based on the market research you’ve done. Likewise, Buccioni-Hillman encourages candidates to feel comfortable asking what the base salary range is for the role and level you are interviewing for. By having an open dialogue early on with the recruiter and hiring manager, it can be an ongoing conversation as you proceed through the interview process.
After doing research into salary data, it is also important to take stock of what is most important to you in a total compensation package, including stock, equity, bonuses, and benefits. Especially in a remote world, examples can include additional vacation time, flexible work schedules, professional development budgets, technology allowances or incorporating a compensation adjustment with a performance review after 6 months and other perks. In an instance of negotiating salary, candidates might shy away from countering to not appear greedy or ungrateful for the opportunity. Companies won’t retract their offer because you would like to negotiate -- if anything, they expect you too so don’t be shy.
If a company has extended a job offer, they believe that you would be a great addition to the team. Displaying gratitude and humility for the opportunity is great but Buccioni-Hillman challenges job seekers to strike a balance between that and ensuring that you aren’t leaving money on the table. Buccioni-Hillman shares that candidates should remember to do the following in salary discussions or negotiations:
Confidence starts within yourself. When you know your worth, it isn’t boastful to ask for what you are valued. Buccioni-Hillman explains how, while there are systems that may work in favor of some more than others, it shouldn’t stop people from believing in themselves. Gaining visibility and a seat at the table starts with asking for help, gaining mentors, and surrounding yourself with like-minded people that you aspire to be like. While it might feel like it, success doesn’t have to be a lonely road. You can go much further in community with others.
If you are looking for employer-reported resources and tools to seek accurate salary data, we recommend the following: