We often notice two distinct types of people in our searches for the right IT candidates. The first are candidates who are uncomfortable talking about money, so they don’t. The others are overly confident about how much they think they’re worth and hastily skip ahead to salary negotiation without much forethought or preparation. Either way, it’s a mistake waiting to happen. Here’s our two cents about tactics for negotiating salary in your next IT job.

Get Smart

The first step in salary negotiation should always be market research. Any number of factors can affect how much you’re likely to make at any given company. Your level of experience and unique skill set is only half the picture; you also need to consider regional differences (based on cost of living and local and state tax rates), supply and demand in your industry and role, and the size and age of the company you’re looking at. Check out the KORE1 Southern California Salary Guide 2016, or look at websites like Glassdoor.com or Payscale.com for help determining your market rate.

Once you have some research under your belt, only then can you assess where you currently stand. Are you being paid over or under market rate? Can you justify the reason why? Furthermore, what strengths do you have that set you above the competition? All of these factors are key is preparing you for successful salary negotiation.

Be Realistic

Understanding the big picture is essential when facing the salary question. While many companies are open to discussing and negotiating salary if you have the right skills, experience and personality traits, you do need to gain a sense of where the lines are. If a company is offering you a job you know you’re going to love, how much money would you be willing to leave on the table? What benefits, perks, flexibilities or future opportunities make you more open to compromise?

Additionally, be realistic about how much you’re actually negotiating. Small amounts probably aren’t worth it. A 2% raise when broken down to an hourly amount is negligible and will come across petty and insignificant. Finally, don’t start negotiating until you know what the company is willing to offer you in the first place. The starting point is in their hands, and it’s up to you to provide genuine justification if you want to negotiate that figure. Without that first comparison point, though, you’re just taking shots in the dark.

Play Nice

You don’t need us to tell you to be respectful, but in our experience, we’d be remiss not to at least mention this point. You’re a professional and you’re confident about how much you’re worth and how you can contribute to a company. But we’ve seen too many candidates get over-confident and contentious in the salary negotiation process. While you do want to come from a firm position of strength, this is not the place to get pushy and over-assertive.

On the other hand, if money talk makes you uncomfortable, you want to avoid becoming a doormat in the salary discussion. Taking the road of least resistance and accepting the first figure that comes your way may not be to your advantage. Be confident about the impact you know you can make in a new position, and know when you’re willing to walk away. If a company wants you badly enough, they’ll be more than willing to ask how they can accommodate your needs.

Be Strategic

There’s a ridiculous number of salary negotiation tips out there (just run a quick Google search), but you’ll quickly find that much of it is contradictory and confusing. You’ll find tips such as, “offer an exact number, never a range,” or “ask for more than you want,” or “be persistent in the face of rejection.” Ultimately, though, the success of even the best advice depends entirely on the person you’re negotiating with.

While it is important to be confident, flexible and patient when negotiating salary in your next IT job, preparation is probably the only constant no matter what company you’re talking with. Know your market rate, know your value, and take the opportunity to learn about the company’s priorities when it comes to hiring for the role.

Our Final Advice for Negotiating Salary

One final piece of advice – sometimes working with a recruiter is your best bet when it comes to salary negotiation. They can work objectively on your behalf without running the risk of presenting you as money-motivated; it also will provide you with insight on the company that you may not have otherwise had access to. Win-win. Let us know how we can help you out in the next step of your IT career.