Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shatter Your Salary Glass Ceiling

The biggest challenge during a salary negotiation is to determine how hard to push for a higher salary. Today, the reports about a new web site,, that tries to solve this problem by using crowd sourcing to gather information about employers, salaries, and CEO approval ratings. This information coupled with salary negotiation tips should give you enough power to shatter your salary glass ceiling.

To start, allows you to view information about Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, and Cisco Systems. Interestingly, of the four companies Google’s salaries for software engineers have the widest range. My guess is that the lure and attraction of working for a “really cool” company like Google means that some programmers are willing to start at a below market value salary. To view information about all listed companies, you need to post your current salary to see all salary information and to separately post a company review to see all company reviews.

Salary information includes annual salary, bonus, and health benefits. Keep in mind that people tend to exaggerate when they report their salaries so the min and max values are most likely inflated.

Company reviews include CEO approval ratings, pros, cons, and “Advice to Senior Management”. Useful information consists of myth busting (e.g., Microsoft is not evil), work environment (e.g., pressures, deadlines, social atmosphere), and management styles (e.g., autocratic vs. democratic, centralized vs. decentralized). The ability to see both positive and negative reviews unabated provides potential job seekers with valuable insights.

With salary and company information in hand, it is now time to apply salary negotiation tips.

Salary Negotiation Tips

  1. Maneuver for power – Gain an advantage over your prospective employer by researching and identifying the average salary for your desired position. If does not have adequate salary information for your prospective company then do not be afraid to ask your friends and colleagues how much they make. It is very important to do this research first. Otherwise, you will end up negotiating too hard and risk coming off as arrogant.
  2. Never make the first offer or reveal your salary range – Always get the employer to make the first offer because, otherwise, you are leaving money on the table. Specifically, when asked your salary range, deflect the question by stating, “I want the market value” (see next tip) or “Let me think about it”.
  3. Seek the market value for your position – Independent of your gender, age, experience or other characteristic; you should seek the market value for the position because that is what the employer is expecting to pay. For example, according to, Google’s average pay for a software engineer is $99,919. For the software engineer position, you want to seek something close to $99,919 even if you have limited experience because that is what Google has budgeted for the position. In addition, the position most likely requires the completion of projects at a difficulty level commensurate with the average salary. Thus, you might start off below the productivity curve but expect to learn quickly and earn your salary.
  4. Negotiate the most important things first – Negotiation your salary first followed by your signing bonus. Save items of lesser importance for the very end. For example, if you need time off in the third month to get married then wait until the very end because at the point in the negotiation it is pretty much a done deal.
  5. Do not accept the position until you have negotiated all items – Once you say “I accept!”, you lose all negotiating power. For example, to agree to a salary of $60,000 state that “$60,000 sounds good, what about a signing bonus to cover relocation expenses?”

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