Show Me the Money: IT Salary Negotiation Tips

When negotiating or renegotiating salaries, most employees worry about asking for too much and seeming presumptuous or too little and selling themselves short. eWEEK rounds up tips from pros to make the process less daunting.

Negotiating or renegotiating your salary is, to say the least, a delicate dance. You want the folks that control the purse strings to show you the money, and if your workplace is like most, theyd rather keep it in their seemingly gold-lined coffers.

Your company might be willing to bend a little, but will avoid disclosing how much from the outset. Youre worried about asking for too much, thus seeming presumptuous; but if you ask for too little, you may be selling yourself short.

But it doesnt mean it cant be done. With a little bit of preparation, advice from bosses and experts, and that old fallback, common sense, youd be surprised to find income negotiation wiggle room where it might have seemed impossible.

eWEEK rounds up tips from pros about when to negotiate or renegotiate, how to prepare yourself, what to never do and even when to fold your cards. But, with good preparation, that should be a lot less likely.


Come prepared

While most experts suggest that job seekers come prepared for salary negotiations, researching your market value is woefully difficult in the field of IT, where titles can mean very little and skill sets everything. But tools are available to help get you started. offers a Salary Wizard for IT professionals powered by which gives users a range of base pay, bonuses and benefits from recent data.

Beyond salary calculators, having all your IT-related skills and accomplishments documented and ready to share is key when explaining to future employers your value to the company.

"Document your jobs fair market value… and be prepared to prove it," David Patton, editorial director of told eWEEK.

In addition, the current job market for IT is strong enough that job seekers can use it to their advantage.

"Given the demand for IT workers in this current market, its okay to expect some growth in salary," Susan Vobejda, Yahoo HotJobs career expert, told eWEEK.

When to broach the subject

Many experts suggest that job seekers avoid discussing salaries until they already have an offer.

"You want to avoid bringing up salary expectations in the first meeting. If someone asks you what your current salary is, youll want to manage their expectations and say which range you are looking for. In any negotiation, you want to avoid putting the first stake in the ground," said Vobejda.

But, just because you are put on the spot, it does not mean that the buck stops there.

"On job applications under salary requirements, put open, negotiable, or competitive. If a salary requirement must be given, then give ranges [usually begin your range at 10 percent higher than your last salary and add $10K to get your range]," writes James Powell, author of Mastering the Art of Salary Negotiation, on

Others recommend that job seekers be as specific as possible to avoid any confusion.

"Ask for a specific amount¾the more specific you can be in terms of your request, the better chance you have of obtaining a specific outcome," said Patton.

Its not tacky to negotiate

Even though you dont work in sales, employers wont presume you will take the first amount offered.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here for 10 ways to tweak your tech resume.

"As the saying goes, everything is negotiable. Employers will expect some negotiation from you when they extend an offer," said Vobejda.

If the number comes back lower than youd hope for, one tactic is to give specifics, such as "I was hoping for somewhere between $50 and $55K."

In addition, you can try to ascertain how much room for negotiation there is. Many employers will then tell you if there is simply no wiggle room.

"Maybe the employer has a very small salary range from where they can offer. But, you might be able to negotiate other benefits, from telecommuting to phone or travel reimbursements, relocation benefits and stock options," said Vobejda.

Others agree that a final salary offer doesnt have to be the end of the story.

"Be prepared if the answer is no to ask what needs to happen for you to earn a raise in the future, and try to get a commitment in writing," said Patton.

Next Page: Dont play hard to get.