25 Job Offers You are going to be ecstatic when you start receiving job offers. Try to tame your excitement for a moment, you are not out of the woods yet. You still might need to go through a negotiation process. You might also decide that the job is not a good fit for you when you read the fine print. Remember that as a new developer, you may have to take a job that is not ideal for the long-term, but it should still meet your survival needs and allow you to grow. Your baseline goal for your first job should be a stepping stone to where you want to get in your career. Do not just take a job because it is the only thing that comes along. Be strategic about what is going to help you long- term in your career. Receiving Job Offers Review the job offer carefully and see how it stacks up to what you really want. Most companies like to tout that they give you lots of vacation or a good salary, but hide the areas they are weak in like health insurance or retirement options. You have to separate needs from wants and decide where your line is. Do not feel like you have to respond right away to a job offer. You can thank them right away and tell them you will get back to them by the end of the week or after the weekend (about 3-5 days from the date of the offer). Make sure you have a clear head when you are making decisions about where you will work for months or years. What do you do if the offer does not meet your needs or you think it undervalues your work? Do not get upset or dismissive. First, try to be rational and negotiate before you shoot down the offer. Negotiating has helped me get much better packages at companies several times in the past. Negotiating To put yourself in the best negotiating position, Linda Raynier, a career coach and recruitment expert, advises that when the com- pany asks you for your salary requirements to, “Give a number, not a range” Companies almost always go for the lowest end if you give them a range. It also makes you look unsure of what you want if you give a range. She recommends giving the employer your ideal number, slightly higher than what you would expect to actually receive. You would be thrilled to really get that number, but you should also have a fallback ”willing to settle number” that is more in line with what entry-level developers make in your area. Never get upset during negotiations, this is the most important time to stay level-headed so you can position yourself in the best situation possible while maintaining your composure and being respectful. Margaret Neale, professor of management at Stanford, said, “Folks typically see negotiation as an adversarial process and they are uncomfortable because they’re concerned that other folks will think of them as too demanding, too greedy, not nice, or socially awkward.” She advises changing your mindset about negoti- ations from an adversarial process to one that is problem solving. If you become flustered or disrespectful during the negotiation process, the company may decide they don’t want to hire you based on your actions and can rescind your offer. During the negotiation stage, you are simply trying to come to an agreement with the company on what your time is worth. If you are underpaid, you will not be happy or, even worse, be able to live comfortably, which will distract you from your work. If you are overpaid by too much, then the company might have unreasonable exceptions of you. You might have to be a little flexible but do not take less than your ”willing to settle” number. I do not want you to get taken advantage of, like many new tech workers are. If you live in the United States, I recommend not taking a job at a large company for less than $50,000 per year or at a smaller com- pany for less than $40,000 per year. That is the absolute minimum you should be receiving unless you are going to be working part- time. You might need to be making more than that if you live in a major metropolitan area where the cost of living is higher. If you take a low salary to start that you can live on, the best way to get a raise is by switching jobs after the first year because, unfortu- nately, many companies will fight to not give you raises to bring you up to market value. To negotiate a higher salary, be sure to talk about your value. Remind them of how you performed in the technical interview, about your achievements and accomplishments. Show them how you have shown leadership, dedication, and hard work in the past. Another good idea is to use leverage for getting the salary you want. Tell the company that you have received multiple offers that you are considering. I did this before and got two of the three companies to offer me a lot more than I asked for. Finally, before you contact the company, weigh the benefits versus the costs of negotiating. Make sure you have clear answers for what you are trying to achieve as well as what the company will think is reasonable. When you go to write the email or prepare something to say over the phone, be sure to thank them first. Then let them know that you want to come to an agreement that is satisfactory to both you and the company, and remind them of your value. If they of- fered you below the industry standard for your experience and locale, then politely let them know about that. Then, tell them the number you want and ask them how they can help you work out a deal that makes sense for both of you. If you have a solution that you think they will find reasonable, pitch it to them. You should also consider negotiating for other benefits besides compensation. If the salary is lower than market value, you can ask them to give you a transportation stipend, reimbursement for education opportunities, work from home days, flexible hours, or anything else on your ”wants” list. A reminder for women: Studies show that women are uncomfortable asking for more money and do not negotiate nearly as often as men. Employers will almost never give you more than you demand. I recommend looking up Sheryl Sandberg’s negotiating advice for women and practicing your negotiation techniques. It is a skill just like coding and it will help you in many more areas than just job offers Common Problems Sometimes negotiations fail and the company declines your counteroffer. It might be for budgetary reasons or something else en- tirely. Ask them if they will be open to renegotiating after you prove yourself at the company. Try to get them to commit to revisiting your salary after six months of employment and get it in writing. The company may draw a line in the sand and say they will not or cannot give you what you want. That is not the optimistic re- sult, but there is not much else you can do at that point. You will have to choose if that is acceptable, or if you want to part ways and continue job searching. If the numbers are lower than you expected, try negotiating as I said above. This is a common problem for new developers. If they are significantly low, then I would question if the company is legitimate or worth your time at all. Accepting a Job Offer Do it over the phone or in person. If they extend the offer to you via email, ask them when the best time to speak over the phone would be. Be polite and tell them you are excited to start working there. Of course, do not burn any bridges at your old job either. Many software developers I have met worked for companies that would not let them switch to the IT department while they were working there, only to offer them great packages after they had some devel- oper experience at another company. Conclusion You are in the final stretch! Do not rush any decisions right now. You want to take the job offer that is right for you now and for your career in the future. Remember that you are creating value for the company. At first, the company might not see you as pro- viding much value versus the risk that they are taking on for hiring you – a new developer with no track record of performance. Soon, you will have experience, and everyone will realize the value that you can provide.