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How To Negotiate A Better Salary As A Developer

Updated: Jun 12

Better salaries — everyone wants them but not everyone gets them.


Before we get into that, some obvious context:

How are developer salaries calculated?

Companies want to pay as little as possible. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Companies are businesses and businesses have to make money. That’s the most important part — businesses are run to make money.

And you already know the proverb. A penny saved is a penny earned.

This is why companies aren’t offering you the money you want.

Of course, there are others who do get better pay for the same work in similarly sized (similar in people strength and profits) companies. So, what’s happening here?

There are a couple of important reasons why this happens.

The first reason is that company ‘A’ might need John, our imaginary front-end developer, far more urgently than company ‘B’. Someone might have left all of a sudden, the company might have a product launch soon, or maybe the product is so slow that the company needs developers to optimize it soon. In any case, the company’s urgency is one reason.

The second reason is of more interest to us.

Company ‘A’ values John more.

Value — the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

That’s the Oxford definition.

Let’s break it down a bit.

How do you calculate the value of an employee?

While there are several ways to calculate how much an employee is worth, there isn’t a straightforward answer about the value of an employee.

The value of an employee is perceived and not calculated.

If a company thinks that you add more value, the company will pay more.

Obviously, there are exceptions. There are price bands for most jobs, there are guidance values for jobs, and then there’s the fact that the person hiring you can’t actually (most of the time) pay you whatever they think you’re worth. There are limitations.

What we’re left with, then, is to try and maximize the pay within the price bands a company sets for various jobs.

So, if the highest a company is willing to pay for a front-end developer is around $200K, we want $200K.

How do you go about getting that? Let’s find out.

Here's how to negotiate a better salary as a developer:

Steps to negotiate a better salary as a developer

Know your market value

This is one of the first things that you have to do — find out what the going rate for your role is.

Searching “Front end developer salary” on Google simply isn’t the way to do it.

To do it right, you need more information. Here’s how you can get started

Specific role + experience

Start off with websites like Glassdoor, Payscale, Stack Overflow, and Reddit. Look at the salaries that people are getting for your specific role and experience.

When you’re looking at these salaries, note down a few important points like location, company size, specific verticals, and technology stacks. We’ll use these later on.

This process will not take more than 15 minutes of your time. Once you’ve spent this time, you have a basic idea of what salaries people are getting at the moment.


If you’re looking for a remote job, obviously location isn’t a huge factor. However, it’s still important to understand the relationship between location and salaries.

Salaries for the same role are always higher in huge cities with a higher cost of living. Think of places like New York, SoCal, London, Tokyo — companies who have employees physically working in these cities will always pay more.

The inverse is true, as well. If you’re a front-end developer who goes to an office in a relatively low-population city where the cost of living is lesser, the company will pay less, too. We’re assuming all other factors are the same.

If you’re looking for a remote job, expect salaries to be somewhere in between.

However, there are companies who decide on salaries based on your location, too. This might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on where you live.

Size of the company

Traditionally, the big names with thousands upon thousands of employees paid more for any given role. Google, Apple, Microsoft — you get the idea.

However, that’s not entirely true anymore. While the big companies still usually offer great pay, some startups pay even more. While that may seem slightly surprising, there’s a really simple explanation to it.

Some startups manage to get huge funding and once they have the money, there’s immense pressure to deliver. They end up with very aggressive targets for all verticals and to achieve those targets, they hire the best employees they can find, no matter the cost.

Obviously, be prepared to work a lot if you have an offer from one of these companies.

What’s unique about you?

If you can touch your nose with your tongue, you are unique. Unfortunately, it’s not a highly-paid skill.

If you’ve contributed to the Linux source code and your contributions are now part of Linux, you are unique, too. But in this case, it is a reason to pay you a lot.

The obvious takeaway here is this: No two developers are the same. If you have skills and experiences that most other people do not have, you should be paid better. So, move your salary expectations a little higher.

Once you’ve done all this, you should have a fairly reasonable idea about what your pay should be. Brilliant.

Build your case

Now that you know what should be paid, it’s time to make a case to your potential employer. Quick Note: Don’t undersell yourself.

Given that I run Simple Job Listings, I see both sides of the story very closely. I talk to recruiters and applicants. The one thing that I see all the time is applicants just not telling companies what pay they expect. Don’t do this mistake. Clearly communicate your salary expectations.

Then tell the company why you should be paid that amount. There are a few ways to do it:

Hard skills first, all day, every day:

Hard skills are your technical skills. These are the skills that companies are primarily looking for. Coding skills, the programming languages you know, the frameworks, the tools you’ve mastered — highlight every single one of these. They’re crucial.

Whenever you’re listing these hard skills, add relevant examples. The examples could include projects you’ve done, experience from past work, courses you’ve completed, or even an app that you might have developed.

PRO TIP: Highlight how these skills can help the company you’re applying for. For better or for worse, companies are interested in getting their job done and not much else. Make sure you explain how your skills are going to be of value to the company.

People who solve problems are always valued:

Most of a developer’s time is spent on fixing problems. Most companies already have a product and need developers to optimize these products. Optimization can include re-writing bad code, fixing bugs, improving speed, or even adding a few features.

These skills are always in high demand. If you can take a piece of bad code and fix it, you should be shouting about it on your resume.

Don’t ignore soft skills, either:

While hard skills are what get you the job, soft skills are those that get you the highest pay. Communication, collaboration, time management — you’ll see these skills in every job post. They might seem like cringe-worthy statements that no one cares about but the fact is, these skills are important.

No one wants to work with a colleague who can’t be a part of the team.

One of the ways to show off your soft skills is during the interview process itself. Be polite, and courteous, offer to learn something if you don’t know something, reply promptly, be open to feedback — you get the idea. Be a decent person.

This is especially important in the later stages of the hiring process. The people you speak to at the fag end of the hiring process are usually people who have a ton of influence on your pay structure.

Organize your case:

Once you've gathered all the relevant information, organize it in a clear and concise manner. This could be in the form of a one-page document or a simple bulleted list. Having a well-structured and visually appealing presentation of your case will make it easier for you to reference during the negotiation process and leave a lasting impression on the employer.

Time it right

Starting off the interview by asking for a certain salary and bluntly stating that you won’t accept anything less isn’t the right way, obviously. Here are a few tips about when to talk salaries:

When to bring up salary expectations:

It's generally best to wait until the employer has expressed interest in hiring you before discussing salary. This usually happens after one or more interviews when they've had a chance to evaluate your skills and fit for the role. If the employer brings it up earlier, try to provide a broad range or simply mention that you're open to discussing it once you both have a better understanding of the role and responsibilities.

Evaluating the initial offer:

When you receive a job offer, take the time to carefully review the salary, benefits, and other compensation details. Compare the offer to the market research you conducted earlier and consider whether it aligns with your expectations and worth. Keep in mind that while the base salary is important, other factors like bonuses, stock options, and benefits can also play a significant role in your overall compensation package.

Preparing for the negotiation conversation:

If you've decided to negotiate, it's crucial to be well-prepared for the discussion. Practice your negotiation skills by role-playing with a friend or family member, or even in front of a mirror. This will help you become more comfortable with the conversation and allow you to refine your talking points. Additionally, be prepared to listen and respond thoughtfully to the employer's perspective.

Setting the right tone:

Approach the negotiation as a collaborative process rather than a confrontation. Express appreciation for the offer and emphasize that you're excited about the opportunity to contribute to the company. Frame your request for a higher salary as a desire for fair compensation that reflects your skills and experience, rather than as a demand or ultimatum.

Have a backup plan:

It's wise to consider other aspects of the job offer that you might be willing to negotiate if the employer is unable or unwilling to meet your salary request. This could include items like additional vacation days, flexible work arrangements, or professional development opportunities.

A few simple negotiation tactics:

This isn’t Godfather. Salary negotiation isn’t going to be heated (at least, it shouldn't).

Salary negotiation is about making sure that the company and you can find a number that both of you are happy with. So, here are a few simple tactics to approach salary negotiation:

Use a collaborative approach:

Emphasize shared goals and benefits throughout the negotiation. Make it clear that you're eager to contribute to the company's success and that you believe fair compensation will help foster a strong working relationship. This mindset will set a positive tone and encourage a more constructive dialogue.

Focus on objective data:

Rely on the research you conducted earlier to support your salary request. Presenting objective data, such as industry averages and salary benchmarks, can help you make a stronger case and avoid getting caught up in emotions or personal biases.

Emphasize the value you bring:

Highlight specific examples of how your skills, experience, and accomplishments will benefit the company. For instance, mention projects you've successfully completed or problems you've solved that demonstrate your ability to contribute to the organization's goals. By focusing on the value you bring, you'll position yourself as an asset worth investing in.

Be prepared to discuss other forms of compensation:

If the employer is unable to meet your salary request, be open to exploring alternative forms of compensation. This could include stock options, bonuses, or additional perks, like professional development opportunities or flexible work arrangements. Being flexible and open to creative solutions can help you reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Practice active listening and maintain composure:

Throughout the negotiation, listen carefully to the employer's perspective and respond thoughtfully to their concerns or counteroffers. Stay calm and composed, even if the conversation becomes challenging. This will demonstrate your professionalism and make it more likely that the employer will be receptive to your requests.

Know your walk-away point:

Before entering the negotiation, determine the minimum salary or compensation package you're willing to accept. If the employer is unable or unwilling to meet your needs, be prepared to walk away from the offer. While this can be a difficult decision, it's essential to prioritize your long-term career satisfaction and financial well-being.

Negotiation is about compromise:

While it’s important to know when to walk away from an offer, it’s equally important to understand that you may not get the exact salary you had in mind. Negotiation is about compromise. It’s a give and take street. So, if you don’t get the exact salary that you had in mind, don’t be disheartened. It’s quite common and it’s probably not as bad as you think.

Show up with other offers:

Now, this is pretty much the most effective way to get a company to open up its purses. The idea is that you talk to multiple companies, get an offer letter from one company with great pay, and then negotiate with the other companies.

Essentially, you’re telling the company that there are others who are willing to pay more and if they want your services, they’re going to have to do better.

This might sound like an aggressive way to handle things but it doesn’t have to be.

Your work has a certain value and having an offer letter simply proves that there are other companies that are willing to pay well for your services. Make sure you don’t come off as arrogant when you’re talking about having other offers. Leaving a negotiation bitterly isn’t something that you want to do. Leaves a stink all round.

Instead, approach the subject with straightforwardness. Tell the company about the offer you have and let your recruiter know that you’re doing this because you want to be paid fairly for your skills and experience.

Recruiters deal with this all the time. So, they will neither be surprised nor will they get offended. Most probably, they’ll ask for a bit of time to consult with their managers and they’ll get back to you.

Again, if you do this right, this is the most effective way to get a company to pay you what you want.


When you negotiate for a better salary as a developer, all you're doing is asking for is fair compensation. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s not something you should be nervous about. Ultimately, companies want talented people working in their companies and they know the market rates for good developers.

So, don’t hesitate to ask.

Now, if you’re an amazing developer and you’re looking for remote developer jobs, check out Simple Job Listings. It’s a website where we post the best remote jobs in the world. Most jobs you find on Simple Job Listings aren’t posted on other job boards! It’s a curated list of jobs that are not only curated but pay really well. Check out Simple Job Listings today!

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