Michael Solomon is the founder of 10x Management, a talent agency for best-in-class freelance tech professionals like developers, data scientists, and designers.
As co-founder for the first talent agency for best in class freelance tech professionals (developers, data scientists, designers, etc), I am frequently asked about how to negotiate both short term and full time engagements since our firm has done both.
From those requests, I have created the following list of steps for negotiating that w-2 dream job. I hope it helps both employees and employers on making great deals that work for both sides.
- Understand all the components of a comp(ensation) package. These include: base salary, equity, vesting schedule, bonuses, commission, raises, paid time off, culture, guaranteed length of employment, flexibility on location of work, health insurance, other perks, title, reporting structure, expense accounts level of travel, amount of travel, credit for your work, etc.
- Create multiple opportunities (offers) if possible. It is always easier to leverage them against each other and use them to see who wants you the most and will make you an offer that is closest to your goals.
- Ask Questions.Find out what they want most. What do they like about you most. Find out what they have the most of to offer to you. All information you learn about the company will better inform your requirements and your value.
- Know your value. Understand what problems you will solve for the company and speak to these to justify your requirements. Hopefully have someone else do that for you. See #10 below.
- Know the landscape and know what you want. Go in with confidence and ask for what you want but only after having researched comparables (the compensation for similar roles at similar companies). Make sure you understand whole packages and not just base salaries
- Be creative in your negotiation. For example, if they cant/wont afford the salary you want, can you build in bonuses based on performance or get some extra vacation time. All these variables from #1 above are adjustable and you have to find the right balance for you and the employer.
- Be ready to walk. The strongest negotiation position is when you dont need a deal to close . Walk away if you cant get what you need. This is why #2 above makes so much sense because you have more choices.
- Be a Pro. No matter how it goes down, keep your cool. Be professional. Be nice. Be respectful. You dont know when you will want to come back to this company or will run into this hiring manager again. People have amazing ways of coming back to haunt you or hire you depending on how you leave each situation.
- Dont take it too seriously. Keep a level head and a good perspective. When you have confidence in yourself and your abilities, it comes though. No one wants hire someone who is desperate.
- Get yourself a professional advocate (lawyer, agent). If you really don’t like doing 1-9 for yourself or you want to play in the big leagues, you should hire professional representation to do the negotiations for you. These are people who can represent you, sing your praises and explain your value to the company in ways you could not (because if you did, you would sound like a pompous arse). They must only represent your interests which means they need to be paid by you. Those who are good at this will more than justify their cost. This is what athletes, movie stars, rock stars, senior executives and high level consultants do.