there are a lot of ways to negotiate salary and this tip is by no means the best one. however, in the right situation, it could be helpful. if you find yourself engaging directly with a firm (ie. not using a recruiter) and things are going well and moving quickly, stay with the momentum of the interview until you get all the way to the offer stage and then slow it down!
here's an example:
you passively started looking around and either a friend, user group colleague or a former boss reaches out to you about an opportunity. you interview one time and you nail it. you come back the 2nd time and you meet with the cto. this also goes well and since you're a known commodity and your experience speaks for itself, the cto is ready to move quickly and make you an offer. since everything is moving so quickly and going so well, a lot of times the software engineer will not negotiate as hard on salary as he should. after all, who wants to spoil the party? i have seen so many times where a software engineer has told me, "well, i really did like the people and the work they were doing is cool so i didn't want to make a big deal over the salary".
well, if you think that way, you will leave a good chunk of money on the table over the course of your career. most recently, i spoke with a really good developer. i don't want to call him "genius good" but he was damn good and a nice guy too. his salary he recently accepted was 90k. that same week i had another candidate take a job with a firm here in town for 105k. i would certainly put these two developers in the same zip code as far as their skills are concerned but one was making 90k and the other was making 105k. ironically, the 90k guy had a cs degree and the 105k guy did not!
so, let me give you some magic words that might come in handy if you are faced with a situation like the one described above (or any salary situation for that matter). when the cto or vp or hr director comes to you and asks you what you are making and what you are looking for, say this:
"to be honest, i haven't even thought about salary yet. i've been so wrapped up in this opportunity and meeting everyone that i haven't had a chance to sit down and think about compensation and what i'd be looking for. if it's okay with you, i'd like to go home, let it all sink in and wake up tomorrow with an idea. is that okay with you?"
in doing this, you gently tap the brakes on a great opportunity just enough to slow it down and view it for what it is, a job. don't kid yourself, the company you're dealing with is in the business of making and saving money. if they can get you on board as a happy employee for the lowest salary possible, they will do it. after all, it's only good business. the delta on this might be nothing more than 2-3k but multiply that by 4-5 jobs over a 20 year period and you're talking about a new car or one year of tuition for your child's college education. i don't know anyone in my circle of friends who can afford to let that kind of money slip by.
mark cunningham technical recruiter 512-527-0408 work 512-699-5719 cell firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.linkedin.com/in/markhc http://markcunningham91.blogspot.com/ http://thebiddingnetwork.com @mhcrecruit