AMAs January 13, 2020

I'm a salary negotiation coach for experienced software developers going to big tech companies, ask me anything!

Josh Doody @JoshDoody

Software developers get offers from companies like Google and Facebook, then we work together to negotiate the best compensation package possible.

I also wrote a book on salary negotiation called "Fearless Salary Negotiation: A step-by-step guide to getting paid what you're worth". Between my coaching and product sales, I've helped people earn millions of dollars more than they would have.

You can ask me about salary negotiation and career development, transitioning from being a full-time employee to being a solo founder, bootstrapping a business, building a premium service offering for B2C customers, writing books, sunsetting my B2B SaaS to build my current business, and probably 20 other topics I love talking about :)

I'll be here at 3pm Eastern Time on Wednesday 22nd of January. Ask me anything!

  1. 8

    I'd love to hear stories of how people from lower represented backgrounds can achieve a better and fair salary.

    So say I'm a [woman developer], how can I ensure that I truly get paid something of equal level to a fellow male future colleague?

    And have you dealt with situations of people negotiating a payrise or better work conditions within the same company?

    1. 3

      I’ll give a more detailed answer below, but this little 3-minute interview on the BBC is a good, short summary of how I approach this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RohE7VqgJK0

      Here is what I have found to be the first two things to focus on when pursuing a better and fair salary:

      1. Don’t disclose your salary history. Sharing this information gives your new employer an easy way to make you an offer that looks a lot like your previous salary with a small amount tacked on. Rather than them trying to figure out what it will take to persuade you to join their firm, they are easily able to look for how little they can offer while still improving on your current situation (or even just matching it). Don’t give them this easy out.
      2. Negotiate. Pretty much everyone is afraid of negotiating their salary, especially for the first time. That’s why I called my book “Fearless Salary Negotiation”! But you can’t improve on your offer unless you negotiate. This gives you a chance to talk about the value you bring to the role while finding a fair salary that reflects that value to you and the firm you’re negotiating with. Very rarely, a firm will retract an offer when you negotiate—you don’t want to work for firms that are so petty. Most of the time, they will either improve your offer to persuade you to join, or they will explain that they made their best offer up front.

      By doing these two things, you can break the job-to-job salary chain and use a job change as a chance to reset your salary to a level that reflects the value you bring to the firm.

      Thousands of people have used the methodology in my book to negotiate higher salaries, and I’ve worked with scores of people 1-on-1. People from all backgrounds have gotten substantial improvements in their salary, and those two things are common factors in virtually all of those success stories.

      Stories

      Probably my favorite story on this topic is “Ashley”, who was one of the first people I worked with and a big reason I decided to pursue salary negotiation coaching full time. She was an experienced consultant moving to a new firm where they offered her slightly more money than she had made at her previous firm.

      A good start! But when she and I spoke, she was leaning to just accepting the new offer because it was already decent. I encouraged her to do some market research, find out what the actual value of her skillset was in her industry, and she eventually countered and negotiated a 12% increase on her offer.

      This was a case where she almost didn’t negotiate at all, and she would’ve left more than $10,000 on the table. Most of the time that folks (of any background) fall behind the pay curve, it’s because they share salary history and don’t negotiate new job offers. Which means they fall further behind with every move.
      
Negotiating raises or improved working conditions

      I’ve worked with lots of people to negotiate raises at their current firm, or to negotiate non-salary things (working conditions) when moving to a new firm. I recently coaching a client who moved from contractor to full-time, and we negotiated for him to work a four-day work week at the same full-time salary they offered him.

      This sort of thing usually comes to to priorities and trade-offs. His priority was work/life balance, so we optimized for that by pursuing a shorter work week. Normally, we would’ve asked for more salary. But in his case, he was more than happy to work for the salary offered if we could negotiate a four-day work week. Now he has every Friday off to work on side projects or spend time with his family.

      Negotiating is always just about money—there are lots of other things that can be negotiated, especially at smaller firms. For the Indie Hackers community, I think the most valuable “non-salary” benefits you can negotiate for are likely ones that give you more freedom so you can work toward independence. That might mean a more flexible work schedule, moving from in-office to remote so you save time on your commute, asking for opportunities to learn more by attending conferences or focusing on continuing education, and things like that.

      The most important thing to keep in mind is what you would do with that extra freedom. What can you create? Who can you reach? What can you do to make that time maximally productive?

      You can get a lot done in a day and what you do might change over time. But you could start by blogging on a topic you care about or want to learn more about. You could do customer interviews or research to find an opportunity to create something valuable. You could build small MVP-type products to see what grabs people’s attention. You could spend a day doing a deep dive into a new marketing channel.

  2. 3

    You're the second professional salary negotiator I've come across in the last couple months. I'll ask you the same thing I asked him:

    Why do you offer strictly salary negotiation versus offering a suite of career-related services?

    1. 1

      First, I'll say that @sachingk’s answer is pretty good!

      Value (especially perceived value)

      When I started writing "Fearless Salary Negotiation" (FSN), it was actually a much broader book called "Take Control of Your Career: A Career Management Guide".

      It included all the things in FSN, but I also planned to include a lot more generalist career advice like how to write effective business email, how to find the right job, how to be productive in meetings and things like that. Fortunately, I ran the idea by my friend Josh Kaufman, who had published the uber-successful Personal MBA (https://www.amazon.com/Personal-MBA-Master-Art-Business/dp/1591845572), and he suggested I narrow the focus to the salary negotiation topics, which would be easier to sell and more interesting to read about.

      He was right and I think the book would’ve flopped if I didn’t make the changes he suggested.

      Another friend, Josh Earl, once told me: “You’re basically selling money at a discount.” And he’s right: The value proposition of salary negotiation coaching is obvious and direct. People who work with me see the value of our work immediately with very little explanation.

      I’ve also offered other types of coaching in the past (I’m a very, very big fan of experimenting in my business to see if I can “uncover hockey sticks”). I’ve always found that folks just aren’t as interested or engaged, even when they hire me. And my ability to charge enough to grow the business is limited because the perceived value of other types of coaching (career coaching, coaching to get a raise, job search coaching, interview preparation coaching) just isn’t as high as for my salary negotiation coaching offering.

      I think of careers and job transitions as a sort of value chain.

      • Current job
      • Job search
      • Interviewing
      • Negotiating

      I’ve found that the highest-value part of that chain is “negotiating”, at least when I’m involved. One could argue it might be “interviewing”, but that’s usually only a marginal improvement and interviewing well often results in a lateral move or a very small salary improvement. Whereas if I focus on negotiation, I can help people achieve very large marginal improvements in their pay.

      This is very dependent on who I work with, what career stage, etc. But for me and the clients I work with, negotiating the offers is the highest-leverage place for me to help, so I focus there.

      Expertise

      I’ve helped them get raises and promotions at their current job. I have helped people find good jobs. I’ve helped people prep for their interviews when pursuing a new job.
      
There are also many other people who can help with the other parts of the value chain I described above. There are job search experts and agencies. Interview prep services, and lots of other career-related services.

      I’ve gotten very good at negotiating job offers with big tech companies. There are very few salary negotiation experts. (As far as I know, I’m the only person who does what I do the way I do it.)

      That’s where my comparative advantage lies and it’s the highest-value use of my particular skillset.

      Focusing narrowly on salary negotiation is the highest-leverage use of my skill set AND it’s the best way for me to grow my business, so that’s where I focus.

      1. 1

        Thanks for showing agreement with my comments.

        I still have a question about what at what position or experience level opt for Salary negotiation training ?

        My thinking is

        Beginner don't because they are glad to get a job. Don't worry much about salary.

        Higher management level don't opt for it because they are will be generally be capable themselves.

        1. 1

          I think everyone should negotiate their job offers. My coaching is best for experienced developers going to big tech companies, but my book, website, and other materials are designed to help anyone negotiate a new job offer.

          Entry-level folks may not find it's ideal to hire me, but they should still negotiate and that's why I make so much free content available.

          Higher-level managers absolutely should negotiate and are often a great fit for my coaching offering because although they are managers, that doesn't necessarily mean they have experience negotiating their own job offers. Many managers have been in the same company for a long time and haven't even had a new offer to consider in many years. They also make hiring recommendations but don't necessarily participate in the salary negotiation process as that's often a function of the recruiting team.

          1. 1

            Thanks for answering my question

      2. 1

        Excellent, thanks so much for such a thorough answer.

    2. 1

      My guess, These may be few reasons

      • It's easy to structure a deal with candidate for this offering.

      • The performance in this kind of consultation is easy to measure

      • Most of the data points required for negotiation are available over internet

      • This is only phase where candidates see value. They do rest of the task by themselves

      • Sales cycle time is less because candidate has to reply back to the company as soon as possible

  3. 3

    What should be a fair wage for a senior dev in AWS, Berlin?

    1. 2

      .@avichalp’s answer is exactly what I was going to suggest: Check Levels.fyi or paysa.com.

      I’ve found that these numbers shift pretty quickly over time and I don’t see enough data points to offer anything more accurate than sites like Levels.fyi or paysa.com offer. So I generally just defer to those sites for the latest self-reported salary data.

      Any time a client or prospect says, “I got this offer from [big tech co]. Does that sound fair to you?” I say, “I’m going on a site called Levels.fyi and looking at their data now. You can look at it too. I think that’s the best way to get a sense of what [big tech co] is paying for that role right now.”

    2. 1

      I think it would be difficult to answers with a specific range. But you check some data here https://www.levels.fyi/comp.html?track=Software Engineer&search=amazon

  4. 2

    How do you prevent a client from going dark on you or lying about (understating) their outcome? Do you require that they send you a copy of the final offer, or is it more the honor system?

    1. 1

      I like this question a lot.

      “How do you prevent a client…” 

The short answer is I can’t prevent anyone from doing anything. I work on the honor system.

      1. 1

        Fascinating. Thank you Josh.

        Super tight writing you're doing on the fly, btw.

        1. 1

          Thanks! It's not all on the fly—I did some homework before we started so I could be sure I got to everyone—but I appreciate the compliment regardless :)

          1. 1

            Ah, duh. Should have written: Super tight writing you've had days to prepare!

  5. 2

    One thing I haven’t seen asked, but that I think the Indie Hackers community might find interesting: How did I build a value-based B2C productized service that replaced my previous day job salary?

    When I began building my business, I was laser-focused on more “passive income” type goals like selling info products in high volumes. I wrote and published Fearless Salary Negotiation, then built video courses to augment the book, then began working on driving traffic to my site to get more sales.

    I had no idea how hard that would be, but I was able to slowly grow my business over time.

    2016

    Then a friend reached out to ask for my help. She already had my book and I had helped her husband negotiate his current salary a few months earlier. She was a freelance copywriter who got an offer to go in-house to one of her clients.

    “I just got an offer to full-time and I wonder if you can help me negotiate it. What’s your rate?”

    I had never really planned to offer coaching services and I didn’t have any sort of pricing model, so I said, “What’s your rate? Whatever your rate is, that’s my rate.” I ended up charging her $75 an hour and we worked together for 2-–3 hours.

    When we finished working together, I asked her: “Why did you hire me when you already had a copy of my book? Could’t you have just done that yourself?”

    Her answer was enlightening: “I just wanted someone to tell me what to do.”

    About a month later, another acquaintance reached out and asked if I would help negotiate their job offer. “What’s your rate?” This time, I quoted $125 an hour and she didn’t hesitate to hire me. Again, we worked together for 2–3 hours.

    I didn’t want to go down the “hourly billing” road because I did the math and saw that even charging a decent hourly rate, I would have to book a lot of clients to make good money. I also found that I was creating a lot more value than I was charging for. I could charge someone a few hundred dollars and make them thousands of dollars each year.

    I also realized the value of my expertise was not in the volume of my expertise that you purchased, but in the outcomes it produced. So I decided to move to a fixed-fee up front model where I charged a premium price to work with me and I guaranteed the outcome would be at least $10,000 more than their initial offer.

    I think the first price I offered was $1,500.

    2017

    I doubled-down on coaching and switched the focus of my business from “salary negotiation author who also does coaching” to “salary negotiation coach for software developers (who also sells books)”.

    People kept hiring me, so I raised prices over time: $2,000, $2,500, $3,000. I also noticed that the biggest wins for my clients were when they were software developers, so I focused on that demographic. The wins started getting bigger and bigger.

    I changed to a tiered pricing structure based on the value of the job offer, eventually charging $3,000, $6,000, or $9,000 depending on the offer size. I removed the $10,000 guarantee because 1) Some people would hire me just to make sure they got the best outcome possible without concern for how many dollars that was and 2) $10,000 was a low number relative to some of the wins I got and it seemed to cheapen my service in some prospects’ eyes.

    2019

    In 2019, I switched my pricing again. I went to a “service fee plus result fee” model, where I took the lowest fixed fee from my previous tiered setup ($3,000) as the up-front service fee, and added a 10% result fee (10% of the negotiated improvement in first-year compensation). The result fee is key because it allows me to share in the value I create for my clients. It’s really fun because my clients are as excited to pay the result fee as I am to collect it since they’re keeping 90% of the gains we negotiate.

    2020

    My coaching business has grown substantially every year since I began coaching and I expect more growth in 2020. The core offering hasn’t really changed, but my narrow focus on experienced software developers going to big tech companies, plus changing the pricing model have enabled me to grow this B2C productized service over the past few years.

    I’ve written about the process of building the coaching business and changing the pricing model in my annual Year In Review posts, and I wrote a lot more about the 2019 changes here: https://www.joshdoody.com/2019/12/2019-year-in-review/#salarynegotiationcoaching

  6. 2

    What geography should remote developers compare their salary against?

    1. 1

      I recommend thinking of this in terms of your Minimum Acceptable Salary, which will likely be heavily influenced by your own geographic location. There’s a balance between “How much value do I add to this firm in this role?” And “Wow, the cost of living in Mountain View is so much higher than it is in my city! I should be paid Mountain View wages!”

      The wages in MV are largely driven by the cost of living there plus the expenses associated with operating a brick and mortar office there. Those costs don’t necessarily apply to someone in another city.

      There’s a balance there, and I think the Minimum Acceptable Salary is the best way to objectively find that balance ahead of time.

      https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/minimum-acceptable-salary/

  7. 2

    Hey, I believe you've helped my friend Swizec in the past.

    Do you provide coaching for junior employees?

    Do companies ever pull an offer once they know a candidate has you on board?

    1. 1

      I do work with junior employees in some cases. Junior devs going to big tech firms can often see big enough improvements in their offers that it’s good ROI for them to hire me. Entry-level devs occasionally find this to be true, but usually not.

      There’s always a chance we won’t see an improvement in a job offer, but for more experienced developers, my pricing makes this palatable as they see me as more of a salary negotiation consultant for hire.

      When I do work with junior devs, I make it clear that we might not see an improvement in their offer that gives them a big ROI (or ANY ROI), but that the value of working with me early in one’s career is that they will know how to negotiate future offers and THAT can be extremely valuable.

      To date, I’m not aware of any companies figuring out that I’m working with a candidate behind the scenes. If they did figure it out, I’m not sure what they would do, but I don’t think they’d pull the offer. By the time they’ve made an offer, they’ve invested so much in getting to that point and have confirmed that this is a candidate they want on their team. So I would expect them to at least honor the original offer or even to negotiate even though they know the person got professional help.

      Still, I think it’s best that I do my work behind the scenes so my clients are directly advocating for themselves with my guidance.

      Tell Swizec I said hi!

      1. 1

        Hey, ok I didn't realise that you worked behind the scenes. That makes sense of course!

        And yes, that's a good point about companies being already so far down the hiring process that they won't pull an offer.

        Would you be interested in sponsored my job board newsletter that goes out to 1,700 devs? My email is [email protected] if so - I told Swizec :)

  8. 2

    How does the salary negotiation work for developers coming from outside the US moving to a company like Facebook or Google in the US? As it will be difficult to compare the employees current salary & cost of living to his new place of work and country.

    1. 1

      Salary negotiation works similarly regardless of where you’re coming from, at least for the methodology I have developed.

      I don’t recommend sharing salary history or salary expectations during the interview or negotiation processes. This allows both you and the employer to focus on the value you bring to the team and role you’ll be assuming.

      If you do tell companies your current salary, they will often grab onto that number and they can be very stubborn with respect to negotiation.

      Once they make an offer, I recommend evaluating that offer in light of the location where you’ll be moving, pretty much ignoring where you’re coming from. What do other folks make for that company, in that role, in that location? What’s the cost of living there? And therefore, what do you require in terms of compensation to be comfortable doing that job in that location?

      Those factors should inform how aggressive you are, but will also inform whether the offer they make (and that you eventually negotiate) is sufficient to persuade you to make that move.

      Beyond that, negotiating with those companies is very similar regardless of which company (they use very, very similar hiring practices). Here’s an article on how to negotiate offers with Google:

      https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/google-salary-negotiation/

  9. 1

    Is equity negotiable for contract, long term, maybe part-time positions? How would you go about this?

    1. 1

      The unsatisfying answer to this question is, "Maybe." If there's equity offered as part of the arrangement, it might be negotiable. If equity isn't offered, it's likely not negotiable.

      The bigger question, I think, is should you negotiate for more equity if that option is available? My answer is that it depends on whether you can put a real value on the equity offered/available or not. If you can put a real value on it, then it might be worth negotiating, especially if they seem more flexible on equity than other cash compensation. If you can't put a real value on it, I recommend avoiding equity as part of the negotiation.

      This article goes into more detail about how to decide whether it's worth negotiating for more equity in lieu of salary and other cash compensation: https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/negotiate-equity-shares-instead-of-salary/

  10. 1

    Another question I haven’t seen asked, but which could be interesting to the Indie Hackers community:

    Why did I choose to build a B2C info-product and productized service business rather than B2B SaaS or something like that?

    When I quit my day job, my plan was to launch the Fearless Salary Negotiation book and courses, grow that business to around $5k a month, then use that income to support myself as I built a B2B SaaS called TaskBook. (TaskBook was a task management app to help teams manage recurring tasks efficiently.)

    This plan was very naive and I quickly realized it wasn’t going to work the way I had hoped it would.

    Turns out it’s hard to build an info-product business generating ~$5k a month in revenue from scratch. Very hard. I had sort of bought into the hype that if you just build something “good”, people will find it and buy it.

    It’s also very hard to build a B2B SaaS (although it was probably easier in 2015 than it is today). I already knew that, which is why I had hoped I could build enough revenue from the info-product business to support me on the long slow SaaS ramp of death I was about to climb.

    Within about 5 months of quitting my day job and publishing Fearless Salary Negotiation, I realized my plan wouldn’t work. I was essentially trying to build two totally different businesses that were each very hard to build. I had to make a choice: Let FSN do its thing and go full-time on TaskBook to see if I could get it off the ground before my runway ran out, or sunset TaskBook and go all-in on FSN.

    I eventually decided that I liked the FSN universe more. I liked helping people. I was good at it. I had more to say to that audience, and I was energized by answering questions and helping people earn more. I could trivially write a 5,000-word article on a narrow topic to help people negotiate offers or interview better.

    I wasn’t really energized by TaskBook or its audience—I struggled to write a single blog post for the business.

    So I decided to shut TaskBook down and go all-in on FSN. Later, I more or less lucked into the coaching side of the business, which is my primary source of revenue now. Ironically, I’m still building two disparate businesses that both happen to be related to salary negotiation: The salary negotiation coaching business, and the salary negotiation info-product business.

  11. 1

    Hi Josh,
    how do you deal with risk in a salary negotiation? To make this concrete, in a recent negotiation, I was offerred a number that I did not feel accurately represented my value or experience. I asked for more and the reply was "We can offer at max XX. If you want to go higher, we will have to get it approved and it carries a risk for you." How do you deal with situations like these, in particular when you don't want to lose the offer?

    1. 1

      There’s some level of risk in any negotiation. Salary negotiation in particular is not without risk, but the risk is generally lower than other types of negotiations because usually your worst-case outcome is “Sorry but we’re not flexible. Take it or leave it.”

Very rarely, an offer is retracted due to negotiating, but that’s almost always the final red flag in a series of red flags that people ignore throughout their interview process.

      In your case I would ask them, “What risk does that carry?” They could be thinking of lots of risks that you may not consider material. For example, “Your hiring manager could perceive you to be very aggressive.” This isn’t much of a risk, in my opinion. Or maybe that risk is, “This will delay the process and we’ll have to push your start date back.” That might be a meaningful risk to you, or you might not care at all when your start date is.

      Of course, the biggest risk they could be alluding to is, “If we ask for more they might retract the offer.” But as I said above this happens very, very rarely.

      In your case, you said, “I was offered a number that I did not feel accurately represented my value or experience.” This will affect your “Minimum Acceptable Salary” (https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/book/negotiate/what-is-your-minimum-acceptable-salary/), which can help you determine whether to pursue this role or not based on the results of your negotiation.

      The key to your question is actually “...in particular when you don't want to lose the offer?” If they tell you “there’s a risk we’ll pull the offer if you ask for more”, then you have to look at your Minimum Acceptable Salary, look at the opportunity itself, and decide whether you’re willing to accept that risk. You might not be willing to accept that risk, and that’s ok! If that’s the case, you might say, “Ok, I’ll take it.”

You tried negotiating, got an improvement, and decided the best thing for you was to take what you had in hand because they told you explicitly there was a risk it could go away if you pushed further. Although I generally push folks to keep going in negotiations, it’s reasonable to look at the risk/reward balance and choose to avoid that risk if it’s too much to bear.

    2. 1

      What is the risk? They say no and you get the original offer right?

      1. 1

        This is accurate almost all the time. Very rarely, an offer might be rescinded, but the worst-case is typically "We're not flexible on this - take it or leave it".

  12. 1

    Should negotiation tactics be different for contracting positions? And how so?

    1. 1

      Mostly, the tactics for contract positions are similar to full-time positions. The numbers can be different depending on what type of contract you’re working on. This article talks a little more about those types and the math involved: https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/contractor-vs-full-time-employee-salary/

      The main differences will be in what you ask for, specifically with non-salary items. For example, as a full-time employee, you might ask for more equity, a sign-on bonus, more vacation, things like that. Depending on what kind of contract position you’re negotiating, those things might not really be available, so you’d want to focus on things that align better with contract work. For example: Hours of availability, days you’ll work, guaranteed work, things like that.

The way you ask for those things (tactics) are more or less the same as the way you ask for more full-time-employee-type things.

      1. 2

        This is really interesting, thanks for this insight! My current "employer" can't outright hire me because of PHI compliant issues across borders (I live in Mexico and they in USA), but I somehow recently negotiated my way into getting almost the same benefits as a full-time employee including PTO, health insurance, and 401(k). I'm guessing that's somewhat rare for a contractor, but it's good to know there are other negotiating tactics I can leverage in the future.

        Thank you for the response!

  13. 1

    I just recently listened to the Screaming In The Cloud podcast episode you were on and it was really interesting. https://www.lastweekinaws.com/podcast/screaming-in-the-cloud/how-software-developers-can-negotiate-better-salaries-with-josh-doody/

    I'm curious what you feel the highest ROI marketing you've done for spreading the word about your services. Also, what do you feel was the most helpful when you were getting started to position yourself as an expert?

    1. 1

      I’m glad you liked that Screaming in the Cloud interview - it was a lot of fun.

      Speaking of podcast interviews, podcasts have been one of the higher-ROI marketing channels for me. As with any marketing channel, some generate a lot of traffic/interest/revenue while some don’t. But I’ve had a few podcast interviews that have generated pretty substantial bumps for my business, and the nice thing about them is they have a very long tail.

      I keep a running list of podcast interviews and articles where I'm quoted here, if you want to see what this look like in practice: http://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/media-appearances/

      They’re also a very good way to position oneself as an expert, especially if you’re comfortable with this format. (I think podcast interviews are the ideal format for me—I’m super comfortable in that environment and enjoy the back-and-forth discussion, and I really like formulating answers to tricky questions on the fly.)

      I did an interview with Patrick McKenzie on his Kalzumeus podcast almost four years ago and people still tell me they found me through that interview. Here’s a link to that episode: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2016/06/03/kalzumeus-podcast-episode-12-salary-negotiation-with-josh-doody/

      But the highest-ROI marketing I’ve done is SEO (content marketing). Speaking of Patrick (AKA patio11), in 2016 he encouraged me to “get more traffic”, which I took to mean “get good at SEO”. In hindsight, I don’t think that’s what he meant, but it turned out to be useful advice anyway :)

      I started writing very detailed articles on common questions I encountered and learned how to get them ranked high for certain keywords. Over time, FearlessSalaryNegotiation.com grew to about 100,000 organic search visitors a month.

      When I turned my focus to coaching, I was able to leverage that SEO for my coaching offering as well. I wrote some articles specifically offering advice to the kinds of people I wanted to work with as a salary negotiation coach, and I was able to be the top-ranked article for some very-niche, but very valuable search terms that bring people directly into my coaching offering.

      I invested a lot of time and zero dollars in SEO, and it’s the primary way coaching clients find me now.

  14. 1

    I have a 15 minute call with an Amazon recruiter today who reached out. Is there anything specific I should say, or just keep it casual?

    1. 1

      There’s not much you should specifically say in that sort of screening call, but there are things you should definitely not say: Your salary history or salary expectations.

      Most recruiters will ask you about this early on as an “interview” or “pre-screen” question that is actually part of your salary negotiation. Answering those questions early can make it very difficult to negotiate later, so I recommend you don’t talk salary on that call.

      Here’s a short little script to get past those questions:

“I’m not really comfortable discussing salary at this stage and I prefer to focus on the value I’ll bring to the team in this role. I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility and compensation an I look forward to hearing what you suggest when we get to that stage.”

      Here’s a detailed article on how to handle these sorts of questions in different situations: https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/the-dreaded-salary-question/

      I would say technical questions and things like that are not usually part of this sort of call, but that’s probably also dependent on the specific recruiter you’re talking to and the role itself.

    2. 1

      I had a first call with Amazon a few months ago and it caught me off guard because the first thing they asked me about were data structures and algorithms. I was expecting it to be just a casual conversation of the role, but it was literally the first thing we talked about.

      I posted in a comment a link to a podcast that Josh Doody was on that might be helpful regarding the salary part of a call. The basic advice is never say what you make now and what you're expecting for salary because the recruiter isn't your friend and it can hurt you in the end. The podcast definitely does a better job of explaining it than I do: https://www.lastweekinaws.com/podcast/screaming-in-the-cloud/how-software-developers-can-negotiate-better-salaries-with-josh-doody/

      Edit: To add on, they also asked me about experiences I had with system design and other technical questions, it was a much more formal process than I was expecting, I'd treat it more like a 2nd round interview at another company. I could tell that the recruiter was just transcribing my answers to pass on to the hiring manager.

      1. 1

        Oh wow, a recruiter asking about data structures? Thanks for the insight and link!

  15. 1

    What's a question you wish your clients would ask you more often / urgently?

    I like to think I know what I don't know, but oftentimes I don't know what I don't know :P

    Thank you for doing this AMA Josh!

    1. 1

      “What’s the range of outcomes we can expect, and what probability to you give to each of those outcomes?”

      I’ve actually had a few clients ask me this question in this way, but most people don’t talk like that. Generally, I prefer to talk about this early so my clients have well-informed expectations for the outcomes they can expect. Sometimes I see tremendous improvements in job offers. Sometimes there is no improvement. The only way to know what’s possible is to negotiate the offer, and I think it’s important for folks to understand that the full range of outcomes is always in play before we get started.

      My clients are comfortable with this. When folks aren’t comfortable with this, we may not be a good match to work together. The sooner we find that out, the better off we are :)

      1. 1

        I think that sounds perfectly fair :) Having the right mental framing going into salary negotiation is really important. I didn't prioritize for most of my life and I'm still working on it :)

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