P`s Blog


What should you know about salary negotiation?

May 12, 2021 • ☕️ 5 min read

This is Part 1 of my post about salary negotiation. This post summarises the following:

  • Why I got paid less at my previous job
  • How to close the gender pay gap in tech
  • Useful resources for tech salaries
  • Knowing what to negotiate

In the next post I will talk about 3 mistakes to avoid and tips to ace at your next salary negotiation.


When I first relocated to Berlin from India in early 2016, I didn’t know how to negotiate or be comfortable with negotiation and ended up being paid less than I deserved. Although I had 5+ years of software development experience, I was placed in a junior category. When I learned this I was extremely frustrated and since then I was keen on fixing the salary gap to match my skills and experience.

Fast forward to 2021, I have been living and working in Germany for the last 5.5 years of which since 3 years I have been in a tech leadership role and an active hiring manager. In this post, I will summarise how I was able to negotiate to a higher pay scale and jot down my experience in salary negotiation both as an interviewee at a big tech and interviewer from a small tech.

Why am I writing this article

Most of the advice I have found so far is aimed at salary negotiations at big tech companies. What happens at small-scale tech companies? For example, in my current role, I am the Head of Engineering and also an active hiring manager. There is no full-time recruiter and most of my experience with salary negotiations as an interviewer has been mostly learning things on the fly and improving myself over the years.

I am also a woman of color from an underrepresented group in tech and the psychology with negotiations is different from the majority. Surprisingly, as I sat down to write this blog post I realized that I never considered adding salary negotiation as a topic into my interview preparation checklist.

This is one way to close the gender pay gap in tech

We need to talk more openly about salary negotiation skills to close the gender pay gap in tech. Just making the salary numbers transparent will not solve the issue mainly because underrepresented folks will not be comfortable or are not good negotiators.

If you are good at this salary negotiation topic, you can mentor someone from an underrepresented group to be a better negotiator.

Dear reader, if you identify as a person from an underrepresented group in tech and are preparing for an interview, then you can DM me on Twitter to book a free salary negotiation session with me.

Useful resources for tech salaries in 2021

Salaries vary based on locations. Berlin, for example, has lower salaries compared to the rest of Germany. Salaries in the US are different compared to salaries in the EU. Software engineering is a diverse field; salaries vary based on your domain if you are a freelance vs full-time employee or the location you are based at. Before you are ready for negotiations, it is very important to learn and understand the job market and the possible salary range based on experience level.

Understand the job market and salary ranges

I use levels.fyi often. It shows a breakdown of total compensation in terms of net salary + stocks + bonus and covers good geographical locations.

This article has a strong focus on IT salaries for Germany.

Community for salary negotiations

There is a slack community called ladies get paid for talking to others on salary negotiations. I joined this community 2 years ago and was able to find a lot of useful information and general advice on salary negotiation strategies. I am no longer active there but follow their newsletter.

Dear reader, if you know of any communities or other initiatives that discuss salary negotiations I would love to know and I can add them to the list of useful resources for tech salaries.

Articles on the internet

When I started writing this post, I came across two interesting articles which have nice examples and scripts on how you can prepare yourself to be a better negotiator.

Know what to negotiate

Staying up to date with the salary ranges is the first step that can help you in getting prepared for any upcoming salary negotiation. The next thing is knowing what to negotiate.

Gergely Orosz has nicely summarised in this Twitter thread about what is negotiable. If you already have an idea about the salary range for the post you are applying for, then it means you will not be paid beyond that salary range. But what can be negotiated is the equity and the signing bonus. I don’t have experience yet in dealing with the former but I have negotiated for a signing bonus.

Focus on your learning curve

Apart from the compensation package (base salary, equity, and bonus), personally what I look for and ask is the learning culture and the company’s support in this.

  • Ask if the company has a learning budget and how do you get to use it.
  • Does the company offer any paid coaching or workshops. Or if you are interested in any you could ask your employer to pay for them.

When I negotiated better pay at my current company, I also asked them if I could work on my side projects or attend conferences as a speaker. I proposed to them that I could add value to the employer branding and this was a win-win for both of us.

Ask for mentorship if you are at the beginning of your career

If this is your first job or you are in the initial years of your career, then ask for mentorship and how does this look like in your organization. Get to know your mentors and see what you can learn from them. This is very important during the initial years of your career.

In the next post I will talk about 3 mistakes to avoid and tips to ace at your next salary negotiation.