How to Negotiate a Job Offer: Software Engineer

Alexandria Lalli
5 min readAug 6, 2020

You might be looking for some general advice on how to navigate your first job offer, or maybe you switched careers and you’re not sure what the conversation and/or negotiation should look like for a Software Engineering job. That’s okay, a lot of people aren’t really sure how or where to begin. But, before we get started…. Congratulations! You just interviewed your butt off and you should be proud of all the things you’ve accomplished.

P.S. If you already have a contract/offer letter in-hand but aren’t sure how to proceed, I recommend skipping to the second part as it’s likely more relevant to your current situation.

Part 1: How to Navigate an Upcoming Job Offer

“…all of my interviews were scheduled informally/directly, i.e. without any kind of job description or written information anywhere, so everything I know is based on assumptions from zoom conversations. I was assuming based on everything that it would be salary, but now I am wondering, since it’s a startup, if that’s even possible… I feel like I’m going into a negotiation call with no idea what to expect.”

Someone reached out to one of the coding communities I follow with this message and was confused/stressed/overwhelmed. This is totally normal when navigating a job offer. It’s complicated nowadays, especially when you’re broke and desperate for money, and to top it off, maybe you’re too afraid to negotiate a counter offer because you’re worried they might rescind their original offer. But, I’ll tell you the same thing I told the person who asked for help: You are worth a lot more than you know.

So with this in mind, the time has come… your interviewer, whoever they may be, has either just given you a verbal offer over the phone or said that they were about to email you the contract/offer letter. You’re going to do three things:

  1. Listen to what they say on the phone carefully and take notes if you can. They might clarify things in the contract/offer letter that could be confusing or hard to understand.
  2. Be very nice and cordial, whether or not you’re happy with their offer. They will probably tell you your hourly or salary rate, explain benefits and bonuses, and tell you how much time off you will accrue…
Alexandria Lalli

Full-Stack Engineer, UX/UI Aficionado, and lover of coffee.