When it comes to salary, a lot of tech pros have a “dream number.” Sometimes this number is reasonable: If you’re a skilled software engineer with ten years’ experience, for example, you can certainly land a job that pays six figures. For other people, though, that dream number can be a little, well, dreamy: You might be a solid app developer, but there’s no way any company is going to pay you a million dollars in salary before you accomplish anything significant.
For all the mental energy spent on the upper range of possible salaries, many tech pros neglect to think about a far more important figure: their bottom limit. What’s the minimum you’re willing to accept for a particular job?
That minimum is dependent on a number of factors:
- How Badly You Want the Job
For some people, working for a particular company is the dream of a lifetime. But what if that company offers you a job at a significantly lower salary than you wanted or expected, and refuses to budge even after negotiation? Depending on your financial circumstances and the intensity of your passion for the company, you might end up accepting the offer anyway.
Many startups offer equity in lieu of cash. This is a good method for cash-strapped startups to snatch up talent that would have otherwise gone to a larger, more established company. By taking equity instead of cash, however, a tech pro is making a very big bet that the company will succeed over the long term, and their shares won’t end up diluted to nothing. (For a solid breakdown of the equity-dilution conundrum, take a look at this older TechCrunch piece.)
Sure, the company is offering fewer dollars—but will they let you work from home? Is the leave policy liberal? Do they offer other perks that you really, really want? Some tech pros are willing to lower their minimum acceptable salary in order to live a lifestyle afforded by a company’s perks.
- How Long You’ll Stay
If you envision working for a particular company for the long term, you might be willing to accept a (slightly) lower salary to work there, on the anticipation that you’ll quickly make it up by climbing through the ranks.
Whatever the circumstances, make sure to have a minimum salary requirement in your head before you spend time submitting job applications; it could help make your eventual decision-making more decisive.