The Guide To Salary Negotiation In Tech: The UK Edition
Salary negotiation in the UK almost always focuses on the base but could you negotiate more than that? Especially in tech?
In the UK, there are many things in the corporate world we don't talk about. We don't talk about how much we earn & we don't talk about how to earn more. For some reason, these topics are very much a taboo &, in some cases, considered rude to discuss. However, we need to get comfortable talking about equity. Diversity & Inclusion is talked about in every industry across the UK but I, personally, have never seen equity thrown in there as a topic of discussion. Because of this, I believe this is one of the reasons why there is so much inequality in pay between genders, ethnicities, and even between colleagues doing the exact same job at the same level. How can we change this? We've got to be very transparent about how much we earn. Forget being embarrassed about it because that embarrassment could be costing you a large disparity in your pay against your colleagues.
I asked the tech community on Twitter and Instagram about what they negotiated outside of their base salaries. Many negotiated things that I hadn't even thought about but I hope these will be of use to you too.
So where do we start?
When it comes to negotiation, the best place to start is research. Research from the point you have been offered a telephone interview. The best resource I believe is ideal for UK-based companies is Glassdoor. On Glassdoor, you can read through the benefits that is offered to the colleagues & it may give you a rough idea of what you can negotiate for yourself.
If you are going to be based in the UK, working for a US based company, I would also use Glassdoor & Indeed US as a guide however the data may not be exact. Although US companies offer a much more competitive salary than many UK based companies, they may still pay you less than your US counterparts. With websites like Indeed USA & Levels.fyi, the majority of the data is heavily focused on US data which was not useful to me as I know the UK will offer less.
How do I know what to ask for?
First thing I would say, do not tell them your salary expectations first and never tell them how much you currently earn. It is none of their concern what you are earning now & has no relevance to the job you are interviewing for. I have found that from revealing my current salary, the recruiter will try and offer a salary close to what I'm currently earning so when you negotiate your salary, they will guilt-trip you into thinking you should accept less because the increase in salary you're asking for is too much. In another incident where I didn't reveal my salary but told them my salary expectations, he responded with 'Okay? Why are you asking for that?' It was uncomfortable because although he spoke to the engineers to give me an interview, I already knew I wouldn't take the job because they were going to try and negotiate me down to accept less. If you are in a situation where they are pressuring you to reveal your salary, forgive me for this, but I would add 15% to what you are currently earning and say that. I would always encourage trying to be honest but in this case, it could put you at a deficit in your career &, in the long term, it will cost you. As a further point, if you have a recruiter, see it as a red flag & use this experience as a consideration point if you do get a job offer through them.
To have an idea of what to ask for, it would better to try and get the recruiter to give a salary range. I have had recruiters not reveal this because of data protection. If they do this, try not give them your salary expectation until you have that range.
The attitude is always one of gratefulness rather than of audacity but we have to change that.
Outside of base salary, what else can I ask for?
This is where it gets interesting, and sometimes awkward. When I went into negotiations, I did not research into other things I can negotiate & missed out on negotiating my stock options. Upon talking to my friends and mentors in tech, they were honestly just as surprised as me that it was even offered. From focusing on the base, I missed out but from talking to others, there are many things that you can look at negotiating at the offer table.
From speaking to friends & colleagues in the UK Tech Space, negotiating your working hours was the most popular. Many have negotiated having a hybrid working style such as working at home three out of five days a week. The last year or so have seen an increase in the desire to work from home for many, & if that is something you want to incorporate, bring that to the table especially if you think it will add to the productivity and work-life balance.
Another popular negotiation topic was pension contribution rate. Honestly, I personally didn't know this was an option myself so I have learnt something new. Someone mentioned being able to negotiate it to 8% which I think is good. It all benefits you in the long-term & having a company match your contribution by this rate all adds up. Think about it. As you continue developing your career within that company, your salary will increase which means your pension contribution will increase from both ends.
To go on from this, negotiating your bonus rate was another popular topic at the offer table. You may be able to negotiate a bonus of 10% or an annual increase of your bonus rate based on your performance at the company you are working for.
To summarise what others negotiated, there was time in-lieu returned through holiday or annual leave for any overtime done over the weekend, travel costs reimbursed when you work from the office some days a week, equipment reimbursement for working from home. Another mentioned negotiating their annual leave or their working days in your order to work four days a week.
Where do I go from here?
Ask for what you want, what you deserve & what makes sense. Do your research, don't be afraid to ask questions with people in tech that you know you can trust & be able to give good advice to. If you know someone that works for the company you are applying for, or used to work there, ask them for guidance & tips on what to consider at the offer table.
Don't be disheartened when a recruiter rejects a particular part of your offer. You may find that some companies already offer reimbursement for travel costs and equipment as a benefit to all their employees, you may also find that the bonus rate can't be negotiated because there is a framework for every employee to make things fair for all. Some may already offer stock options but I find this is more popular with start-ups rather than the large corporations that have been around since the 16th century.
My final tips
If you don't ask, you won't know & you won't get. I know it's so uncomfortable asking for things in British culture, especially when it comes to money. The attitude is always one of gratefulness rather than of audacity but we have to change that. I truly believe that asking for what you want, asking for the salary range & not sharing what you are currently earning with recruiters, will help contribute to changing our attitudes towards talking about our salaries & create fair equity for all in the corporate world especially for underrepresented groups.
I hope you find this useful & if you have any further tips, do let me know & I'll be happy to do a Part 2.