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How to talk compensation: A Miro tech recruiter shares her perspective
5 min read
January 25, 2023
Today we’re joined by Samantha Lisik, a Miro tech recruiter, who shares her thoughts on one of the trickiest parts of the hiring conversation.
Looking for a new career adventure? Miro is growing and hiring! Visit miro.com/careers to learn more about our career opportunities.
As a Senior Tech Recruiter based in Berlin with 10+ years’ experience, I have conducted thousands of interviews, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to observe that for many candidates, one of the most dreaded questions they’ll ever get asked is, “What are your salary expectations?”
There are numerous reasons why this continues to be such a difficult question to answer. I see a lot of advice online about withholding your salary expectations in the interview process — there’s a common belief that the company and the recruiter want to trick or lowball you. Also, some candidates lack the confidence (especially early in their careers) or experience imposter syndrome.
Historically underrepresented communities in particular have struggled with this question, and for good reason. Many studies show that women negotiate much less often than men for higher salaries and promotions — especially in the male-dominated tech industry and in leadership positions. And why? They fear a very real backlash against “traditionally unfeminine” behavior.
Gender isn’t the only culprit of the so-called ‘pay ask gap’ — in the United States, racial biases and biases towards sexual minorities also historically play a role in salary negotiation (if you’re interested in going into more detail about the ‘pay ask gap’ among minorities in the US, take a look at The New York Times article, “Black Workers Stopped Making Progress on Pay. Is It Racism?” and the McKinsey & Company 2021 report, “The economic state of Latinos in America: The American dream deferred”).
When I interviewed for my first job, I didn’t mention my salary expectations or negotiate the offer either, and it hurt me in the end. Early in my career I was afraid to speak up and I frequently experienced imposter syndrome as a woman.
What I want you to remember is this: a recruiter is the candidate’s champion. My goal today is to equip you with a few basic tips I’ve learned that can help you have your compensation conversation on your own terms, with the full support of your recruiter.
1. Do your research
Before you get on your first call with a recruiter, it’s good to familiarize yourself with what the organization’s competitors are paying for similar roles. Understanding the differences in compensation depending on the company size and industry can give you a head start.
When you begin your research, first factor in the role’s location, level of seniority, and the size of the prospective company. The Big Tech (or Big Five) — Facebook (now Meta), Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, otherwise known by the acronym FAANG — are the most prominent companies in the tech sector, and what they offer for their role levels can differ greatly from what a start-up puts on the table. Knowing those differences will help you understand what to aim for.
To get you started, here are some useful websites where you can find detailed information about salaries in the tech industry role-by-role:
Another way of understanding the market and what skills are in demand is to interview for the same role with several companies. With each interview experience, you will become more confident in discussing your previous professional experience and answering the interviewer’s questions in a clear, concise manner. You’ll also get a better understanding of what a role can — and should — entail.
2. Understand what motivates you
You’ve secured an interview: congratulations! Now, it’s time to ask yourself: What is the most important aspect of a job for me? Some people assess companies solely based on salary, equity, or prestige. These are definitely impactful details, but it’s wise to also take into consideration how you feel about:
- Company culture
- The challenge of the work
- Learning opportunities
- How you click with your team
If you don’t vibe with the company culture or people you’ll work with, or you don’t see a clear path to grow in the company, there’s a good chance you won’t be happy a few months down the road. Take a moment before your interviews to understand what motivates you. That way, you’re one step closer to asking for a salary that fits.
3. Get clear with your recruiter
My role as a recruiter is to manage expectations. We take into account your current salary, other benefits, performance in the interview process, assessed level, and the organization’s approved budget for the role. For engineering positions at Miro, for example, we communicate to our interviewees the midpoint of the role’s possible salary range. Every situation and person is different, but in my opinion, keeping the recruiter in the dark about your current salary and/or salary expectations does not give you an upper hand in the offer negotiation. By trusting your recruiter with this information, you and I can both make sure we present you with a fair and attractive offer.
4. Understand what another offer means for negotiation
Throughout my career, I’ve also noticed that oftentimes, candidates are not sure whether or not they should communicate to me that they have other offers on the table. Other candidates think that the more offers they communicate, the higher a chance they have of receiving a much better offer. Your attractiveness as a candidate is not measured by the number of offers you have. It does build a sense of urgency for me as a recruiter, though: other offers often mean you’re a valued and compelling candidate, and if we want to hire you, we’d better move quickly!
After receiving an offer from the company (or multiple offers from different companies), take your time, reflect on it, talk with your family — don’t rush through the decision. It’s a big one to make, and you’ve earned a moment to sit with it all. However, it’s not advisable to wait until the offer’s expiration date before renegotiating a higher offer. Moving fast shows how committed you are as a candidate, and helps recruiters like me make you happy.
Salary is not the only thing you can negotiate! You can also negotiate stock options/RSUs, a signing bonus, a later start date, and even working remotely. However, keep in mind that, depending on the company, some benefits — like the number of vacation days — are fixed.
Whether you’re applying for a job here at Miro or looking to join a team elsewhere, your recruiter is your ultimate champion during the hiring process. By doing your research, understanding your own motivations, and being transparent with your recruiter, interviewing for a new role doesn’t have to be a headache. I hope you found this helpful, and best of luck out there!
One more thing…
Miro is hiring! Visit miro.com/careers to kickstart the next stage of your career, today.
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