Salary transparency

Published at 2020/02/17

Couple days ago there was a thread on Hacker News about developer salaries across the world which spread also on twitter widely.

Sharing your salary - is it worth it?

In my opinion - not really (or not THAT much as we would like to).

Besides hidden intent of flexing your ego and probably some hopes that it's gonna help somebody I don't think it's gonna make any change.

Kind of such transparency exists already - there is already dozens of anonymous online reports available that shows you how much people earn across the world. If you think that these reports didn't reflect reality you can always adjust these numbers with some error margin that might occur while gathering data. Or just analyse couple different reports and take average number of it. In the end it doesn't matter about the VERY EXACT number right? (just to have a general overview 😉)

I understand that most people who shared their salaries believes that it might make a change, but after thinking about it I can't really imagine how exactly.

Imagine this scenario: you're negotiating your salary at new / current job and company can't afford to accomplish your expectations (or - if you're remote worker - your offer doesn't apply for their salary calculation algorithm that they're using) what are you going to do - tell them that you've heard that other people earns X or Y? (yep, it's brutal, but I can't imagine someone expecting to be threated seriously by some big corp. with such approach)

Maybe you're not worth that much for the company.

Maybe that information was a lie and nobody earns that much there.

Maybe a company just want to screw you up and save some money.

Maybe there are other candidates available that will work for less than you.

There are tons of possibilities out there, but no clear solution besides honesty from employer side.

There might be some exceptions to this rule (e.g. if you're one of the these mythical superstar developers who earns bazillions of money per month without need of negotation), but it's not really a common thing that I want to discuss here.

You're the one that should know your worth.

If you're not happy with your current salary, re-think about your current situation - do you feel that you've achieved something extraordinary lately that nobody appreciated?

You can for example ask for a raise.

Or you can look for another job.

You can also discuss with your supervisor what you're expected to do/learn/improve (feedback) to level up as an employee and receive a raise.

TO ALL HR / MANAGEMENT PEOPLE OUT THERE: sometimes just a verbal form of appreciation is worth more than thousand dollars words.

How many times you've got scolded because you've done something wrong?

And how many times you've heard kind words for doing a good job?

I bet first one occurred way more times than second.

There's a very strange culture that doesn't tend to promote even tiniest achievements but (almost) always gives critical feedback about mistakes.

During my career I've been a part of various teams and learned about their inside-manners. I do recall these which tends to give positive feedback for even smallest accomplishment as a best places to work at - even for less amount of money that you could earn somewhere else.

Don't get me wrong though - if you screw up there should be also some repercussions / feedback as well. But it's totally worth to keep it in balance.

And speaking about that salary transparency again…

If you feel that you're being underpaid - check some online sources what's the median salary for your role in the area and try to get a raise. If it's impossible to get one, ask yourself what does really makes you want to work for your current employer - if that money difference that you're missing in your salary really makes a changes for your life - maybe it's time to think about looking for a new workplace?

And speaking about workplace salary transparency, in my opinion knowing how much your current coworkers earn is not really healthy for your relations. Let's make it clear: most people are simply jealous. You might think that's everything ok about having such knowledge, but only if you're making less than your colleagues. If you ever dare to earn more - be prepared for bits of jealousy from their side (not always, but still.. you probably know what I mean here).

I'm aware that there are also differences in salaries based on sex, gender, race, religion and other not-so-really-affecting-developer-work nonsense parameters. It's difficult for me to say anything about that (as I'm white, straight man etc.) but I've worked multiple times in places that had salary inconsistencies arising only from negotiating skills.

What I want to explain here is that knowing your worth and fighting for it is very important. If you're that person who always accept given offer without saying a word, you shouldn't feel bad about person who is negotiating until reaches dreamt salary.

The art of negotiation

Negotiation skills are really difficult to master. But try to learn them on any occasion - even if you're not looking for another job but you've got an offer from the recruiter, check how valuable you are. Negotiating while being financially secured is the best playground to gain experience in that field.

Closing words

Know your value. Be happy. Money is not everything but surely has great role to live peacefully nowadays.

This article has been made just to share my own perspective about this topic. I do feel that I could miss something about salary transparency and I would be happy to learn about it. Feel free to let me know what do you think about it via twitter.

-- ł.