Usually HR or staffing agencies ask how much one is making as soon as they start talking with a potential candidate. It has been my experience that if one has a salary on high percentiles, the conversation tends to end soon, regardless of experience or skills. The only times I saw different outcomes is when the CTO itself or someone at that level has a say in the process.

What are the forces involved in this process? Should someone with lots of skills, experience and consequently high pay stay clear from headhunters / staffing agencies and rely more on networking and relationships instead?

  • 2
    then don't tell them your current salary – Pepone Sep 23 '14 at 19:09
  • Btw lots of experienced developers are still delivering horrible quality, have no sense for clean and beautiful code and don't follow the scene. I would always hire a younger, less experienced guy that writes beauftiful clean code and is up-to-date over a messy senior. – Sliq Sep 24 '14 at 10:23
  • @panique, how did you determine that, or is it your experience? How do you find that out in your hiring process? – user1220 Sep 24 '14 at 11:45
  • @user1220 To be honest, I've no proper explanaition for that! Seems like there's some point where devs loose their "fire" and land in a "get the job done, regardless of quality"-mood. But that's for sure just my experience, it might be totally wrong. – Sliq Sep 24 '14 at 17:09
  • @Panique - I've seen it go both ways. I know of and worked with plenty of developers with many years of experience but still stuck on older languages and habits. But I also know of and worked with very sharp and ever learning professionals with 30+ years of experience. I want to believe I am in the latter category. – user1220 Sep 24 '14 at 17:16

Think of the hiring process as a sales experience, where you are the product being sold (not literally of course). Potential employers are customers interested in buying the product. Some need more functionality (capabilities), some need less. If a customer needs less, they are likely to realize they don't need to pay for a fully-featured product when they can get a discount product that does what they need, though perhaps not quite as effectively.

This is all about supply and demand. If you're a highly-skilled employee (experience is an indication of this - nobody actually hires for what you've done in the past), then you're the Cadillac of products. You aren't going to be cheap, and they know that. If they're looking a discount it makes sense that they'll go elsewhere.

Headhunters / staffing agencies are akin to them bringing in a personal buyer for the product they're interested in (similar to a realtor). They often know the marketplace and what things cost, and are already set up to aid in connecting a buyer and seller. If a customer brings in a buyer, I typically think it's a good thing because it means they are serious about getting the right fit. You and your customer (future employer) may be able to find each other on your own, which may save the customer a little money, but that is more rare than finding the right customer with professional help.

This metaphor also helps when thinking about price (salary) negotiations. You want to make sure you're in the right ballpark with regard to buyer and seller pricepoints fairly early on. On the other hand, you want to not lock yourself in to a particular price until you've had a chance to really understand each other and negotiate.

  • 17
    +1 (not literally of course) - HR guy: Hey honey I bought a code monkey today! – Myles Sep 23 '14 at 20:02
  1. Headhunters and recruiters do have an incentive to negotiate as high a salary as they can for you, since their commission is a percentage of your first-year salary with the prospective employer they match you with.

  2. You may freer to ask for compensation from those in your individual network but their hands are tied by their company's compensation policies. So what you ask for and what you get are two different things and if you ask for too much, you still get booted out the door.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.