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7 Tips for Negotiating Your Data Scientist Salary

February 18, 2019

This blog is contributed by Burtch Works’ data science and analytics recruiting team.

So this is it! You’ve made it through rounds of interviews, successfully navigated your post-interview follow-up, and, after carefully evaluating your job offer, decided you want to accept a new data science or analytics role. Or, maybe you’ve been taking on new responsibilities at work and expanding your skills, and are thinking you may want to bring this up in your employee review.Now might be the time that you decide that you want to try negotiating your starting salary, but how do you do that while maintaining a positive relationship with your new (potential) employer, while also communicating your salary needs?Salary negotiation can be a delicate dance, and so we wanted to share a few tips based on our experience as data science and analytics recruiters!

Data Scientist Salary Negotiation Tips

Salary Negotiation Etiquette

The secret to a successful salary negotiation if often how you approach it, which includes being proactive about research and also how you act during the process. Here’s what to keep in mind!

1. Do your salary research before negotiating

Before you start the negotiation process, make sure to research salaries in the region/industry/job level you’re applying to. Salaries can vary widely, so figuring out your “market value” can be tricky, but looking at different salary reports should help you come up with a range. Being prepared will help you not only have more confidence in what you’re asking for, but also help you set reasonable expectations.

Hopefully if you were evaluating a job offer, you took the time to assess the salary or salary range that the company was targeting for the role you’re applying to. Data scientists may be in high demand, but depending on the company there may not be too much wiggle room for negotiation, especially if there are corporate salary bands in place. Be open to other perks that can help close the gap in salary.
2. Approach the negotiation process tactfully

Negotiation is among the first interactions you can have with a potential employer, and often sets the tone for your employment. Make sure that if you decide to negotiate you’re prepared to say yes, otherwise you may burn bridges! If you’re already working at the company, keep in mind that you probably want to preserve a good, working relationship with your manager/boss regardless of how the negotiating process goes.

A softer ask such as “I was hoping to get closer to $XX” goes over much better than “I need $XX!”. Sometimes successful negotiating is all about the approach. Try to focus on asking for what’s important to you, explaining why, and showing why you’ve earned it, rather than demanding.
3. Be transparent about other offers, if relevant

Juggling multiple job offers can be a tricky process (we’ve written about how data scientists can manage multiple job offers gracefully), but honesty is always the best policy. It will not only help you balance interview timelines, but also help you avoid unpleasantly surprising anyone if you decide to take a different offer. Establishing trust works to your advantage!

4. Be honest about what’s important to you

We all know that salary is an important consideration when taking an offer – compensation is the top motivating factor for data scientists considering a job change! – but when you’re negotiating you’ll want to also keep in mind other factors that are important to you. Are you also hoping for more vacation time? Wanting to use different tools in your role? Curious about employment benefits? Ask about it!

If you’re working with an external recruiter during the job search process, they should be able to help you navigate this process and ask questions that you might not want to. If you’re negotiating on your own, our best advice is to be transparent about why certain things are important to you, and make sure your tone is cooperative instead of adversarial.

How to Ask for More

1. Be prepared!

We mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: research the salary range for your industry/region/job level/skills and keep in mind the salary range that the company is targeting or has available for people in your role. Don’t just base your market value on other offers, since they might not be comparable, and look at data science salary trends to see if there are shifts that might impact what you could expect.

2. Show that you’re a good fit for this specific role

Make sure that you can show, based on the criteria for the role and your skillset, why you deserve the amount you’re asking for. Especially if you have specialized data science expertise, you should be able to point to experience and qualifications that make you an outstanding fit or that make you excel at your role. The more you can tie your experience and skills to specific qualifications in the job description, the better!

Recruiters can often help you articulate these points, but regardless of whether you’re negotiating with a potential employer or your current boss, make sure you have concrete reasons that support what you’re asking for, and not just demands. Demonstrating your value and why you're a good fit is a much more compelling approach than trying to insert personal reasons such as cost of living, commute, etc.
3. Emphasize your bottom line impact

While salary research can help you determine a potential range to target, successful negotiation often means showing what you can do, not just what others are being paid. If you’re able to show what you bring to the table (through projects, previous accomplishments, certifications) and the impact you might have on your potential employer’s business, you’ll be putting yourself in a better position to support your salary request.

Don’t just rely on “this is how much other data scientists are earning”. Focusing on your talent, skills, and demonstrated impact is more likely to work in your favor!EXAMPLE: If the role you are being offered is focusing on Natural Language Processing and you have extensive experience in that realm, give some examples of projects that you have worked on that area and the impact that had on the organization – specifics are always helpful. If you’re already in your role and looking for a raise at your employee review, showing your impact can really drive your added value home.
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Click to download our free salary reports We hope this information was helpful! If you’re looking to explore opportunities in data science or analytics, be sure to connect with us.

Want highlights from our 2019 Data Science & Analytics report, including salaries, demographic comparisons, and hiring market analysis? Watch our 15-minute RECAP video below!