7 lessons I learned from negotiating my first Salesforce job

March 3, 2022
3 min read
DA Ledger

A question from a reader: I want to know how you landed your first Salesforce developer job, and if you have any advice for others trying to go down this path.

How I landed my first job

Several years ago, Tom, a recruiter for a Salesforce developer role, reached out to me while interviewing for engineering roles unrelated to Salesforce. I had no idea what Salesforce was at the time, but I thought it was a good idea to at least listen to what he had to say about the role. After hearing about the company, why they use Salesforce, and what I'd be doing, I put my hat in the running for the position by sending in my resume.

💡 On compensation: He asked what I'd like to make but said I hadn't thought much about how I would want. He pushed me on a number, but I told him I legitimately had no idea how much I would need because I knew nothing about Salesforce and would need to research more before I gave him a number.

Eric, the hiring manager, read through my resume and was interested in my previous development experience. Eric told Tom to call me for an interview because he thought that even though I didn't know anything about Salesforce, I'd be able to apply my experiences to the platform relatively quickly.

The interview process was informal: a systems design/behavioral/cultural interview baked into a three-hour session. I wasn't as diligent a note-taker on interviews as I am now, but I do remember a few questions that stood out to me at the time of the interview:

  • Systems Design: How would you design a data model for a car dealership?
  • Behavioral: What if the stakeholders don't like your proposed technical solution?
  • Behavioral/Cultural: What do you do if you don't have enough time to test some code that needs to go into production quickly?

My interview panel thought I did an excellent job on the interview. Tom called me three hours later and extended an offer: a measly $55k. I initially didn't respond because I had higher offers on the table and thought it wasn't worth the time to negotiate because they came in so low on the first offer.

Tom called back a few days later and asked why I didn't get back to him. I told him the offer was way too low and, frankly, kind of insulting! I told him I appreciated his professionalism throughout the negotiation and called it a day.

The next day, he reached out to me, saying they updated their offer: $70k. Okay, now that's a better offer. Unfortunately, I was still negotiating other offers and told him that the number wouldn't move the needle but that I appreciated the updated offer.

One more day passes. Tom calls me: $90k, and you can work from home a few days a week, but you have to get back to us by the end of the day. Sold! I stopped negotiating the other offers and signed on the dotted line before the end of the day.

Negotiation lessons learned

Lesson 1: Highlight your previous experiences

It helps to have other development/admin/SaaS experiences. If not, it helps to have a pet project you can easily link to (If this guy ever applies to my current employer, I'd give him an interview).

Lesson 2: Get competing offers

Schedule your interviews strategically to increase the likelihood of receiving multiple competing job offers. Having more job offers or the idea of more interviews in your pipeline will give you greater negotiating power and increase your chances of finding a job that's a better fit for you.

If a recruiter asks me if I'm interviewing at other places, I say yes, but don't disclose the names of the companies.

Lesson 3: Don't show your hand

Never reveal how much you're currently making. Ask the recruiter what the range is for the position. It might take some back-and-forth, but you'll likely get an answer.

Lesson 4. Kill your interviews

You must do well in the behavioral, technical, and cultural interviews to get the offers. There is no shortcut around this.

Lesson 5: Learn the leverage equation

Multiple offers + excellent interview performance = your leverage.

Lesson 6: NEVER say yes to your first offer

It's never the company's best one. I would have left $35k on the table had I said yes the first time.

Bonus Lesson: Close the deal with this tactic

When they offered me $90k, my jaw dropped. The company anticipated this would happen and wanted to capitalize on this, so they time-bound the offer to the day. The tactic doesn't work at low offers but at higher ones. You can also apply this tactic yourself: "I will sign this offer today if you give me an extra $XXk or an extra N days of vacation."

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