Yeah I know, money isn’t everything. But it’s something right? I’ve been broke and not-so-broke. I prefer not being broke any day of the week.
In a little under 8 years I’ve successfully 5x’ed my salary. It wasn’t by learning a dozen programming languages. I didn’t make it to FAANG. I’ve never been the best coder on any team.
I applied 3 tactics I copied from a much smarter developer who understood the game of money in tech. I’ll share them with you in a minute.
BTW, I’m an engineering manager and I also own Parsity, a coding school for career changers that does not suck. Grab some free stuff on our site. 👈
Unfortunately, many of you are chasing shiny frameworks, trying to find the next popular language or betting it all on joining one of the layoff factories in Silicon Valley.
Or maybe worse, you’re just waiting for the “right time” to make a move.
Playing it safe is risky.
If increased salary and career trajectory is your goal then playing it safe by staying at your company is probably your worst option.
- Your skills get stale
- Yearly raises barely keep up with inflation
- Promotions often require someone else leaving
- You suck at interviewing because you never do it
Years ago I worked for a coding bootcamp in the evening after my full time dev job. I had 2 kids at the time. One was a toddler.
I loved my job. Supportive managers. Incredible learning opportunities and autonomy.
I knew it was time to leave.
This was my first professional dev job. I was so happy to get the offer I took the first number they threw at me. I thought it was a normal salary. I had no clue what was possible…
Then, one evening I spoke to the lead mentor at the bootcamp where I was working.
We were chatting during a break and he told me about an offer he received for a senior position. My mouth dropped.
“Wait, is that normal?”
He chuckled a bit and asked me how much I was making.
Then his mouth dropped.
He gave me some amazing advice that day that changed my life more than any coding concepts ever could.
Always Be Interviewing
Maybe your’e under paid. Hell, maybe you’re over paid.
You won’t know what you’re worth on the market unless you interview. Do this once a year. It will either give you confidence that you are able to leave your job if needed or identify some skill gaps you need to address.
You think this is crazy, eh?
What’s crazier is expecting your company to be loyal to you.
Exhibit A: 2022–2023 tech layoffs.
I’m not saying to job-hop non-stop either. I interview every year and typically get an offer. I don’t switch companies every year.
At the beginning stage of your career, I think aggressive job hopping can get you into a desirable salary range (aggressive = once every year or 2 max).
Eventually you’ll need to stay long enough to get promoted, prove yourself and take on more responsibility.
Interviewing is the 2nd Highest Paying Skill — Get Good at it
You can be the best software engineer at your company but that’s not much help during the interview. This requires a completely different skill set.
Invest in this skill.
I spent around 10k learning DSA and system design and read half a dozen books on programming and software design. I gained confidence, stronger coding skills and even made it to the final rounds at Google and Facebook. I never would’ve thought this was possible as a mostly self-taught coder who barely knew JS when I started.
Don’t just study LeetCode either. Learn the fundamentals of your language. Study system design. Practice all the NON-technical questions you’ll receive.
At Parsity we not only teach you to code but also how pass interviews and land a job with 1 on 1 mentors and career services that does not suck. Join here.
You’re so happy to get an offer after months of searching that you take it.
You just left thousands of dollars on the table…
I’ve pulled this same move until one day I got an offer for a company where I didn’t really want to work. I was too chicken to turn them down. I countered their offer for 30k more than they originally offered.
They said yes. 😮
I went back to my company to quit. How could I turn them down?
Then they countered.
Now I’m an engineering manager and I understand the game being played. Companies expect you to negotiate. They offer you a fair salary and basically hope you don’t ask for more. You don’t and they save money. You decide to negotiate and they’ve created some wiggle room for a conversation about big bucks.
Is it unfair?
I dunno. Sure.
Does it matter?
I am not here to tell you how things should be. There is a game being played and you should at least be aware of it. Whether you participate is entirely up to you.
Don’t Take My Advice
Money is necessary but the amount you need to make is a very personal matter.
I enjoy the game of making money even though I don’t really buy anything. I rarely vacation. I cook at home mostly and buy my food from a discount store.
I like the chase. It’s a game I enjoy playing.
Maybe you like fishing on the weekends and want to make just enough to live and fish.
You should do that. Spending your weekends reading books on system design and going through stressful interview circuits is not a good use of your time.
I still firmly believe you should be interview ready, no matter what industry you are in. Stability is a myth.
So whether you’re spending your weekend with your laptop closed or grinding LeetCode mediums, I hope you’re enjoying the ride.
If you’re looking to learn to code and want to work with actual developers as your mentors in small cohorts then you should totally join us, in a like a totally non-cult like way.