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How we think about rate-setting

Thoughts on pricing yourself right as a developer, whether you're applying for freelance or salaried engagements.

Faith Benson

Mar 7, 2022 9:34:15 AM

Developers often ask our advice on pricing themselves. It makes sense: we facilitate hundreds of hires each year and are responsible for negotiating each of those engagements, so yes, we talk about rates and salaries a lot. As a job seeker, there’s tension between underpricing yourself and disqualifying yourself with a sky-high rate. It’s impossible to get this completely right, even with transparency from the hiring company around budget, because budgets are rarely hard and fast.

Still, we continue to resist building rate-setting advice into the Gun.io app. Why?

1. There are other, richer, publicly-available data sources that will give you a great starting point for setting your rate.


Even with years of data around developer compensation, any dataset we could provide here would inevitably be too small to derive recommendations. Lots of other organizations have massive data sets that will give you a better (albeit broader) understanding of what is happening in the market. Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey is one of our favorites.


Our advice:
Take advantage of these data sources and use them as a starting point for making your own compensation expectations and financial goals.


2. Reasonable variations in rate are rarely a deal-breaker nor a deal-maker.


Because we actively pitch each candidate, we’ve learned that clients are often willing to flex on rate if the candidate is an exceptional fit for their needs. Moreover, companies’ budgets for development resources are rarely static; they flex based on:

  • Urgency
  • The value the finished product will create for the company, both in dollars and outcomes
  • The company’s funding status and profitability
  • The mindshare that the company expects from the developer
  • The developer’s soft skills and the value these will provide to the company: leadership, strategy work, etc.
  • The complexity of the technical work itself



If the candidate, with the support of our Developer Relations team, understands these needs and can sell themselves against them, we can almost always strike a deal that works for everyone.


Our advice:
Come to your interviews with a curiosity to learn about the nuances above and an appetite to make a deal.



3. Highlighting rate as a key selling point is antithetical to our role as an anti-marketplace.


Marketplaces drive prices down by using price as the differentiator and singular selling point. We believe that when it comes to knowledge work, “buying” decisions should be based on value, not price. That’s why our talent profiles highlight the value professionals have created for companies and clients over their career. The profiles are designed to help hirers visualize that value and how it could be applied on their team, rather than just serving them a rudimentary side-by-side of quick facts and price.

Beyond the profile, the team at Gun.io actively pitches each candidate to the hiring client. This means that your skill, experience, and fit for the role should determine the client’s interest in interviewing you—not your rate.


Our advice:
Take advantage of the Gun.io profile and Developer Relations team. Make sure your profile sells you well, and reach out to the DevRel team to help you do that. The most successful developers on the platform touch base with DevRel regularly.

 

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Written By:

Faith Benson

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