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Patrick McKenzie wrote an excellent post about compensation and salary transparency. The entire post is really informative, but for me, this passage is a true gem. Every word here is absolutely true:
Compensation negotiations are presently like a stock exchange where only your counterparty can see the ticker and order book. You’d never send an order to that exchange — it would be an invitation to be fleeced. “I happen to have a share of Google and want to sell it. What’s it go for?” “Oh, $200 or so.” “Really? That feels low.” “Alright, $205 then, but don’t be greedy.”
The spot price of Google when I write this is $535. Someone offering $205 for GOOG would shock the conscience. In the years since I wrote a post on salary negotiation for engineers I have received many letters suggesting folks have received and accepted employment offers much worse than that, relative to reasonably achievable market rates.
I highly recommend that everyone read his post Salary Negotiation: Make More Money, Be More Valued. Really informative and useful.