How to Negotiate a Developer Salary While Searching for a Job Abroad

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In pursuit of cost-effectiveness, more companies are hiring offshore developers. For developers globally, this means a wider employer market and more opportunities to tap into. If you're a developer dreaming of working abroad, you need to position yourself as a strong candidate to attract a competitive salary.

Whether you're a digital nomad looking for some great destinations to escape to or you have an attractive offer to relocate, there are considerations to make when negotiating your salary abroad.


Research Salary Trends

The average salary for developers and software engineers varies across the world. For instance, according to Payscale, developers in Switzerland earn $95K. In Germany, the figure is $60K; Norway $64K; and Denmark $72K. In the U.S, the average developer may earn $110K, while Israel and the UK pay $93K and $89K respectively.

With such wide differences, it's important to know the trends for both your home country and host country. Use your research to gauge what you consider to be an acceptable salary range. Without proper research, you may find yourself agreeing to a much lower figure, especially if quoted in a foreign currency.


Factor in Expat Taxes

How does the host country collect taxes? Will the employer pay on your behalf or will you have to file, report, and remit yourself? Will you need some training on cross-border taxation?

Talk to your foreign employer and even engage a local tax expert about how you'll pay your taxes. Negotiate on benefits, deductions, and exclusions.


Negotiate Perks and Benefits

To attract the best talent, many companies offer skilled developers attractive perks and benefits. Apart from a high salary, you can negotiate for:

Relocation Packages

When negotiating an employment contract to work overseas, discuss your relocation package. This may include allowances to cover transport and some added bonuses. Common relocation perks include:

Discuss Intellectual Property Rights

Employers generally own intellectual property (IP) rights, particularly if the property was created in the course of employment and with company resources. However, don't rely on assumptions of automatic or exclusive ownership. Developers may still question and negotiate IP rights in provisions called “assignment of inventions” or “ownership of discoveries.”

For example, in most countries the developer owns property created other than in the course of employment. Developers can still negotiate a clause requiring enough consideration. This may be a one-time bonus or a grant of restricted stock options for property created in the course of employment.

Make use of any local and international laws that protect your IP rights. Especially for property you may create in your own time and using your own resources.


Discuss an Exit Strategy

What happens if in nine months the overseas developer job isn't working out? Will the company cover your return home costs? Can you apply for similar positions in your host country, or will they revoke your work permit?

Even if you work through the full term of your contract, you may dream of one day settling back in your home country. Discuss with your new employer what provisions they could make if you want to return home.


Observe Cross-Cultural Nuances

Working abroad might involve adopting new cultures and learning different social norms. The workplace may be different from what you're used to at home, and corporate culture could vary greatly. You may need to tune in to some cultural sensitivity to start discussions around money, even if you have negotiations skills training. Consider:

Ensure Agreement is Enforceable

International employment contracts can be a foggy minefield to navigate through. When negotiating your employment contract, some questions to ask include:

Final Word

There is a high demand for skilled developers globally. If you're searching for a developer job abroad, ensure you run through the whole employment agreement. Find out whether the contract is enforceable. Get familiar with salary trends, tax issues, and IP rights.

Don't forget to discuss perks and benefits, including a relocation package and training. As an extra safety net, negotiate for an exit strategy for when your contract ends.

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