Work

Tech workers are in the position to negotiate for high pay, but it's not always the perk they want most

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There are nearly 1 million open tech jobs in the U.S., and they're lucrative.

A 2019 report from iCIMS, a recruitment software provider, says app software developers are the most sought-after tech workers, making up nearly one-third of all tech openings. Workers in this role earn a mean annual salary of $108,080, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

In some of the most competitive markets for tech, software engineers of varying specialties easily earn upwards of $150,000, according to data from Hired, a tech recruitment platform.

But earning power goes far beyond paycheck in the current job market. Rishon Blumberg is co-founder of 10x Ascend, a company that negotiates compensation packages on behalf of senior tech leaders. The biggest trend he's seen in today's tech talent shortage is companies realizing the need to meet workers where they are in offering not just competitive pay, but an overall employment package.

In other words, work-life balance is big.

"We're beginning to see a lot more of an understanding of work-life balance being more important than salary," Blumberg tells CNBC Make It. He says he's helped clients successfully negotiate for a flexible work space or schedule arrangement, sometimes with the trade-off of a slightly lower salary.

But it turns out a company's mission may be the most alluring perk of all.

"Most frequently, we're seeing people taking a lower offer if the project they get to work on aligns more with their own goals," Blumberg adds. He cites a recent client who was considering taking a job with Facebook that paid more, but ended up going with a different major company that would allow the client to work on initiatives they felt were more in line with their interests. Blumberg describes the pay cut as "not insignificant."

Companies would do well to invest in developing their employer brand, both in personalizing recruitment efforts and offering competitive, negotiable compensation packages up front. And considering workers want to join a company whose values they believe in, employers may want to maintain a high standard of conducting business, representing themselves and adding value with their products, Blumberg says.

After all, Hired's 2019 Global Brand Health Report found nearly half of tech workers said they wouldn't accept an offer if they weren't interested in the product, and 43% would turn down an offer if the company had a poor reputation. Beyond pay, tech workers prioritized a company's culture and opportunities to learn.

Of course, adjustments to these values would benefit workers far beyond the tech sector, and job-seekers in all kinds of markets stand to benefit.

Ana Recio, Salesforce's executive vice president of global recruiting, tells CNBC Make It that especially given the current labor market, it's in a company's best interest to adopt the high standards of their current — and potential — employees.

"It's a candidate's market, so employees now have greater individual bargaining power," she says, "and the corporations that will succeed in the coming years will think about stakeholders, not shareholders."

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