I'm a tech recruiter who helps Black professionals get jobs at companies like Deloitte and Shopify. Here's my advice for getting the salary you deserve.
- Jermaine Murray is a career coach and technical recruiter who founded JupiterHR.
- He partners with firms including Deloitte, DraftKings, and Shopify to recruit Black tech talent.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jermaine Murray, a 31-year-old career coach and technical recruiter who's working to close the representation gap for Black people in tech. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
My career in recruiting started with a terrible résumé. I majored in broadcasting and landed a guest spot on a weekly show at Sirius XM after graduation. When they canceled the show, I struggled for months to get another job in my field. I read books, watched videos, and studied forums to teach myself everything there was to know about making a good résumé. I put what I'd learned into practice, started applying for jobs, and heard back from around 75% of them.
When my friends saw me getting all these job offers, they asked me to make them résumés and coach them for interviews, and they got jobs, too. That's what inspired me to start JupiterHR in 2015. I ran the business part time, offering résumé writing and career-coaching services while working full-time at a car-rental company.
I hadn't yet realized I was basically doing recruitment, but I was getting tired of my sales job, and as a video-game enthusiast I figured PlayStation would be a good place to look for a new role. On its job board, Sony had posted a position for a senior technical recruiter. That's when I discovered that recruiting was actually a thing — the thing I'd been doing.
I didn't have enough formal experience for the PlayStation position, so I applied to entry-level technical recruiter roles, and from 2015 to 2021 I worked as a recruiter for a few companies before going off on my own. Now I partner with firms like Deloitte, DraftKings, Dynatrace, Loliware, Shopify, and Automatic to recruit Black tech talent.
I've helped more than 360 Black people land jobs in tech, so I've had a lot of opportunities to learn what drives success in this space. I love that this is what I do for a living now.
Twitter was a major resource for my career
Black representation in recruitment was limited back when I was getting started, but Twitter turned out to be a useful tool for me to connect with Black professionals in tech. The hashtag #BlackTechTwitter introduced me to conversations around representation in the industry.
Being vocal about my goal to get more Black people jobs in tech on Twitter helped me gain visibility and trust among Black job seekers. I also landed one of my recruiting jobs with a company called Wealthsimple in 2021 through someone I followed on Twitter.
After about a year at Wealthsimple, I was laid off as the company cut 13% of its staff in the face of market volatility. I'd sensed that something was off, and after my one-on-one with management, I actually felt relieved. I saw the layoff as an opportunity to double down on JupiterHR.
I hadn't been able to take on any recruitment opportunities through my side business because of my noncompete contract, so I'd done a lot of free recruitment work with clients I'd connected with on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and in community groups on platforms like Discord, Slack, and Reddit. That helped me build partnerships, social credibility, rapport, and a massive network.
So when I announced on LinkedIn that I would be expanding into recruitment and engagement, my inbox was flooded with people who wanted to work with JupiterHR to find and hire Black talent. I now have a great team of 15 instructional course designers, recruitment coordinators, résumé writers, technical sourcers, and specialized career coaches to help me meet the need.
Succeeding in tech requires confidence and hard work
One of the most common barriers I've seen my clients face is impostor syndrome. I've found that a lot of Black people aren't giving themselves credit for what they've done in the workplace. Building confidence starts with reframing how you view past successes, so you can deliver that message in every interview. Once someone gets their confidence up, everything usually starts falling in line.
I had a Caribbean Canadian client who struggled with telling her story. After building her confidence and becoming a stronger speaker who was able to really articulate her value, she was able to connect with one of JupiterHR's American company partners, and she landed a remote role earning US dollars.
Another thing I tell my clients is that if they want to succeed in tech, they have to really want it because tech will chew you up, spit you out, and forget about you if you don't. There are definitely people in tech making $300,000 a year, but to get to that place takes a lot of time, blood, and sweat.
You earn only as much as you ask for
Earning a six-figure salary in tech starts during the interview by being clear about your salary expectations up front. You should always let the interviewer know what the line in the sand is for you. If they present anything less, you reserve the right to walk away.
I also firmly believe that every person should reject and counter the first offer. You're not guaranteed to get more money, but it will haunt you if you don't ask.
Professionals should be asking for raises regularly. Your biannual or annual review is a great time, especially if you delivered on a major project or received a special commendation.
It's also important to make sure you know what your position is worth. There are resources online where people are sharing salary information, like Blind, Levels.fyi, Payscale, and Glassdoor. When in doubt, you can ask coworkers or peers you trust. You can then say to your manager, "People who are doing similar work are getting paid 'X,' and I would like to be considered at that rate."
Another tool you can use is your own résumé. Even if you're not looking to move on from your job, you should refresh it every six months, apply for jobs, and do interviews. This gives you an idea of what people will pay you on the open market. When the difference between what you're making and what other companies are offering gets to be too much for you, that's when you know you need to ask for a raise.
If your request for a raise is rejected, use that to inform your next move. Get your manager to define why the raise was denied and what you need to do to get the promotion or raise. They can articulate some goal-setting that will help you develop the skills you need.
Sometimes the key to moving up is moving on
Don't feel obligated to stay in a job, especially if you're not getting the raises, promotions, or opportunities you know you deserve.
Personally, I have a three-strike rule. The first strike is the first time I ask for a raise. Depending on how they answer me is how I move forward. Strike two is requesting again because I didn't get it the first time — only this time, I'm midway through interviews at several companies. The third time we have a conversation about salary because the company is counteroffering me to stay as I field new offers.
The best way to let someone know you're serious about your salary expectations is to let them know you have an offer pending. Some managers will have the emotional intelligence to work with you. Others will take it as a threat and create a hostile work environment, which, if anything, should justify your decision to leave.
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