A low-effort way of getting paid well

I work in IT, which generally means great salaries, but there is still a difference between companies. Moreover changing jobs leads to higher compensation on average, as one is in a better negotiation position when joining a company compared to when simply asking for a raise.

However constantly looking for jobs and interviewing requires substantial efforts, so I have a more passive approach to it.

Let the recruiters work for you

As most people in IT, there are a few recruiters every week/month reaching out about an amazing new opportunity. They send these emails automatically to anyone who matches their criteria, so instead of me checking the job post and try to figure out if it could be a good fit, I play a reverse Uno card and send them back a template answer with my requirements:


Thanks for reaching out! Right now I’m not looking for new opportunities as I am very satisfied with my current position. Thus for me to consider a position it has to fulfill the followings:

  • x million yen yearly total compensation
  • Generous PTO policy, including paternity leave
  • English-speaking team
  • Full remote or hybrid (in Tokyo) work arrangement
  • Senior or staff engineer title

Please let me know if you have something that would match these criteria.

Thanks and kind regards,

The real message has an actual value for compensation that I will talk about later.

This essentially gives all the inputs a good recruiter needs to see if the job could be a fit for me or not, and then we can continue accordingly. Recruiters should have these information readily available, and even if the job post doesn’t talk about compensation, they generally know the band, so they can see if my ask is within that. This way we can both avoid investing more effort into something that will definitely not work out.

This also opens up the possibility for the recruiter to consider me for any other job that might come across their desk, if it fits my requirements.

Deciding your price

The criteria that makes or breaks most job posts is whether the company is willing to pay the compensation I’m asking for. This is especially true on the Japanese IT job market, where traditional Japanese companies treat IT engineers as a normal office worker paying them the general salaryman salary (~5 million yen), while companies competing for foreign talent (branches of foreign companies like Google, Amazon, Indeed, and modern Japanese companies like Woven, Mercari) will pay closer to the IT salaries of other developed countries (not necessarily Silicon-valley-level craziness, but 20m yen+ is possible from senior engineer, engineering manager level). This also leads to funny situations, like when the recruiter wanted to confirm if I added an extra 0 by mistake, saying that even the CEO doesn’t make as much as I asked for.

So how do I come up with the amount? I start with my expected total yearly compensation of next year at my current job, then depending on how much I enjoy my current work I add 10-30%. Unless I’m unhappy with my current workplace, I wouldn’t go below 10%, to compensate for the risk that the job might be worse than the current one (and there is only so much information I can gather during the interviews).

One more factor I consider is how busy I am in my life, e.g. I just had a baby, so right now I would need much more to convince me to go through all the interviews and onboarding, so I make the percentage higher.

While I have a default price in my template, if the recruiter starts with mentioning the company or industry, I sometimes adjust it. E.g. banking/finance? Let me add another 10% as I have doubts about how much fun the work would be. Crypto? Let me add another 20% to compensate for the instability. Space-related? Maybe I can lower the % a bit.

Ultimately I believe that for 99% of people if a job opportunity comes along that is identical to their current job but pays twice, they will take it. So companies shouldn’t expect loyalty, instead they should ensure that they pay people well, and provide good conditions, so that that extra % is high enough to push people out of band for other places.