Here’s How To Get A Higher Salary As A Software Developer

Everyone wants to make more money.  The key to getting more money is thinking about your long-term salary goal from the start of each job-search.  Don’t accept the first offer you get without doing any negotiating.  You shouldn’t be afraid to walk away from any job offer if they’re not going to give you what you want.  The average software developer salary is only going up so you need to take advantage.

You’ve probably wondered yourself countless times how you can increase your pay.  Unfortunately, few people actually negotiate when it comes to getting a job.  According to Fast Company, 49% of job candidates never even negotiate an initial offer.  I want to start off by telling you that you will be paid much more by negotiating a higher salary before you start.  You will most likely not get more than standard raises once you’re in the job.  Are you content with only receiving a 3% raise of the salary that they’re offering you for years to come?  You need to make sure that you get the salary you’re aiming for before you even start the job.

Here are a couple of tips on how to get a higher salary:

Research the Average Software Developer Salary

You should research what the average salary is for the job that you’re applying to.  See if the company has history for that role on Glassdoor. What are other companies with the same job title paying in your area?  Before you begin any type of negotiation, you should know what the average pay range is so that you appear reasonable.   Research what other companies are paying for your skill sets and for the type of programs that you will be working with.

Know enough about the job market and the industry of the company you’re interviewing with.  This will be beneficial because it will help you prepare for how to pitch your value to them.  If you’re presented with an offer you’re unhappy with, you can tell them why they need YOU and why they should accept your counter instead of moving forward with other applicants.

Research Factors That Contribute To Salary Range

Companies located in large cities are more likely to pay higher salaries.  Are you applying to companies mainly in small towns and the suburbs?  By doing this, you are limiting yourself.  If you’re looking to get paid more, consider the option of applying to jobs in larger cities like New York City or Philadelphia.  According to PayScale, the average salary for a software developer in Philadelphia is $72,305.  This isn’t even including bonuses and other perks!  A software developer salary will be higher for larger companies in the city.  You will increase your chances of getting better offers by working in the city.

In addition to location, some positions may pay a higher salary based on your level of education or experience.  If you are applying to a Developer role that requires less experience then what you have, you probably have more room to negotiate.  If the position you’re going for requires a specific degree that you don’t have, try to make up for it by obtaining a certificate in the field.  It’s important that you understand your value and what you are worth prior to negotiating.

Have a Bullet-Proof Software Developer Resume

Make sure that you have an updated resume.  I personally recommend tailoring your resume based off the job you’re applying to.  Highlight the skills you have that are most relevant to the job that you’re going for.  Post your resume on LinkedIn or Dice.  You want to have recruiters and employers seeking you out for positions.  The more traction that you get from your resume, the better chance you have at getting a higher software developer salary.  Read my article for more advice on how to write a great technical resume.


Have Leverage by Maximizing Your Offers

Your best chances of getting a high salary are having more offers on table.  If you apply to 20 companies, you are bound to have one of those companies give you a higher offer the same way multiple of them will probably low-ball you.  A software developer salary may vary depending on the company that you apply to.  Make a goal of having as many offers on the table as you possibly can.  Keep firing out your application to different job postings.  The more effort you put into applying to as many companies as possible, the higher chance you have of getting a better offer.

Having more than one offer on the table and interviews in process gives you leverage.  It gives you the power to be able to feel more comfortable turning down offers because you have less to lose.  You have other options out there, maybe the company you’re interviewing with doesn’t have other candidates?  Let them know that you have other offers on the table and that you know the range for software developer positions is (state your asking figure).  You never know who is going to take the bait.

Don’t Be the First One to Give a Salary Figure

Do NOT give a number first.  The moment that you give them a number, you’ve lost.  If a company asks you what your salary range is, let them know that you would prefer not to say.  Instead, explain that finding the best fit in a job is what’s most important to you and you’re willing to negotiate. Many won’t push you further for a hard number. You should wait until an offer is on the table before you reveal what range you’re looking to be in.  I recommend that once they do throw a number out there, you counter and ask for 8-12% more.  If they give you a number in person, make sure that there is a clear pause before you respond.  The Simple Dollar makes a great point in their article that you shouldn’t accept ‘no’ as an answer right away when negotiating.

Don’t be afraid to stretch out the process after you’re given an initial offer.  Don’t respond to an employers offer right away or let them know you need to think about the figure that they’re presenting you with.  I would limit the number of counters you do to under four.  Anything more than this will probably start to become a headache to both you and the employer.

Just like you have a range that you know you’re willing to accept, the company usually has a range that they’re willing to pay.   Sometimes, employers will disclose this number on their own during a phone interview.  Other times, you don’t hear what the software developer salary range is until you receive your first offer from the employer.  They’re going to try and give you the lowest number possible at first just as you’re going to ask for the highest possible salary.  For example, if the software developer salary they’re willing to pay is $100k they will start by offering you $85k.  At the end of the day, if you don’t ask – you won’t get it.


Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

Whatever you do, don’t avoid negotiating because you don’t want to be turned down for the job.  In fact, employers EXPECT you to negotiate.  It shows that you have self-worth and are valuable.  The chance of an employer revoking an offer because you countered is slim to none.  Start by asking for a number higher than what you really expect, and then decrease your expectations slightly based on what they counter with.

Sometimes, larger companies have set salary brackets and do not have much room to negotiate.  If you are offered less than what you were asking for there still options to consider.  For example, would you be satisfied if a couple of extra vacation days were thrown in?  Or possibly a signing bonus or better title?  If so, it might not be such a bad outcome.  If you’re going for an entry-level SQL position, don’t push it and ask for more than what you deserve.  In some cases, a 2-5% increase is perfectly reasonable.

Overall, you want to come out of these situations feeling like a winner.  You’ll learn that your negotiation skills will improve over time with practice.  My best advice is to stick with the salary range you’re asking for and to walk away if you’re not getting the offer you deserve. If the software developer salary you’re asking for is $90,000 and up, don’t accept $85,000.  There are plenty of software jobs out there in today’s IT industry, you just need to take advantage of your options.  Remember to always negotiate!