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I am an Indian female who was into software development for quite a few years and later took a break of six years. I plan to come back to the industry now.

I have learnt the latest technologies that are used these days, latest versions of languages/tools that I worked on earlier. I am confident about my skill set.

I have done research on what the compensation range is these days who have a similar skill set. I have taken a lot of pointers from workplace SE and learnt a few more things as well. With all this info in hand, I have set out on a job hunt.

For the uninitiated, a part of the process, here in India, involves the recruiter gathering details about my last drawn salary and expected salary among other details.

After applying for a few companies, I have observed the following.

  • Not mentioning my last drawn salary and saying that 'I do not wish to disclose ' does not help. They need that value and it is later verified after the candidate joins the company. The company takes a copy of that salary stub, employment letter etc.
  • Companies give a 20-30% hike on my last drawn salary. It does not matter if the last drawn salary was a month ago, an year ago, or six years ago.
  • No matter how good my skill set is, this is the range that they would stick to.
  • If I state my expected salary as per my research, my CV is rejected right away.
  • Career gap is mentioned innumerable times by the recruiters and they expect me to settle for the hike as mentioned above.

I really wish to be in the current market salary trend. I am confident about my skill set and my abilities. Gap was and is never a reason for me and I can pick up stuff at a reasonably good pace.

Question

After reading few other answers from this exchange, I have learnt that I should not lower my expectations. But, how should I approach my current situation?

Edit:

I understand that it is not reasonable to expect me to be in the same salary range of those who are already in the industry. Though I am not expecting to be exactly in that range, a -30% to -10% of the current market standards is what I am expecting.

At the same time, I have considered the inflation too and put forward the same to the recruiters. None of them consider the inflation factor. How should I put across this point in a more reasonable manner?

P.S: I am unable to add a new tag. Anyone who is eligible to add new ones, kindly add career-gap or career-break to my list of tags.

P.P.S: Mine is not a duplicate as suggested. This is very much specific to the Indian region and also the career break comes into the picture.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Nov 15 '18 at 0:34
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I am not from India, so please take this with a grain of salt. Here is what I would do in an European work environment:

  1. Take any job you can get - just to "get back in the game". If you can choose, choose the one which interests you the most or promises the most pleasant work environment. Forget about salary for the moment. Accept the sub-par salary they offer, but communicate clearly where you want to get to, in 6-12 months.

  2. After 3-6 month, schedule a meeting asking for a performance review and about your salary goals. Now, there are two possibilities. Either your current employer is willing to meet your expectations or you have to go on a job-search once again. You are always in a better negation position when you already have a job.

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The thing is despite your self-learning during the break and confidence in your own skill set (which may well be justified) it is the confidence a potential employer has in those things that ultimately matter and compared with another candidate who has the same listed skill set but actual substantiated work experience using those skills in the last six years you are going to be at a disadvantage and to pay you the same as the market rate (which is generally assuming current working experience) would consequently be a bigger gamble.

You may be able to step into a new role tomorrow as if you've never been away - but there is a substantial risk that you may be rusty in some aspects, six years is quite a long time! If you were coming up against a candidate who was comparable in all respects other than the gap and asking for the same money 99/100 I'd expect the other candidate to get hired so realistically I think you need to incentivise them to pick you - and the most obvious way to do that is to make yourself "cheaper" by dropping your expectations.

  • Dropping expectations. I thought about that too. But, how much should I drop to? As Nathan Cooper was suggesting, I have consider the inflation too. – Rocky Fan Nov 14 '18 at 12:40
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    Your situation is unusual enough that there is likely to be a wide variance in what different employers will consider appropriate so there might be some trial and error - adding inflation over the last six years to the "+30%" figure is probably a reasonable starting place. You already know the "+30%" amount has been deemed acceptable to some at least whereas market rate has not. Logically the optimal figure must be somewhere in between. – motosubatsu Nov 14 '18 at 12:44
  • I respect the answer but I'm afraid I disagree. Everyone's desperate to hire. If they like you they'll hire you. They won't even notice this issue. – Fattie Nov 14 '18 at 13:02
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IMHO, it is hard to break back in to industry.

You should consider a lower entry salary for one of the less desirable employers,

And, as soon as you get a job and first paycheck, look for another one with your current salary as base.

Repeat required number of time in 2-3 months intervals until you get what you want in the salary / employer department

  • I wouldn't hire anyone who is changing jobs like clothes (you can not talk about profession). Usually a employer needs a half year before he is fully productive, and isn't very productive the first month and needs lots of supervision during this period. It is ok to change the job one time after a short period because it doesn't fit, but usually you shouldn't expect a raise. if it happens often i would see the problem in the job candidate and not in his previous entreprises. – chris Nov 16 '18 at 18:42
  • We are not talking about Europe or north america here. In other countries often the only way to get a raise is change employer with higher starting salary – Strader Nov 17 '18 at 2:00
  • but every 2-4 month, in a mind heavy buissness like software developement?Usually u need that time to get a feeling for the project. Also in europe. it is good for your income to change your employer, but it shouldn't be quicker then 2-3 years. – chris Nov 19 '18 at 16:41
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I agree that you should keep your salary expectation close to what is customary today in your field.

Have you considered becoming freelancer instead of employee? (provided you're comfortable to take this step)
If you become self employed you shoulder some expenses like health care, taxes etc. thus allowing for a completely different wage expectation.

This way you also won't have to disclose your previous salary nor the gap in your carreer.

If you're able to work outside of your city or India have a look at other markets.

Also there might be remote work that you could do on project basis.

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