I've often be told I'm short selling myself. So now in a new interview I'm wondering, if I notice that market salary, for someone with my skillset, is x (say 3000), what should I ask for?

I have a tendency to "go along" with people. I really dislike going into a discussion and try to evade all this haggling. However friends have told me I'm stupid that I work now for minimum wage as programmer and I ought to sell myself better.

So is there a rule of the thumb to "start" as a requesting salary? without fear of offending the employer.

  • see also: How to respond to a direct ask of salary earned and expectations?
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 12:25
  • There is no way you can know the exact cost of a skill set. A range sure, but not the exact. Give them that range. If that salary makes you happy, and your friends still call you "stupid", then you need new friends.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 12:27
  • 1
    Why would you fear you offend a potential employer? Their either ok with paying you amount that make's you happy or no and you won't work for them. Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 12:31
  • The "market rate" is an average across similar positions in similar locations. Are you an "average" candidate? Price sends a message.
    – Justin
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 9:03

2 Answers 2


There is no 'magic percentage' to seek, e.g. 120% - as the appropriate percentage depends on lots of other factors. As a freelancer, I am often sounded out about jobs I'm not really keen on - so being rejected has no real consequence. In those situations, I test the waters with an hourly rate much higher than my usual one.

On the other hand, I've also been in the opposite situation where not getting the job would have drastic financial consequences - thus forcing a more careful approach. Having said that, I no longer ever go under what I believe is my market rate.


This may depend on an awful lot of factors; among these:

  • it depends on the market, if in your zone/country the market is bad, you have much less negotiation power
  • it depends on your experience/skillset, and how "desirable" you are in your field and with your characteristics
  • linked to the above, it depends on your necessity, i.e. you may favour "getting the job" instead of "getting the best paid job" if you have financial needs and feel you are not that "expendable" in the market

My experience: I was terribly bad at this too, after I while (and when I relocated to a much better market) I started giving a figure that was a bit above 10% of my current salary, expecting to negotiate to 10%.

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