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I expect to be entering the workforce soon, as an entry-level software developer. At this point, I'm just happy to have a job so compensation isn't my highest concern yet. However, I anticipate this won't always be the case. Therefore, I'd like to know how to figure out reasonable expectations for salary + benefits now.

(My instinct says first figure out what I want, get a few job offers, and then the closest I get is the baseline/"reasonable expectation" Then I can go back to these other offers and say, "I'm being offered X, can you beat that?" And of those offers that do beat it, accept the absolute best. Maybe also have a rejection threshold, where if I don't find a job willing to offer a certain amount of money, I'll turn down all the offers I do have, and keep looking until I find one that does.)

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    Best not to try and conduct auctions when you're entry level. If you're talking about 5 years down the track, then best to work it out then, conditions can change a lot over that period
    – Kilisi
    Dec 8, 2021 at 20:59
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    Does this answer your question? How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for?
    – gnat
    Dec 8, 2021 at 21:04
  • Salaries for a senior engineer (depending on the company, industry, and just how senior) in the US are somewhere between 2X and 20X the salary of a junior. "Average" salaries in the industry as reported by e.g. Glassdoor, Payscale, or our own Stack Overflow's annual developer survey do not do a great job of capturing this. You will probably make significantly less than "average" as a junior and significantly more than "average" as a senior if you're good enough. Dec 8, 2021 at 21:57
  • "Then I can go back to these other offers and say" Yes, but many companies have exploding offers, so they give you a pretty short time window to accept or reject their offer (and may refuse to even talk to you for up to 6 months or one year after you've missed their deadline). Dec 8, 2021 at 23:21

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Talk to some agency recruiters and ask them. They (or the good ones anyway) will know the market in your area for your skills and be able to give you advice on how much money you'll be able to get. If nothing else, third-party recruiters are typically paid as a proportion of the salary of the roles they place, so they are motivated to try and get the best deal for you that they can.

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Stackoverflow has a pretty decent skill-to-role-to-years-to-salary calculator: https://stackoverflow.com/jobs/salary

Be sure to consider total compensation as well (401k, insurance coverage, vacation days).

As with any advice for recent grads, find the job that develops your skills how you want — don’t fret over salary expectations too much.

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  • Be very cautious of that survey. It wildly over-estimated graduate salaries for UK locations I'm familiar with. I'm sure there are some (US?) locations where the results are closer to reality but it'd be safer to go with advice from recruiters.
    – simonc
    Dec 9, 2021 at 9:38

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