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I was recently offered a position as a software engineer in a company in the NYC area. The salary they are offering is good, but I've heard others online say that

You should always negotiate your starting salary.

I don't feel like I have much leverage, I graduated in May and this is my first offer, also I only have one other thing in the works that I'll probably get an offer from but it'll probably pay less too. On the other hand I also don't see why it would be a big deal to a large company to ask for a few thousand more.

Is it the norm to negotiate your starting salary for your first job out of school in the software industry? Are they expecting me to negotiate and have thus potentially offered me a lower number than they'd be will to pay?

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    Why not get you feet under the desk and in a year ask for more? – Ed Heal Aug 1 '15 at 18:46
  • That's a very good point – Ryan Stull Aug 1 '15 at 18:47
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    Most companies have policies that cap the maximum raise you can receive. It is usually a certain percentage of your salary. If you go low now and expect to get a significant boost later, you are sure to be disappointed. Bonuses are also often a percentage of your salary. If you are in a position of strength, negotiate the highest salary you can now, because it will be a lot harder to get it later. – Mohair Aug 2 '15 at 1:32
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By all means, negotiate if your financial position and the attractiveness of the employment permits. When you get an offer, you are likely to think one of three things:

  1. I am better off walking away than accepting this
  2. I am not sure whether I would be better off accepting this offer
  3. I am better off accepting this than walking away

If your situation is 1 or 2, work out what would have to change to make you think 3: that is your counter-offer. If the situation is 3, then there is no need to negotiate.

If it's a decent job paying decent money that will cover the additional costs of employment, and you don't have a job and don't have other offers, the answer is probably 3, unless the terms include something like non-compete clauses that limit your options beyond the period of employment.

Now in six months' time, you might see other openings. Great! You can apply for them. This time, you have more bargaining power - you already have a job and now the bar is higher for your potential new employer.

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I have to agree with the first response. You always negotiate your salary. Regardless of whether its a salary straight out of college or a salary several years down the road, you always negotiate it. In the software industry, salaries can fluctuate greatly by demographic ( e.g. Silicon Valley, Seattle, Dallas, DC just to name a few major tech centers). At your stage of the market, a common base salary for a developer straight out of college is easily $58k-$65k+ as a broad average depending on your development language.

Take a look salary stats in your particular area. It may even be worth purchasing a detailed salary report tailored to you. Never just leave salaries to a potential employer to decide or hasten to take the first offer put in front of you.

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