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I found a position advertised via a meetup mailing list and I applied on Monday, had an interview on Tuesday, got an email on Wednesday saying they are interested in making an offer and asked for references. Friday they asked me about my current salary.

My problem:

  • The advertised position (which I found after the interview) is Senior System Developer for £35,000-47,000
  • My last work was 1 year internship at a famous company for £20,000 and later contract work for 2-3 months for £80,000

Since everything went so fast, I would think that they really want me (since also they had other candidates the same day I was interviewed). Is this a good time to ask for more money than I would normally expect?

Questions

  1. Should I give them the salaries I had at the internship and contract work or just tell them a range that I look for in the next job?
  2. What should that range be? Even if I am a junior/mid-level, could I ask for something like £40,000-45,000 or should I stick to something low? Will I come out as greedy?
  3. What's the worst thing happening if they see that I ask for too much?

I do not have much industrial experience but I have some nice open-source projects that shine and I think I just got lucky at the interview of showing off those things. I am not senior, but a rather hard-working junior/mid-level developer. I am really confused on what to do.

  • Congratulations in landing an offer. I'd like to draw attention to this in particular: kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation highlighted in the question I link above – rath Nov 28 '15 at 2:15
  • Is that 80k correct for 2-3 months? Directly to you or to another company? – jmoreno Nov 28 '15 at 5:29
  • @jmoreno 80k is the annual salary. I worked part-time and was making 325 per day but for fair comparison I assumed that I have to translate that to an annual salary basis. – Johannesberg Dec 1 '15 at 18:23
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You have three questions, this is my take on them.

1) No, just give them the range you want

2) Moving ahead is what life is all about, leave it open to negotiation, but by all means ask for the range you think you are worth.

3) If they think you're asking for too much, one of two things will happen, firstly you have priced yourself out of their range, or, secondly they will negotiate. Normally the second would apply, and a high bidding rate means that you have more leeway during the negotiations. Asking too low makes you look naive or desperate for work.

  • 2
    Followed your advice and got the job with a good salary :) – Johannesberg Dec 30 '15 at 14:15
  • Glad it worked out for you (Y) – Kilisi Dec 30 '15 at 14:51
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First, honesty is important. Just tell them what you are making (intern and contract) and tell them what you expect to make, even if there is a large gap. As an intern, they expect you to have a lower wage. As a contractor, your pay should greatly exceed your salary.

They are aware of your level of experience from your resume. It would be inappropriate to ask for a title of "senior" but they may give it to you anyway. If they are eager to have you (which it sounds like they are) then tell them what you want for compensation to keep you happy.

Remember, the more you ask for, the higher their expectations of your performance also. So if you get onboard and fail to perform as expected, you will have trouble. However, you may meet or exceed even their highest expectations. Now is the time in your career to explore these possibilities.

The worst that could happen if you ask for too much is they will feel like a low offer will not satisfy you, and you will quickly seek higher pay elsewhere which is probably true. If this is the case and they are smart, they will not extend an offer at all. So you could lose this opportunity entirely if you "ask for too much." However, if it really is too low you are better off not taking accepting it.

If you are sincerely unsure of what will satisfy you in terms of compensation, tell them that also. You don't have enough life experience to know if £35,000 is enough or if you really "need" £45,000, right? Just tell them what you do know - that you are trying to get the most that you can so you can focus on doing a good job once the negotiation is done.

So, be honest about what you want for compensation, be happy you are so fortunate with this situation (as stressful as it is), make sure you are qualified to do the work and try to confirm that you will like what you are expected to do. Then the real fun begins!!

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This depends on:

  • What you will get out of the job? Does the company have a good reputation in the industry and train well? What will be your options in 1-2 years?

  • How much do you need an income right now? Can you go on interviews for 3 months if you price yourself out fo this?

  • How overqualified you really are vs. the other candidates they get or their senior people? If their senior people are a lot better than you than they won't pay you like them. If you are just a little better than what else they can get, that probably means nothing to them.

I would just make sure you have the low end worked out. If it is 50k then ask for 55k. If they don't counter or continue talks then the job wasn't for you.

Also in my opinion your salary as a contractor means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. If you were worth 80k the contracting company or the company that you were doing work for would still have you employed. So as a hiring manager all I know is you weren't worth 80k to someone else. I am not sure if less than 80k means 79k or 2k. So I would simply go by your resume, your last job, and what I can gather from your abilities. Just from the info you gave this is somewhere between 20k-35k. (I know that good companies don't let young cheap talent leave easily so I am guessing they didn't think you were worth what you wanted or you weren't talented enough yet. Lucking into a contract job that overpays is typical and lucky and not because of merit.)

  • I totally agree about the contract work and luckiness. Disagree about good companies that don't let young cheap talent though. The only reason I was let go after my internship was because I ended up in a passive manager who "mentored" me just for the bonus. Actually in the last month of my internship I got a new manager who wanted to keep me, but it was a bit late already. – Johannesberg Nov 30 '15 at 0:04

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