I'm currently an undergraduate student and just got my first job offer as an entry-level iOS developer in Illinois to be started as soon as I graduate. The following are the perks:

1.) $60,000 salary

2.) 10% contribution bonus ($6000) taking into account overtime, working with internal company projects, etc.

3.) $3000 given to me when I sign with the company

4.) $50 per month cell phone reimbursement

5.) 3 weeks paid vacation

6.) $5000 per year training allowance for personal career growth

7.) Health, Dental, and Vision Insurance

8.) 401(k)

I researched the median iOS Developer salary in Illinois and found that it was $70,000 (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=iOS_Developer/Salary/bed6d22f/Chicago-IL). I'm pretty bothered that I'm being offered less than this, because I don't think I'm a "below-average" iOS Developer.

I'm wondering if I have any wiggle room in negotiating for a higher paid salary considering that I have about 2 years iOS development experience and 2 published apps on the iTunes App Store, 1 of them most recently in which I was moved to the LEAD developer (with a boot-strapped start-up where I didn't get paid). AND I did this all while still in college, so I think this experience and proven leadership increases my value.

I'm kind of iffy whether they'd be offended since I would be asking for a higher salary considering all the cool benefits they're giving me. This company has about 250 employees globally. Do companies usually leave wiggle room for upping the starting salary for their employees?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, as this is my very first job offer for after I graduate.

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  • Usually leverage involves another job offer, or a credible threat to go get one. – user42272 Dec 4 '15 at 6:24
  • Sorry, specific career advice on what to do is off topic, voting to close. – The Wandering Dev Manager Dec 4 '15 at 6:41
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    You really need to evaluate the entire package. What does the website tell you about median values for: vacation, training budget, signing bonus, contribution bonus and medical benefits? Compensation is not just base salary. Also, where is the job located? I would expect higher comp in Chicago since the cost of living is higher. – cdkMoose Dec 4 '15 at 17:57
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    What you forget in the median calculations are two things: 1) It is entered by people and 2) people who make more might feel more inclined to disclose it. My advice to determine if the deal is good is by trying to get a job elsewhere and see what they pay. Don't just go there and see they offer 70k but see if you actually get a job offer then make a determination. From there you can decide whether to take this company's offer or the others'. – Dan Dec 4 '15 at 18:26
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    My experience with pointing out median salaries in job negotiations is they either don't trust the numbers or don't care. If you think you're worth more you can shoot for more, but I doubt you will get it simply by pointing out the median... you will need to prove you deserve it based on the company's standards, whatever they may be. PS. Keep in mind that median includes people with many years of experience. You may be an above average developer for 2 years of experience but still below average in the bigger picture. Arguing you are above average with only 2 years of experience is tough. – Andrew Whatever Dec 4 '15 at 19:34

If you have a job, you can negotiate because you're happy enough to decline their offer entirely if it's not great.

If you have another offer, congratulations, you can negotiate.

If you can quickly get another offer or interviews, then you may have leverage. The company may believe you have "time on your side" and are willing to continue looking even though unemployed. This can apply in the student case.

If you do not have a job, do not have another offer and are not fervently looking, then no, you have no leverage, and they can pay you what they want. The only reason they're not paying you less is because they think it will affect your work there and whether they can retain you in 6, 12 or 24 months.

Something very important: you determined the median wrong! The only number here that matters is what else youc an be making, and you need what is called "comps", short for "comparisons." Talk to every engineer who graduated last year (is there a Facebook group?) and ask what they make. Learn what people with your exact background down to the school and area make. Do this very carefully, because you are about to throw that in the face of your first offer. If you believe it, then you will have leverage. You will also be willing to risk walking away from the offer to go make that much, which is why you have to research this very carefully. Good luck.

Also important if you don't know: they'll likely pressure you to accept or decline soon. For exactly this reason. They may pull the offer if you take too long. Dragging it out can be tricky, which is why you may need to be prepared to walk away from the offer (which is also exactly the sort of thing that leads to them increasing the offer).

Less risky is to take the offer and move on in as little as a year. A lot of people stay for 2 or even up to 5 years from a bad starting salary, in my opinion this is a terrible idea and thinking much more from a sentimental point of view than a business one. Like I mentioned, their salary and benefits are in fact mediocre or better (depending on how you feel about them), because they can't go so low you're very likely to leave quickly.

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  • Thank you very much. I guess my best bet would be to use my time between now and June to keep interviewing with other companies and compare those possible job offers to see whether I truly have the power to negotiate rather than relying on an ambiguous online median. Also, that additional paragraph in your edit seems very doable since I have plenty of time to gather that data for myself. I'll hop on that ASAP. Thanks a ton for the help :) – user206420 Dec 4 '15 at 7:25
  • @user206420 they'll likely pressure you to accept or decline soon. For exactly this reason. They may pull the offer if you take too long. Dragging it out can be tricky, which is why you may need to be prepared to walk away from the offer (which is also exactly the sort of thing that leads to them increasing the offer). – user42272 Dec 4 '15 at 7:27
  • Alternatively, you can just take that offer and look for a better position too. There is nothing stopping you from doing that. – Nelson Dec 4 '15 at 7:28
  • @Nelson I'm not so sure. It's reneging, I've considered it unethical although I don't know if there are consequences. (To be really honest about it I wouldn't consider it unethical if i knew companies didn't retaliate in any way. For me the question has come up with companies I might be interested in in the future so I was extra careful.) – user42272 Dec 4 '15 at 7:29
  • You can plan to put in 1 year and move on if there are no new internal opportunities. That's pretty normal and would definitely be better than spending 6 months unemployed. – Nelson Dec 4 '15 at 7:31

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