I am a recent graduate still looking for a permanent job while working remotely for several companies from home. During the job search process, there are many employers that ask how much pay I'll expect to earn. I have gotten advice on opposite spectrums. Some experienced adults say that I should expect low pay, more around minimum wage, because I'm just starting out and I have to "earn my stripes" before I can expect higher pay. However, other experienced adults say that I should expect higher pay, because I graduated from a top private university, and I shouldn't be earning anything less than $15-20 an hour. I don't want to short-change myself, but I also don't want to shoot so high that I scare off employers looking for recent graduates. So my question is: If I have decent experience/knowledge in the field, a BA from a well-reputed university, but not more than a year actually working at a job in the field, what expected pay should I put on my applications?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Draken, Michael Grubey, gnat, Mister Positive, JasonJ Jun 15 '17 at 12:54

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Field of work and location matter far more to pay than where you went to college. I'd look at glassdoor and other salary sites for your field and experience level. A better college may get you a higher wage, but probably not. What it will do is get your resume put higher in the stack the manager calls. – Gabe Sechan Jun 15 '17 at 5:38
  • What's the actual job? Do not believe the adults you're speaking to unless they're actually working in your field. If they're not in your field, they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. In any case, try to leave those fields blank, or write I don't know. Also most likely, you're probably speaking to 3rd party recruiters. Those are the ones obsessed with trying to get a salary range, because since their commission is so high already, most of their candidates will get rejected in favor of candidates that do not come with 3rd party recruiting surcharges. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 15 '17 at 5:45
  • The only real answer is found by carefully investigating the market: that is to say, carefully reviewing (for what it's worth, as a first step) all the job ads in your exact field/region; and see amelvin's excellent answer. – Fattie Jun 15 '17 at 8:07
  • Voting to close. If we could answer the question as written, it would only be of use to this one person at this specific time in this specific location. And a more general question would likely be a duplicate of workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/896/… – Bill Michell Jun 15 '17 at 11:05

As others have said field of work and location are going to be massive factors in this and opinions of anyone ("adult" or not) are about as much use as a tissue paper umbrella unless they are in a position to know these things. So we can't really answer this question with specifics - you should be able to get a general sense however with a little research.

Use resources like Glassdoor and job postings where you match the skills and experience requirements to get an idea of the range and, with some luck you should be able to use your little advantages like the reputation of your university to negotiate yourself into the higher end of that range.

You're correct in that aiming too high may scare off potential employers but it's also true that they aren't likely to go around paying your more than you ask for! And aiming too low has the potential to make employers wary that you perhaps aren't very good, or they may see you as desperate and use that to seriously under pay you for the work, which unless you happen to be independently wealthy or able to live on sunshine and air doesn't tend to end well for you.

Many people (and I can include myself in this all too often) end up with sub-optimal pay because they lack the confidence in themselves and their skills to ask for it. So I re-iterate, look at the job postings for your field and if you find yourself reading them and going "yep, I can do all of that" then you can reasonably apply for similar jobs at that sort of salary level.


In your situation I would approach some reputable recruiters who will be able to offer advice on pay scales.

Friends & family are unlikely to be unbiased, you have too little information - so find an experienced recruiter who can offer you unbiased advice (& maybe even a solid job lead?).

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