The Ultimate Do’s & Don’ts for Getting the Software Engineering Salary You Deserve

You've decided you're ready for a new job, so you fill-out a few applications and decide to take the first job that comes your way and suits your qualifications. It took the stress out of the equation and you're home-free; you have a job. Not bad, right?

But there is actually a lot wrong with this picture, because in that one seemingly positive decision you may have just made a career-devastating choice. Here's why:

  • You'd be bound to this job for a minimum of 2 years, because an attempt to change jobs earlier would be a detriment to your CV. Employer's looking at resumes are impervious to prospects who look like "jumpers" and will not look upon you favorably for an obvious gap in your credentials.
  • You could be put in a situation where you have to work long hours on a low-interest project or using legacy technologies, with a wage beneath your true value; a lose-lose situation.
  • If you decide to quit your new job early, then any sign-in bonuses, relocation packages, or visas will immediately be revoked. It goes without saying that an even worse hole to be in than not having a job, is having to pay back the debt that is now under your name.

So what do you do? We've cut out the hard work and put together the ultimate list of do's & don'ts customized for software engineers on the job hunting prowl who want to attain a salary that matches their skills while taking optimum steps towards financial and professional success.

DO: Keep Your Current Job (If Applicable)

We get it, you're unhappy and/or unfulfilled with your current job, but there is no reason to fly the coop just yet. Understand that the best possible situation to be in when searching for a new job is having your current job for 1.5 to 2 years for two reasons:

  1. Keeping your current job for 1.5 to 2 years ensures your hard work will be reflected on your CV for all future employers to see, as they look for this specific time interval to eliminate those who they may think are flight-risks.
  2. 2 years is representative of a typical promotion period at most FAANG companies, so by doing your job well and sticking through some initial growing pains, you could be rewarded with the job you want and the perfect salary to boot, just hold on!

If you're lucky enough to be employed during the job hunt, it will relieve a lot of undue stress and help you feel supported mentally and financially during the big shift to your new position. Better yet, use the intel that you'll soon be leaving as a push to dazzle your current employers so you can receive a sparkling future recommendation and exit the office with grace.

Software Engineer

DON'T: Be in a Rush

As one of the most in-demand jobs of 2019, there is no reason for a software engineer to be in a hurry when perusing the job market. Though the prospect of accepting the first Senior Engineer position you apply for is tempting, it represents a fork in the road for engineers; commit to a job and it turns out well, or commit to a job and find out later that you've made an egregious mistake.

The key here is that urgency is deadly. Reduce your risk by being an informed and expertly patient candidate, which in the long run will win you much more than a higher salary, it will provide you with career satisfaction and growth that will lead you towards a bright future with career options aplenty.

Do: Know Your BATNA

BATNA, or the Best Alternative to a Negotiating Agreement, is a negotiating tool that was created by Harvard University negotiation specialists, Roger Fisher and William Ury. BATNA gets you in-touch with the goal you're expecting and how to move to your next best-case scenario should your initial preference be rejected. Though it sounds simple, honing in on your desired outcome with BATNA before your next job interview has a potent effect:

  • With a clear vision of your worth, employers will respect your definitiveness.
  • Should your desired salary be rejected, you'll have a backup plan.
  • A predefined bottom-line fool-proofs you against accepting a figure beneath your value.

So let's dive into creating your personal BATNA. Follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Be Clear on Your Expectations & Be Prepared

    If you've ever been to a market where bartering and haggling run rampant, note the expertise that merchant's possess. They'll offer you the special souvenir you want at a very high price, but it's no coincidence they're starting high, they already know you'll be agreeing on a lower adjusted price.

    These merchant's are knowingly or unknowingly exercising a bargaining range. So consider this your permission, aim high! By introducing a higher figure, the counter will be closer to your desired income.

    Once you've set your figure, make sure to do your due diligence in researching the salaries of similar positions. Take the time to note your personal skills and accolades that support your salary ideal and suit your software development acumen. Don't forget to be your own champion when negotiating; by displaying the confidence you have in yourself, employers will have confidence in you too.

Software Engineer Woman

  • Step 2: Determine How Low You'll Go

    You've determined your best-case scenario, so what's your worst? When deciding your bottom-line, consider factors that come with a new position; perhaps a longer commute or a different cost of living. Be sure to factor these aspects into your bottom-line figure and to be transparent about it if an employer asks.

    By determining your bottom-line, you'll ensure you never get put in a scenario where you feel that your work is not properly validated; so think of it as a personal protective measure. During a negotiation, if the hiring manager gets to a number that undermines your fixed bottom-line, you'll know it's time to emphasize your skills and kindly reiterate why you believe you are worth the price you've asked for.

  • Step 3: Reach Your Best Alternative

    With a distinguished awareness of your ideal figure and your lowest criterion, focus on reaching your best alternative. For example, perhaps you're being offered a figure that is closer to your bottom-line than you desire. This is a great opportunity to discuss the conditions that will be in place for the job including: benefits, 401K, healthcare, or vacation.

    With your eyes fixed on the best alternative you'll know when it's time to negotiate and when it's time to walk away from an offer that couldn't flex to meet your requirements. What's most important is that your needs don't get put on the back burner. Negotiations are never supposed to be one sided, and it's natural that they will involve back and forth until both parties are satisfied.

    Finally, it is completely acceptable to ask for more time to consider an offer. Taking the time to slow-down and look over an offer before you counter with desired benefits or accept the offer as is, is a sign of a person who cares about their future and is set on tailoring their next steps for victory.

DON'T: Waste Time During The Job Search

Finding a new job takes a very long time. Experts have made the rough estimation that for every $10,000 of a salary there is 1 month of job searching. This means that if you were looking to earn a salary of $100,000, the job hunt could take up to 10 months. It is not viable for your time or for your future to live in ambiguity while you search, so there is an easier way to make your time work for you.

Consider using anonymous job search sites like, Indeed or Monster. They outlines all of your best attributes and includes your professional CV with applicable skills and employment history readily viewable. While you go about your day, employers like FAANG and other top companies well onto the trend of scouting the best talent online, will be gazing upon your credentials and reaching out to you in no time. In today's increasingly digital world, there's no reason to waste time on the job hunt anymore; a lesson in modern technology that a software engineer could surely appreciate.

Create a profile in minutes on anonymous job search websites and enjoy a search for the perfect job that doesn't feel like work.