how to negotiate your first salary as a developer

How To Negotiate Your First Salary As A Developer

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You’ve finished your bootcamp, been offered your first job as a developer, and now it’s time to close the salary deal. Salary negotiation is vitally important. ‘You should try to negotiate your salary for a few reasons,’ says Ramit Sethi, New York Times bestselling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich on the Forbes website. ‘The first is that a single $5,000 raise in your 20s, if you properly invest it, can be worth more than a million over the course of your career.  And that’s just one raise. People who negotiate tend to negotiate over and over again’, leading to increasingly higher salaries. The issue then is, how to negotiate your first salary as a developer, and this piece will give you a number of tips to ensure you negotiate as powerfully as possible.

Before outlining these strategies, here’s the good news: the salaries for developers are high. Techworld reports on salaries you can expect for web, mobile and software developers in various cities around the world, based on 2018 data from In the US, for example, the salaries are as follows:

Mobile developer –  $45,666 – $111,422

Software developer – $46,633 – $107,083

Web developer – $33,765 – $87,099

Let’s now look at how to negotiate your first salary as a developer.


Two Strategies for Salary Negotiation

Lifehacker proposes two key strategies to salary negotiation:

  1. Strategy One: The Noel Smith-Wenkle Approach

Noel Smith-Wenkle was a top job headhunter who used this approach for his clients to get the highest possible salary for them. According to this method, you must never tell the employer how much you want. The organization must name the first number. To avoid naming your number, tell the company that you’re more interested in doing [type of work] at the specific company than the salary when asked how much you want. Even if the company asks you straight out, just say you’ll consider any reasonable offer, and add that the company is in a much better position to make an offer based on what you’re worth. Once the offer is made, if it’s above your minimum, then you take it. If it’s too low, tell them, but not by how much.

  1. Strategy Two: The Jack Chapman Method

Career coach Jack Chapman, author of the book Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute, states five rules for negotiation:

  • Only discuss salary negotiations after you’ve been offered the job.
  • Let the other side make the first offer.
  • When the offer is made, repeat it – and then stop talking. This is called “the flinch”; often your silence prompts a raise. The silence also gives you a chance to think while putting pressure on your potential employer.
  • Research the market, the company and the value of your skills. Counter an offer with a well-researched response.
  • Even after the deal is clinched, carry on negotiating: lock in other benefits, such as extra days leave or a company car etc.

These are good strategies for how to negotiate your first salary as a developer, but there are other issues worth keeping in mind. Let’s look at a couple of these.


Know the Industry Standards

Sethi, the NYT best-selling author mentioned above, notes that ‘80% of the work of negotiating should be done even before you walk into the room’. You need to know the general range of salary for the positions you’ve just been offered. Check out sites like,, and You may want to print out this research and bring it with you to the meeting. If you can, find someone who has worked previously at the company and can give inside information about the kinds of salaries on offer there. Remember, information puts you in a stronger bargaining position.


Show Your Worth

Here’s an important tip for how to negotiate your first salary as a developer – show your worth. How do you do that as a developer? Quite simply, you need a developer portfolio. For most employers, the emphasis has shifted – it’s not where you’ve studied or who you’ve worked for, but what you can do. To negotiate a top first salary, you need an excellent portfolio, which would be both diverse and include your best work. Top tools for building that developer portfolio would include WordPress,, Squarespace and GitHub.

Being offered your first job is one of those big life moments. It can be exciting and terrifying simultaneously. Make sure you put your best foot forward and negotiate your first salary using the strategies and tips we’ve discussed.

If you’re keen to be in the position for great job offers, consider signing up for a HyperionDev coding bootcamp in either Full Stack Web Development, Mobile Development or Software Engineering. Each bootcamp is part-time and lasts six-months. In addition, you’ll get your own personalised mentor for those times when you get stuck or need some more help. Good luck with your job journey and salary negotiations.