Negotiating first dev job

I’m looking for advice pertaining to negotiating a salary at my first developer job.

Background info:

I got my first job offer after about 4 years as a hobbyist. I’m proficient with HTML/CSS/Javascript, React, and some related JS libraries. I attended college and studied Computer Science but didn’t graduate. I have a work gap due to serious health issues and now I’m well and able to work. I’m a military vet and in my 30’s, not a college grad aged applicant. I am single and childless.

The Job Offer:

The job title is “Website Developer” and the job ad mentions wanting a full stack developer with React experience. After two rounds of interviews I gather that the job is 95% frontend and that backend experience is not required but a plus. The job ad asks for experience and it is not labeled “entry level” or a “junior” position.

The job is in the NYC metro area and I would have to move to NYC. The office is on the outskirts of NYC and not in NYC proper, but I’d have to live in NYC proper due to a medical condition that prevents me from having a drivers license. Living in NYC instead of 20 miles outside the city (where the office is) would enable me to commute via train.

The company offered me an initial offer of $54,000, which may be decent in the mid-west, but is a low salary for the NYC metro area. My rent in NYC would be close to $2,000 a month and $54,000 comes to about $1,700 every two weeks before taxes. The Glassdoor estimate for this position is $54-$119k. Even a lot of “junior” web dev positions in NYC pay $80 0r $90k.

Should I negotiate a higher salary? If so, what’s the best way to go about negotiating?

This is my first dev job, I’m 30+, and have no degree. Throw in the pandemic and all of this makes negotiating a hirer salary tough. My job prospects are limited due to my disability and lack of transportation. I’d love to have any web dev job and get my foot in the door, but $54k a year in NYC is going to be very tough. I also don’t want to blow this opportunity, it took me a long time to get an offer and the economy is brutal right now.

Would love some advice on whether or not to negotiate a higher salary and if so, how to do that.

I’m going to reply not as a person who has a lot of experience landing a dev job (not there yet). Just as a person with life experience.

Are you excited about the prospect of moving to NYC? or stressed out? Are you a big city person? There are other cities that have lots of web developing jobs that are much cheaper and less stressful than new york (Indianapolis and Pittsburgh come to mind). Then again, New York will probably be the city that has the best public transportation options of anywhere.

Would you be at all open to having a roommate? I know you are in your 30s but I had roommates into my early 30s and it is an easy way to save A LOT of money on rent. In new york in particular not all roommate situations are like college, a lot of people in professional situations still live with roommates so I think it’s easier to find a good fit. Also keeping in mind, it’s not forever.

Would you be ok to scrape by at that salary for a year? It would be tight, but then again from everything I’ve seen salaries go up up up after the junior developer positions, and a lot of times people only spend a year or two at the junior “ranking” anyway. It could be that this entry level position gives you the experience you need and you are able to springboard into another much better paying position right away.

Again, I don’t have practical experience in the developer job search, but it does seem like junior developer positions are possibly the most competitive and once you have experience it gets less and less competitive. If I were in your shoes…I might take it. But I also love NYC and know I can live cheaply for a while. No one can really decide but you!

IF you are leaning towards not taking it, there is really no harm in attempting to negotiate the salary up. You can be totally honest and say you are so excited about the job, but you don’t know if you can survive in NYC on that salary.

I think it would be really helpful to get someone who has hiring experience to weigh in and say whether people demanding more money is a turnoff to a candidate, or just a normal part of the process.

@nunya Welcome to the FreeCodeCamp Forums! Hope you find what your looking for!

I want to start off with stating I have limited experience with negotiating salary increases. I wanted to add into the conversation as I do have some experiences with other people’s experiences getting jobs. Plus, I think having any kind of feedback is always better than having none ;D

So first off, 54k is low, especially for the NYC area regardless of other circumstances. According to StackOverflow’s 2019 salary the average salary for similar background as yourself is much higher. (stackoverflow calculation)

I’d at least personally question why its low compared to what you’ve seen elsewhere, because it is. Depending on their response you can go about it different ways. Its possible the business is hurting do to the pandemic and has to make cuts, or they just think they can under-cut you, or the job is actually not really development at all and your working on some-less “less” the advertised.

Going further what you do not want, is to get stuck in this job, paying rent in the NYC area, and going further into debt or financial problems. As such you need to calculate all your options if you do agree to this job, as having a job might seem like less risk, but if you end up not being able to sustain yourself, its the wrong choice.

As mentioned above, there are other options if you need help, (like getting a roommate to help share the rent load) so there are a lot of options, but you want to consider them before making any commitments.

Finally I would say that you shouldn’t be feeling like a company “owns you” before you even start working for them. This is a bad sign for both parties that such employment might not be good. Yes it might of taken time to find the job, yes it might be more time to find another, yes it might be a risk to ask for higher pay, but you have to do what you have to do, as no one else will do it for you.

This doesn’t mean you walk in bashing heads, asking for a huge raise, rather you need to go in and tell them your concerned with taking this job because the pay might not be enough for your financial situation. If they seem like they don’t care, then run, such a job who doesn’t care about their employees isn’t worth working for, especially for a job that is one of the more “pandemic proof” ones.

See where the discussion takes you, as your not bargaining for your soul, your negotiating your salary so you can do your job. You can’t really do your job if your drowning in rent. Worse case of this approach is they deny it, you walk, and your forced to find a better job. The overall worse case is you take it, and get sucked into a vortex of high rent+low pay and potentially crappy job for a company that doesn’t care much about you (!)

Finally I’d like to give you a fun little story related to this situation to lighten the mood a bit as I’m sure your probably a little exhausted with the pandemic and your own job hunt, as each on their own can be exhausting. :tired_face:

My friend got a job offer out of college to work at a defense company part time while finishing school. He had decent grades and a nice calm personality, but had minimal to no experience and got the interview more out of luck than anything. The initial interview went well, and they scheduled a follow up as he “essentially got the job”.
During the 2nd interview they offered him the job and pay at “20$ an hour”, during which my friend wanted to verify it was 20$, by asking “Um 20$?”. At this point the interviewer re-considered and said “Oh, I guess we can pay you at 22$ then” . At this point my friend realized what just happened and couldn’t believe it. He negotiated a 10% increase without even trying :laughing:

Regardless of what happens, I wish you good luck, and keep learning!