I Landed a 100k Software Position as my First Job — This is How

Elizabeth Westphal
3 min readFeb 21, 2022

So you’re applying to jobs. Maybe its your first time, maybe it’s your tenth. How do you stand out to recruiters and secure a high salary? This is what I did, and what I wish I had done earlier to secure a six figure salary.

Let’s start with the obvious: don’t accept a sub 100k salary.

As a developer, whether you have a CompSci degree or are a bootcamp graduate there is no need to settle for less than 90–100k even as your first job. It is important to remember that companies are desperate to find capable developers, and aside from small startups they do have the funds to pay for them. I’m not just talking about Google-and-Microsoft-type companies, think anything mid-market enterprise and up. Due to your talent and demand for that talent it is fair to demand a high starting salary. A company may lowball you with an offer citing that you are “just” a junior developer and lack experience. Let’s say they offer you 70k. This may seem like a tempting offer to a new grad, but remember this company is not going to drastically increase your salary after you gain experience. This is just a tactic to lock in your labour at a low cost.

Repeat after me: “Im sitting on another offer with a salary of …”

Now, this may be controversial, but it doesn’t actually matter if you have another offer or not. I have many friends who have disclosed another offer in the hiring process (particularly in the tech industry) and have never needed to present any proof of an offer. Just don’t make the “offer” too outlandish, do some research on fishbowl about the going rates for the position you are applying for. Too noble to lie about an offer? Here’s another line you can use: “I understand that this position typically comes with a salary of…”. You can site past job offers, fishbowl, or word of mouth as your source, what really matters is you are letting the company know that you understand your value and are not going to be coerced into an underpaid position. Remember: they have the funds for developers, so they can afford to pay you like a developer.

No, you are not under qualified. Just apply.

See a job that interests you but you only meet about 60% of the job requirements? Apply. Think of these requirements as the company’s wish-list. A lot of these asks are a nice-to-have, not a prerequisite. They require 3 years experience in Angular? Chances are they will happily accept an applicant with 1 year. These job requirements are typically written by non-technical people and a lot can get lost in translation. Once you get an interview recruiters are no longer focused on whether or not you are an on-paper match, they move on to more telling criteria: your technical interviews and how well you will socially integrate with their existing team.

Don’t settle for an okay offer — companies are scrambling to find developers right now no matter how coy the requiters may seem. The application and interview process may be mentally exhausting but the payoff from your efforts can be huge.

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Elizabeth Westphal

Lover of science and statistics, I write short data-backed articles and always cite my sources!