Be careful with "average" salaries... better to aim high and fall short than settle for less than you could get

 We often get threads of people saying they aren't the best, they don't want to grind, they just want a calm, chill job, would be happy with any half-decent job, etc, and asking about what salary to aim for.

And that's okay if that's your priority in life. However:

You should remember that the average salary includes all the people that have not once googled "swe salary", never negotiated in their life or if they did it was just "can you please increase 5k a year", never participated in a forum or community about their career, and certainly never visited, or did 1 leetcode problem. Just by virtue of being here, could it be that you might be in a higher percentile than you think yourself to be? perhaps you are not so below average.

in addition, the average salary doesn't include huge amounts of compensation in the forms of stocks, bonuses, assistance, extra vacations, etc. So the number itself is misleading.

Anyone in this subreddit should perhaps aim for top 1% to top 25% compensation, and if you get average or below average compensation despite aiming higher, so be it. At least you can rest easy knowing you tried, that you aren't like the majority of people out there that could easily get an extra 10k-50k if they would just use google and put some effort into knowing market rates, knowing interview practice, knowing that job hopping rewards x2 as much as not*, etc

At the bare minimum, apply for top-paying companies first, then work your way down the list.

Don't apply by the order the job ads showed up on LinkedIn/indeed, and then accept the first offer you get, because that's mathematically guaranteed to give you a worse average offer than applying in order of highest paying. Aim high, regardless of talent, you have nothing to lose but a bit of time, and a lot to gain.

And the last piece of advice, try to separate emotions from the job search. It should be mechanical, the cockiest and confident person and the person with the least self-esteem should be doing the same thing, applying for top-paying companies and working their way down the ladder if they don't get in. Don't let your self-esteem make you get less salary than you could have.


Two bits of related advice:

  • Job ads state the salary employers would like to pay not the salary they must pay to fill the role.

  • Shitty jobs and shitty employers are over-represented in job ads because their jobs get filled much slower and ads are constantly being republished due to higher turnover. Therefore the average job being advertised is worse (probably a lot worse) than the average job. This also applies the other way: the average candidate is worse than the average employee because bad candidates are more likely to be looking for work.

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