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Jobs as a programmer

  1. Oct 24, 2013 #1
    A pharmacy company calls me for an interview for a data programmer position. They would want to hire one to deal with data analyses, simulations, etc. I am not all about the payment I can get if I get hired, because I like this type of job. I wonder how much should I suggest if they ask me about my expected salary ? If I tell them the price which is same as one I would when applying to an IT company, I guess they fail me immediately. I can copy and paste the company's name but I won't. Thank you a lot.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2013 #2
    You need to provide more information than that. The company's name is irrelevant, but your education and experience are not. Let us know how much actual real world work experience and education you have and then we can get a better idea and throw some numbers your way.

    Also, by data programmer do you know what that entails? Would you be doing actual coding in a language like C# or Java, or would you be analyzing excel files and working with things like that?
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  4. Oct 24, 2013 #3
    Correct responses to "what are your salary expectations?" type questions take the form of "I'm open to fair offers" or "I expect a fair market rate" type answers. Then move the conversation to what you can do for them as quickly as possible.

    You will, of course, want to know what fair market rates for your skills are. To echo MrTheBard, are you entry level or experienced? For entry level 40k-60k is probably reasonable, but could vary depending on your skills.
  5. Oct 24, 2013 #4
    Once upon a time when i said ''I'm open to fair offers'' they immediately responded: 'provide us with a figure,a SPECIFIC salary .' No way to tackle that and i said a below average pay,because they threw at me a killer question.Their next question: 'is it enough that amount for you for this year and the near future?!' they destroyed me in 2 questions. :P

    they were serious,if i did not say a salary ,oh well,you know...an abrupt bye bye.If i said a slightly above average salary i am sure they had killer questions...unless if you have a really impressive backround to defend a bigger salary request,otherwise forget it.

    It happened to me two times.You cannot win, if they want, they WILL force you to give a number first. :/
  6. Oct 24, 2013 #5
    If you have to give a number, always give a number on the high side, but not high enough to scare them off. If you asked for minimum wage, they would come back and offer you less... that's the way of the world.

    And if you can't answer the questions to their satisfaction, you probably aren't getting hired anyway.
  7. Oct 24, 2013 #6
    I was dealing with a pushy recruiter a few weeks ago. It's hard to come up with a number, especialyl for jobs that require relocating. Salary expectations differ wildly between New York, Chicago, and the SF Bay area.
  8. Oct 25, 2013 #7
    I have had interviews in which I had to specify the amount I was expecting, then I told them only the range I accepted if hired. Many kept asking me whether I would be happy if they offered me the lower bound of the proposed range because it might not make me happy. I had to say "Yes, I do accept and am happy with it" although I actually was not happy at all if the lower bounded price was agreed on :biggrin:. I have some years of experience in programming and will head up into non-technical path if I fail this oral interview test, although I really like medical and biological data analysis and research. I am living in a country where Senior software Testers (QA/QC) are offered around $750~1200.
  9. Oct 25, 2013 #8
    If this is a serious, professional programming position, relying on special skills and a strong educational background, then I think anything below $60k would be simply below market rate mostly anywhere in the US. If you get offered below that, that would mean one of three things: (1) this isn't a serious programming position; (2) they are trying to low-ball you; (3) they don't think you're a solid, actually good programmer.

    You do need to adjust for COL factors. To give you some numbers, in St. Louis a good entry-level programmer (say, CS degree from solid state school with good GPA and decent experience) might snag $60k and a really, really great one (super impressive credentials, blew away the interview) might snag $75-80k. But in San Francisco, the same good entry-level programmer might snag $95k-100k and the same really, really great one could get as high as $115k-120k.
  10. Oct 25, 2013 #9
    They really can't force or otherwise make you provide a specific salary value, or even a range. If you feel like you have to, there are two possible problems at work (and potentially both of them are true):

    1) You aren't very good at interviewing. Don't feel bad because most of us don't do it very often. I recently interviewed for the first time in five years, and I was awful. I got better with practice, but we don't always have that luxury. HR departments often do this every day, after all.

    2) There's a terrible power differential. In other words, you need them much, much more than they need you.

    There are times when both of these are true and you may choose to toss a number out there. Just keep in mind that both of these problems can be alleviated and strive to do so in the future.
  11. Oct 25, 2013 #10
    My impression is that a "data programmer" at a pharmacy company is a rather different job than the ones you're referring to in your post.
  12. Oct 27, 2013 #11
    :eek: too much $$$. How could you get the data if they are always supposed to be confidential ? An American doesn't get jealous because one of his colleagues earns much more ?:)
  13. Oct 31, 2013 #12
    How do you deal with the following dialog:
    employer: ''Please provide us with a specific salary that you expect to get paid.''
    Me: "a fair salary"
    employer:" we would like to hear from you a fixed number that would make you happy"

    If i do not give a number and if i want the conversation to continue well i have to cooperate.Why? they emphasized (notice the words 'specific' and 'fixed') TWICE--> give us a figure.If i did not give a number the interview would worsen a lot for me...i do not want to irritate them and waste their time.... i hope you understand the reasons i gave you two 'why i said a number'

    So,how would you deal with them?

    ps:I did not even bother to throw on the table the sentence 'current market value' ,too dangerous because i had no 'inside' information what they actually pay their employees.I know what can happen to an interviewee if you can not provide 100% accurate figures( inside info from someone you know and actually works in that said company).
  14. Oct 31, 2013 #13

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    Most companies subscribe to one or more salary services. That subscription costs money, but it also requires the company to divulge salaries paid per position type to the service. How else can a company know if it is offering competitive salaries? Those salary services keep the salaries paid by individual companies confidential, but they share statistics with their subscribers.

    Those salary statistics are now available to individuals as well. If you are looking for a job, you should research how much companies are paying others with skills similar to yours. The information is out there. You'll have to pay a bit (but not a whole lot) if you want detailed statistics.

    If you're asking about St. Louis vs San Francisco, those are very different places in terms of cost of living. With $250,000 you can buy a castle in St. Louis. With that same $250,000 you might be able to buy a one bedroom apartment in a very, very bad part of town in San Francisco.

    If you're asking about the top end versus the bottom end of the salary curve in one locale, American companies don't pay everyone the same. Some companies go after the best and brightest and pay more for that; other companies only hire those who have never excelled in anything. Why should they be paid the same?

    If that question comes up too early in the interview process, you should take that as a sign of a company you do not want to work for.

    That question will come up eventually. Your goal as an interviewee is to get the interviewer to divulge salary first. The interviewer's goal is to get the interviewee to divulge salary first. Why? He who mentions a specific salary first loses the salary game.

    Since the interviewer holds the power, you should be prepared to answer first (even though you do not want to do that). You should know what a competitive salary in your area and in your field is. You should know your own abilities so that you can properly place yourself on the top, middle, or lower end of that salary curve.

    Interviewers are wont to ask trick questions:
    • What kinds of transients result when an electrician mistakenly wires a circular transmission line into a Moebius strip?
    • How many gas stations are there in the USA?
    • What kind of salary do you want?
    Never go into an interview without having an answer to that last trick question.
  15. Oct 31, 2013 #14


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    For a reasonably large employer, try using a site like Glassdoor.com to see what other employees are being paid, as a function of job title.
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