Feb 14, 2010

Salaries for number of years of experience

Salaries for number of years of experience

I keep seeing in job discussion forums (e.g. and as comments to online articles (e.g. on job interview questions, people asking about salary ranges and interview questions for a number of years of experience. For example,

  • Salary for 3 year Java/JEE experience?
  • Salary for 10 year Java/JEE experince with Spring, Struts, and Hibernate?
  • Please send me interview questions for 1+ year experience?

For a beginner with one or two year experience, this question might make sense. But for someone with 3+ years of experience, the answer is very subjective, and it depends really on the individual. As a guide, people can go to websites like (e.g. or by checking the local advertisements to get a rough indication as to how much they are worth. This will only be a guide. The real value of your experience & skills depends on

  • How well you can contribute to your prospective employers?
  • Your past accomplishments and experience well presented in your resume/CV to get more job interviews.
  • Your performance at the job interviews to convince your propsective employer(s) that you can get the job done. For example, you have used the right tools, technolgies, and frameworks. Having good understanding of the fundamentals and the 14 key areas.
  • The number of job offers you get and your ability to negotiate, pick, and chooose the job that is conducive to accomplishing your career aspirations as opposed to settling with the first offer.
  • Your ability to network and look for jobs through non-traditional channels (e.g. through your contacts, by building your online persona, ringing up your past employers, etc).
  • Your ability to get out of your comfort zone and look for a new job or exapnd your skills and knowledge through self-taught and open-source projects.
  • Your ability to find a niche field in addition to Java/JEE experience -- For example, Java/JEE + web Methods or Java/JEE + Oracle Service Bus, or Java/JEE + investment bank domain knowledge/Insurance domain knowledge, etc. Also, learning other programming languages will open your mind and provide tools to improve your productivity as a developer.This will definitely enable you to standout from your competition. This might also give you an edge over your competition.
  • Your ability to bring out the sought-after soft skills like -- problem solving, analytical, communication, leadership, team work, etc and the right attitude.   
For the reasons mentioned above, this is a very subjective question, and cannot be easily categorized by just number of years of experience alone. Some people have just the same year's experience repeated 3 times, whilst others have real 3 year experience by working on a wide varieties of projects. Some are more pro-active in learning things compared to others. So, you hold the key to market yourself and to a larger extent determine what you are worth now, and what will be your worthiness in 2 years from now, 3 years from now, and so on. Someone with a 5 year experience can sell himself or herself much better than someone with 10 year experience by bringing out his/her achievements, experience, soft-skills, etc in a better light. Next time ask yourself different types of questions. Very often the interview questions are based on your resume and the answer you provide to the initial interview question -- "Tell me about yourself?".

  • What are my selling points?
  • What niche fields/technologies/domain knowledge do I have to differentiate myself from the mass?
  • What did I accomplish in my past projects, what did I learn from them, and what tools/architecture/technolgies/frameworks did I use to get them done? 
  • Who all can I contact for possible openings?
  • How can I get multiple job interviews and job offers?
  • How can I convince the recruitment agencies that I have what it takes to meet the job specification? Tip: Recruitment agencies tend to quantify by no. of years of commercial experience to short-list you. For example, Servlets -- 1 year, Spring-6 months, JSF - 3 months, etc. If you are confident with a piece of techlogy/framework, you can try and sell yourself  differently by relating your experience with the projects you worked on rather than quantifying it or adding your experience with open-source/self-taught project experience. For example, Recent hands-on experience with Servlets, Spring, and Hibernate in completing 2 mission critical projects for XYZ Organization. I have also used similar technolgies/frameworks in contributing to open-source project ABC, and self-taught project PQR. You can find more ideas from my "Java/JEE Resume Companion".                      

Very often, asking different questions and thinking outside the square can make you standout from the pack and succeed in your career. When you ask these questions, you can identify gaps in your skills and pro-actively fill those gaps. For example, recently I realized that whether I like it or not, I will have to expand my skills & knowledge in JavaScript, and its relevant frameworks like JQuery, as it is used very prevalantly now a days. It is also imperative to learn client-side debugging tools like FireBug and Fiddler, if you want to be an efficient Web developer using Java/JEE or other other Web devlopment technologis/frameworks.

Maintain a journal or blog of your findings as they will become handy in your job interviews, team meetings, code review sessions, performance appraisal sessions, and team meetings. They may also become useful to others. My career companions and essentials (coming soon to were originally my journals that I used  very frequently to use them prior to my job interviews, team meetings, performance appraisals, and code review sessions.

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success" -- Alexander Graham Bell