Agony of an under-paid —senior software engineer!

5 min readApr 21, 2022

I am into software engineering domain from last odd 7 years. I have started my career from a service based multi-national company in the year 2015, with a typical ~3LPA payout. With current organisation being only the second to work for, I am highly underpaid and have current CTC less than 15LPA.

With better accessibility to Internet and so much of awareness given by highly skilled (and obviously paid) software engineers at various platforms, primarily Youtube, I am gaining more and more knowledge every new day. Thanks so much to all these folks!

Now, here’s the real trouble —

  1. I see I am yet not fit enough to appear for big tech Tier-1 organisations e.g. Google, Facebook, Amazon etc. Quite some work still needs to be done!
  2. Due to this, all other organisation where I see myself fit, confident and ready to go through the interview process, I do the needful to show my interest with them.
  3. In last couple of months, have appeared for more than 20+ interviews with different kind and scale of organisations so far — mostly for screening rounds like online assessment, assignment, exploratory calls etc.
  4. Out of these, have appeared for R1 (round-01) of the interview process for roughly 10–12 of them, and with few of them got eliminated at this stage too.
  5. Very few were the ones where I went through till the final rounds.
  6. For those very few final interview round, so far, only 3 organisations have expressed interest to offer me the role to work with them. Out of these 3, one which I was preferring the most is yet to formally express this and roll out the offer letter.

Apart for preparing myself more to clear assessment and interview rounds at Tier-1 organisations, if I honestly need something should be worked upon, then it would in the recruitment process.

Why so? Here are the reasons basis my experience in last few months —

  1. Recruiters decide candidate’s next pay basis current CTC. If not shared, right at the very beginning, then would start debating upon expected CTC number for long. At times, they drop off from the conversation too!
  2. When you share expected CTC basic current payout in the industry, they would most of the times serve you this — “Why are you asking for so much of hike? You are getting X amount, and you are asking for more than 100% hike on this?”

Now if this “X” is itself so so low, and even 100% increment on X would bring absolute figure to many many folds less than what a people of given years of experience in software development are already getting in the market in general, why shouldn’t I ask for it? I am ready for the assessment rounds you have laid out and I think I am equally eligible to get this pay if I stand upto the expectations hiring team has set for this role. Also, how come my current pay can decide my worth, my expertise today?

3. They would almost every-time ask “why are you looking for change?”

Even though you already know my current pay and cost of living being equal to all individuals (given all want to live a decent life), don’t you see at least one major reason why should one be looking for change?

4. Even after clearing all the interview rounds, they still keep things unclear with the candidate, even on the release of the offer.

I had been hit a lot here. For two big Indian tech companies, both have their own suite of products in B2C domain.

Recruiter-01: The recruiter scheduled last interview round which was supposed to happen with the hiring manager. The hiring manager here didn’t join the meeting and after me following them up on this, conveyed that he would like to get this call re-scheduled due to conflict of events he has planned for the day. Now the very next moment, the recruiter connected with me and asked me for the time-slot I am available to take this call with the hiring manager. We ended up finalising the date and time for this meeting. Next day, when I didn’t get any calendar invite from the recruiter, I followed up with him on the same and I then he says — “this connect might not happen as the overall feedback is negative.” On further discussion in an attempt to understand why this happened, he said “there would be discussion happening to deep-dive into it and after that only I can tell you anything on next”. With this happening, I hang up the call saying I’ll wait for an update from him. From that time, he neither called up nor took my call. When I dropped a mail to him with my queries, he doesn’t answer hard questions and skips answering them with one liner responses.

Recruiter-02: The recruiter communicated that I have cleared all rounds of interview process and now want to understand my compensation expectations. I shared all the details, discussed everything over phone call. Now since then, till today, it’s been odd 20 days and there’s no sign of offer release. Every-time I follow up on this, he says it’s under process and assures me of getting the offer letter released very soon. I really don’t understand why he is behaving this way.

5. They don’t respond once you are out of the interview process. If you get eliminated at any point in the interview process, post that there are very few recruiters which would take you call or respond back to your queries. Because of this I didn’t get interviewer’s feedback of the round I just appeared for.

With all this in place, it’s really a roller-coster ride for me while getting interviewed with various firms and interacting with their recruitment team and HR professionals.

At the end of the day, I still feel this is not something any candidate is looking out for. We all are living beings and every one has the right to be treated well. Keeping someone in dark, not helping eligible candidates step up the ladder of professional growth is something very unethical, unpleasant and unprofessional.

As a recruiter, you are representing a firm out in the hiring space as well to general public. Do keep in mind that every action of yours, there’s some moral, ethical as well professional cost attached to it. Act responsibly and make this a fair play. Every candidate is rightful enough to know things which would help him decide his prospects at working for the firm he wants to get interviewed at.

As a candidate, I put in hours and hours of effort to prove my abilities to you basis benchmarks you have established for the same. Someone underpaid today need not be stay in the same space lifelong, given that he/she is ready to prove his/her expertise basis all the criteria you/your firm has laid out. Treat them with respect and help them grow, and grow well!

I hope this scenario would change soon for the better of the entire hiring ecosystem and with this everyone involved in the process would prosper manyfold.

I wish you, yes you “the recruiter”, agree with me that this has to change. If yes, why not start bringing this change by you taking the first small step!?

Jai Hind!