The Career Inbox

“I landed an offer, but how do I navigate the salary negotiation?”

While it can be intimidating, your ability to seek a reasonable salary is the difference between being comfortable and miserable at your new job.

Updated August 10, 2019

I often field questions from designers who are working through professional dilemma’s that don’t fit nicely into a textbook. Many have volunteered to open our conversations up to the public. Identifying information was removed for specific individuals or companies.

Designer So I received great news last week from the company I interviewed at about extending a job offer! I definitely think some of your tips helped a lot in being genuinely interested in the role and company.

I have an hour-long chat with the recruiter about a written offer and will be talking numbers tomorrow. Do you have any tips on how Recruiters tend to approach numbers?

I have a good sense of the Market Value for Product Designers in my city, and if she talks around my range, I think I am in a good position.

Are there practical ways for me to ask politely for a higher range if the offer is lower? How do I talk about benefits and equity in the company? Why is the phone chat an hour long, are there other topics she will be discussing? Any tips would be super helpful.

Stock photo of people shaking hands The people in this stock photo are ready to make a deal — but are you? source: adobe.com

Chris That is fantastic news — congrats on the execution and thank you for the update :)

When negotiating you want to go in with a grasp of what the market in your region is currently paying for people in your role.

While you won’t always be able to find the exact title, I tend to lean on Payscale.com. While it might take a few hoops to jump through (because they gather data as they build your profile) the site currently shows a range of roughly 60k for someone with two years of field experience. Again, 75-130k is a WIDE range, but smack in the middle breaks the 100k barrier, so I would definitely keep an eye on that.

The trouble is never if a company offers too much, but rather too little. So here are a few options if this company comes back on the lower end of that scale.

First, before an offer even comes in, ask yourself how you really feel about the job. Did you connect well with the staff you met? Do they do work you will want to get out of bed and do for the next 2-5 years? If the answer to any of that is meh, I don’t care what the offer it — it isn’t enough if you already have a job.

However, if you are keen on this job and the work attached to it, hear out the offer — regardless of the numbers associated with it. Your goal for a job that comes in low in pay but has a high happiness value attached to it is to find a way to make it work. This is where the context around the job will matter.

When I hear the word equity, I immediately think early stage company, perhaps even startup. Do you know what their funding is like? Are they raising money? Will they be around in a year? These questions are just as important as the number they offer.

Ultimately, this comes down to moving from a position of relative stability to one with significant unknowns attached. You produce quality work and have a good job. It isn’t uncommon to ask for more to make up for the lack of stability surrounding a startup. They may come back with an offer of more equity. Be careful here, as equity often turns out to be utterly useless in the long run. Your prior research on the company should play a key role in your decision of whether to bite on additional equity or not.

Regarding the hour-long call, most of the time people only want to ensure this stage of the process isn’t rushed. If anything, I like their style here. I would much rather have time to discuss a major life decision and ask questions than feel like the call needed to be wrapped up quickly.

Have a question?

Your career growth is important. If you have a career question you’d like to have answered, email chris@newpragmatic.com.

New Pragmatic’s Intro to Product Design and UX Design courses are now open for enrollment — but don't wait! Space is limited.

Sign Up Now