One of the benefits of applying to many product design positions is that a lot of the companies follow very similar interview processes. Having a sense of familiarity with the process should help you feel more comfortable.
For the most part, this is the order:
- Phone screen with recruiter (mainly behavioral)
- Technical assessment, challenge, or interview
- 1-2 onsite interviews, which consist of technical and behavioral interviews
The next stage is the most exciting, but can also be the most anxiety-inducing: the offer stage. This is the moment you have been waiting for – you are going to get the job! But first, you need to talk about money, which can often stop people dead in their tracks. We’ve worked with hundreds of job-seekers to land great jobs with salaries that are more than $12k above industry standards, so we wanted to lay out tips to help you go into this stage with confidence.
It is important to remember that negotiation actually starts from the first interaction you have with the company. If the company has a written application, they might include a question where they ask for your expected salary. This is the first trap – you can easily pigeonhole yourself from the outset. If you come across this question, either on the application or in an early phone call with a recruiter, don’t stress out. A good response is: “I would like to do more research on the industry standards before giving a number.” You could also say, “Negotiable, within reason” on the written application.
In the meantime, you should already have an awareness of the industry standards by doing that research. According to Glassdoor, average compensation for UX UI designers is $90k. Product designer salaries are higher on average, at $106k. On AngelList, the average salary for a UX UI designer is $82k. This is likely a more well-rounded salary average because it includes startups.
Now that you have these numbers in mind, you can get a better sense of what to expect. Don’t say any numbers to the recruiter, even when they give you the offer. Just thank them and let them know you will get back to them.
Remember that compensation is more than just salary – it also includes equity, bonuses, and other benefits (like PTO). When you are negotiating with big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon who are known for offering high salaries and good benefits, they might not move the needle much on actual salary, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try. But you might have better results with your equity, signing bonuses, and other benefits.
With smaller startups, your salary might be lower in the first offer, so you should try to negotiate for salary unless they explicitly mention they can’t go higher. In that case, ask about more bonuses, equity, and benefits, which all go into increasing your total compensation. When negotiating, you can make use of this email template, which we annotated, so that you hit the right points and highlight your value to the company.
You can use also make use of your research into what other companies are paying for these roles and of websites like Glassdoor and Paysa to this leverage your negotiations. Here is a template a Pathrise job-seeker used recently to receive a $25k increase in salary by showcasing what he could have made at a different company in the same type of position
Hi [recruiter name],
I wanted to thank you again for the offer, I’m very excited for the chance to join [Company X], especially after getting to know the team! I took some time to talk about the offer with my family, and after doing some reflection I’d like to ask a few questions.
I would love to know if there is any flexibility on the base salary to ease my mind about the decision — my goal is to be at my next company for a long time, so it’s important to me to make sure that I’m set up for success. I’m also about to finish up the interview process with [Company Y] for a similar position (on the same type of team), which starts at $105,000 per year with a $14,000 signing bonus. I am much more excited to join [Company X], but the difference in pay is a significant barrier for me at the moment. Is it possible to increase the base pay to come as close as possible to $105,000, or perhaps offer a significant sign-on bonus to help mitigate the difference? If so, I would have no hesitation signing the offer right away.
Again, I want to reiterate my excitement and interest in working at [Company X] — I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone I’ve spoken with, and from what it sounds like the team is working on some really great things that I know I can contribute to.
Thank you again for this offer, please let me know your thoughts when you have a moment.
With this background knowledge and tips, you should be able to go into the offer stage for product designer positions knowing what to expect and how to increase your salary above the average.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, we’ve seen a 5-20% increase in salary from our job-seekers in the program.
If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with negotiation or with any other aspect of the job search, join Pathrise.