Conditionally Agree



Updated October 11, 2023
Land Your Dream Design Job

You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

The first step in negotiation is understanding the needs of your client. Since you’ll be working closely with a recruiter and they have a quota to fill, you can assure them that you’re serious about the offer by saying you’ll accept it right away if they can get you X. X can be anything that’s important to you and is not just restricted to salary.

Saying no can feel like placing an ultimatum. As we’ve talked about earlier, a negotiation is like a conversation (but with high stakes). If you’re getting close to what you hope you’re getting, you can say no in a non-confrontational way—“Thank you for showing flexibility on salary, this seems appropriate. Could we talk about other things that factor into compensation?”

Again, this will reinforce the image of your flexibility and allows you and the other party to examine compensation in a safe way.

When Your Dream Job Won’t Budge on Comp

You’ve played your cards right, done your homework, and negotiated with multiple offers, but still the company won’t budge. Hey, at least you’ve tried and you’re still ahead of most folks who don’t even ask. You still have a couple of options.

Shift Amount of Salary versus Equity

If you’re negotiating with a startup, the company simply may not have the money to give you a higher salary, as everyone is already taking a pay cut. Potentially, this is an opportunity either to ask for an increase in equity if you think your compensation package isn’t in line or to better understand how subsequent rounds of raising money will affect your compensation.

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