editione1.0.2Updated February 27, 2023
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.
Negotiation starts when you first start applying, so look for opportunities to reinforce the unique skills and knowledge that you bring to solve a specific pain (or multiple pains) for the company.
storyWhen I was applying through job boards (which is one of the worst ways to apply, by the way), I was able to score an interview at a well-known tech company due to advanced prototyping that I’d done previously. It was demonstrating the work in-person and letting the interviewers use my prototypes on their own that helped land an amazing offer.
Think of negotiation broadly. It’s not something that happens just at the end—a strong start can make a huge difference toward your final comp and leveling. But let’s say you already are at the end—it doesn’t hurt to reiterate the unique value that you bring.
important If you want to get compensated highly, you need to understand a company’s key pain points. Show that your unique strengths can resolve these issues.
Inevitably you will get pushback around cost, but reframing the discussion from cost to an investment for the company will help you steer the conversation in the right direction.
If you’re in a lucky position to have multiple offers, be sure to compare and contrast. Talk with the recruiter about matching your highest offer’s salary. At this point you have some advantage here, as a company would hate to lose a qualified candidate to a competitor. Beyond salary, you can negotiate equity or maybe sweeten the deal with a one-time signing bonus.
Understand that interviewing candidates is a long process. They’ve just gone through rounds of writing the job description, reviewing candidates, going through phone screens, and getting designers to spend their time interviewing you and other candidates. Finally, they narrowed it to one offer—yours. This whole process usually takes money and time, and time is the most painful factor. They’d rather not go through a month and a half of work again.
important If you don’t have multiple offers outstanding—don’t let this deter you from negotiating. Even starting the compensation negotiation process already increases your chances of getting a favorable outcome.