Negotiate Your Raise: Designers in Tech

So you’ve been in your role for a while. You’re doing great work and delivering amazing results. Your manager and your teammates praise you for your incredible work. However, praise only gets so far when making money plays a huge factor in why we work.

Negotiating for a raise can be one of the most painful but worthwhile experiences. However, it’s not merely about money but about solidifying your relationship team, manager, and your growth with the company.

No matter how familiar you are, here are three essential steps to get you ready for your conversation.

Originally posted on May 2018

Numbers & Data: What is Everyone Else Getting Paid?

Depending on your role, industry, and location, there may be many variations to how much you and your peers may be getting paid. However, there are many ways to do research and proxy general ranges of base compensation.


1. Ask for compensation bands.

It’s much easier to have a conversation if you and your manager are on the same page on how the company determines your compensation package. Even if your company won’t divulge into the details, having an open conversation to understand how money is defined is a great place to start.

In my own experience, this allowed me to understand better where I stood according to my company and manager. I was able to ask directly for compensation band ranges by starting ongoing conversations with my manager that I was interested in learning more about how our company determined base salary and where I fell within those bands. Having this information allowed me to ask for a number that was reasonable.


2. Do your research on self-reported data.

There’s much information available in your role and field that may be available. This research is not meant to reveal the exact numbers everyone is getting paid but providing a proxy to ranges that fit your role the best. Again, this varies across many different factors.

Start with your title, location, company size, and industry. From there, there are opportunities to look at companies similar to yours and beyond. You can develop a stronger picture of compensation for your role.


Know Your Worth Glassdoor Salary Calculator
Know Your Worth Glassdoor Salary Calculator

There are many resources to help you get started. Daniel Burka has an excellent example of how he approached researching data. There are several places that have salary aggregators such as Glassdoor’s Salary Tool, Indeed Salary Search, AngeList for Startup Salary & Equity, Paysa, LinkedIn Salary, and more.


Focus on the Whole Package

Seize the opportunity to utilize your negotiation beyond just asking for money. Similar to accepting an offer, there are many factors that you may be able to consider as part of the whole package.

To start, figure out what’s most important to you. Is it growth? How about building long-term financial independence? What about work-life balance? This exercise will help you focus on finding a balance in your negotiation if your company and manager cannot meet your expected raise request. Below are some parts of the package aside from salary that are possibilities depending on your priorities:


1. Equity

Equity plays into the long-term investment with the company. If this is available, figure out how much each team member typically receives. One tactic to consider is asking for more equity over your salary or vice versa depending on what is most important to you.


2. Growth

For me, growth is incredibly important as I progress in my career. I often look at the projects and skills I am refining in my day-to-day and proxying that with both the company and my expectations to where I want to be and the type of work I want to do. Are there classes or workshops that your company can pay to grow your skills? Think beyond what your base salary is and find creative ways that can be more impactful with your manager’s support.


Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

3. Work Flexibility

As companies grow and evolve, so can the way we work. Whether that’s asking for time to recharge with more paid time off or working remotely once a week, figuring out what helps you be most productive with your team is another possibility to consider. Find out what works for how you and your team work, and make a plan for how it’ll work.


And so much more.

There’s a variety of ways that good companies can approach helping their star employees feel fulfilled even is salary alone is not something the company can meet. Think about 401K matching, family leave, volunteering, accelerated review schedules and more.



Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

Get Pitch Ready

Getting ready is incredibly important and so is preparing for the actual conversation. There’s nothing more terrifying than being unprepared and that feeling is probably what your manager feels if you spring the discussion on them. The following are a few tips I practiced to prepare for the actual conversation.


1. Get Aligned

In an ideal case, you should already be having one on ones with your manager to consistently discuss your progress, provide and receive feedback, and creating and executing on action plans.

Whether or not this is true, having a preliminary conversation one on one with your manager is crucial to begin the discussion. Talk to your manager and let them know that you’d like to start a conversation about your compensation and growth within the company. Then, ask if and when the both of you’ll be ready to have the conversation.


Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

2. Set a Date

After you and your manager have established that you’d like to have a conversation; be sure to set a date for the discussion itself. Having a specific time helps both you and your manager prepare. Most likely, your manager probably has to think about how to pitch you to their manager and why you deserve the bump.  More importantly, this date helps you set a deadline for yourself to prepare. With this step complete, both parties will not be surprised.


3. Pitch and Materials Ready

Depending on what you’re comfortable with, how and what you pitch with is entirely up to you. No matter how you decide to prepare, be sure to include the following:

  1. What your accomplishments have been for X period.
  2. What you aim to achieve for the next Y period and how you and your manager can decide to track this.
  3. And, for you to be able to accomplish what you proposed, the negotiation package that you want.
  4. Most importantly, it’s crucial to continue the conversation with your manager to figure out how to achieve your goals, together.


This puppy believes in you! Photo by Andrew Schultz on Unsplash


Most importantly, you can do this! The hardest part is starting, but you’ve already done this by starting your research and reading this article.

Of course, there are a ton of experts in the space sharing their insights on how to approach negotiating salaries as well. Jim Hopkinson from Salary Tutor shares 5 case studies with various tactics on increasing pay. Pasya recently shared a video on How to Ask Your Boss for More Money. And of course, many resources that provide industry-specific year-end reviews that with holistic insights that occasionally include salary information such as First Round’s State of Startups, Invision’s Product Design Industry Report, and The PayScale Index Trends in Compensation.


More Resources


Thanks to Christina Brant, Ronnie Ting, and Gary Chou for your advice and guidance.

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