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Negotiating your first UX job Offer: What to Expect

salary Jun 25, 2021
man shaking hands with a woman

 Going into your first UX job offer negotiation can seem a bit scary and nerve-wracking. UX design is a diverse and relatively new field. You may be wondering: How much should I ask for? How much will my employer expect me to ask for? 

Don’t worry! The Guac is here to tell you everything you need to know about how to prepare and what to expect when it comes to negotiating your first UX job offer. Grab those chips and let's dig in!


Tips to Help You Prepare for the Negotiation 

It is important that before you walk into that room or make that phone call that you are prepared. Research design salary trends and develop your skills and resume so you know and have everything you need to negotiate.

Before the negotiations make sure that you:

1. Research Average UX Salaries 

In order to make sure that you are asking for a fair wage, you should research what other UX designers are making. 

Check out this 2021 UX/UI Salary Report which will give you a breakdown of how much UX designers are making right now. 

You can also do your own salary research by using online tools such as Glassdoor, Linkedin, or Payscale which will help you compare salaries for all sorts of careers. UXDesignerSalaries is also a useful tool because it compares UX design salaries specifically.

 It is important that you research UX salary trends by company. The company you want to work for will have an effect on your salary. If you are working at a company like Google or Microsoft, your average mid-career salary would be about $140,000. If you are working at smaller companies, your salary will likely be less. 

Also research UX salary trends by location. This includes city, state, and country. Different locations will offer different salary trends. In order to know what a fair wage would be for your potential new role, understand your target location’s trends.

The 2020 pandemic has certainly changed the UX design landscape as it has done with other industries. Many companies want to hire people that are working from home, so it may be useful to research salary trends for working remotely as well.

2. Ask Around

Besides going online to research salary trends, you can ask other UX designers you know what salary you can expect to be making. Whether it be a mentor, teacher, friend or family member, a working UX designer will have a good understanding of what is currently going on salary-wise in the industry. So if you have the opportunity, ask a UX designer for some insider insight!

4. Develop your Design Skills

Developing your UX skills will help make you worth more to a company as a UX designer. When negotiating, you want to be able to sell yourself. You want to be able to confidently say to your employer: Yeah, I’m worth that $100,000 a year. 

If you have gotten to this point in the hiring process, it probably goes without saying that you need to have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of UX design and a killer portfolio. Make sure you avoid common portfolio mistakes so that your portfolio can better showcase your work. It is also a good idea to have some real world experience to show to employers as well.

Make sure to know how to use UX/UI design tools. If you are proficient in these tools you will be a more valuable asset to the company that wants to hire you.

5. Develop Your Skills Beyond UX Design 

It is a good idea to develop your auxiliary and personal skills. As a UX designer, you will find yourself doing more than just wireframing and prototyping. You need to have good communication skills so that you can present your ideas and work on a team. Having a background in coding, analytics or psychology can also make you more valuable in an employer’s eyes. 

If you have the time, learn in-demand skills that can make you more competitive.

6. Practice What You Are Going to Say

Practice makes perfect! Before you go into a negotiation, practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it so that you can feel confident and prepared.

 Have your target value, reservation value, and BATNA in mind. 

The target value is the salary that you want. Based on your research and background, this is a number that you feel is fair to ask for. 

Not everything is always going to go perfectly in a negotiation. That’s okay. Have a BATNA in mind for your salary. BATNA stands for “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.” So if your target salary is not panning out, what would the next best salary be for you? 

It is also important to have a reservation value in mind which is the minimum amount you will accept. Everyone has different expenses and financial responsibilities. Make sure your reservation value is enough to realistically support you. You have done the research and the preparations. You know what you are worth, and it is okay to walk away from an unfair offer.

Have all of these values in mind because chances are, your potential employer will too. If you have settled on these numbers and you are content, then no matter what happens, you will walk out of this negotiation satisfied with the results.


Tips To Keep Your Cool During the Negotiation

1. Relax

It is easy to get nervous and overwhelmed during a salary negotiation. But it is important to stay calm so you can think clearly. Just breathe and try to relax. This is just a conversation. You have done your research and you are prepared so you can be confident in yourself.

2. Keep it Positive

You also want to use community oriented language. You do not want to come off too arrogant or make this into an argument. Use “we” instead of “I”. You want the employer to already see you as a valuable part of the company. This negotiation should be a win-win for everyone involved. You will get a salary that you deserve, and the company will get an asset that will help their company grow. 

3. Give Yourself Time to Consider the Offer

Be prepared for a question about salary even in an earlier interview.  Especially if you get a salary expectation question earlier on in the hiring process, it is okay to say something like: “Let’s come back to this question when we are further on in the process and have decided that this is a mutually appropriate fit.” 

Early on, mention that your focus is ensuring that this position is a good fit rather than a discussion over salary. You can also ask what value their company has in mind for hiring someone of your background and experience to get an idea. You do not have to spit out a number if you are not ready.

After an offer has been extended and you are ready to negotiate your salary, have phrases ready to buy you time to consider. You can say something like: “I will need some time to think about that. Can we revisit this at a later time?” Again, you do not need to jump on a decision in the moment. This can lead to regrets. Understand that you have a level of control in these negotiations, the employer does not hold all the cards. You are a competent UX designer and if an employer really wants to hire you, they will be considerate. Remember, the goal of these negotiations is to come to an agreement that everyone can be satisfied with.

4. Negotiate Beyond Salary

Know that there are other things to consider when accepting a job offer besides salary. Ask about benefits like paid time off, work from home opportunities, healthcare, or paying student loan agreements. There are many things a company can offer beyond salary, so make sure you take all of these things into consideration during the hiring process.


Tips for After the Negotiation

1. Follow up

It is always a good idea to follow up with your potential employer after an interview or a meeting. Sending a simple thank you email stating your gratitude for their time and expressing your interest in the position can help you when forming a good working relationship.

2.  Let it Go

After the negotiation is over, don’t overthink the meeting, worrying about what you did or didn’t say. You prepared and you did your best. Negotiating is a skill, the more you do it, the better you will get at it. If things didn't go as well as you hoped, don't sweat it. Learn from this experience, and use it to make your next negotiation process better.


How to negotiate your first UX job Offer?

Just know what you are worth! If you do the research and prepare yourself, you have nothing to fear when it comes to negotiating salary. Research salary trends so you can determine a fair salary range. Diversify yourself and sharpen your skills to increase your value as a UX designer and you will be in a better position to bargain for a higher salary.

You got this! Stay confident and breathe! You have everything you need to make this negotiation a success!

Ready to learn more about UX design? Schedule a free mentoring session with a UX designer today!

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