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I'm a product designer at a mid-sized startup. We recently had a huge round of lay-offs – including the five other product designers in my team – leaving me as the sole product designer in the organisation.

I will possibly be able to renegotiate my contract, and given the de facto expanded level of responsibility, I'm wondering if it would be worth negotiating a title change (in addition to other forms of compensation). My current title is "Product Designer".

Some background on me: I've technically only got 3 years of experience as a product designer (all within this organisation), although I was a FE Developer for ~3 years prior to that. I know for a fact that my pre-layoff salary was roughly the same as my teammates (some of whom had ~10 years of experience), so either my colleagues were terrible at negotiating, bad hiring decisions were made, or I hold some value to the organisation. Either way, I feel like a title bump would be valuable because it would show some degree of progress/reflect my new level of responsibility. I'm not necessarily looking to move into a management role in the future, although I'm not 100% set against it. Ultimately, I'm looking to set myself up for success in my next move.

I have two questions:


1. If I were to negotiate for an upgraded title, what would be the best option (e.g. would "Product Design Lead" be misleading in this context? Would "Senior Product Designer" look better for recruiters? Is there another way I should be looking to frame this?)

2. Does this even matter at all?

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If I were to negotiate for an upgraded title, what would be the best option (e.g. would "Product Design Lead" be misleading in this context? Would "Senior Product Designer" look better for recruiters? Is there another way I should be looking to frame this?)

You should strive for the title that sounds best to you, in your locale, in your field.

VP of Product Design would be terrific, but probably an overreach. Director sounds nice. Lead sounds nice. Only you are in a position to know what would fly for someone with 3 years of relevant experience.

Consider: If you were to look for a job in a new (non-startup) company today, what would be the title of the job you would seek. Use that.

Does this even matter at all?

Very little, particularly in a startup. While a better title is better, most hiring managers can judge your actual level based on what you know and what you do, not what you are called.

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Both are great titles, but I would go with Product Design Lead or Product Design Director. It does matter because it will give you a sense of seniority over future design employees when they start coming in. Seems like you are doing great in your position and good luck on your endeavors!

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