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I'm in a tough situation, since I'm a UX Designer who has a tech background too.

I create prototypes through code which allow them to be as accurate to the real finished product. What I do is rare and not many people do what I do and have been told by numerous people from numerous companies that I'm considered a unicorn and am in high demand.

I tried looking for data online to see if my suspicions are valid, but I can't find anything. What should I do and how do I approach my employers and tell them that I feel like I'm not paid enough due to my unusual skill set?

marked as duplicate by jcmeloni, Lilienthal, gnat, DJClayworth, paparazzo Dec 21 '15 at 18:05

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  • What kind of reaction are you expecting from the employers here? Be careful about what kind of game you play here as they may well tell you that your services are no longer required if you make a stink about this. – JB King Dec 21 '15 at 16:09
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    Amy, I'm actually working as a unicorn. I design and develop heavily. They brought me on for both. – Majed Dec 21 '15 at 16:31
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    Well then the time to get the high salary was when they were making their offer after however long it took them to find their unicorn. – Amy Blankenship Dec 21 '15 at 16:53
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    Flagging for reopen. Other question and its answers do not address the unique skill set angle of this question. – Myles Dec 21 '15 at 20:52
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    @Zikato a unicorn in this context means a very rare employee - one that is hardly ever/never seen (ie like a unicorn!) because of their special combination of skills – user29055 Dec 22 '15 at 13:57

I manage a tech group and I do both plus manage. And I have 3 people that work for me that do both. You are more horse than unicorn but horses still provide more value than the jackasses/donkeys that consume 90%+ of your realm.

If you want to get paid more for doing this then get a better paying job.

  1. Something at a very small tech or startup. These companies will value someone with extending skills more. They are willing to pay 20%+ more because you can do 2-3 things because they can't hire more people.

  2. Freelance.

  3. Go into consulting.

All of these have levels of risk associated with them that your current job probably doesn't. If you are good at advertising yourself, have a good network, and can manage yourself then you could make a lot more doing these - maybe 1.5-2x as much.

If you stay at your current job you could climb the ranks slowly but given that you are good at multiple areas they will have a hard time giving you a promotion since you need to be replaced.

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    Was going to reply, instead will join this answer. The skill description of the OP is FAR more standard and typical than it is unicorn-ish. Look-and-feel html prototypes that mock behavior as well as design have been an implicit requirement for a long time. – dwoz Dec 21 '15 at 17:39
  • @dwoz they have been an ask from companies but almost all of the places I've interviewed have said the same thing "your type of skill set is hard to find." – Majed Dec 21 '15 at 19:01
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    @Majed - I wouldn't refer to yourself as a unicorn in public. No offense but if I were interviewing someone and they thought their skill set was unicornish or anything similar and you weren't actually a unicorn... then I would think you are delusional - possibly in multiple ways. If you were a "unicorn" and referred to yourself as a unicorn - you would be a true unicorn! – blankip Dec 21 '15 at 20:45
  • @Majed, not trying to be insulting...but really, most good web designers can manage enough html and css and javascript to get the point across. Not that they produce production ready code...and many simply dont want to do it...but its a basic skill in the realm i inhabit – dwoz Dec 21 '15 at 21:48
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    @Majed "your type of skill set is hard to find [at what we are willing to pay for it]" – user42272 Dec 22 '15 at 15:58

How do you find out what you're worth?

Try to sell yourself, see what price you get.

In the context of careers, this means a firm job offer, in writing, with a $$$ figure next to your name.

Now, you may be unwiling to engage in a job search you have no intention of following through on, but if you want hard evidence, that you are, in fact, underpaid, that is the only thing that counts.

(Industry averages are just a proxy for this: "How much salary you *could* hypothetically get at a typical firm in the same industry")


What should I do and how do I approach my employers and tell them that I feel like I'm not paid enough?

"Paid enough" is a tricky concept. What does "enough" mean for you? What does it mean for your employer?

If you find and accept another job that pays you more, you might argue that you weren't being paid enough. But jobs are never identical, and context is everything.

I suspect what you really want is to find a way to convince your current employer to pay you more. That has little to do with "enough".

Online data, surveys, etc - those are unlikely to matter to your current employer. Any data you could find, they almost certainly already know.

You could talk with your employer and indicate that you should be paid more. You should point why you think you deserve more, but base your argument on the value you provide to the company, not what "numerous people" from "numerous companies" say about unicorns. It's easy for outsiders to say you should get more if they aren't actually paying your salary.

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