does being a lead designer hurt me?

I am 26 years old and have been in the industry for about 4 to 5 years. I work in a small design firm and have become the lead designer on all design endeavors. Does this title hurt me when looking for a new position with another company?

My thoughts are that it may make me look over-qualified and too expensive. On the other side of the token, I don’t want to sell myself short by saying I’m less than a lead designer.

What do you guys think?

What makes you too expensive is the salary you are making… for 4- 5 years if i was looking at you i would assume salary between 45- 55 maybe a little higher…

Next for over qualified I would not look at your title but instead your responsibility that you had in that role. Heck I know a person who has the “title” of design director" and they have less responsibility then a Sr. designer the firm is just trying to make themselves look bigger, I also say a job posting for a Design director with 4 -5 years experience (not really inline with the number of years I would expect)…

Post your responsibility as you have them on your resume for us to see, plus it also depends on the job you are applying for and how the company views it. i.e if I want someone with 1-2 years experience and you apply I may deem you over qualified, based on what I am willing to pay and what your responsibilities would be for that position.

In the end it all comes down to the job you are applying for and the responsibility of that job. And you are correct Never sell yourself short, because if you take a job that you feel is beneath you, you will not be very happy in it.

Chevis W

Thanks Chevis W

Here is what my resume says:

Lead Industrial Designer with X

Responsible for all aspects of industrial design with clients ranging from fortune 500 to start-ups. This includes early developmental sketching through to final production.

Pretty vague. But my responsibilities range from creating budgets and assigning work to sketching and creating engineering models. I wear lots of hats here.

Why do you think that this would hurt you?

Are you applying for Jr design positions?

If you’ve been doing the role of a Senior/Lead ID then you aren’t over qualified for anything if you’re applying for a mid level or senior position.

No it won’t hurt you, but know that at a larger firm or corporation, you will most likely be placed as a designer II. Most likely that is where your salary is anyway in your region. The numbers the Chevis stated are below what a designer I would make in the bay area, but it is the bay area. Regionally there is quite a difference in pay, and many firms give designers tittle to keep them, but their pay is usually in line with their experience. It is only an issue in larger work places where brackets must be maintained to keep things more fair.

I know several young designers that had very nice titles, like VP of Design, at startups, only to be placed as designer I’s in a larger firm or corporation.

Like Yo says, salary will depend on location so it is always good to check a cost of living calculator… Here in the mid west salaries may be lower but so is the cost of living, thus the quality of life balances out. “sometime”

Stop being so full of yourself. Your work/experience will speak for itself.

I’m not clear on how he is “being full of himself” nor how that helps your comment to come across.

It seems like he’s just trying to self advertise. I guess the other point is, it depends on where he’s currently working and where he’s applying to. A person could be a lead designer for a 3 person firm but if he/she applies to a bigger firm or corporation, their skill might not be up to lead designer level so a previous title doesn’t really say much. For example, I work for a corporate company that is pretty old fashion, my manager probably wouldn’t hire this guy as a ‘lead’ designer since he’s young and only has 4-5 years of experience, so what it comes down to is where you’re applying and what the skill shows. I know a guy who was a ‘lead’ designer at a start up, but he was a lead since he was the only ID guy there. So it’s all about perspective from the potential employer.

I wouldn’t see it as self advertisement either more just trying to understand the business side and title. I had a revers role at a company were after being hired on as a staff designer the manager quite 6 months later. Thus with less then 3 years I was running the design office for a corporation with sales well over 100 mil a year and reporting directly to the VP. And running projects were sr. engineers were expected to follow my lead…

Because I was young I constantly fought to get the higher title… but grew to learn that in the end titles are not as important as I thought, but the opportunities and my success at what I accomplished carried more weight.

Chevis W

4-5 years in the SF Bay area only equals $45-$55k? Ouch. How is that supposed to work?

Or is that starting salary for a Designer I in SF Bay?