To negotiate a salary is a critical aspect of any worker’s life. Throughout many discussions with people for the gaming industry, in Canada and also internationally, I noticed that most people, whether it is for a new job or an existing job, have a really hard time talking about this almost taboo subject with their present of future employers. I decided to give you my opinion about the subject, and also maybe give you a few pointers at what you should consider when it comes to negotiating your salary. The fact that you want to buy a new car, a new house, or whatever it is you want to get, does not consist in a valid argument to negotiate your salary. Your personal life should never be considered when you try to prove your value within a company. There are many things to consider, and I will go through the most important of them, in the gaming industry.
1- The nature of your job
A huge portion of your salary is based on the nature of your tasks themselves and the impact that they have on the company’s results. The number of people supervised, the amount of responsibilities and their impact on the project are to be considered when you want to put a number on your worth. For example, a team leader position on a small project has less responsibilities than someone who has to manage a huge team on a big deployment project. The more challenge, responsibilities, amount of things to do will justify a salary raise.
2- Internal equity
The internal equity consists in having the an equivalent salary for equivalent amount of responsibilities for all the employees within a company. Most companies have salary scales based on multiple factors, and the insure a conformity and to make sure everybody is satisfied with their condition. When en employer is making an offer to a candidate, he usually has to stay within certain boundaries to make sure he does not disrespect the equity, which could cause quite a storm within a team. That is why it is important for you to have reasonable expectations.
3- The rarity of your specialization
It is a fact, the more the technology advances, the more specialities there are. Employers seek very specialized talent, that sometimes require an infinite list of pre requisites, and the people who have these capacities are very limited. Yes, the fact that a candidate is managing a team has an impact on the salary. However, the fact that a candidate is a technical reference within a team also has its worth. Whatever your specialization is, employers are doing their best to find these rare talents, and offering very competitive salaries is a way to attract these candidates.
4- Education and experience
The industry is growing, and today, many specialized schools are out there, offering great trainings for future employees in the industry. The past experience, which sometimes is not directly related to the work itself can be used as a value. My advice would be to prepare before asking a certain salary, study the job description, and try to highlight the parts that could match the requirements in your resume. You might not have the direct requirement, but your past experience could impact on your value.
5- The location
The people in the gaming industry are particularly mobile, and I am not talking about consoles here! They travel from country to country, and work on many projects around the world. When you apply for a job in another country, try to find out about the cost of living, and the norms over there. You might be surprised that you might be offered a huge salary in another country, but the cost of living, political situation and public taxes will make it so that you have no more money in your pocket in the end. Sometimes, you will notice that salaries are lower in Canada, but the cost of living also is. For example, the money it takes to pay a rent in L.A. is totally different from Montreal. You might have an offer that looks amazingly high or lower than expected, but take in consideration how much it actually costs to live there.
6- Global salary
A salary is money, of course, but it also includes all the other benefits that an employer can give you, including bonuses, social benefits, retirement planning, etc. These aspects are not to neglect when you are looking at a salary offer. Many little things like parking, health services, gym memberships, are to be considered as pure cash in your pocket!
It can look complex to take in consideration all these factors, but this reflexion is very useful when it comes to salary negotiation. Keep in mind and equity is at the base of every salary negotiation, whether it is for an internal or external negotiation. Evaluate, think, compare, and never forget to evaluate your own position and not the one you would like to have. It will be a lot less stressful to approach the subject if you are well prepared! Good luck!
Pierre-Luc Labbee, recruiter at 3pod
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