How do I negotiate a salary for a new job?
April 13, 2015 8:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm finally switching industries though sticking to my current role of office manager. I will almost definitely be taking a pay cut but I need to know how much I can realistically negotiate and how to do it.

I currently work at a tiny non-profit but I am going to be switching to the film industry. I'm applying for office manager jobs at post production houses/agencies and the starting salaries offered in ads are less than I'm making now (which isn't a lot).

I started last year at $40k and I was given a $2000 raise at my one year review. The jobs I'm finding are around $29/30k which is a lot less than I'm making now but I'm willing to take less money to get onto the right path to the career I want. $30k is probably the lowest I can go by the way but I would really like more.

When I get to the point of being offered a position, what realistically should I be asking for above their offer? People have told me they're allowed to offer a certain amount over their base rate without asking management, but can offer more with approval. Is there an across the board percentage range for this kind of thing? Do I let them know what I'm making now? I was wondering if that may work in my favor because it shows I'm willing to take less money to join their company.

Can anyone give me insight into their experiences with this kind of thing?

Thank you so much in advance!
posted by shesbenevolent to Work & Money (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Start at 44 and negotiate lower. Consider benefits and don't assume you can't negotiate benefits like vacation days in that. Remember that the person who mentions a number first loses the negotiation. Good luck to you.
posted by zettoo at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2015

The best thing to do is to determine a salary you want to work for, make sure it's within the parameters of your field and living area, and then go slightly above that as your first salary requirement. Make a bit above what you'd settle for as the lowest part of the salary range, and your "wish list" salary at the top.
posted by xingcat at 8:52 AM on April 13, 2015

Ask a Manager just did a great post on real-world salary negotiations; worth a look.
posted by juniperesque at 8:55 AM on April 13, 2015

I highly recommend reading Ask For It. Your local library may have a physical or ebook copy if you don't want to buy it.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:02 AM on April 13, 2015

Do I let them know what I'm making now? I was wondering if that may work in my favor because it shows I'm willing to take less money to join their company.

That shows them you are such a poor performer that you aren't worth being paid the (pretty crappy) money you are being paid now. It reflects badly on you and would scare off a lot of employers.

An employer that solely judges the value of an employee by how little they can pay them is not anywhere you want to work - your co-workers would most likely be stressed, over-worked, under qualified, and constantly leaving.

A lot of what is written for career advice/negotiation techniques is only applicable to large corporations. It sounds like these are small, private businesses? It is different then. Also, film is one of the industries that attract trust fund babies/people relying on the bank of mom and dad - this drives down wages, and increased the number of people not very effective at their jobs. I know people who have spent decades in film and still struggle to get by while they watch their well-funded colleagues "network" their way into better jobs/titles. Good luck.
posted by saucysault at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I saw some recent research on negotiations that suggested that offering a range--with the salary you actually want as the low number in the range offer--can come off as more polite during a salary negotiation, ultimately netting a bigger sum.

“Negotiators seem to intuit what would be polite in terms of their treatment of their counterpart, and this factors into their own behavior,” Ames and Mason write in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Our results document such an effect and, further, show that range offers have the potential to shape expectations about the politeness of subsequent counteroffers.”
posted by forkisbetter at 5:46 PM on April 13, 2015

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