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  • Applying for Your First Game Industry Job

    - Samuel Crowe

  • Feature!Salary

    For the most part, you will be paid a salary; this salary is usually paid every week or every two weeks. Some are paid monthly. It’s important that you know which.

    In my opinion there is no industry standard and not because of cost of living. Some companies are willing to take on an employee at a higher cost because of the potential that candidate brings to the table. The phrase “industry standard” could mean anything. It could mean the local industry average of pay for people performing technology related jobs.

    Personal Note: After 6 months on the job I was given a raise and words that accompanied the document detailing my raise was “in reference to industry standard pay,” which meant that the company I was working for believed they were paying me according to “industry pay standards.” A little over 6 months later, the company was purchased by a large publisher and with this came another letter informing me that my pay would be brought up to “industry standard” pay. So if you hear the phrase “industry standard,” always ask what that means and ask for an example.

    Negotiation. At all times, keep in mind the importance of negotiation. It is the job of the person you are talking to about your pay to hire you for as cheap as possible, so do not get angry if the amount you want is much lower than you expected. There is almost always room for negotiation and it is expected. If an agreement can not be met that day, ask for some time to think it over

    Cost of living should be considered in realizing how much you need to live on. 40K in the Midwest of the United States is equal to 51K on the West Coast, so that should be a factor. There are calculators on the web for cost of living and these are periodically updated with current information. Be sure to use more than one and take the best average.

    Tip: As a general rule of thumb in negotiation, the first person to name a number leaves money on the table.

    A company asks what your salary requirements are. Reply that you have looked into what the cost of living is in the prospective area and give them a range that is about 5k more than you are able to securely live on. The employer will come back with a lot of differences. They could tell you that they can't pay any more than 30K, or they will come back with something in that range, but rarely will they ever pay above the top number. So you must research, research, research.

    The company also knows that if they lowball you too much, you won't be at the company very long and it will cost them more to replace you. It is a great balancing act. In some cases, if an agreement can not be met, you can instead negotiate for benefits instead of pay. Ask for a paid week’s vacation after 6 months instead of one year. Ask for fully paid medical if it’s not offered.

    Pay raises and cost of living raises.
    A “biggy” is the amount of business that the company is doing. In the interview or during the process it would be wise to ask the history of the company giving employee's increase in pay and an average percentage. Be sure to ask if the employer offers a yearly cost of living raise (usually 3%). Try to find out when, if any, a pay raise may occur. It could be that you only are offered a raise at the end of every year, or at the anniversary of your one year hire date. Some have a company wide review session, instead of individual review times. There are numerous factors involved with giving someone a raise.

    Royalties. Some companies offer royalties based on the title and position you had while working on a specific title. If the title sells well, you get more money. If it bombs, you will get pennies if you are lucky. Just be careful with royalties. As in most cases, you only stand to make $60 or less, dependant on the size of the company and the number of employees who worked on the project.

    Bonuses. Project bonuses are offered at the end of a project or specific milestones. These are usually paid based on performance. Be sure to ask which, if any, the employer offers. Some may offer stock options; this can mean a number of things. One is, if the company is sold, you get a specific amount of the money based on how much “stock” you own


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