The Art of Salary Negotiation in the Gaming Industry

5 07 2010

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 an equivalent salary for equivalent amount of responsibilities for all the employees within a company. Most companies have salary scales based on multiple factors, to 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!

Why should you deal with a head hunter?

26 04 2010

As you all know, I often have to head hunt candidates in my daily work. Many times, candidates ask me why they should go through a head hunter like me instead of dealing directly with the companies. Our role is more than just linking candidates with jobs. Many people do not fully understand the work that I do, and I will do my best to explain it to you, so you can get to know me and my work a little better 🙂

International relocation

It can sometimes be difficult to evaluate what position is offered in other countries, as well as what are the norms in term of salary. The cost of living and the salary scales are something that changes from one country to another, and it can be confusing to set your goals when you don’t have any comparison to make. My role as a headhunter is to advise you in your expectations as a candidate, since I have an overview of the salary scales internationally, as well as the costs of living in different cities. It basically helps you not to make the mistake to have too high or too low salary expectations.

Confidential positions

When it comes to senior or high level positions, it might happen to companies to not post these jobs, for strategy or project confidentiality reasons. When it comes to confidential positions, companies deal with headhunters like me to make sure the information is kept confidential. A headhunter might have positions you have not seen posted anywhere else.

Confidentiality in your job search

It can sometimes be delicate to look for work without your colleagues finding out about it. A headhunter can do your research for you, and tell you where to openings are, without you have to send your resume everywhere. A good agent will make sure your personnal info is given only to the key people that will keep this confidential.

Privileged contact with the decision makers

In general, a headhunter has privileged link with the companie’s directors. He or she will present your profile and will be able to give a lot more information about you that just an application form. He or she will represent you and highlight your strenghts, kind of like an artist manager would do.

Salary negociation

Many people are not really confortable to talk about salary with a potential employer. A headhunter basically does that everyday, and can be a great agent to help you get a fair offer, without you asking for a too high or too low salary. An agent will talk with you and determine a reasonable expectation, taking in consideration the scales on the market, your experience, and your expectations.

When should I NOT deal with a headhunter?

Headhunters are, in general, paid to find specific people, that companies are struggling to find. If you are a new graduate, or a junior candidate, I would not recommend that you deal with a headhunter, since there is a cost for the company at the time of your hiring. Since there are many junior candidates on the market, a company sometimes can not afford paying an agency to hire a junior candidate. For new graduates and junior candidate, I recommend you directly apply online, you will increase your chances this way.

So that was it guys! I hope it helps you understand my work a little better, and do not hesitate to contact me if you would like me to post about a specific project. I will you all job searchers good luck in your future opportunities!

How to make it in the gaming industry industry? A recruiter’s perspective…

12 04 2010

It is a fact, recruitment processes can be quite confusing and look like a giant monster for a candidate. To apply for a job in the gaming industry, as for any job in any industry, is a stressful thing to do, since your profile will be viewed by recruiters, technical directors and experts. Many people tend to think that a recruitment process starts from the interview, and ignore that a lot of the work has to be done before that, even before you actually apply for a job! Here are the steps to follow to make sure you leave a good impression and you raise your chances of getting your dream job.

1- Resume preparation : The first impression you leave to an employer is your resume. It is mandatory that your resume represents you well and that is describes well what you have done in the past as well as what you are looking for. It is very important to have a very well structured, well written and clear resume. It is very important to describe your past responsibilities in your previous jobs, but many people tend to forget to put all the achievements, what YOU made that brought something to the company (you could include a special project you’ve worked on, a process you thought of, or a new idea you brought to the team).This may seem like a lot of work, but this process will actually give you a lot more to talk about in the interview!

2- Artistic demo : many artists/animators have to apply with a demo. You are lucky if you have the time and knowledge to have your own website, but sometimes a simple link with files is more than enough. Many artists make the big mistake to put ALL the material they have, which is a huge mistake. What you have to include in your demo is your BEST material, what you say is impecable, flawless! Remember that your demo will be viewed byt a technical director that will see your good work, but he will also remember your ”less good” work if you put everything that you have on there. Keep a clean, easy to ready, efficient demo that will show your excellent work.

3- Send your resume : A few click and your done, but many mistakes are often made by candidates. First, make sure you read the job description, and make sure your resume reflect the seniority level if the position. For example, a graduating student applying for a senior / director position will lose a lot of credibility.  Apply on what you think suits you best, and avoid applying for every position. Being referred internally by a current employee is also a great way to apply, since you have a reference that is stating that you are worth hiring.

4-The interview : THE stressful event in the process. I have 3 advices for you : preparation, preparation, and preparation! Read your resume, and try to find concrete examples of what you state in it. It will help you give more details to the interviewers, and it will reduce the chances of getting questions you might not find the answer right away. The interviewer will probably welcome you with a handshake, demonstrate a good confident posture, a solid handshake  and make sure you keep an eye contact as you speak to them. Also, sometimes people can perceive silence as a bad thing, it is not! It is good to actually stop and take a minute to think about what you will answer, it demonstrates that you analyze things.

5- The job offer : After all these steps, the job offer comes. It is sometimes very tempting to accept right away, but there are a few details you might want to look at when you make your decision : is this a reasonable offer? What are the social benefits? Is there an intellectual property clause in the contract? Make sure you ask the right questions, and do not be shy to do it, companies have excellent human resources councelors that are there to answer your questions. It is better to ask the questions before, so you don’t have any bad surprises once you start your job.

Please remember that looking for a job is not a full time job, so the more effort you put in it, the better the chances of getting exactly what you are looking for! Be prepared, confident, and talk to you network of friends to know what could be out there for you!!!

Welcome to my blog!

29 03 2010

Welcome to my blog, this blog will be about recruitment in gaming in general. You will be able to take a look at my daily work, as well as maybe learn a few tricks for your job search!