Asking for a raise in the journalism industry

Asking for a raise while changing jobs

Your best opportunities for asking for a raise occur when you move from one company to another or from one job to another. The wage you establish coming in the door will be the floor upon which all future raises are based, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Of course, be flexible so that you don’t toss away the job you really want for what turns out to be a minor consideration.

Rather than trying to guess what the newspaper might pay — which may be tough to learn as an outsider — concern yourself with how much you need to improve your lifestyle. As you negotiate, be sure you compare the costs and benefits of insurance, savings plans such as a 401(k), stock-purchase plans and pensions.

Be prepared to ask for money to cover your moving costs — and check the Internal Revenue Service rules on moving expenses because some reimbursements are taxable.

Getting paid what you’re worth

Here is an excerpt of a question I received:

How does one go about negotiating for a higher-level title
and salary for a job that has turned into much more than it
was described?

In the last year, I spearheaded a complete redesign, and the
magazine went from paper stock to glossy paper throughout. I’ve
sought high-profile cover subjects and scored interviews with
the major movers and shakers in regional business, including the
CEOs of multibillion international companies as well as a round
table with the governor.

I have established other relationships that have led to quite a
bit of new business for a monthly magazine that typically grosses
about $1 million per year.

I agreed to take this gig for $44,000.

My answer:

Because the boss finds himself in a position of running messages between you and the company, he has in effect become your agent or ally. So, arm him with some facts. If, faced with a financial argument and the real prospect of losing you, he can make the change on his own, great. But he is the person you must deal with. He is responsible for running the operation — and the one who would have to find your replacement.

Make a detailed financial case for your boss to take up the ladder. Put some numbers to it.  Give your boss the dollars and cents. Show how much the company stands to lose even if it replaced you but had a six month lag for the next person to ramp up.

Be ready to say, “I would prefer to continue working here, but if I were to leave, the magazine would lose, in the short term: $X per month. If a suitable replacement were not up to speed after a year, we stand to lose a total of $Y.” The pronoun “we” puts you and the boss and the magazine on the same side of the issue. It is more collaborative than confrontational. If this approach fails to work, your network could lead to other offers.

Mastering the newsroom:

Want more advice on asking for a raise? These questions, answers and advice come from my book Ask The Recruiter, where I have collected years of experience from recruiting in newsrooms. The book contains popular questions and answers dedicated to breaking open the occasionally opaque nature of newsroom hiring, promoting and managing.

For more information, check out the following resources:

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