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Editors Salary Question

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Kevin MatlukEditors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 1:50:33 pm


I'm looking for help regarding what I should be asking for at my 2 year review with a television network located in the Midwest...

I am the main editor, working on network promos and sizzle reels, as well as a variety of affiliate videos and cross channel spots airing in over 35million homes. I edit, color correct, and mix all the spots I work on. Currently, I am making $50k, up from $45K the year before when I started. My boss recently told me he was 'pushing' for me to get MORE than a 3% raise, but he knows I have been looking elsewhere for jobs and he wants to know what I want.

My question is, Would it be fair asking for a 6% raise with a $2,500 bonus? Considering my boss realizes I am a fast, reliable and efficient editor, and that it would be very hard to replace me, what would be a reasonable price in asking to stay? Also, I have an interview with another company later in the week who is very interested in me. What is the best way in negotiating my salary with the new company and the one I currently work for? Is it worth asking for the title of 'Senior Video Editor'?

Thanks for taking your time in reading my post,

- Kevin M.

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walter biscardiRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 1:57:06 pm

It's completely fair to ask, but I can tell you that 3 - 4% is the norm for all the broadcast networks that I know of. CNN averages 3% for the yearly raises.

So while it's fair to ask, just know that the decision will be made by a bean counter who most likely doesn't know your work and what the value you bring to the company. You're a line item and your line item has to match up with what the company has projected for the next year.

But definitely ask, what you're asking for is reasonable, though I doubt very highly you'll get the bonus. If you're lucky you might get a 5% raise.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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Kevin MatlukRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 2:05:52 pm

Thanks Walter, I know that the norm is about 3-4% and that our company is on a pretty strict budget, but all the heads of the company recognize my potential and they have been in the industry for years...Do you have any advice on negotiating, with the company I currently work for and others that are interested in me? Thanks again.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 3:06:02 pm

Walter has a point, in that you as a personnel expense are considered a "sunk cost", not an investment.

Knowing that you don't have that much room in the area of increases, I always like to point out that salary is only one form of compensation. Often, there are other aspects of compensation funded thru different budget lines, and these might make up a shortfall in cash salary.

I'm talking about things like a travel reimbursement for your daily commuting/ buying you an EZ Pass for the year to use on the tollways, etc. or free parking, etc or free lunches, or additional vacation days, or paying to send you to NAB and/or editing workshops to further develop your skills - which BTW pays them back directly in terms of better product produced - and other professional development expenses like training DVD's, seminars, buying you some additional plug-ins or whatnot that make your work faster or easier.

What about them paying the entry fees when you submit your best work to contests and competitions? When you win, that's more good PR for them.

Or upgraded medical insurance or contributions to a 401K... What about them buying you a better, ergonomic chair or workstation, so you don't get all crippled up with back problems and carpal tunnel? I'm a long-legged guy and I'm fighting persistent ankle problems because of the poor ergonomics in my workstations over long hours of editing...

Things like this don't show up in a salary, but if you have to pay for them yourself, you'd agree they might be a significant expense. If the company can comp some of that for you, it's effectively the same as a raise. Often, it is easier for the accountants to work some magic in one of these side areas, than to tackle a limited salary budget cap head-on.

It's not just about your compensation, but about the quality of your day to day work experience you should consider. If you're working in a badly-lit, cramped, un-ergonomic hellhole, you should be getting more money. If your work conditions are pleasant, with people that invest in your personal development, maybe you can afford to take a little less.

From a management point of view, it's a lot more pain and work and expense to keep bringing in and training new help, than retaining a good staff and the good company reputation and loyal customer base they create. As long as it is cheaper to retain a good worker than replace them, they stay.

Since human resources are the number one cost area for businesses, creating the right environment to retain the best workforce is a good investment. There is the strong temptation in these dark times to get Dickensian with the management/worker relationship: salaries racing to the bottom, high turn-over of a mercenary-like workforce of completely disposable and interchangeable technicians...

I would argue that such a way of operating looks good on spreadsheets in the short term, but does little for the long-term health of the business. When you pay peanuts, you get squirrels. Low compensation nets you low-skilled applicants that are learning the job on your dime, and waiting to jump ship as soon as they can find a better offer... When (not if) they stumble, sure, you can fire them, and grab another low-wage noob off the applicant stack and plug them in, but you've already damaged a client relationship over the incident. Clients talk to other clients. Word gets around.

And you don't build a base of industry competence and leadership with disposable, cannon-fodder workers. You build a leadership position with a hand-picked team of pros who don't stand still, but keep pushing the boundaries of what they know and what they can do, backed by a manager that supports their quest for excellence... That's not an expense- that's an investment in success.

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Kevin MatlukRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 3:11:48 pm

Thanks Mark, All great points

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Ben RojasRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 3:34:07 pm

I agree w/Walter, go for 5%. Getting an employer to part w/cash only happens when forced... For example, upping or matching a competitor so they don't lose you. If you've got that kind of situation going, more power to you as you have the upper hand. The unfortunate reality, however, is that as much as you like where you work, you'll have to move on at some point to grow your career.

Best of luck.

Ben Rojas
Film Editor

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Kevin MatlukRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 6:20:29 pm

Thanks Ben, I actually do have a counter offer from another company. I'm not set on staying in one spot, I've already moved around quite a bit and am just advancing my career in any way possible(including salary). 5% sounds reasonable, but what about asking for the title of 'Senior Editor' and taking on more responsibilities? Is that title worth much these days when employers are looking for candidates?? Or is it simply based on skill and experience, other than responsibilities? My issue now is that I am in an underpaid and understaffed position, doing quality work with on air promos but also grunt work like tagging spots which a PA or assistant editor should be doing (Which we do not have at our disposal)

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Ben RojasRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 7:39:52 pm

W/the Senior title comes other responsibilities, so be ready for whatever else they throw your way... And it certainly would warrant a better than usual salary adjustment. In the end, no matter what advancements, you'll likely have to move on again to jump to the next level in your career. It sux man, been that way my whole career. This last go-round I finally made the move to go at myself... Not so much for the money, but time. Money comes and goes but time we never get back.

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Roy SchneiderRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 13, 2012 at 3:43:05 pm

Great thoughts. In this day and age Corporations budget is decided by bean counters, and we are just line items. Editing is a commodity to networks these days.

A funny story... around 15 years ago, I worked for a Regional Sports Network in the South, I approached the Boss about a new opportunity.

Me- I just was offered a job from a Network in the North East paying twice the money I make here.
Boss- If I were you I would take the job
Me- Would you consider a counter offer?
Boss- No, you are one of the best Editors I have ever seen, your work has had a positive effect on the way we look on air. You are really an artist, but editing is only worth x dollars a year to our company, and you are already at the high end of that. My advice to you son, Take the job.


Roy Schneider
Long Live Da Cow!

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Michael HendrixRe: Editors Salary Question
by on Sep 15, 2012 at 2:36:52 am

The title thing can be tricky for a company as well. They may give it to you just to keep you happy for another 6 months, but they also know that it will still come back to money.

Most companies grade jobs, compare them to other job titles and that is how they come up with what that job is worth. Obviously, a Senior title would could force them to have to regrade your job and pay you more money.

In my opinion, the best way to get a better raise/pay, find a way to show how much revenue you have brought in, or saved the company. That's something even bean counters understand.

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