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I'm A Producer — & I Took A $20K Pay Cut To Work At A Better Company


In our series Salary Stories , women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.

Been in the workforce for at least eight years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here.

Previously, we talked to a psychologist in Los Angeles, a senior product specialist on Long Island, NY, and a social media coordinator in Atlanta.

Age: 32

Current Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Current Industry & Title: Film & Television, Producer

Starting Salary: $35,000

Current Salary: $70,000

Number Of Years Employed: 8

Biggest Salary Jump: $21,000 in 2015

Biggest Salary Drop: $20,000 in 2017

Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: "Not doing more industry research and assuming what I was asking for was competitive, when it was in fact low. I always now recommend to people to ask for the most they can off the top, because you never know how locked in it is or how much freedom you will have later. Even big companies with standard salary bands can change their policies, and you may not have as much negotiating power as you thought."

Best Salary-Related Advice: "As someone who has hired people and has been responsible for setting salaries, I'd say don’t fear that asking for a salary you deem to be high will ruin your chances. A worthy employer will work with you to try and find a fair solution and likely will not just take an offer off the table because you asked for 'too much.' There is usually more of a conversation to be had."

"This was an entry-level production job and took me over a year to land after film school, broadcast journalism school, and two unpaid internships. I did not negotiate my salary as I was too excited to have been offered a job! In this position, I was mostly booking gear and crew for shoots and scheduling editors. I would work with the producers and directors to manage logistics of their shoots, including shoot permits, casting, and invoicing."

"At my six-month review, I was offered this raise in my current role, as my responsibilities had increased — I was now in charge of more 'producer-like' duties, including handling small shoots by myself and working directly with editors on story edits. I did not ask for the raise and did not negotiate when it was offered.

"After just over a year, I was laid off from the company. It was a small studio, and there was not enough work to sustain a full-time coordinator."

"I immediately got hired by an in-house creative team at a large telecommunications company. I was offered this salary, and I did not negotiate. I found this job on Craigslist, and it was similar in scope to my previous PC job, but with a larger team. I had actually worked at this company while in college in their call center, and I hosted an internal 'news' program, so the hirer recognized my name from that when I applied."

"My manager had been promoted to director, and there was a vacancy for his role, which I was not initially in line for as I had never managed a team. However, my boss wanted to train me for the role and felt I’d be a good fit. After a year of training me, and six months as acting manager without a salary adjustment, we had to go through an HR process to approve my job title and raise, due to the fact that both were outside the approved wage and hierarchy structure of the organization. I was not able to negotiate this salary, given that it required special permission to bring me to it. This salary was the company minimum for my job title."

"After much turmoil at my job relating to salary freezes, massive layoffs, and team restructuring (aka, shuffling the creative team under the control of the legal and finance director and out of the marketing department — what?!), it was time for a change.

"I found a new job on LinkedIn, and this company was a large international cosmetics company with an in-house brand-communications team and, within it, the film and photo team, which I would lead. I was quite unsure of what this new company might be able to offer, so I was conservative and asked for an $80,000 salary, which was accepted. With quarterly bonuses, my salary ended up at $95,000.

"I was overseeing a team of producers, directors, editors, and other production crew. I creatively directed video shoots and campaigns and was responsible for the team’s annual budget, career growth for my team members, and their salaries."

"After a stressful year managing a very dysfunctional creative team at a poorly managed organization, I ended up back at the first studio I ever worked at, this time in a senior role. Although the salary drop was significant, I was happy to be back in an environment where I was happy, felt appreciated, and liked the people I worked with. Plus, I got a kick out of saying I came back to a $40,000 raise, technically!"

"After just over a year in this role, I was feeling very burnt out and unappreciated. I typically work 9+ hour days and spend a lot of time outside of work tending to emails and client requests. I was getting fed up and requested a meeting with my boss. I laid out my frustrations and let him know I didn’t feel I was being fairly compensated for the high-pressure, important, and stressful work I was doing. He was very receptive and offered me this raise. I accepted without negotiation, mainly as I was quite surprised that he even offered it in the first place. I suspect that he assumed I was on my way out, and was using the raise as a way to keep me from flying the coop, but that’s fine by me!

"I left this job in December, as I moved to a new city. I was offered to stay on remotely, but I was looking for a change and more variety in the projects I work on."

"I am now working full-time as a freelance producer with a variety of clients. I typically manage the creative and logistical aspects of bringing advertising and marketing campaigns to life. While my income is now not set in stone month to month, and I’m not sure what my take-home pay will be for this year, I am projecting $70k pretax."

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