For Equal Pay Day, Zynga chief communications officer Dani Dudeck and International Game Developers Association executive director Jen MacLean tell Moneyish their best salary negotiation tactics
It’s time to level up.
Women in the male-dominated gaming industry face a steep climb: Only about 22% of game makers are women, according to the International Game Developers Association, while men are three times as likely as women (10% vs. 3%) to make $150,000 or more. In contrast, about half of mobile gamers are women, according to a 2017 Newzoo study commissioned by Google Play.
“Part of the problem is that we are only starting to make progress in bridging the gender gap, so you just have fewer women working in the industry,” IGDA executive director Jen MacLean told Moneyish, adding that the focus on hiring and developing female talent is a relatively recent phenomenon. Women are also scarcer in higher-compensated positions like software engineering, added MacLean, who has worked in the industry for 25-plus years.
Also read: How did Nintendo get cool again?
Moneyish asked MacLean and Zynga chief communications officer Dani Dudeck, who serves on the developer’s Women at Zynga advisory board, to share their best tips on negotiating salary and nabbing a raise. Here’s what they said:
Know your organization and its “rhythm,” Dudeck said. “The bigger organizations really do have a rhythm where there are performance reviews; there are times to be able to go all in and ask for that promotion or whatever it is,” she said. “Being strategic and thoughtful in how you do that is really important.”
Chronicle your big wins. “Documenting those moments along the way is really important so that you’re prepared and you can make sure to walk your manager through it when the time is right,” Dudeck said. “It’s really important that people remember to advocate for themselves — no one’s going to do it for you. You’ve got to do it for yourself and for the people around you.”
Update your resume and LinkedIn a couple of times a year, Dudeck suggested. “It’s not about finding a new job — I have found in my career this is a really empowering exercise to really help remind you what you’ve done,” she said. “If you do that before going into a performance review … it really does help, because it gets you in the right mindset of the value that you’ve created.” These regular updates can also help you “stay in command of your own career path,” she added, by showing you where there may be gaps to fill.
Do your homework. “You have to know what other people with the same role are making,” MacLean said, recommending Glassdoor as a resource. “There can be a lot of ambiguity around compensation when you start a job, but the more research you do, the more empowered you’ll feel,” added Dudeck. “Talk to peers in other companies … Try and get as much detail and data as you can about what others are thinking about these topics.”
If you’re asked about your salary from a previous job, MacLean said, “respond by saying what you think the job that you’re interviewing for should be compensated at. Because that’s really what’s relevant to the discussion, not what you made before.”
Focus on the value you add to the business, not your personal reasons for needing a salary bump. “Don’t tell me that you want to move to a better apartment,” MacLean said. Stick to your concrete accomplishments — e.g., taking on new responsibilities for which you haven’t been compensated, or leading a team — coupled with your knowledge of the market and what peers are making.
Be transparent about your goals and communicate with your manager, said Dudeck — and don’t wait until the last minute. “Whether it’s a big promotion or a change in salary, managers want to be a part of that,” she said. “You have to make sure that you’re not catching anyone off guard, so they can have the time to advocate for you in the right way.”
Consider alternative forms of compensation. There are plenty of avenues beyond base salary worth exploring as part of your total package, MacLean pointed out, like equity, bonuses, a better title or extra vacation days. “Be creative about the things that are important to you,” she said. And look for opportunities that would contribute to your happiness at work, she added, whether it’s working on a specific project, getting to attend a certain conference each year, or being able to hire someone.
If you get stonewalled, follow up. Say your employer tells you it’s not able to budget a salary increase at the moment. “OK, then let’s talk about exactly when, exactly how … Tell me the details about how we can move this forward,” MacLean recommended replying. “Make sure that you get answers to the questions that you’re asking, because you deserve them.”
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