Sunlit Water

January 5, 2007

How Much?

Filed under: Job Search,Personal — by teofilo @ 10:55 pm

So I’ve begun searching for jobs.  For a variety of reasons I don’t really want to do anything more with linguistics, so I’m in the situation many people who major in interesting subjects find themselves in as they approach graduation: namely, discovering that there is a remarkable oversupply of well-rounded, liberally-educated young people and not much demand for them.  As a result, I’ve decided to look mainly at the areas in which I’ve had internships and prior experience, hoping that I’ll have at least a bit of an edge over the other job-seekers.

One such area, and the main one I’m looking at, is publishing.  My internship this past summer was in this industry, and I enjoyed it enough that I think it would be a nice way to at least start out.  It’s competitive, to be sure, but hopefully my internship will help me get a foot in the door.

It’s still a little early, but I’ve starting applying for jobs that look interesting when I see them posted on various internet job boards.  I don’t really expect to get any of the ones I’m applying for right now (I think they’d prefer people who can start sooner than June), but I figure it’s good practice.  One thing I’ve found, however, is that many houses insist that cover letters include salary requirements even for entry-level positions.  I don’t really have a clear idea of how much people in these jobs generally make and how much applicants typically ask for (though I realize that the two are not necessarily the same).  I know I have some readers with experience in publishing, so I thought I’d put this question out there.  What should I say?



  1. Well, darn. I tried this salary calculator and couldn’t find a totally appropriate occupational category. (I tried Art/Media and then “All other”).

    I have another tangentially related thought, but it’s still percolating.

    Comment by Witt — January 5, 2007 @ 11:52 pm |Reply

  2. Are you looking in a particular area? These things can vary greatly by location.

    Comment by Stanley — January 6, 2007 @ 12:15 am |Reply

  3. OK, semi-solicited advice time. Free; so take it for what it’s worth.

    Have you asked your supervisor(s) for the internships about possible job openings? If you don’t feel comfortable asking about openings at THEIR publishing houses, how about just a general e-mail saying “I’d like to go into this field after graduating; are there any websites or networking events that you would specifically suggest to me?” Ditto professors. Ditto recent alums from your school.

    Second, what specifically about publishing appeals to you? Because one thing I found out accidentally after college is that there are a lot of little career niches that draw on well-known skills but aren’t those familiar doctor/police officer/accountant job categories.

    E.g. Foundation report writing (see for one set of examples). Or typographer. (Maybe I mean typesetter. Anyway, a friend with a bright, literate mind and a *biology* degree got that job.) Or telephone surveys — not the creepy kind. Oh wait, you don’t like the phone. Never mind.

    Technical writer. Do you want to write GlaxoSmithKline’s how-to-avoid diabetes materials? (Maybe “want” is too strong a word.) Etc. Etc.

    Comment by Witt — January 6, 2007 @ 12:20 am |Reply

  4. 1: Yeah, that’s the problem; jobs like this are rarely included in calculators like that.

    2: The ones that demand salary requirements seem to be mainly (perhaps exclusively) in NYC.

    3: I appreciate the concern, but this isn’t really a “what should I do with my life?” post.

    Comment by teofilo — January 6, 2007 @ 3:49 am |Reply

  5. OK, fair enough.

    Back to the question — I don’t know much about salary requirements, but I will say that when an applicant (voluntarily) includes them, I use them as a weeding-out tool. If they ask for too much (say, $50K for a job that I anticipate will pay $30-35K) I don’t call them. If they ask for too little, I look at the resume to see if they are underselling themselves and if they have the relevant experience.

    Comment by Witt — January 6, 2007 @ 9:23 am |Reply

  6. Don’t rely on this, because I’ve got no hiring experience, but I’d be strongly tempted to equivocate past the salary requirements with something like “Salary commensurate with job requirements.” (My sense of entry-level publishing is that it pays bupkis, so if you need to guess, in this industry I’d guess low.)

    On the job hunting thing generally — this is do as I say, not as I do, I’m terrible at this stuff, but seriously, you should should be doing what Witt suggests about working people you know. Go to office hours for relevant professors who like you, tell them what sort of job you’re looking for, and ask for advice. Think about your parents’ friends, and get in touch with anyone who sounds like they should be within a few people of the job you want. I’m not coming up with anyone from Unfogged in publishing, but if there is anyone you can think of, email them and ask what they know about applying for jobs. Same thing with your supervisors at your internship.

    It’s much easier to find a job through connections than through want-ads. People like doing favors, if you’re pleasant and friendly about asking for them.

    (Actually, come to think of it, your supervisors from your internship, if you’re looking at comparable jobs, are also who you should go to to ask about what you should put down for salary requirements. They know.)

    Comment by LizardBreath — January 6, 2007 @ 10:34 am |Reply

  7. I’ve worked in publishing, although I’m useless now for connections. I’ll endorse what LB says about not directly answering the salary question and trying to make or develop your connections.

    Comment by idontpay — January 6, 2007 @ 12:07 pm |Reply

  8. Besides talking to professors and people you interned with, what about your carreer placement office at the university? I’d think they would know the ballpark for starting salaries.

    Are they helpful in general? Mine put together a number of “interview days” with companies that came on campus to recruit, and it wasn’t nearly the name school that yours is.

    Comment by Becks — January 6, 2007 @ 5:10 pm |Reply

  9. And, if at all possible, get the other guy to name the price first.

    Comment by Becks — January 6, 2007 @ 5:10 pm |Reply

  10. I hadn’t thought about the Career Services office; they’re pretty helpful and would be a good place to ask. Like Witt says, I figure this is probably a weeding-out thing (which is why I’m a little nervous about what I say), as well as a way to ensure that applicants name a number first.

    Comment by teofilo — January 6, 2007 @ 7:03 pm |Reply

  11. The thing is (I suspect) that while you’re right that it’s a combination of weeding out the high bidders, and seizing the opportunity to underpay the low bidders, it’s also a bit of a bluff — my guess is that just because the request that you name salary requirements is an obvious trick, most people hiring will respond to an evasive answer with respect rather than penalizing you for it.

    Comment by LizardBreath — January 6, 2007 @ 7:30 pm |Reply

  12. I see what you mean, but I’m still a little hesitant because it’s also quite possible that they interpret evasive answers as showing lack of awareness of the industry. Basically, I’m pretty sure there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, but I have no idea what they are.

    Comment by teofilo — January 6, 2007 @ 7:38 pm |Reply

  13. I know a bunch of people in publishing. Will get names and numbers for you.

    Comment by ac — January 6, 2007 @ 8:02 pm |Reply

  14. I knew someone would come through with the connections. Thanks ever so much, ac.

    Comment by teofilo — January 6, 2007 @ 8:37 pm |Reply

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