What with the economy and all (are you tired of that cliche yet?), some folks are happy to take any job. At least, that’s what I’ve heard around teh interwebz. But is it true? And should people really take any job, even if they’ll be underpaid?
Case in point: My unmarried, no-kids friend from college (let’s call her Raquel) recently received a job offer to be the editor-in-chief of a magazine. The job description sounds ideal for any journalism professional, let alone for a recent grad. Raquel will pretty much have full editorial control over a magazine that reaches a young demographic in a mid-size Midwestern city. It will be amazing on her resume.
She can expect to put in 40 – 50 hours per week easily in this salaried position. The benefits include a simple IRA plan but no employer match, what with the economy and all. Health insurance will run her about $50 per month, but I don’t know if this is an all-inclusive HMO or if she can expect to shell out hefty sums for prescriptions, doctor’s visits or other medical situations.
They’ll pay $500 toward her moving expenses.
The salary? $25,000 per year. They told her they were seeking “the best for the cheapest.” Jerks.
You can’t just hire anyone to run a magazine and expect it to be profitable. The $25,000 salary will mean she’ll be squeaking by paycheck to paycheck. She’ll be grossly underpaid.
The job description, skills required and location make me think they should be offering $40k – $45k at least. And, for pete’s sake, it should include an expense account.
Raquel will try to negotiate a higher salary, but she doesn’t think they can come close to paying what she’s worth.
You know what they tell kids in journalism school? “Don’t get into it for the money! If you want to enjoy a decent living, go into PR. Or marry a business major.” OK — I added that last part.
Is it so wrong to think that a job of this caliber should pay a decent wage? Making $45k annually isn’t living large by any means. Making $25k is going to be just plain rough. I’m thinking Raquel could earn more as a waitress.
So let’s circle back to my main question.
Should Raquel take this job, since it would be an amazing experience and potentially lead to other (hopefully higher-paying) publications?
She is unemployed at the moment, and any relevant job is better than no job, right? After all, those student loans need paid. And having health insurance is generally a good thing. Lastly, the Bank of Parents is about to close her account.
Or should she continue her search?
I think that in her case, being underpaid is better than not being paid at all. I’d take the job and commit to living like a broke college student for a few more years.
She probably won’t be able to build up much in savings, and she’ll only be able to chip at her student loans. It’ll be a lean year or two (or more) at the publication. Then she can move on to bigger, better-paying things. (Here’s hoping she doesn’t have to make a huge career change to achieve that!)
I do worry that by accepting a low starting wage, she’s implicitly saying, “Yes, I agree that I am only worth $25k.” Even if she gets a 10 percent raise at her first performance review, that’s only $2,500 more. And I certainly hope the low starting wage won’t affect her starting salary at her next job.
What do you think? Should she be happy she has a job offer and take it? Should she keep looking? What would you do?