Here's an excerpt from a recent newsletter to clients:
BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER,
THE GRASS AIN’T ALWAYS GREENER
When we call someone to discuss a job opening, usually one of the first questions they will ask us is, "What size market is that?" I hate that question.
When you think about packing up and moving to a new job, you should be thinking of three things: the salary, the city, and the job and company. Market size should NOT be a major factor.
Now, I understand that some clients seek a job in a larger urban environment (for various reasons). In that case, yes--- market size goes hand-in-hand with the obvious benefits of living in a more vibrant urban setting and all that entails. But, salaries are determined by a number of factors, market size being just one of them. Another of those factors is salaries across the street. Most stations in any given city pay the same salary ranges. For example, if a station pays $40k for general assignment reporters, you can expect it's competitors to pay about the same.
Of course, the economics of an area play an important role in what stations will pay. If the cost of living is low, the salaries will be low compared to a city where the cost of living is high.
We had a client making more than $100,000 a year plus the use of a Mercedes as a company car, cellular phone, golf membership at an exclusive country club and a hefty clothing allowance. The city where he worked wasn't even in the Top 100 by population.
Another example: A Top 20 market that was formerly paying $60,000 to $75,000 for a front line anchor until... Station "A" in the market hired anchor "X" away from competitor "B" and paid anchor "X" $200,000. Station "B" hired a new anchor "Y" and wound up paying him $150,000.
Or, take the story of an anchor working at an independent in a top thirty market. He left a weekend job in a top five market, and people thought he was nuts. What they didn’t know was that weekend gig was strictly a free-lance position (as many are in larger markets), and now he is salaried at $77,000/year (plus all the benefits) and works just four hours a day.
One more example: Chief Meteorologist in market #129? Makes $125k per year--- living on the beach!
Every market and every station is unique unto itself. Our advice is that you forget market size and concentrate on being better at what you do.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to drop down a few markets for a new job. We recently landed a job for a client that paid $40,000/year more than he already made in a state in which he had family and in a job that was a perfect match. His first question was, “What market size is that?” I winced. Mind you, he had already read this same document you’re eyeballing now, but---obviously----he retained little of it. Next question was, “Won’t that look bad on my résumé? What will people think to see me drop from market fifty to market seventy?” Wince some more, grit my teeth.
No, it does not look “bad” on a résumé. Any manager who knows anything about the business is already past the fallacy of placing too much importance on market sizes. Young, inexperienced, ego-driven persons who want all their young, inexperienced, ego-driven college buddies to think they’ve hit the big time are the only ones who care about market size.
AND, If you’re going to worry more about what other people think of your printed résumé (instead of your videos), then you’re in the wrong business.
So, ask yourself— what’s more important: