Tag Archives: contractor

Negotiate

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This is an exercise in staying calm while all cards are on the table, lying face down. You study the deck, eyes squinted, imagining how if you can see clear through to the other side, this game would be so much easier. Instead, you breathe. You wait.
There are a few different jobs I’ve interviewed for over the past month. Some are better than others. A few pay pretty good salaries. There is one I really want. The job requires a ton of responsibility. Global travel. It’s a great opportunity for me from every angle, except that it doesn’t provide benefits or paid time off, etc. It’s hourly. But that shouldn’t matter if the hourly price is right.
And that is where the cards are lying right now. Except in this negotiation there is a mediator. Someone hired for the sole purpose of finding out what my cards are, bringing them to the company, and deciding if I’m worth what I’d like to make.
I did what I normally do and asked for a range they were looking at first. The range was somewhat low, although not necessarily lower than I expected. I inquired if it would destroy my chances of getting the position if I asked for more. Are there other candidates? The answer – yes, there are two other candidates who made it to the final round. But they like me the most. They seem to really want to hire me. That’s great. I think they’re right because I’d be really good for this job. Given my normal lack of confidence on these sorts of things that says a lot.
But what I don’t know is where those other two candidates stand. Am I really the top candidate? Are they willing to negotiate with me until we settle on a fair hourly rate? Or did I high ball too much? Too little? It’s hard to say. It’s hard to figure out what is comparable to an annual salary when you drop all benefits. Even my last job, which paid an average annual salary, ended up being worth more with a severance, stock options, conference fees, and a free computer. Those stock options, in theory, could one day be worth even more. In a contract position all you get is your hourly salary. So why not try to get a fairly high rate?
I’m just not sure what counts as high and what counts as “she’s crazy for asking for that much.” On one hand, there’s a part of me that feels like I did that right now, on the other hand this is a short-term project and if they don’t like me or think I’m worth my rate they can easily terminate me at any time, so it’s not like they have a lot to lose if I’m not all that and the bag of chips they think I am.
Right now I’m trying to figure out what the lowest I’ll go is. The range I was quoted seemed a bit vague. My title isn’t generic, so it’s hard to say what level it falls under. Even researching what other people are paid in this position elsewhere is tricky, there just aren’t many specialists in this type of role out there. At least not with enough experience to get this far in the hiring process.
I’d really love it if I got a call today that said “ok” to the dollar figure I quoted. I have a feeling they’re going to come back with something lower. How much lower… I don’t know. I really hope they wouldn’t say “you’re too expensive for us so we decided to pass.” That would be the worst thing to hear. Yes, there are other opportunities. Yes, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I really want this job. It would be so good for me. And I think I can really make a difference in this organization. Show my stuff, so to speak. Move to the next level.
God, I hate waiting. I was told they will get back to me fairly quickly. Sounds like they want to hire someone yesterday. It would make my year if they just said yes, and gave me a start date. Fingers crossed for the best possible outcome when our hands are flipped face up.

Economy Woes

Some people, some people who have a family to support, have lost their jobs. By those standards, I’m doing fine. I’m doing great! But it still sucks to see business opportunities, especially fairly stable ones, in the middle of the fiscal crossfire.

For the last two years or so, I’ve been providing copy to my uncle’s one-man marketing firm. It started out as a gig writing some article summaries, and I made $50 a month. Over time, we upped it to more writing assignments and a $400 retainer. That was when times were good. Now, some companies are cutting back on their e-marketing budgets, which means they’re cutting back on him. And he has to cut back on me.

The good news is that I still have my day job. Well, it’s a day job on a contract that expires Jan 22. And my company is also, howdoyousay, skimming the fat from the company. Contractors are the first to go. We still have a good runway of VC bucks behind us, but they’re now concerned that even with that, we won’t make the revenue we need through advertising and other means because the economy is vacationing in the gutter. I’ve only been working there a year and a month, but in that year the world has changed. I may not have a job come Jan 22, and that’s freaking me out.

Chances are, if I do my job well – and i need to do my job well – they’ll keep me on as a contractor. I’ve been pushing for a full-time gig (which basically means I’ll get some employee-pays-a-little health benefits and won’t have to pay self-employement tax) but they’re pushing back, saying that they need to be really careful about new hires. Of course, I’m supposed to work from the office 4 days a week and 40 hours a week, which seems legally to be an “employee.” But what do I know?

I recently took advantage of my contractor status by traveling and working remotely for about 2.5 weeks. It’s a double-edged sword, because they could very easily use that against me when deciding whether or not to hire me full time. I probably should be in 5 days a week if I really want to get hired on. I guess when it comes down to it, I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the idea of trading in my one-day-a-week work-from-home gig for health benefits. Sounds stupid, but with my anxiety disorder I need a day to just be away from people and focus on my work.

So… my uncle hasn’t gotten back to me on how much I’ll be making a month now that one company cut their monthly newsletter to quarterly. But it won’t be $400. That $400 really put me in a comfortable salary point given my cost of living. Plus, if I ever want to actually save up for year one of grad school before I go, then I need the money. That doesn’t seem possible either, though.