Category: Job Search Tips

How to Negotiate Your Contract Rate

How to Create a Talent Pipeline That Gets Results 2/18 at at 1 PM EST by clicking here.

Attractive business woman working on laptop

My husband and I are afforded to live the contract life. We move from project to project making our own hours and rules. Yes, it was scary getting started but doing good work as a contract means that you will never really be out of a project. My husband, Greg has worked in healthcare IT for 15 plus years. He made the leap to go consultant four years ago and he has never looked back.

The freedom that contract positions in any field including IT is not something that is for everybody. It is scary, but I find it liberating in that I, we, really have control over our own careers. It’s a challenge getting started, and you are always scheming, plotting, planning and networking that next contract gig or opportunity.

When you do find a contract position or project you are interested in pursuing, there’s a salary negotiation dance that follows that can sometimes be a little unsettling. For me, it’s hard to talk money, but it’s your livelihood that’s why it’s key to have a clear strategy when negotiating your contract recruiting or sourcing hourly rate.

Step 1 – Length of Contract

My rate is a range and it first depends on the length of the contract. The longer the contract, the more comfortable I am. I have to hustle less and can relax a bit so I am willing to accept less per hour depending on what the length of the contract might be.

Often times short contracts extend which is why if you are comfortable, start with the short contract and aim for a higher hourly rate. It’s easier to negotiate down than up especially when they are talking about extending your contract for a future date.

Step 2 – Number of Hours Billed Weekly

Your hourly rate also depends on the number of hours billed weekly. If I’m working a part time gig at 20 hours a week, I go in at a higher hourly rate. If the contract calls for over 40 hours like 50-60, I tend to accept a lower amount. Ask about the number of hours work when beginning negotiation. You will want to see if the weekly hours are included within the contract. Later you can inquire about the approval process if you need to go over the weekly hours cap.

Step 3 – Range of Pay

As a recruiter myself, I always like to ask the pay range question up front. It keeps everyone from wasting their time. When I’m placing candidates, I work hard to get them what they deserve, but I’m working for both the candidate I’m presenting as well as the company I’m recruiting for. It’s a balance. I always ask for the rate up front, and as a recruiter I’m realistic. I don’t like to string prospects along.

Ask for the range of pay and be prepared to share when you are asked as well. Contracts that require travel or are on site usually are billed at a higher rate with the virtual ones coming in lower. There is less travel time, expenses and overhead. Plus, who doesn’t like working in their comfy home clothes.

Your contract rate of pay also depends on the position with very sought after skills or types of candidates you are recruiting or sourcing for to demand a higher hourly pay. If you are a wiz at finding purple squirrels in technical positions, you will be billing higher than someone who is filling management or call center workers that are easier to find.

And finally, when it comes to pay. I recommend talking to other contract recruiters and sourcers to get an average of their hourly rates. This is not always easy as many of us keep our hourly rate information under our hats and don’t often share. I recommend finding a mentor you have a long standing relationship with or someone at a corporation who hires contract recruiters to get a better idea of an hourly rate.

Step 4 – Exclusivity

I like to ask this question when I work on contract because there are times when I might be juggling multiple contracts. Maybe one is extending part time for a few weeks that I’m coming off of. I’m not going to say no to money. That’s part of the contract game we play. However, some companies might ask that you sign nondisclosure agreements or non-competes. I’m a recruiter not an attorney so I advise that you talk to your attorney and decide what’s best for you. Exclusivity is hard especially if you are coming in at a lower rate. You want to be able to cover your bills and expenses and make a living. Being exclusive keeps you from picking up side gigs and it’s definitely something to make you stop and think. Looking for some insights into how HR and attorneys feel about hiring contract recruiters, click here.

Step 5: Scaling

There are only so many hours in the day. Some weeks I work 90+ hours and other times it’s much less than that. I don’t want to be a slave to my work, but I am a professional business hustler for a living. The hours we work directly impact the number of hours that we bill which is why scaling is to critical. If the project or contract is a fit for me and my skill set, I don’t want to say no because this might be a great opportunity. Consider training, building relationships or outsourcing some of the project or find a way to make yourself available for that time. It could be hiring a personal assistant, housecleaner or looking at bringing on a junior member of the staff on board to work with. Train them to be you when you booked.

If you choose to do this, be upfront and let the company you are working with that you and your team will be working together to give them the best experience it will be. Be aware of privacy and HIPPA laws especially, but under no certain terms should you ever hide that you are having someone else manage the project for you. You want to grow and scale your business for the long term.


Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is workplace technology and HR anthropologist committed to making the HR & recruiting industry a better place. Mom to @ryleighmerrell. Follow her on Twitter, @jmillermerrell.

Employed For life: An Interview with Dr. Tracey Wilen [podcast]

Check out our Workology Podcast powered by Blogging4jobs. Click here to check out all our episodes.

Podcast with Dr. Tracey Wilen

I interviewed Dr. Tracey Wilen, the author of “Employed for Life: 21st Century Career Trends” in this episode of “The Jim Stroud Show.” We discussed the world of work from a 21st century perspective and how much has changed from the days of the baby boomers, how new generations are making an impact, unforeseen ramifications of new technologies, advice for today’s jobseekers and sooo much more. Tune in to hear all the fun (and maybe learn something).

Inside this podcast:

00:38 – I could not put this book down
02:20 – I thoroughly enjoyed your book
05:03 – How is longevity impacting career planning?
08:46 – 52% of Americans do not work for large corporations
11:24 – …generations could learn a lot from the other
14:48 – …learn how to retool their existing skills in a new way
17:48 – …you gave a lot of good advice just as you are giving now
21:13 – I also see a benefit in having a much longer resume
24:10 – …they have ranked LinkedIn as the number one resource in…
28:19 – …you can find work in other cities but you don’t have to relocate
32:37 – …let me take out the word handbag or product and put in recruiting
34:13 – …time seems to fly when we talk or I just ramble a lot

About Dr. Tracey Wilen

Dr. Wilen is a global authority on workforce trends who assists Fortune 500 firms implement internal leadership, diversity, and employee skill development programs and accelerate business development initiatives. As a thought leader on business, technology, women’s leadership, and career topics, her offerings include speeches, panel moderation, and she serves as a panelist expert for corporations and conferences.

Dr. Wilen appears on CNN, FOX News Live, CBS Radio, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Wired magazine. She regularly contributes to The Huffington Post, the Examiner, Christian Science Monitor, and other national and international outlets. She was a senior global executive in firms including Cisco Systems, Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard and the Apollo Group. Dr. Wilen has also been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University where she conducted research for over ten years on the impact of technology on society, work, education and careers.

Dr. Wilen has published 11 books on the topics of business, technology, women and careers. She was named San Francisco Woman of the Year and honored by the San Francisco Business Times as the most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business in 2012.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

How To Make Your Job Search More Efficient

HR and Recruiters: Be a part of history & take our behavioral survey to help us understand "Who is HR?" clicking here.

Have you ever received an email from someone informing you that they are out of work and seeking new opportunities? I have and I am always open to assisting. However, I would like to offer a tip that would make the activity of polling your network for leads a bit more efficient. Did you know that you can search through the contact list of people you are connected to? Of course, your connections would have to make the option available to you, but the potential is there. This is how you do it.

First, go to a first connection’s profile and scroll down to the “Connections” section (as shown below). If the person has enabled their profile to publicly share whom they are connected with, you will see a magnifying glass icon. If not, you will only see a “Shared” link and a number. The number represents the number of connections you have in common with the LinkedIn profile you are viewing.


Click the magnifying glass icon and a search field opens up. Type in a company name like… “Home Depot,” hit “Enter” on your keypad and you will see whom in the user’s network has had a past affiliation with the company of interest. In this case, “Home Depot.”


Now, if I wanted to target Home Depot for employment opportunities, I would review the profiles of my friend’s connections and ask for an introduction to someone specifically. Make sense? (Sooo much better than spamming everyone you know. It is quite possible as well, that they have forgotten who they know and/or where they are currently stationed. Just sayin’…) In this case, there were only 5 results for me to sift through. What if there were a considerable amount more for me to refine? To the left of the results number is a link to the Advanced Search function on LinkedIn. Let me show you how I would use it by performing another query on a different profile. I do all as I have before but choose a different company, say… Amazon.

Alright, on my friend’s LinkedIn profile I see that he knows 155 people who are (or have been) affiliated with Amazon.


I click the “advanced search” link and go to… well… the advanced search page. Once there, I click the “Advanced” link.


I noticed that the word “Amazon” was in the “Keywords” section. Not exactly what I want so, I delete it and make the following adjustments. I choose “1st Connections” (A), add Amazon as the current company (B) then, I choose “Staffing and Recruiting” (C). Just in case you missed that, I am curious as to how many people Gerry has in his LinkedIn network who currently work at Amazon, in the staffing and recruiting industry who are first level connections (so I know these are people Gerry can reach out to directly).


To take it a step further, I scroll down the results page and I see that one of these connections is based in Atlanta. Gee, that’s where I am! I add a checkmark next to the “Greater Atlanta Area” and LinkedIn refines my results even more.


In this case, I am already connected to Ronnie Bratcher. (Great guy, by the way.) If I were not, I would be so inclined to ask Gerry to connect me to Ronnie. If he was gracious enough to do so, I would invite Ronnie for a cup of coffee where I could pitch my virtues as a potential Amazon employee. Make sense?

I hope this tip proves useful for you. Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

Jim Stroud

P.S. Are we connected on LinkedIn? If not, why not? Let’s network. Click here.



How To Get Your Resume Noticed

How to Create a Talent Pipeline That Gets Results 2/18 at at 1 PM EST by clicking here.

Jim Is thinking about social media recruiting and job search strategy. “How To Get Your Resume Noticed” is the topic of this episode of “The Jim Stroud Show.” Jim practices his new hobby then, answers a question from a fan – How do you get your resume seen by recruiters after you apply for a job? Jim advises using a web app that he recently discovered – JobScan. It compares the keywords of the job description with the keywords in your resume and estimates how well they match each other.


Connect with Jim Stroud on LinkedIn!


Check out our Workology Podcast powered by Blogging4jobs. Click here to check out all our episodes.

HR Marketer put together a list of the most influential voices on Twitter in regards to staffing and recruiting. Check out the list below and send kudos to the recipients. Click here for more information. | Infographic | The Faces of Recruiting & Staffing

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