FB’s Negotiation – Part 2

Negotiating with my (ex) employer after 2 years of earning $65,000

So I stayed with them for about 2 years.

After the first year, I got a “welcome to the team after your probationary period” bonus of a measly 2%. *yawn*

I was starting to really love the work, and I saw it as a career. So when I went on projects, I killed it. I learned as much as I could, I made very detailed notes on EVERYTHING I learned, I tried to learn other parts of the whole process, and I threw myself into anything I could find.

After a year and a half, I became a kind of pseudo-project manager for a project. I was killing it with my skills, totally proud that I knew what I was doing and I kept receiving praise from the head project manager because I was the only one who got all her deadlines in on time.

So I asked for a raise. Just a small one. 3% to cover inflation would’ve been sufficient.

My manager told me that there was no money (yeah right, we had a KILLER year), and that I would get a bonus AFTER this project, and after proving myself.

I told her I wasn’t happy, it wasn’t good enough and left it at that.

I immediately began job hunting for other offers. I had originally planned to stay until the end of the project, but circumstances changed and I left quicker than I had planned.

I don’t think that the corporation ever expected that I would just leave a project in the middle after being a pseudo-project manager, but I could not have cared less.

They made me angry, and I was willing to just quit just to prove the point to them, and teach them a lesson that I AM more valuable to the project than they tried to make it out to be.

They tried to make it as though I was still a junior, still not able to branch out on my own, or jump to another company. I knew I was worth more, and the market was getting pretty hot, so I left the company, and threw caution to the wind.

3 days later after quitting, I got a call from the client that I am on right now (through a broker) to start by next week.

Negotiating my rate as a freelancer

When I first started, you may recall them trying to beat my ass down to $100/hour right?

I held pretty firm at $110/hour. This took a bit of sass because I was thinking to myself: “FB you fricking idiot, are you NUTS? It’s $100 an HOUR. That’s $44,000 that you’re turning down!!!! $44,000 in 11 weeks (2 months), I might add!!!

But I held on tight because I knew that the market was hot, they didn’t have anyone with my skill set available and they were NOT going to throw away a contract for a bit of haggling over $10/hour.

Also, I also made sure that when I was grilled by the client, I passed with flying colours (apparently), and made them WANT me, and AGREE that even though I was missing French as a ‘nice to have’, I was the person for the job because they were desperate and had been searching for someone for about 3 – 4 months now.

So once the client ‘agreed’ on the broker’s side to take me, it was just up to the broker to bite the bullet and take a lower margin on me with the hope of a possible extension until next year.

But I’ve since learned that brokers take at least a $20-$30 margin, and they do NOT, absolutely DO NOT want to change that (naturally). But if they can get you to knock down your price even further before they tack on their surcharge, it looks more appealing to the client because they’re paying less. DUH!

I held firm to make that extra $4400 because if YOU screw up at the client, it’s YOU (like I said). So you don’t want to screw up at a client because it’s your name. Your broker has nothing to do with you. All they do is find you contracts, take a margin and invoice the client, and pass the cash on to you. Easy peasy for them.

So keep that in mind when you’re negotiating – their value is just to find contracts for you and place you. And it’s a two-way street. You have to go down by $10, and they send you to the client and keep you in mind for the future as being a ‘good’ consultant to work with.

And that was TOTALLY the case for this particular first half of the negotiation. I went down $20 just to secure my first contract as a new freelancer on the market, and to get my first client to make some serious moolah.

I dropped more than I should’ve. I should have held firm at $120/hour, for a couple of reasons:

1. They had been searching for someone like me for a long time. There was literally NO ONE on the market available to work.

2. They had wanted someone who knew French. I was 25% there, but not enough to work in it fluently, but I refused to let them use language against me.

3. $110/hour + $20 margin = $130/hour charging which is a heck of a lot cheaper than what the corporation would charge at $180. I should’ve held firm at $120 and then made the broker charge $140/hour.

4. Then again, it was also my first contract. I wanted to be sure to secure it, and I am doubly glad I didn’t drop down to $100/hour like they had wanted me to.

Don’t let them take more than they should because you are the one in the end, who’s doing the work at the client and putting your name on the line.

Next: How to raise the rates after securing the contract.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.