In 2022, most employers have been on the hunt for talent.
March 2022 saw a series high of job openings, at 11.5 million, as well as a series high of quits, at 4.5 million. Many companies are creating or recruiting for short-term, non-permanent contract positions to get the expertise they need and supplement their full-time workforce with project talent.
The current era of the Great Reassessment puts contractors in a great position to negotiate for open positions. When you’re in the market for contracting roles, use these tips to negotiate a position that meets your career objectives.
Define Your Expectations First, think about what you want out of a contract role. Consider factors like:
- Your ideal timeframe for working in a single position or for a particular company
- What your salary expectations are, both for positions that offer benefits like health insurance and for those that offer no benefits
- What types of tasks and work environment you’re interested in
You may prefer a contract position that’s completely remote, or that primarily requires you to work autonomously to complete your work. Or, you may be open to working in an office, in a highly collaborative environment.
As a contractor, you have unique expertise and skills. There are businesses that need exactly what you offer for their specific projects, so create a clear picture of what you want out of a contract role to find the best fit.
Research Comparable Positions
When you’re negotiating things like salary and job duties, it’s helpful to have plenty of data to support what you want out of a potential employer. The good news is, that there are plenty of reputable resources that can help you understand what your contract position is worth, considering the type of work you’ll be doing and the experience you bring to the table.
First, you can look at job descriptions of similar contract positions on job search sites like Indeed or Monster. Look at positions that have similar titles to the role you’re applying for, so you can compare duties and salaries.
On LinkedIn, you can ask professionals in your industry in LinkedIn Groups about their knowledge about typical job duties and salaries in contract positions you’re interested in. You can also reach out to your LinkedIn contacts who may have experience and insights to share. Instead of asking for a specific salary, describe the job duties and ask what they think a reasonable range might be.
You can also find salary averages on sites like the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Glassdoor, Payscale, O*NET, Monster, and Salary.com. If a contract position doesn’t offer benefits, it’s reasonable to ask for a higher overall salary, since you’re responsible for covering those benefits. Factor in other perks like paid time off to calculate a salary you’d be comfortable with accepting.
Strengthen Your Position
In addition to doing research on comparable positions in your industry, reflect on what makes you stand out as a candidate. To justify whatever you ask for in a negotiation, make sure you’ve:
- Added quantifiable achievements to your resume that demonstrate your contributions
- Optimized your LinkedIn profile, including asking your trusted professional contacts to add relevant recommendations and skills endorsements to your profile
- Gathered any work examples that show off your talent and added them to a portfolio, professional website, and LinkedIn profile
You might also want to contact recent former employers to give them a heads-up you’re applying for new contract positions. Some potential new employers may want to talk with your former bosses or company representatives. Having this conversation early on with former employers prepares them to be responsive and recommend you for new positions.
Once you’re clear on what you want out of a contract position, be prepared to negotiate with the employer during the job interview. According to The Muse, 84% of employers expect candidates to negotiate their salaries. That’s why employers typically start with a lower offer.
However, as many candidates know, negotiating a salary is often easier said than done. Asking for more money can be difficult, especially when other aspects of the role appeal to you.
It’s helpful to remind yourself that your salary now can impact your potential in the future. If you accept less than what you’re worth, that could make it harder to grow your earnings over time.
Plus, asking for more money or for different job terms can make you positively stand out as a candidate. Negotiating your worth shows you’re confident in your capabilities and that you’ve done your research.
If negotiations intimidate you, ask a friend or mentor to practice a mock job offer with you. Practicing a negotiation with someone you trust can help you feel more prepared during the real discussion.
To have a successful negotiation, ask questions so that you fully understand what’s expected of the role. It can help to ask for the higher end of your expected salary range so that if an employer does negotiate, you’ll have some room to meet in the middle.
If the company can’t offer you something you want, like a higher salary, but you’re interested in the role, ask what the employer can offer. There might be more flexibility in time off or benefits, for example, which could still make accepting the contract position something that’s worthwhile.
Bonus Tip: Work with a Recruiter
If you’re interested in contract work, another way to position yourself successfully for a role you’re interested in is to connect with a recruiter. The benefits of working with a recruiter include:
- You gain an ally who will advocate for you on your job search and contract position negotiations.
- You can create clear job and salary expectations from the beginning, which can help make your contract job search much more efficient.
- Your recruiter will learn everything about you that makes you a great candidate so that you’re positioned for success.
If you’d like an ally in AccruePartners for your contract job search, contact us. We’d love to pair you with contract opportunities that match your objectives.