Q21: What is your rate?

ROB DAVIS, P.E.


Q21: What is your rate?

The short answer is, you need to ask your end client the following question: "How much is this job paying?"

The long answer is...

Good recruiters never press me for "my rate". They never keep me in the dark. They never fight or argue with me. They always disclose to me what their jobs are paying.

Inexperienced recruiters have nothing, absolutely nothing. Not even a single job description. Agressively they ask (or demand) that I tell them what "my rate" is — what the one specific, generic, all-inclusive, minimum rate is that would work for me for every contract duration, every job description, and in every market. Why? Because, inexperienced recruiters tend to think that if they knew "my rate", then their jobs would be easier.

However, inexperienced recruiters should keep in mind that...
  • Every market, every location, and every job description is different. Example: Show me a contractor who quotes his (or her) Iowa City rate on a contract in New York City, and I will show you a contractor who is not going to make it in New York City!

  • It is not in my best interest to give you one specific, generic, all-inclusive rate. Because, if I foolishly do that, then you will likely bring me nothing but the shortest-duration contracts with the lowest possible rates in the highest possible cost of living areas that I don't want, and no one else wants.

  • By asking me what "my rate" is, you are implying that I can establish my own rate. FYI, the rates of contractors are established by end clients — not me. Like salaries of perm employees, the rates of contractors are established by end clients. As end-users, they are the ultimate holders of the purse strings — not me!
The rate is hourly, market, negotiable, open, or TBD. It is the same time-wasting game, just with a different name. Hourly, market, negotiable, open, and TBD are just catch phrases that mean you're so ashamed of your low rate that you don't want to tell me about it until after you find out what my minimum rate is. Why? Because, in my experience, hourly, market, negotiable, open and TBD usually equate to a low rate in a high cost of living area like Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco and Tokyo.

Low rates. The higher the rate is, the better it is for you, me, and everyone. It never seems to be a problem, if the rate is high. However, if the rate is low, then please disclose it in advance, and do not waste my time and life with catch phrases like hourly, market, negotiable, open, and TBD.

Bad recruiters never read my profile. They keep assuming that:
  • I'm interested in perm jobs — when in reality I'm seeking a contract.

  • I'm interested in the Bay Area — when in reality I'm open to all 50 states.

  • I'm a superhero with hundreds of credentials — when in reality no candidate can possibly have all of those credentials. Or, if that superhero miraculously existed, then he (or she) wouldn't work for your low-low wages in the first place.

  • I'm going to respond to you right away, if you send me a mass-mailed, poorly written job description with a long-long list of demands, and zero rate information. Surely I need to know what is required for the job. But, don't you think I also want to know what's in it for me?

    So why don't you describe for me the outstanding working conditions, the great culture, and the great rate? Why don't you give me a few reasons to apply for your opportunity? FYI, there is nothing in it for me, if you speak broken English, if you demand from me hundreds of credentials, or if, instead of disclosing to me the money your job is paying, you use a catch phrase like hourly, market, negotiable, open, or TBD.
PD: Upon starting the assignment I will need PD. However, don't worry, the PD comes out of my money, not yours. Please bear in mind that the more money you allocate for the payment of my PD, the more money you can make on my contract.

High rates. If you're trying to say my rate is too high, then please remember that...
  • Business travel is a grind. It takes many-many years off of your life. It's not easy being on the road and leaving your life behind. I earn every dollar I receive in wages I'm entitled to.
  • Do you think your "top rate" is great? No, chances are it's just a low-low wage that no self-respecting engineering business would ever work for.
  • I'm not going to get rich on your wages. Only a small portion of your wages can remain in my pocket. Why? Because, from the wages you pay, I have to pay...

    • The cheapest motel room — are you aware that innkeepers want up to $600.- per day?
    • Airline fares to and from every job location — are you aware that airline companies want up to $2,000.- per flight, if you want me to travel on short notice?
    • Rental car companies in every contract location;
    • Phone calls and interview expenses; the
    • Hidden cost of unemployment, whenever the manufacturing sector or the software segment is showing any weakness;
    • Federal income taxes,
    • State income taxes;
    • Social security taxes;
    • FICA taxes;
    • State sales taxes;
    • Property taxes;
    • Holiday pay;
    • Vacation time; and
    • Retirement benefits.
Negativity is sure defeat. Don't let the current economy fool you into thinking that high-tech skills are now a dime a dozen. Talent is talent, and in today's business climate your customers need talent more than ever. There are many employment options available to me.

Resume

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