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January 05, 2009

Who sets the pay rate?

January 5. Day 189.

As you know, I occasionally consult in the general area of information systems for a mix of companies. I won't go into more details about the industry or my background outside grad school, since once I start looking for full-time work, I don't want employers to find out I have this blog -- it could hurt my chances, or they could lowball me preemptively.

I recently accepted a new type of assignment for a new company. The company is huge and powerful, only they weren't paying as much as I'd hoped. I was curious: Is this the norm? Or am I about to become a woman-who-didn't-ask?

So, I wrote a note to an industry forum.
I'm doing a project for Acme company. It's my first contract with them. The HR manager told me "We don't pay much the first time -- $400. Then it changes." I'm wondering, does this seem right for [I briefly describe the project here -- hours worked and category]? Is it negotiable? Will it be negotiable for my next contract? They said they might need a few more ancillary materials, besides the main unit I'm delivering. How much can I expect or ask for the entire package? Thank you for any insights!
I got two answers:
In most cases, the firm sets the rate. Unless you're a big name, the rate you're being quoted seems fair. It wouldn't hurt to ask them what the hourly or per-project rate would be for future contracts, assuming this one meets their standards.
Another replied:
I doubt it would be negotiable at this time. But that is low. you need to ask about
the extra materials, but at that low rate, I would not expect much.
Gained: Pay rate info. Conclusion: it's fair, if skimpy!
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