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The "Is-that-your-best-offer" game

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in Human Resources,Workplace Communication

Q. An employer offered to hire me on a 30-day trial basis. I accepted the “consultant fee” without negotiating because I have bills to pay. Should I have played the “Is-that-your-best-offer” game? What should I do at the end of the 30 days if we decide to continue the relationship?

A. It’s always a tough call whether to accept a “trial” job at a low consultant’s rate in the hope that it will turn into a high-paying permanent job. But yes, you should negotiate even a 30-day rate rather than blindly accept whatever figure the employer tosses out. After all, consultants must pay for their own benefits, so they might argue they’re entitled to earn more than a fulltime employee.

Also remember: It’s in the employer’s best interest to “sample” you for 30 days before making a commitment. That mitigates the employer’s risk. Why should the employer save money, too, by choosing this convenient route?

It’s too late this time, but ideally, you should have negotiated by saying,“My hourly/daily rate is $X, soI’d charge $Y for a 30-day contract.” Tie your bid to some kind of precedent, so that it doesn’t look like you just plucked a number out of a hat.

After 30 days, negotiate for a full-time salary. But this time it should prove easier. By now you should know how badly you want to work there. And the firm should know how badly it wants you—and how much it will need to pay for your services.

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