I am running a small startup that requires a particular skill that has been hard to locate. We have been through 2 people with this skill, and have had unfortunate luck in recruiting the right person.
We found a contractor who a few months back had initially shown interest in the FT position, but we had already hired someone else. When that person was let go, we reached back out to this candidate and let them know about the situation. We discussed the salary we'd be able to offer (what they'd asked for).
They mentioned they'd like to try it out as a contractor for 3 weeks before making the decision – so we invited them to come in and work with us for 3 weeks. After the 3 weeks was over, I asked them whether they'd like to make it permanent – and they said the commute was very difficult and if I could consider 2 days of remote working if they came on board FT, which I agreed to.
However, they still wanted 2 weeks to try out this new arrangement before they made a final decision, and they asked if I would consider a raise of $5K in 9 months time (when the startup raises again). At the time, I agreed, but I really need to lock in the next FT hire we make for this position and I feel I've been way too generous.
Also, we've been approached by another excellent candidate who is coming in at much less ($10K). I would still like to work with this contractor, but I don't know how to approach this conversation. We have pushed for this contractor to join us as an employee (they're talented), but as is evident, they have been very non-committal and I feel we have been a bit railroaded.
How should I approach this situation? My goal is retain the contractor to work PT or as needed (even though I've pressed the FT for a month) and hire the new candidate.