I've been contacted by a recruiter who's filling some contract roles. The prospect seems OK, it's 6 months W2 with a "likely" extension (I'm not putting any stock in that promise, to be sure). They're filling 20+ similar roles right now, and plan to bring on more.
My (limited) understanding of contract work is that you typically want to target a higher rate than you'd earn in a direct-hire role, in order to make up for the PTO shortfall (and other benefits like bonus potential, etc.)
In my initial discussion about the salary range, the recruiter told me that their client feels they can get away with offering less money because it's a newer/cutting-edge technology and future earning potential etc. I was a little surprised at this sales pitch; it's along the lines of (though not as egregious as) asking creatives to work for "exposure" instead of money.
Specifically, this would be in the field of Robotic Process Automation.
What they're offering: $43/hour, and while they do offer some 401K and insurance benefits, there is no paid time off for vacation, holiday, etc.
What this field pays: Google suggests the average salary in this field is $100-110K, or $48-53/hour.
What I'm currently earning: Based on 2080 hours (including 160 hours of vacation, 80 hours of holiday) my hourly rate is about $47. Adjusted for PTO (a total of 1840 working hours), my rate is $53.
I have no experience specifically in RPA, but I do have ~6+ years of professional experience as a developer in mid- mid-senior roles. I feel that based on my experience, industry "average" would be justified.
Is this worth pursuing or are we too far apart?
I've already soft-declined, but the recruiter is asking what rate I'd need and she will see if they can come to some agreement.
The target rate of $43/hour amounts to a $10K annualized pay cut if I took exactly ZERO time off. Taking vacation & holidays, it would be more like a $20K pay cut! There is also risk that the contract is not extended, or that I hate the work, or that I turn out to be no good at it and they let me go early, etc.
If you were to pursue this, how would you proceed with negotiations?
What other questions should I be asking myself (or the recruiter)?
Do your Spidey-Senses set off any warnings when you see an offer that's considerably below industry average?