I am a graduating engineering student in the US. One of the positions I'm perusing is a contract-to-hire position, meaning that I'm will be an hourly employee with no benefits for a set period of time (in this case only a few months), after which the company would intend to hire me full time on salary with benefits.
The recruiter I have been in contact with informed me of the hourly rate and the salary they were offering. Both were completely reasonable offers given what I know about my industry and location, but I would like the chance to negotiate the salary to make sure it is competitive with other offers.
My question is, when should I bring this up? I'm new to contract-to-hire, and don't want to sound presumptuous by attempting to negotiate the salary without having even accepted the contract, but I'm also weary of accepting the contract term without knowing what they are really willing to offer me full-time (as opposed to just their starting number.)
Admittedly I will probably know more about the process later on in the pursuit of the position, but I want to make sure I don't miss something along the way. What is acceptable and professional in this circumstance?
Please note, this is neither a simple contract job, nor a straightforward full-time position; it is contract-to-hire, meaning I'm not officially hired when I sign the contract. I need advice relevant to the timeline involved in this specific type of hiring process.