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I've been working on a contract-to-hire position and am nearing the hire date. When I reached out to touch base with my recruiter, they informed me they would be handling everything and would be negotiating a deal, and that I wouldn't have a part in it.

Unfortunately, this deal is going to cause me to lose $4000 a year vs. what I'm making on contract, from what the recruiter told me he is suggesting to the company. I don't feel that is right, as I feel he is giving a low offer to guarantee a hire, as they know I'm worth more. Do I have any options to argue with them, or is it possible for me to do the negotiating? How should I approach this?

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    Well if the recruiter comes back with an offer you don't like, you can refuse. They sound like a bad recruiter to me. Normally it's for the candidate to negotiate, and the recruiter gets a cut if the candidate signs on to the job – Draken Oct 18 '16 at 12:32
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    Decline the offer if it isn't what you want. – WorkerDrone Oct 18 '16 at 13:48
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    Does the full-time position come with benefits that you didn't get as a contractor? – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Oct 18 '16 at 15:17
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    As a wise philosopher once said, "My name is 'No.' My sign is 'No.' My number is 'No.'" And I'm just being told that it's a cardinal sin to refer to Meghan Trainor as a wise philosopher. My bad. – corsiKa Oct 18 '16 at 15:55
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    "Nothing that I wouldn't have to pay for, thus further lowering my income." Paying some premiums or deductibles on health insurance is just one aspect of your benefits. Other benefits that employers typically pay for are additional health plan costs, sick/vacation time, short term disability, long term disability, life insurance, and other things. These are all offered to you at no cost since the employer covers their cost, and they're most probably worth more than $4,000. – Ellesedil Oct 18 '16 at 17:19
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Keep in mind that if you are moving from a contract position to a permanent position, your salary almost always will be less than your contracted rate. Here is a good comparison for why. If it's only $4k/year that's likely a great deal for you to convert to a fulltime employee.

You can always negotiate with anyone, whether they will respond well depends on the circumstance.

What you need to do is figure out why your recruiter won't let you talk about salary. Ask them. There hopefully are good reasons and context you are unaware of which are influencing that decision. If not, they are probably a bad recruiter.

At the end of the day, the recruiter cannot force you to accept an offer you don't like. If you truly are an employee the company wants to hire they will probably try to work with you somewhat but this likely depends on company policies.

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    I agree that you can't be forced, the OP holds a lot of cards here. – Kilisi Oct 18 '16 at 12:49
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    Also, many employers prefer contractors because, despite the higher pay to them, they're cheaper to the company's bottom line, because they don't get all the benefits of being an employee (usually). For example, health benefits, life insurance, vision and dental, stock options, matching 401k, and so on. Losing $4,000 a year is probably more than made up by the benefits. For example, where I work, my benefits are roughly 50% of my salary (in addition to my salary). – phyrfox Oct 18 '16 at 14:48
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    @phyrfox if you follow the answer I link in this answer, it's a walk through of an example cost breakdown. – enderland Oct 18 '16 at 14:53
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    As a very general rule of thumb that I observed widely in Silicon Valley some years ago, and which may or may not be still in use, a salary in $/year = 1000 times a consultant's $/hour, and the reason is largely but not entirely the difference in entitements. Bear this in mind when calculating your real change in income, e.g. not having to fund your own holidays. That alone could easily eat up the entire $4k. – user207421 Oct 19 '16 at 3:46
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    This is accurate. My first experience with this disparity involved an already-not-terribly-high rate being cut in half; I turned that down, but when you consider that a decent contract rate converted to a salary can put you near C-level compensation in a lot of companies, taking a rate cut for additional security and benefits can be good for everyone, unless being a contractor is what you want to continue doing. Also agreed on the recruiter. This doesn't sound like an arrangement I'd be happy with, based on what little we know, but everyone is beholden to their particular agreements. – kungphu Oct 19 '16 at 5:38
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Don't let others dictate to you especially when it comes to a salary negotiation. Recruiters are after what is in their best interests, not yours. So at the very least I would give them a ball park figure which is a deal breaker if they go below it. If they get more, great. If they can't match it then the job isn't worth taking. If a 4000 loss is not tolerable to you, then tell the recruiter that.

In general Enderland is correct, you'd normally get less as full time. But norms are made to be broken, you have experience in the job, so you can hit the ground running, so you have a lot of value to the employer. There is no set rule that says you cannot maximise on that. But if you're not allowed to negotiate at all, then that goes out the window.

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    However it's also not normal for a recruiter to tell you that you have no part in the negotiation of your own salary! – stannius Oct 18 '16 at 16:48
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    @stannius: So, I've dealt with a lot of recruiters and this is actually fairly common. Good recruiters will discuss your salary and benefits requirements, and then they negotiate on your behalf. But, good recruiters will also be upfront about this well before it's time to negotiate with a potential employer. That way, it's either not a surprise, can come to agreement on how negotiations will work, or part ways with each other. – Ellesedil Oct 18 '16 at 17:14
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    I wouldn't talk to a recruiter or consider a job offer that doesn't include, at the bare minimum, a salary range. Exact numbers aren't needed - because those numbers vary based on benefits, job, etc... but no talk of salary? next please. – WernerCD Oct 18 '16 at 23:06
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It's very important in any job hire that you consider the full compensation package, and not merely the rate. It could be that they are asking you to take an unreasonable hit in pay to pad the recruiters pockets and reputation - or it could be that you are getting an absolutely fantastic deal. A few things are important to consider.

Change in Benefits - insurance, 401(k) employer contributions, paid time off

In the new deal are you going from "none of these" to "all of these"? A good employer-supported insurance plan by itself (at least in the US) can be worth more than the $4000 you are quoted.

401k employer contributions, of which 3% cap is somewhat common (but not the min or max), could be worth half of the drop in pay rate by itself ($1,800 of as close to you can get of "free money" if you offered a 60k salary)...or the offer could offer little to nothing.

How about paid time off, in the form of vacation or sick days? If you get a week of paid time off that could easily be worth more than $1000 to you by itself.

Change In Working Hours

This doesn't apply to everyone but sometimes contractors work very different hours than regular employees. If you are moving from hourly contracted to salary, also consider any potential impact of overtime pay if you are getting that

Change in Billing Rate

Another concern here is if you were being billed to the company at, say, twice the rate you were being paid, and now upon hire the recruiter wants you to take an offer that is actually less pay for you compared to the rate you were personally being paid before (which was already much less than the recruiter was collecting). If this is the sort of setup you were working under (which is usually more like temp-to-hire, but I've heard it called contract-to-hire as well), I'd be much more concerned about what is being offered, because it sounds like the recruiter might be trying to low-ball you in exchange for the same (or even more) pay for them and increased reputation for delivering full time employees for such a cheap rate.

If the relationship to the recruiter and you is ending then they lose much of their incentive to try to give you a deal you like, because all they need to do is place you to collect their extra pay (often a lump sum on hire, or shortly after). A more typical setup is for the recruiter to get a percentage of the yearly rate, but some recruiters take a flat fee or even negotiate a bonus for themselves based on how low a rate they can provide employees for.

What Can You Do?

Well, that really depends on the relationship between the recruiter and the company. If the contract is with the recruiter and the company only wants to deal with the recruiter (which is often one reason companies hire recruiters in the first place, to avoid dealing with prospective employee negotiations), then the company might simply be unwilling to negotiate with you. Being in a 3-party negotiation is weird.

Ultimately your ability to negotiate comes down to your willingness to say no and walk away. If you aren't willing to walk away and decline the offer, then the most you can safely do is softly push back with the recruiter and express your dislike for the pay cut. I suppose it's possible that they'd do something, but often if they are game players they'll know enough to know that you aren't willing to walk away, but you can try.

If you are willing to walk away then you have a lot of room to negotiate, and can simply refuse the offer and express that you want the job - but are not willing to take an offer that cuts your take-home pay on day 1. You could try to demand a pay increase (harder), or you could simply say you will only accept an offer if it comes with no decrease in pay.

You will have to deal with the fact that the employer/recruiter can simply decline and make the offer take-it-or-leave-it, or rescind the offer. We can't make that decision for you, but I would generally suggest you look over all aspects of the offer before you turn something down that might actually be a great deal for you.

There is usually room to negotiate, but not all the time and not with everyone. You can also usually soft negotiate and attempt to get a better offer with minimal danger, but that is less than 100%, and success rates are also less than 100%. You can always try, but again - you have to be OK with walking away and finding another job. Not everyone is in a position to do that, so you have to decide for yourself just how much risk you are willing to take to try to get a better offer.

  • Some Australian benefits, maybe translate these into USA and add them to yourt answer if appropriate? 4 weeks notice (and pay) before you can be made redundant/fired, paid long service leave, you can qualify for parental leave (some paid, some unpaid). – Scott Oct 19 '16 at 0:31
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The recruiter has his own interests in the outcome, and they're different than yours. For him, what matters foremost is that a deal is done, period -- if you don't take the job you can still get one elsewhere, but he just doesn't get paid at all in that case. The exact amount is less important for to him as he only gets his fee once and it's not his entire income, whereas you will get only your monthly wage each month so it's vital to you.

Therefore, you cannot let him negotiate your salary because there is a clear conflict of interest, period.

Re-open the negotiations with the company yourself.

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