Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: negotiation

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to negotiation.

What You Need to Consider Before Accepting a Counter Offer

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Permanent Placement Specialist at Eagle

Nearly all IT careers begin in a permanent employment position, as opposed to jumping right into the market as an independent contractor. Naturally, then, at some point you’ll be in a situation where you land a new job, either as an employee at another company or as a contractor, and the time comes to tell your current boss you are leaving. It’s something that most people dread. Upon giving your notice, what happens if your company comes back with a pay increase and/or a promotion? Most people’s first thought is “Wow, I’m really valued here and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep me”. But before accepting that counter offer, be sure to consider all of the facts and do your research!

There are a plethora of articles out there explaining the reasons that accepting a counter-offer is equivalent to corporate death. Statistics prove that “over 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year.”

It’s important to ask yourself some important questions. Why were you willing to leave in the first place? What has changed? If it was strictly compensation, it’s possible that a counter-offer makes sense, but in the vast majority of situations there are other factors at play that just aren’t resolved by earning additional pay. If you are truly a valued employee, why did it take you almost walking out the door for them to pay what you know you are worth?

In many cases, an employer will be scrambling to backfill a position within your 2-week notice period and there will inevitably be gaps that will impact their business. By offering a nominal increase to keep you, they may be ensuring they are covering their bases but working towards replacing you on their own timeline. The other important factor is that you will always be the employee who wanted to leave, so if there is a restructuring, your name will likely be the first on the chopping block.

Be sure to carefully consider all of the aspects of consideration before declining that new opportunity and be sure you are doing what is right for your career in the long run.

Working Through the Contract Extension Process

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

Your contract term is coming to an end, but there’s still work left to be done… or maybe there’s another project for which you’d be a strong fit… or, perhaps, the company at which you are working is cash strapped and may not be in a position to consider an extension to your contract. All these scenarios and others may be playing out for you. There are so many possible outcomes, not to mention all of the “opportunities” at other companies that begin to pop up.

What’s a contractor to do?

As an independent incorporated contractor, you are running a business. You want to do what’s best for your business, so your options must be considered based on a number of different (and sometimes competing) aspects – financial concerns, your company’s image, branding, reputation, and the interest of staff members (you). Also, you must balance all this with what’s in the best interest of your business partners and clients. After all, repeat business relies on leaving your customers satisfied. A bad reputation will propagate as people familiar with a tough situation move between companies.

Tricky scenarios pop up frequently around extension time. The following are some ideas that may make the road less bumpy:

  • Communication and transparency are key. Be open, honest and professional when speaking with your onsite supervisor and your agency partner (if there is one involved). Share your hopes, fears and interests clearly and try to remove the emotion that you might be feeling to get the best results/response. (To help with the emotion part, see the point below) Also, it is important to let all sides know if you are applying to new roles and, if it is really what you want, communicate your sincere interest in staying/receiving an extension. Everyone involved wants to avoid a situation where an extension is offered and refused due to a surprise job offer from elsewhere.
  • Start communicating early. For longer term contracts, begin a conversation with your recruiter and supervisor as much as 6, or even up to 8, weeks in advance of your contract ending. Challenges are much easier to manage if all parties have time to properly manage. If it is clear that there will be no extension, your recruiter might even be able to find you your next role and help to manage the transition from the current one.
  • If you have competing offers, my advice is to give priority to the project or client on which you are currently working. All things being considered, they are likely counting on you to see things through to the end. No amount of “knowledge transfer” will make up for losing a key member of their team. Leaving to take another role elsewhere risks your reputation and that can have long term impact to future job prospects.
  • If there will be an extension and there is a legitimate case for a rate increase, I highly recommend that you speak first with your Recruiter. There are several reasons for this. First, the Recruiter may know of opportunities or challenges concerning rate increases of which you aren’t aware. Second, companies often have a formalized process for rate increase requests and expect them to be followed. Again, your recruiter will know how to do this. Third, your recruiter will be able to help you build your case. They know what arguments might carry more weight with the customer. And, fourth, your Recruiter can have an unemotional and very candid business conversation with the customer avoiding any hurt feelings that might negatively impact your ability to work with the client going forward.
  • Be flexible. As described earlier, a business decision will have competing issues to consider. There may need to be give and take required to get the best overall result.
  • Whichever decision you make, be sure to manage your relationships with professionalism and tact; and give your best effort to mitigate any negative repercussions as much as possible. It will be noted by those observing such things and will help keep your reputation whole.

Whatever decision you make, be sure to manage your relationships with professionalism and tact; and give your best effort to mitigate any negative repercussions as much as possible.  It will be noted by those observing such things and will help keep your reputation whole.  And, remember the importance of having a positive reference on your most recent contract – the saying in the industry goes: “You are only as good as your last project reference.”  This is a good statement to keep in mind as you are exiting a project.

7 Things Everyone Should Know About Negotiating Anything

Negotiations can be difficult, especially if you aren’t a confrontational person. For IT contractors, negotiating is something that happens regularly and being good at it is what can help you go from getting a fair rate to an exceptional rate. Once you’re on a job, you continue negotiating in various circumstances, for example, when deciding on the plan you’ll use for a specific project.

If you’ve noticed you keep coming up on the short end of a negotiation and want to improve your skills, Close.io is here to help. They compiled seven fantastic tips to help you negotiate anything and summarized them all in this infographic.

7 Things Everyone Should Know About Negotiating Anything

Working with Your Recruiter for the Best Rate

5 Common Rate Negotiation Mistakes Made by IT Contractors

Every independent contractor wants to secure the best rate for before going into a technology project. Especially since the ethical professionals know that once a rate is agreed upon, it can’t be changed, you want to ensure you’ve done everything you can to get the highest pay.

Recruiters at staffing agencies understand that and work hard to get you a fair, market-value compensation. At the same time, it’s also their job to ensure the client is getting the best deal possible. In the end, your final rate may come down to your negotiating and when it’s done well, everyone is satisfied.

Unfortunately, all too often we see independent contractors make some mistakes while negotiating, which, at best, can see them not get the rates they want, and at worst, can see a contract get cancelled or relationships get damaged. Here are 5 common mistakes we see that can help you improve in this area.

Independent Contractor Rate Negotiation Mistakes

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

5 Errors IT Professionals Sometimes Make

5 Negotiation Mistakes Independent Contractors Sometimes MakeAs an independent contractor, you have the opportunity to interact with any number of recruiters in your local market or, if your skills are in demand, agents from all over the world. You probably find that it is not uncommon to have conversations with recruiters that you’ve never spoken to before, never mind worked with on a contract together. And more often than not, the initial conversation you are having with a complete stranger, involves a career decision with financial implications. Negotiations are difficult enough without having to enter into a rate discussion with a total stranger. Money is personal and the questions that are sometimes asked to establish parameters around rate can be uncomfortable. But rate is key to any contract discussion and you need to be prepared to enter into these discussions with Recruiters in an open and forthright manner.

Part of being prepared for these discussions is to understand myths surrounding staffing agencies and how to negotiate with them. The following are some common mistakes I’ve seen independent contractors make when negotiating with recruiters.

  1. More is better: Wrong! Trying to always increase your rate can affect your career negatively. I’ve seen candidates who play hard ball on rate and ignore the advice of the Recruiter end up pricing themselves out of the running due strictly to price. Professional recruiters will have client and market knowledge and apply that knowledge to price their candidates competitively. Every position is unique and market conditions can change rapidly (Hello Calgary!). Don’t forget as well that rate is a reflection of your seniority and professional standing. If you do manage to hit a home run and boost your rate, don’t forget that the client’s expectations can and most likely will be tied to the rate you negotiated. If you can’t deliver to those expectations, the results can be serious.
  2. I’m getting ripped off: There is no denying that contractors have developed a level of caution when dealing with Recruiters. Some recruiters in an effort to pad their commissions have unscrupulously negotiated with candidates with no concern for building mutual trust or delivering a quality service to the contractor community. I can say confidently that the staffing industry has matured and the level of professionalism has grown. But if you do find yourself with concerns about the Recruiter you are talking to, remember, you are not obligated to work with that person. If you want to perform a quick test, ask the recruiter what their philosophy around margin looks like and see if they are able to give you a satisfactory response. If the Recruiter is not comfortable disclosing this or mumbles their way through an explanation, maybe it’s time to end the conversation.
  3. They don’t need that information: If you are dealing with a Recruiter for the first time, they may be interested in what you have earned in previous contracts. The simple reason for this is to try and establish at what level you have been working and what your skillset has been paying in the market. Remember that if you exaggerate your numbers, you may be creating a set of perceptions around who and what you are and the Recruiter may make a decision that you aren’t a fit for the role they are working on. Again, a good recruiter will be able to offer you insight on the rate you have been earning and how it fits their client’s present needs. And a really good recruiter will identify when a market is ready to offer you a higher rate or conversely, when it is time to bring your number down to remain competitive.
  4. I’ll agree now but will secretly wait for a better offer: Once you’ve negotiated a rate and you have agreed to be represented by a particular recruiter that you feel comfortable with, DO NOT attempt to renegotiate days later after another Recruiter calls and offers $5/hr more. You’ve already entered into an agreement with one Recruiter who has likely submitted your resume to the client. Any Recruiter who tries to convince you to go with them for a bit more money is putting your candidacy for that role in jeopardy. Professional staffing firms and their clients want to work with contractors who exhibit honesty and integrity. Demonstrating that you are unable to commit to an agreement is a direct reflection on your business practices.
  5. Every situation is the same: Finally, as already mentioned, every situation is not the same. What one client is willing to pay for a specific skillset is not the same as another. And market conditions can change from one day to the next and impact rates. Listen carefully to the Recruiter and gauge what they are saying. Do they have a lot of knowledge of the position, the client, the market in which the contract exists and your skillset? Ask questions and if you don’t like the approach or the answers, it’s simple. Nothing is forcing you to work with that individual.

Have you made any mistakes while negotiating that you later regretted? Please share your experiences with our readers so we can all learn from each other.

4 Non-Technical Skills You Should Improve Today

Time and again, our Recruiters come across people who are technically good at their jobs, but their personality, their attitude, their communication skills, their motivation and any number of other attributes actually make them undesirable as contractors.

We are all responsible for our own career and if you focus all of your efforts on the “technical” aspects of your job then you may limit your contract opportunities. It is equally important to develop the soft skills that will help you to integrate well, that will make you more personable with the client, and that will position you for an extension or referral.

Here are a few examples of some non-technical skills and why you should improve them:

Communication:  There are countless reasons why you need to make communication a top priority. Primarily, in order to be a contributing member of any organization or project team, you need the ability to communicate your ideas effectively, in both spoken and written form.   You’ll also have the upper hand competing for contracts if you’re great at selling yourself to a recruiter!

Negotiation:  Whether discussing rates or working with a client, you need the ability to business deal - 3d illustrationnegotiate effectively.  It’s also important to know when to press your point and when to “get on board”, otherwise, you may come off as stubborn, arrogant or closed-minded.

Business: To really understand your client’s project, you need to be able to think about their “business” as a business person, not just from the technical seat you occupy.  Understanding business basics is a very valuable asset.

Interpersonal Skills:  Eagle Recruiters love the fact that they get to meet so many interesting people.  Unfortunately, they’ve also met many contractors who simply lack interpersonal skills. If you want to build relationships with your clients, colleagues and in the industry, you need the interpersonal skills to navigate these relationships at various levels.

Do not underestimate the value of EQ versus IQ — it can be the difference between a long and rewarding career and “something else”! The reality is that there are many, many people who are excellent technically (maybe even brilliant) but they are undone by those important soft skills they do not possess.

All of the skills above can develop over time if you pay attention, recognize their importance and work on them.  What other skills would you add to the list?  Let us know in the comments below.