I remember last July when I was scanning job posts and chanced upon an ad for Legal Drafting. As a practice, I check whether the employer got verified payment and yes he had. There are not many feedbacks in his profile yet since he is relatively new on oDesk. But, there are already ongoing contracts dealing with web design, flash design, SEO/SEM/SMM, and article writing. I noticed that besides the legal drafting job, he also posted one for accounting. I sent my application for both jobs and got invited to interview.
Over at skype, the Canadian employer and myself had a voice interview (recorded on Pamela Call Recorder). I thanked the employer for considering my application, and told him I am glad to answer any questions he might have in relation to the job or my skills. His first question was: “Thank you, Please first tell me about your skills and experience, and especially if you have done any work with any clients in Canada before? What type of services have you provided?” I responded and gave a summary of my work experience, highlighting those related to his job requirement. “Because I’m looking for an expert to prepare business agreements, Partnership contracts etc.. with other Canadian partners and also USA.”
He also discussed his business and his plans to move it forward. I took this opportunity to recommend solutions that he may adopt to address the situation. This is one way to let the employer know that you are there to help out. He seemed to agree because he said afterwards, “so, now let’s talk about the price…” To me, when an employer starts to discuss rates it is a strong indication that he is convinced that you’ve got the skills necessary for the job. “What rate you’ll be expecting if we consider you to be in the Legal team, in terms of hourly rate?” It is one of my strategies to give my max bid rate. Should it be accepted at once by the employer, then it’s a super great deal. But if he haggles, at least there is still room to negotiate and I can still get a good rate/hr. For me, I set a standard rate for different types of job and never agrees to go lower than that no matter what. After all, I have already established myself as a diligent service contractor. The employer tried to persuade me to lower it down a bit more but I stood firm on my set rate for legal. At that point he said, “I think I would like to discuss the accounting job with you not the legal one.”
(Ok, as I’ve said before…patience is a virtue…..now, let’s switch channel…)
I asked him about what concerns his accounting books, the present setup, how many months is it behind, etc. “I have a bookkeeper, and an accountant, but I’m not happy and they are very expensive.” (Hmmm…this is music to my ears!) This is again another opportunity and I used it to recommend solutions gearing towards highlighting my skills and experience in Accounting, specifically in fixing messy books. This time, I gave him a picture of what he can expect from my accounting skills and the time frame I will be able to get it done, to his expectations. His comments have been positive so far, and has hinted that he would like to hire me. So, what’s keeping him from pressing the hire button then? “..but I still need to know more about how you’ll be the best fit, and what I will receive from you at the end of month, including invoices in/out payments out etc…”
We discussed again in more detail what I will be doing to straighten up his books. At some point, I grew tired and merely answered his questions matter of factly, not anymore out of interest in the job. I felt that I have lost a lot of oDesk hours already because I am not logged to any of my assignments. In my more than 1 year experience on oDesk, that was the longest interview I went through, as the others before it did not last more than 20 minutes before hire. This employer wanted to get the most out of my wits!
And his next question?
“Hi, I will be back in 30 min and I need to talk to you about the legal doc that I want so we get started on it.” Oh boy, now its back to the legal thing! But wait…he said ”so we get started”? Okay, that means he is considering me for the legal job then…not the accounting. Whew!
When he came back, (good thing I have other contracts that I can work on in the meantime, so the waiting time is not wasted…but speaking of wasted time…I spent a considerable time in this interview so I told myself I have to get hired to compensate the “lost worktime”). “ok, so I would like to know what rate I will have if I hire you to do my legal documents, and the accounting work?” Oh, okay….so he’s considering me for both jobs now. Is this enough to get my interest back? You bet!
Alright. So lets see how I negotiated the rate for this 2 jobs…(skype chat now).
Employer: Accounting will be on regular basis, Legal will be occasionally (when needed)
Verena: so how much are you willing to give me for both?
Employer: I will tell you the others that I’m interviewing
Employer: so for the accounting job I have people rate at (2.22-5.00) and you are the highest at $**
Verena: and for the legal?
Employer: (5.00-7.78) and you are the highest at $**
Employer: So Verena, tell me your best offer for your services separately (Accounting, Legal), as this is going to be a long term relation
Verena: your comparison is mainly on the rate…are the others whom you interviewed barely new to oDesk or established with 5.0 feedbacks like me?
Employer: Range b/t (10hrs-431hrs)
Employer: Rate is a big factor, especially if I will count on you for multiple tasks, and you will be my go to for that
Verena: Admin job?
He’s got a point. I can bid a high rate but will get a short term contract in the case of Legal…or as needed in case his Accounting books gets updated eventually. His offer of giving me a 3rd job (Admin), which is on a daily basis, makes sense.
Verena: can we meet at $** for the accounting and $** for the legal then?
Verena: you have your Accountant-Paralegal-Admin in one…
Employer: That’s high for accounting. I can have you at $** for legal, but not accounting
Verena: ok, $** then…you look at my profile and check the rates I charge for accounting…
Verena: the lowest rate is $7
Employer: no, it’s $5.56
Verena: oh but that was my starter…the very first accounting job I did…
Verena: you can’t charge high if you’re only starting right?
Verena: i worked hard and my clients did not go wrong….
Employer: so how about if we meet half way for both jobs?
Employer: So we can get the confidentiality agreement done and start
Verena: u mean $** for acctg and $** for legal?
Employer: I can do $* for everything
Employer: Legal will be occasionally (when needed) , (i.e: agreements, contracts, NDA etc..)
Employer: I propose $* for acctg, $* for Legal
Verena: ok, here’s my counter-offer, my final deal….i will work for $* but I get all 3 jobs (acctg, legal, admin)
Employer: you are still the highest from whom I interviewed, but…
Verena: you can do $* right?
Employer: ok…$* acctg, $* legal works for me
Employer: your hired
Verena: thank you…
I am happy that I got a fair deal in this contract. The employer can be “hard to please” but overall, he is nice. After a few hours, I received a list of tasks and I had to reorganize my work calendar to accommodate the new job…I mean, jobssssss…because I was able to get 3 jobs from a single employer.
Have you had the same experience? How did you go about negotiating a reasonable rate? Why not share yours….a lot of visitors to this blog can benefit from other freelancer’s experience, too.