IT contractors: negotiating a higher rate

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IT contract work provides the opportunity to flex your specific skillset, and employers will often pursue contractors who can fill specific roles within a project or organisation. This provides excellent opportunity for contractors to seek higher rates.

However, there are proper ways to pursue this and maximise your chance of conveying your value to an organisation. Today’s blog is about how to negotiate a higher contract rate successfully.

Have a valid reason

It seems obvious, but it’s very important. There is nothing worse than asking for a higher rate simply for the sake of asking – it will not endear you to the client. Work towards having something quantifiable you can show the client: examples of past work, qualifications or experience working on similar projects.

It’s important to justify your worth to an employer. Show them your value, and give them something they can refer to.

Performance is key

The better an outcome you can deliver to a client, the more likely they are to value your contribution. Your particular skillset may be in demand, but you won’t be able to negotiate a higher rate unless you can acheive results.

A good rule of thumb is to always work as if you are looking to obtain a glowing reference. You can use previous strong performance metrics to justify a rate increase.

Take note of your extra responsibilities

The nature of large projects means that roles can often cross over, and contractors may end up performing tasks either outside of the original contract or beyond what they agreed to do. Showing flexibility is excellent – but it’s important to note down what you are doing if it is outside what you expected to do.

If you can present an employer with a detailed record of services rendered outside of contract, you will be in a better place to negotiate a higher rate.

When should I negotiate?

It’s an important question: when should you approach your employer about the possibility of a rate increase? Employers will be rightfully reticent to consider increasing your compensation within the first few weeks of a project. You need to have time to show that you are capable and provide excellent value to the project.

It’s highly recommended that – if you have suitable justification for a rate increase – you approach your employer 4 – 6 weeks before the end of an existing contract. This gives you enough time to both show your contribution as well as negotiate before the contract needs to be renewed.

It is important to the note that most clients will be unlikely to renegotiate a contract halfway through.

Evidence is vital

The IT market is dynamic and certain skills may become more or less difficult to source over time. If your particular skillset becomes scarcer in the market, your time may be more valuable – but you need to prove it.

Merely saying that the market has changed is not justification enough. Present evidence and you will have a far higher likelihood of securing a higher rate.

Secure a close working relationship with your recruiter

If you secured your contract role through a recruiter, its important to maintain a close working relationship. Quality recruiters will support you and help you to sell your worth to clients. Recruiters will often have strong previous relationships with managers and recruiters from within the company, and may be able to assist you in presenting a strong business case for your rate increase.

Build a reputation for excellence!

Success in the IT contract space requires strong performance and clear, quantifiable results. Want a higher rate? The contractors who command the highest rates are the ones get results and can provide evidence that they have done so.


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