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Salary negotiation coming up - ideas/comments?
Old 06-11-2007, 02:11 PM   #1
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Salary negotiation coming up - ideas/comments?

Hi all,

For the last seven or eight months I have been working as a contract software engineer. I am physically located at company A, but get paid by company B. Company A has indicated that they want to hire me on directly.

Any idea on how much a contract engineering company marks up their engineers? If company B pays me $X per hour, do they turn around
and bill company A at a rate of 1.1X, 2X, ...? Any way of finding out? Any data points out there?

I'm thinking a pay raise is certainly reasonable because (a) they want me, and (b) they've got the overhead of company B that they'd save. I just am not sure what the range is.

2Cor521
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:36 PM   #2
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I work with contract houses. We pay them $75/hour, and they pay their employee about $55 /hour.
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Old 06-11-2007, 05:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Spanky View Post
I work with contract houses. We pay them $75/hour, and they pay their employee about $55 /hour.
Spanky,

Thank you for the data point!

If I may ask, what would you pay for a similar person in-house?

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Old 06-11-2007, 06:51 PM   #4
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2Cor521,

If we hire a person for a direct position, it will be based on the position available. The salary will be based on the grade level. We like to offer the candidate in the middle of the salary range. We actually offered a contract software engineer a salary of $90K per year. This equates to about $43 per hour based on 52 weeks (and 40 hours per week). However, if we include a bonus of 15%, medical/dental benefits, 401K match, and vacations, the total compensation will be $123,500 or $59.375 per hour. My suggestion is to find out the market rate for your skill level since what you are getting as a contract engineer does not matter to the hiring manager.

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Old 06-11-2007, 07:27 PM   #5
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My hiring experience in converting contractors is very much inline with what Spanky says. More often than not, the base salary that we offer a contractor is going to be somewhat less than what the person is making as a contractor. You are probably getting much better benefits as an employee, and it is much more likely that your position is at risk as a contractor. This results in a fair number of our contractors not accepting permanent positions, but they often end up getting cut when a work slowdown happens or we ramp up our offshore teams.
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Maybe "contract" was a misleading term...
Old 06-12-2007, 12:00 PM   #6
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Maybe "contract" was a misleading term...

"contract" was a misleading term.

Around here they have two different flavors of non-permanent engineers:

1. Contract engineers who are hired for a specific project and a specific term, usually less than three years. I think these folk get paid above the rate that full time permanent engineers, because they have to go find another job in a few years and there may be a period of a few months in between jobs.

2. Managed service engineering, where for whatever reason a company decides they need additional workforce for an indefinite period of time, but they don't want to or can't hire FT permanent folks. So they hire another company to provide "manpower" but not (in theory) specific individuals. These folks get treated a bit like second class citizens around here and get paid less salary and benefits than a FT permanent person. I think this pay deficiency exists because there is the impression that the people filling these jobs are less talented/qualified and/or should be grateful they have a job, because there aren't really "jobs" available at the company...just some work that needs to get done -- although the work usually expands to fill everyone's plate and then some.

I am in the latter category. The company is relatively small (but very successful) and the CEO personally reviews all hires, so it's difficult to get additional people on.

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Old 06-12-2007, 01:46 PM   #7
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Another data point for you:
Company DW is working for pays employee $65 per hour and bills customers at $130-$165.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:34 PM   #8
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I very much depends on both: contract length and if there is an intermediary.
An employee salaried on a W2 at $60/hr with benefits could be worth 2.2times=$130 -no benefits- corp to corp short term. Longer term contracts could be valued less, super-short contracts more.

Intermediaries take anywhere between 5% (if they didn't find the contract and are used only as a go-between, you receive most of the money) and 50% (in this case the slave contractor receives a W2, some benefits (holidays, sick pay...) from the "agency").

There is a nice niche providing contract services directly and charging slightly less than 2.2times. No contracting companies can compete with you since they would not find legal employees willing to work for less.
With no intermediaries both parties can win.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:48 PM   #9
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Intermediaries take anywhere between 5% (if they didn't find the contract and are used only as a go-between, you receive most of the money) and 50% (in this case the slave contractor receives a W2, some benefits (holidays, sick pay...) from the "agency").
Benefit-wise, my intermediary pays 80% of my medical/dental/vision premiums, 50% of my dependents' medical/dental/vision, 18 days paid vacation annually, direct deposit, and a 401(k) with no company match.

There are about 8 of us in this managed service situation where we all work at company A and paid by company B. I originally interviewed for a FT job at this company right before they asked me to come on through the contract agency. They take care of the payroll and all the HR administrivia, but 99% of the day-to-day management is done by managers at company A.

My gut feel is that they are charging somewhere around 1.5X. There is a FT employee at company A who used to work with me at a different company C where we were both FT. He says that company A pays FT's better than company C. Since I know what I was making at company C and know what I make now at company B, I can roughly triangulate.

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Old 06-12-2007, 04:46 PM   #10
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Another data point for you:
Company DW is working for pays employee $65 per hour and bills customers at $130-$165.
Wow - nice profits! We will never pay that kind of rate for a contract engineer. Is this in California? What kind of services are they offering to their clients? What are the benefits for the employees?
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Old 06-12-2007, 06:52 PM   #11
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Another data point for you: $67 and $55.

Just keep in mind you won't get the same in salary if you break it down on a per hour basis. So factor in benefits you did not receive as a contractor: paid vacation, sick time, 401k matching or profit sharing, bonuses, etc.
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:31 AM   #12
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Wow - nice profits! We will never pay that kind of rate for a contract engineer. Is this in California? What kind of services are they offering to their clients? What are the benefits for the employees?
Everywhere in the country. PeopleSoft consultants. I think benefits are 6% match in 401k and health insurance.
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Old 06-13-2007, 03:58 PM   #13
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I work with contract houses. We pay them $75/hour, and they pay their employee about $55 /hour.
That was my exact situation a few years back. I got $55, while my vendor billed the customer $75. I did get health insurance from them and was W-2.

From what I understand the difference with "generic" software engineering/programming jobs is usually not very big -- probably around $10/hr on average for 1099. When you get into specialized products like SAP the difference skyrockets.

Edit: Note that when I converted to full-time from that $55/hr gig the company gave me ~$88K/yr. I think it's very typical for full-time salaries to be lower than hourly contract comp. Bonus, 401k match, pension (if lucky enough), health insurance, and vacation time can still make the conversion worthwhile.
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Old 06-13-2007, 08:16 PM   #14
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So what is "slave" labor and what's fair?

How about $29/hr and billing rate is $84/hr. That's 2.9x. Is that too big a gap?
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:23 PM   #15
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So what is "slave" labor and what's fair?

How about $29/hr and billing rate is $84/hr. That's 2.9x. Is that too big a gap?
Anyone getting paid only $29/hour but is aware of the $84/hr billing rate should ask for a higher rate with his/her contract house.
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:29 PM   #16
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Edit: Note that when I converted to full-time from that $55/hr gig the company gave me ~$88K/yr. I think it's very typical for full-time salaries to be lower than hourly contract comp. Bonus, 401k match, pension (if lucky enough), health insurance, and vacation time can still make the conversion worthwhile.
The main reason for converting a contract position to direct is an effort to reduce labor cost. I know a few people who would never take a direct position since they have medical coverage from their spouse's work or buy high-deductible medical insurance.
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Old 06-16-2007, 01:50 AM   #17
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Anyone getting paid only $29/hour but is aware of the $84/hr billing rate should ask for a higher rate with his/her contract house.
What if it's a direct position for a consulting company?
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Old 06-17-2007, 09:01 AM   #18
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What if it's a direct position for a consulting company?
The bottom line is that if anyone is not satisfied with his/her rate should ask for a higher rate or seek employment elsewhere. It does not matter what the billing rate is.
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Old 06-20-2007, 10:52 PM   #19
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What if it's a direct position for a consulting company?
The ratio is closer to what you are saying in consulting companies. Remember the reason they can bill you higher to a client than you can bill yourself is because they have a name and an infrastructure. I know what I'm billed out to our clients at, and there's no way I could ever pull that off on my own.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:13 PM   #20
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The bottom line is that if anyone is not satisfied with his/her rate should ask for a higher rate or seek employment elsewhere. It does not matter what the billing rate is.
You're right. I dont think the rate is satisfactory. But I wonder if I am just dreaming or if I have any justification.


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The ratio is closer to what you are saying in consulting companies. Remember the reason they can bill you higher to a client than you can bill yourself is because they have a name and an infrastructure. I know what I'm billed out to our clients at, and there's no way I could ever pull that off on my own.
That makes sense as well.

So is there any leg room? It seems like a huge gap. Or do I keep dreaming? Or perhaps approach another consulting company?
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