Is there an Interim or Contractor in the world who hasn’t wondered how on earth they can raise their day rate?
Once you state your rate, that’s it, that’s what you’re worth…forever.
It doesn’t need to be like that.
1. Build slowly over time, and with experience.
Each time you complete a contract, as long as it has given you exposure to something you haven’t done before, you should, in theory, be more valuable. Make a conscious decision that when you go back to the market you explain that you are now looking for an uplift. How much would depend on how long the previous contract was and how much extra you did.
2. Your specialist skills deserve special rates.
Let’s use some theoretic roles and numbers. In your last role you did a hand-holding Financial Controller role. It had a broad scope and in some areas you were used to doing them, and in other areas you had less experience. You therefore charged your usual ‘general rate’ of £500 per day.
However, the next role you come across is much more specific and requires a real expert, of which there are not many on the market – but you know you are spot on: a disposal, perhaps, or setting up a Shared Service Centre in Europe.
Why should you charge your general rate, when you are doing a highly specialist role? Why not charge more for this?
Ensure your agents know that you have more than one rate. Rate 1 = a general role. Rate 2 = if they need my specialism in areas (x) (y) or (z).
3. Pay attention to timing.
If a client is desperate or can’t find what they are looking for, they might be prepared to pay a premium for your services. You will need to assess the situation by asking your agent “why are they looking and how long have they been looking for”? If you are confident you can deliver the role, then put yourself in at a premium. Be prepared, though, that a client will expect premium work, if you are being paid as such.
Much of this advice, or course, suggests you will be entering the market at a time when you have choice of role and you can confidently state your position as a valuable resource. There will be times when the gaps between your assignments cause you to question your rate and think whether bringing it down would be a good idea. I can’t tell you how you should respond as it can be a delicate decision, based on your personal circumstances, but do always try to protect the value of your specialisms.
One suggestion would be:
“For this role I would usually command a rate of £700. I am prepared to deliver it for £500, but I would like to discuss some bonus structure based on my over-performance. That way you get the role delivered for less than market rate, but I get the chance to recoup some of the money as I’m confident in my ability to over-deliver”.
Remember that your day rate can be flexible, but you need to value your skills, and ensure you're being paid for them properly. Seek advice, ask questions, survey the market, and ultimately realise that those who successfully build their rates do it over time, and with a real self-confidence in the increases they ask for.