How I turned a full-time job offer into a part-time contract
(And why that’s a good thing)
I was offered a full-time job in October… and I convinced them to make me a part-time contractor instead.
It cut my potential pay nearly in half and eliminated my prospects of employer-sponsored retirement funds, health insurance, and paid sick and vacation time.
No one would ask me to write a book about negotiation. But I got the best deal for me (and a good one for the company), and I’m so grateful I finally did something I’ve always been afraid to do: asked for exactly what I wanted.
Here’s what happened…
I wrote for the company for a few months as a contractor, with the expectation that a full-time job would be the next step. I’d been freelancing since January. A full-time job wasn’t my goal, but this company is awesome, and I was ready to take the leap back into employment just for them.
But then… the position was going well as a freelance position. As time crept on, and I knew I’d be hit with the “let’s make this official” talk any second, I felt dread, not excitement.
All that stuff that feels like freedom and stability to some people — retirement, health insurance, vacation — felt like a lead anchor in the pit of my stomach. Paperwork, tallying days off, exchanging dollars for benefits I wouldn’t use, performance reviews, team meetings…
So when the offer came, I negotiated for an objectively worse offer. I said keep your benefits and steady paycheck. Just let me take a day off without asking another adult’s permission first.
And I admit, when they asked why I wanted this, I had a hard time explaining it.
It just feels right to work for myself right now.
Yes, I want to stay open to other clients, so that’s a great outcome. And, yes, I can probably work my butt off and earn more as a freelancer next year than the salary I was offered. But honestly? Those practical benefits didn’t even occur to me until after the deal was done.
I’ve sometimes (not often, because this is cheesy AF) explained to people why Stefan and I aren’t married after 10 years like this: Instead of assuming we’ll be together forever or feeling obligated to stay together, I like to wake up every day and decide to be in this relationship, then celebrate at the end of every day that we spent it together.
🧀 Egh. OK. 🧀
I think this is how I feel about work, too.
I love being excited about each new assignment and energized by the challenge of designing my day. It’s cool to be able to choose only clients and assignments I want to work on and setting my own hours — but this feeling is more visceral than that.
Working for yourself means choosing to work, every second you do it.
We could probably split hairs and argue the merits of employment versus self-employment ‘til the cows come home — and we’d both be right. It’s an incredibly personal choice, and my point here isn’t to convince you my way is better.
It’s just to say: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Even when it seems ridiculous. Even when it was never on the table. Even if you barely know why you want it.
Now, a few things that helped me get what I asked for:
The environment was right. This is a company that encourages innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. It made sense to appeal to those values in my negotiation. A more traditional company might be less open to an unconventional arrangement — or you might have to appeal to their bottom line more explicitly.
It wouldn’t effect my ability to do the job. I wouldn’t have asked to be a contractor when I was a manager at a media company. That leadership position demanded my hand in marriage. But the writing work I do now 100% makes sense to contract out, so I knew I wasn’t asking the company to give up any of my value by letting me freelance.
I was willing to compromise.Asking doesn’t equal getting — and compromise doesn’t mean failure. I didn’t draw a hard line on my rate, and we landed on a number that was a little lower than my initial ask and little higher than their initial offer.
I asked about their priorities. On a friend’s advice, I didn’t respond to their counter offer by arguing my case. Instead, I asked why they made the offer they did. That line of communication helped humanize the conversation — an element that’s easily lost in money talk — and let me understand their priorities, so I could account for them in my response.
P.S. I might have commitment issues. Let’s not dwell on it.
Image by Monstera via Pexels
Brave and brilliant! Thank you for sharing, I love people who create their own realities...
Wise words! So true—my fav line is a feeling of freedom I vibe with regularly: “let me take a day off without asking another adult’s permission first.” 😂