Re: My wife the job hunting instructional designer

Subject: Re: My wife the job hunting instructional designer
From: Richard Yanowitz <ryanowit -at- NYCT -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 18:00:09 -0400

At 03:18 PM 8/27/97 MDT, Ron Sering CDS wrote:
The owner, founder and undisputed grand poobah of the firm has indicated
that they would prefer to pay her a lump sum, based on a 40-hour work week
for a 3 month contract, rather than a straight hourly rate for hours
worked. The reason for this: she says she doesn't want to "pay for her to
learn the job;" if the work took longer to complete than the planned hours
(we don't know how these "planned" hours were planned, or if they were
selected arbitrarily), my wife would have to essentially work for free or
at a reduced hourly rate.

Unless she is willing to lose money in order to have a line or her resume,
this is a big mistake. In any event, she might as well start out right
away with taking on crapola like this so she doesn't let it slide (very
easy to do) as she pursues her career.

At worst, she can accept a lower hourly rate for the beginning of the
project, which I'd view as a get-acquainted time rather than learning-curve

But even this is probably ill-advised. Every new job she'll ever have will
have some kind of learning curve. Presumably the employer has already
discounted your wife's rate because she lacks a track record, and she (the
employer) shouldn't discount it even more. Nor should your wife discount
herself, literally or figuratively.

If she IS going to adhere to a 3-month deal, then she and the company
should spell out very carefully exactly what she's committing to--a
traditional proposal that defines the scope of the job and what a change
of scope would be. This is likely very hard for her to do accurately the
first time out, so it's even more of a reason to get an hourly wage and not
a project fee.

Were it I, I might say something like, "I'm not going to discount my rate,
but why don't we agree on an initial phase and then review where we are. If
you're not happy, we'll agree this wasn't a good fit." (Actually, that
should be, "If either of us isn't happy,...") But I've been at this a long
time, and I'm confident that an employer will be happy with my work--or
that, if he/she isn't, I won't want to be there anyway. For your wife, the
stakes are much higher, and she may understandly be reluctant to take such
a risk.

On the other hand, to get started one has to take a risk. The question is
how to control it. Frankly, if the company is expecting too much, she's
better off not being there (though I understand her eagerness to get
started--and as I said at the start, she might want to be willing to risk a
loss on this one); if the company is responsible, it should understand her
side of the problem.

Here as elsewhere, she can pose the positive approach: "Let's find a
solution where we both win on this" I find that usually works.

Good luck.

Richard Yanowitz, NYC
mailto:ryanowitz -at- bigfoot -dot- com

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