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A few weeks ago, I got an intriguing message from LinkedIn. A recruiter was looking to fill an editor role for a large personal finance company in my area. Although I have my hands full with my day job at a regional magazine, I took a moment and scanned the responsibilities. It looked pretty straightforward and aligned with my skill set, although a bit more “corporate” than I’m used to. But I’ll admit the contract pay ($46 per hour) attracted me.
I hopped on a quick call with the recruiter that morning to talk specifics. Then I discovered a few things that made me pause. The company was looking for 40 hours a week, starting almost immediately, and two days a week would require driving to their corporate headquarters. That’s a 45-minute drive from me on a beltline I absolutely hate driving on because of the traffic and number of daily accidents. Still, I agreed to do a second screening interview the next week.
Then I hung up the phone and wondered what I was doing. Haven’t I been saying all along that my day job requires so much writing so that I can’t focus on buildng my podcast and finishing revisions on a thriller novel I wrote last fall during NaNoWriMo? When I got a formal application in the e-mail from the recruiting agency I had to make a choice. I talked to my husband about it. He said he knew that while the money was attractive, it wouldn’t be something I enjoyed doing, especially with the hairy commute. Plus, the recruiter had told me that the contract ended at the end of August, and by then the company might be ready to make the position permanent. And they wanted me to start this month, when I have a week’s vacation planned at the end of the month (I had to plan that carefully, too, in between my magazine deadlines).
I e-mailed the recruiter that I had changed my mind and didn’t want to move onto the next interview. This did spark an additional discussion with my husband, who asked why I have not asked my current boss for an increase in pay since I started there three years ago. “Yes, you are contract,” he said. “But the cost of living has gone up, including gas prices and food. You deserve to see an increase in pay.” I realized he had a point.
Sometimes it can be tempting as a freelancer to go after every high-paying gig you see, but then you realize why you chose this profession and make a list of the reasons you like working contract jobs. I think the lesson learned here is to try and choose the work that has a good trade-off, and know what your worth is.
Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.