Snowflake Salary Requirements
October 23, 2013 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I've never held a full-time job, but I've held lots of positions that paid hourly or at a part-time rate during the last several years. How do I turn this into an honest figure for an automated application system that won't accept a blank or non-numerical response?

(Apologies if there is a comparable Ask on this topic that I just couldn't find - "salary requirements"/"salary range" and similar phrases returned a host of results that didn't seem to apply here. Since I can't complete this application without providing some figure, advice about when or whether to disclose my salary history is also inapplicable.)

I went directly into a graduate program after undergrad. As noted above, I've never held a full-time job. I have been a teaching assistant and an adjunct instructor, but never for more than half-time at any one institution. I have recently been lucky enough to obtain a contract position that I like, am good at, and is related to my research which pays a handsome hourly rate, but it, too, is only part time (<20 hours a week).

I am applying for a position at a large, nonprofit organization that is very closely related to the contract work I've been doing. The organization has its own online application system. (Paper applications are not an option; contact information for HR is impossible to find online.) Base salary history is a required field. I can't move on to subsequent pages in the application system without entering a strictly numerical value on the first page. I did try to note my hourly rate as a contractor, but the system wouldn't accept "/hr," "per hour," etc.

How do I represent what I've been earning in a way that's honest without shortchanging myself? Is it acceptable to multiply my contractor rate by a 37.5-hour week and a 50-week year?

Anonymous because I'm ABD but having doubts/cultivating other options and I don't want this linked to my posting history.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total)
How do I represent what I've been earning in a way that's honest without shortchanging myself? Is it acceptable to multiply my contractor rate by a 37.5-hour week and a 50-week year?

Yes, I think in this situation that is exactly what you should do. In fact, if it were me, I would multiply your hourly rate by 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:17 PM on October 23, 2013 [9 favorites]

I think you're obsessing about this a bit too much. You're not under threat of being charged with perjury. Just take your hourly rate and do the math to turn it into a full time rate. If you're that worried about it, if you get through to an interview you can just explain it them. Your challenge is to get an interview and theirs is to find the most qualified person for the job. If you happen to be that guy, then this minor detail shouldn't concern you that much.
posted by postergeist at 1:19 PM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Well, generally contractors are paid more as they have to pay for their own tax/insurance situation; full-time employees trade the higher hourly rate for increased stability and benefits.

But if they have an inflexible data entry field, they get what rabbitrabbit said and you can explain later if they ask.
posted by vegartanipla at 1:21 PM on October 23, 2013

If you just enter your hourly rate, the person reading the form will understand that 13.50 doesn't mean a yearly thing.
posted by aimedwander at 1:22 PM on October 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

When you are putting in a salary range, this is what you WANT, not what you have been earning in the past. It's a fluid number and should be vague.

Sometimes I put $65,000+, or sometimes I put Upper Eighties-depending on total compensation package.

You want to reach up, not down!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Put in a number that would make you happy to get it but isn't a crazy reach. Calculating 40xhourlyx52 is a good way to get an estimate of what that might be, but don't feel tied to that number if it doesn't "feel" right to you in terms of what you deserve.
posted by rmless at 1:49 PM on October 23, 2013

I've consulted for many years. The common rule seemed to be, multiply hourly by 2 and add 3 zeroes. For example, if you make $50/hour, the equivalent salary is about $100k. I have heard this from multiple recruiters and consultants.
posted by rada at 1:57 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

The 2000 hours-a-year is a very common rule of thumb and it's very accurate since most places only give you 2 weeks of vacation.

50 weeks * 40 hours = 2000.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:11 PM on October 23, 2013

I'd use the multiplier 2080, actually. Every place I've worked at has when calculating annual base pay for an hourly person.

52 weeks (including 2 weeks of paid vacation) * 40 hours = 2080
posted by pecanpies at 2:27 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding pecanpies and others who say 2080. For a full time position, vacation and holidays are ideally paid - not that they always are, of course, but it's bog standard to make that assumption when converting hourly to annual for this sort of form.
posted by solotoro at 2:48 PM on October 23, 2013

I've had salary and rate checked before, so be careful with embellishments. Why not put, for example, "$50.00" in the field, or whatever your rate was, and then specify "contract" as part of the job title? They won't mistake an hourly rate for an annual salary.
posted by Houstonian at 2:48 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

just put in the per hour amount with no specification. I think that is the most honest way of putting it with out having to explain anything later.
posted by Jaelma24 at 3:44 PM on October 23, 2013

Personally, I'd multiply. I've heard that some automated systems are so rigid about non-numerical input because they use it to weed out applicants whose salary requirements that are out of range.

(Be careful, though. I have had freelance jobs before that are $50/hour - a lot of editing work bills at that - and like hell I "made" anywhere close to $100,000.)
posted by dekathelon at 9:50 AM on October 25, 2013

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