I have been in Ohio now since September 18, 2008. I worked for a total of 3 weeks since being here. I've been looking for a job and sending out resumes nearly every day since then. I've had a few interviews, but nothing has really panned out. On Friday, I went in for an interview with a recruiter who had a few positions with a large enterprise client. This is surely someone you've heard of and it seems like a company that I would want to go to work for. During the interview, we spoke about what kind of hourly rate I would require to go to work. The number we discussed was $35 an hour. This is a little less than what I was making at my last job, but I'm willing to take a bit of a pay cut to get back to work. I normally charge $115 an hour for consulting, and I thought that $35 would be reasonable.
I received a phone call this morning from that same recruiter. He was getting ready to have lunch with the client today and wanted to discuss with me my asking rate. He told me that he wanted to be competitive and asked if I'd be willing to come down on that rate a little. I tried to explain to him that I would be willing to come down slightly, but at the same time, I have a resume and a salary history to think about. Not only that, but I don't feel that I should have to lowball my salary, especially with my experience, to get a 3 month contract. That's when he hit me with a bit of a bomb. He told me that he has spoken with other network engineers that would be willing to do the job for $25 per hour.
What the hell is wrong with people? This is a SENIOR position, not entry level. Why would someone be willing to belittle themselves and the industry by offering to do a job for so little? I had to explain to him that I was applying for a senior level position and not an entry level job. I'm not some kid fresh out of school with a brand new CCNA and no experience. Then he hit me with a real bombshell. An entry level engineer with a college degree and a CCNA only makes $15 per hour. That's $31,200 per year! I can't even pay my bills with $15 per hour and wouldn't be living comfortable at all with $25 per hour.
I know the economy is in the crapper folks, but as a group we need to stick together and tell these companies that our job demands a serious salary. If you go into an interview and tell someone that you're willing to work for 2/3 what everyone else makes, you need to reevaluate your position. Companies need network engineers. That need will not be going away anytime soon. If you are a senior level engineer, you need to stand up and tell them "I've worked very long to reach a level of salary that I feel I deserve and I'm not going to fall back to the kind of money that a highschool kid makes!"
I don't know about all of you, but I've busted my ass with hours of study, thousands of dollars in books, labs, tests, etc., and I've dealt with more stress than I can imagine. Yet, a UAW worker for Ford makes $55 per hour, including benefits. I promise you that a line worker for an auto company hasn't had to go through all the bullshit that I have to get certifications and make sure that he keeps up with the absolute latest in technology. An UNskilled laborer demands more money than a network engineer. WTF is wrong with that picture?
I told the recruiter to use his best judgement in shopping me to the client. I feel that my resume and experience speaks for itself. I also told him, and I was very blunt in this, that he better not screw me. If he thinks I'm going to be offended by his offer, don't bother calling me. The last recruiter I dealt with here did that and it really pissed me off. I told him I wanted $80k per year, he came back with $50k per year. I got it up to $65k, took the job, then got laid off 3 weeks later because they didn't have enough work. I'm not going to let that crap happen again.
Fellow engineers, don't take this crap from recruiters. I know times are hard and bills have to be paid, but if you hold out just a little longer, the companies are going to come full circle. They will realize that you need to be paid for what you do and what you know. Don't lowball yourself! It's not very becoming of you as a person and it will only hurt everyone else in the field that's out there looking for work.