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Contract Signed, pay was good...

#1 Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 15:54


Hi All,

I currently work in industry and was offered a consultant role in a big firm last year. I signed the contract and agreed to join the consultancy a year later. The consultant's compensation which did look so good is, all of a sudden, only a little better than where I currently work due to recent promotions. Is there anything I can do/room to maneuver to improve the consulting pay? I’m presuming I’m screwed as I signed on the dotted line.

Any advice welcome


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#2 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 16:12

bully to learning (#1)

No problem. Withdraw your acceptance and pay a months salary in lieu of notice of resignation.

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#3 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 16:33

lottery to bully (#2)

Sorry to jump in this thread but wow, is that standard practice bully, or have i misread? Even before you've started work at a consultancy you have to pay a month's salary if you want to leave? What if its 3 months notice!?

I think the first poster wants to know how to improve consulting pay not how to get out of the job!

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#4 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 16:52

anon to lottery (#3)

if you've signed a contract, then you're obliged to adhere to its terms and conditions. and one condition will be that you need to give X months notice when resigning. which in effect means that you have to work for them (or reach some other kind of agreement) for X months following the agreed start date before you are free of the contract.

in reality however, they will be slightly p1ssed at you but won't make you work for them at all, it would hardly be worth it what with all the training and demotivation issues etc

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#5 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 17:28

learning to anon (#4)

This is useful thanks guys, much appreciated. But I do want the consulting job!

As I’ve taken on more responsibility and developed in my current industry role do you think it is possible to improve the compensation I have contractually agreed to at the consulting firm?

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#6 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 17:38

Mars A Day to learning (#1)

Unless you have actually set foot on the property of the consulting firm in question on or since your contracted start date then there is no contract. You can simply tell them that you have decided not to join them after all.

The more important points (assume the contract is worthless - you can renege on it without penalty as it is a contract OF services, so unless you have actually made your sevices available explictly - by working for them - or implicitly - by being on the premises and ready to go - there isn't one) are these:

Do you want to burn your bridges with a firm you may want to work with later? If not explain the situation to them, or tell them you have a counter offer from your current firm. Keep them in the loop - chances are, if they want you, they will raise the salary to compensate.

Just because you made promotion and the £ at the consulting firm is only slightly more, is £ the only motivation to go there? You may find the work more interesting, challenging, and a chance to develop new skills which will be very marketable.

What is the promotion track at the consulting firm like? MC is typically quite a fast track if you are good. If you can win and develop new business even quicker - if the market continues its slow down, business winners will get a meteroic rise.

This forum is full of industry people looking for a break into consulting, people losing sleep over it, desperate to make the move, some with no chance at all. You have it on a plate - consider your options more carefully and take everything into account.

If you go to the MC and decide in a while its not quite for you, you have exit options - more so than just with industry experience, and more to the point, you will not spend the next few years or more wondering what could have been.

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#7 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 18:12

learning to Mars A Day (#6)

Mars, that is a fantastic post, thank you very much.

I wonder what their response would be if I told them about my current situation pay wise, I’d assume negative. Even if they ignored the contract I’ve signed can't help but think I wouldn't be their most popular employee haggling for a pay rise after already accepting their offer!

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#8 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 18:18

anon to learning (#7)

not sure mars is right on this one.

3 things are needed for a contract to be formed:


consideration (£££ in return for work)

and acceptance

did you sign and return the offer letter to them? if so, then a contract has been formed - no doubt about it.

whether or not they're gits enough to enforce it is another matter though.

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#9 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 18:25

HR to anon (#8)

Mars is right. If in any doubts pay a lawyer £150 for confirmation...

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#10 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 18:44

anon to HR (#9)

actually, anon is right.

"WHAT is a contract of employment?

It is a legally binding agreement between employer and employee which is formed when an employee agrees to work for an employer in return for pay. It may be made orally, but should be in writing to avoid dispute."


Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.

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#11 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
30/01/2008 18:49

anon to anon (#10)

also, google promissory estoppel. if they hired you for a specific project, they could claim reliance and hence damages. but i figure this is very unlikely to be the case.

disclaimer: this is not legal advice.

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#12 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 08:43

Mars A Day to anon (#11)

I'm not a lawyer, but as a headhunter I have to know employment law. The definition of an contract is of course accurate but what Anon has stated is the form of a contract and NOT HOW the contract is formed i.e. contract OF services. Consult a lawyer if you want to double check but I am correct on this one.

Hired for a particular project would be contract FOR services not contract OF services - different case.

Anyway - Learning a year has passed since they made the offer, so the market has moved, your circumstances have changed, and you have other options. If you won't join them without a rise in the offer originally made it makes sense to cover that with them - ask for more £££; if they say no then politely decline to join, and explain your reasons for doing so. Don't burn your bridges but be adamant it is not in your interests (cite cost of living, your financial commitments having risen over the last year, interest from other consulting firms offering something a little more competitive etc). If the role is junior to mid level you will soon be lost in the general recruitment drive and they will forget; if you are looking at a senior level role they are more likely to make the effort to be competitive.

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#13 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 08:53

anon to Mars A Day (#12)

hi mars, you sound pretty adamant so i'm sure you're right.. .my basic knowledge is of contracts in general however i figure it makes sense that there are different rules for services and employment in particular. not that i'm doubting you or anything (seriously) however i really would be interested to read more around this as it sounds like a handy thing to know about... do you know any web links that will take me to somewhere i can find out more about it?

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#14 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 09:04

learning to Mars A Day (#12)

Mars, great again.

Your right, I guess it boils down to do I want the job or do I not want the job at the current pay. If I don't want the role at the current pay I’ve got nothing to lose by raising my concerns.

I am going in at a mid level so I presume I’ll be told tough, that’s all you’re getting. Tricky...

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#15 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 09:11

first dog barney bush to anon (#13)

youve signed the contract. It is legally binding and they can enforce it. Will they? Probably not as you havnt even started there. To enforce (successfully), they have to show that they were 'harmed' if you decide to reneg. They may say things like..'we rejected the other candidates because you said yes to the offer, and now if we are to go receuiting again, that'll cost us money and time...', therefore, we are harmed.

Most companies wont do this because its a headache and difficult to quantify, and even if they could quantify, the 'harm' caused is small and not worth the cost to enforce. Most companies therefore may be a little pissed that you reneged after agreeing to it, but will likely just brush it aside and move on. This may not look good for you though if you have plans to work there ,or maybe a competitor, in the future.

You said you really want to go into consulting, and your post indicates that this consulting compan is good in most regards, only that the pay is now even stevens with what you are currently getting. I say, join the consulting company, there usually is room to go up quite quickly in consulting houses once you proove yourself.

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#16 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 09:31

DaSchmo to first dog barney bush (#15)

Contract means nothing from your perspective in the real world, all it does is give the employer a legal grounds to get rid of you at the end of a set period. Hundreds, if not thousands of final year students sign contracts which they then back out of for better offers from different companies - it's part of the game. You will burn your bridges with that particular company but that's as far as it goes.

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#17 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 09:49

Mars A Day to learning (#14)

All this talk about the legal definition of contract is obscuring the main point we are all trying to help Learning with.

Learning - do you have any contact with a senior line manager there, say a Partner or Director who could give you a steer on whether a negotiation would be feasible? Or could you look to negotiate some added value in other parts of the package say guarantee a portion of your bonus, increase car allowance (if there is one) etc? What you really need to to get an inside track on whether they will take it seriously - some firms have a reputation for not negotiating even where they pay below market value (by leveraging strength of brand).

Tell us more about the opp in consulting and what you are currently doing - soon know whether the move makes sense.

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#18 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 11:58

learning to Mars A Day (#17)

Thanks, Mars.

I could contact a more senior member but not sure I want to put them in a difficult position. Also, I’m not sure they’ll be able to help.

Not too sure what to tell you. Since signing my industry role has pretty much transformed, I’ve been promoted, given my own team and my pay has increased accordingly. The pay difference between my current role and the more lucrative consulting role has gone from a 50%+ increase to 15%.

The role I got in consulting would be considered fairly junior and a fairly standard position – not specialised. I do really want to work in consulting however, I anticipate giving up a lot of my life while there and would want to be compensated for that. I believe it’s a lot harder to throw yourself into a truly time consuming role when I could have more comfortable life with pay that isn’t too different.

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#19 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 15:14

anon to learning (#18)

this is interesting...interested in Mars' response

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#20 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 15:48

Mars A Day to learning (#18)

You are right to be cautious - with the current economic climate looking like it is cooling, it is the generalist track in consulting, the archetypal consultant with 3 - 4 years experience, good degree, essentially utilising analytical skills to make a living, which is most at risk as they are the easiest to replace and the least cost effective. You could be taking a risk moving into consulting on a generalist ticket; alternatively you could be looking at your last opportunity for a while to jump on board before hiring freezes kick in; and it is the generalists which again will be frozen first as specialists can always be deployed to sell as point man on new projects.

Here is the math:

The longer you wait to move into consulting the more you have to be a specialist; there simply is no need or value in MC for generalists beyond a certain level of experience (excluding MBB), so you could be excluding yourself from MC unless and until you become a recognised expert in whatever it is you do. The risk you need to balance is the possible instability of the MC generalist onboarding point vrs the possibility you will miss the point of entry and would not then be attractive to MC for another 5 years or so.

The banks are a good barometer of what will happen with MC; when the banks reduce spend on MC, the sector will slow down. This is already happening in certain areas of banking, so you have a small - and diminishing window - to make a decision which you will need to live with. At the moment you are in the driving seat as it were - it is a candidate driven market, but this is beginning to reverse, and with it your negotiating power.

Incidentally when moving 10 - 20% is roughly the norm; leveraging beyond that is an art and very ad hoc, so even now the increase in base would be comparable to the market trend.

Talk to a Partner/Director off the record - tell them as such, even underline that they can disown what they say if they choose. All you want is a steer on whether the MC firm will consider raising the offer. Call it a risk premium if you like. You are not asking for a black letter statement of company policy, just an indication so you can ask in confidence if they indicate yes go for more £££.

Also consider whether you really DO want to work in consulting - you mention the lifestyle sacrifices you'll need to make after all, and generally these go with the territory. Work in IB? Do all nighters. Work in MC? travel - a lot. I suspect £ is not the only issue here - maybe you are nervous about making the move into MC?

At some point in all this reflection you should have felt some sort of instinctive pull one way or the other. Consider all the points and then sleep on it with the mindset that you will go with whatever feels the right thing tomorrow morning. When you wake up if the thought of joining the MC gets you excited take the +15% and dont regret it. If you hit the snooze button and think "its not a long commute, I'll still beat the traffic", stay where you are.

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#21 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 15:56

confused to anon (#19)

I am still lost as to why somebody would sign a contract to join a company a year in advance.

Surely this will have significantly impacted your performance within your current company. Clearly not as you progressed. I guess you didnt tell your employer you had a job lined up somewhere else in a year

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#22 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
31/01/2008 16:16

Learning to confused (#21)

Mars - thank you

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#23 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
01/02/2008 09:05

jack thompson to first dog barney bush (#15)

yeah, first dog barney bush is right. They probably wont do anything. You will burn some bridges though.

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#24 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
04/02/2008 14:18

Twix to jack thompson (#23)

I love you Mars, you're the best, although quite where you find the time to actually recruit anyone is beyond me....

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#25 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
04/02/2008 16:11

Mars A Day to Twix (#24)

Thanks Twix - bribe is in the post.

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#26 RE: Contract Signed, pay was good...
29/04/2008 20:58

Terry to Mars A Day (#25)

is it the same if you sign a contract for industry and then go back on it assuming it is for a general pm role and not a specific specialist roles as discussed in these forums- i am have 3 interviews over the next monh and have an offer confirmed that i need to respond to this week - i want this as a back up and if i sign and send back then at least i have this and if i get a better offer according to these forums then i politely say i have a better offer and I am not interested and i walk away

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