In 2018, the median income for an RN was $71,730 per year. Salaries for nurses vary quite a lot by state, with California leading the way with an average RN salary of $106,950. Wherever you live and work, if you’re considering a job offer it’s worth putting some effort into negotiating before you accept a new position.
Why? Most people are leaving money on the table, and it adds up over time. In a study from Glassdoor, they found that the average American could be earning approximately $7,500 more per year than their base salary. Not only is that a lot of money, but compounded over the course of your nursing career it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Convinced? Great! Let’s make sure you get the best possible offer. A lot of people are uncomfortable talking about money, but most employers expect negotiation to be part of the hiring process. It’s not uncommon for an initial offer to leave space for the bargaining that is likely to occur. Remember: you already got the offer, and that means they want to hire you. You’re just working out the specifics.
Here’s how to negotiate for the best salary for your new nursing job:
1. Understand the pay structure.
Do you know how the hospital or organization pays? Some institutions are unionized; salaries are set by the union in this situation, not the person or department you are interviewing with. There are also organizations that have a tiered pay structure based on years of experience, years with the institution, certifications, education, and more. Salary for these employees is a calculation based on the employee’s “inputs”, which leaves less room for negotiation.
2. Do your market research.
BLS, Glassdoor, and Payscale are great resources with salary information across industry and geographic locations, as well as job outlook, growth, and worth. While nurses are in demand virtually everywhere, some regions have a particularly high need. Where there is a high need, there’s more room for negotiating salary and signing bonuses.
3. Put your credentials to work for you.
Have you done research, been published, gotten advanced certifications, or have professional affiliations? Come to the negotiating table with examples and evidence of the extra work you have done to make yourself an exceptional candidate.
4. Know your worth.
Go into the negotiation knowing what salary range you’re comfortable with and what you’re willing – and not willing – to compromise on. Say the numbers out loud. Try saying them without any justification or explanation. Imagine that the number is a complete sentence and punctuate it with a period. A successful negotiation starts with a strong mindset and clarity on your wants and needs.
5. Work with them.
A negotiation doesn’t have to be adversarial. You’re working towards a shared goal: getting hired and starting your new role. They’ve already invested a lot in just trying to find you! Ask for their help in coming to a fair offer. Your work is valuable, and the right hospital for you will want to compensate you fairly.
If you’re looking for help with any stage of the hiring process, we can help. Our Talent Advocates are there for every step of the job search, from making your resume shine to preparing you for interviews and negotiation. Create your free career profile here to get personalized career support.
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