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Negotiation Tips for Nurses

Job-seeking nurses and employed nurses alike may need to engage in negotiation to reach an agreement about salary and benefits. Whether you are looking for a job or want to advance in your career, there are tactics you can use to achieve a desired outcome. While a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) prepares you for many employment opportunities, your earning potential may depend on savvy negotiating skills.

What is Negotiation?

Negotiation is the communication that occurs between a prospective or current employer and a job candidate or employee to determine position, salary and benefits. Whenever you are interviewing for a new position, receiving a promotion or believe that you are not getting paid what you are worth, you should negotiate using the suggestions below.

Why Would You Want to Negotiate?

Generally, negotiation is necessary to increase earnings that reflect your experience and nursing ability. Nurses should not assume that their salaries are non-negotiable and should not be afraid to ask for higher pay, especially since employers usually start an offer at the bottom of their budget. Male nurses tend to earn higher wages than female ones according to Nurse Journal, which reports that men make an average of $7,300 more a year than women as RNs. Female nurses should not be afraid to ask for higher pay. In addition, BSN-prepared nurses can expect a higher salary than nurses with an associate degree.

Besides salary, there are other benefits you may want to consider:

  • Health insurance
  • Pay differentials for shifts
  • Tuition, continuing education or certification reimbursement
  • Retention and quality bonuses
  • Recognition incentives
  • Flexible schedule
  • Paid fees for professional association memberships, conference registrations or publication subscriptions

How to Prep for Negotiating

You should not go into a job interview or meeting unprepared to discuss salary or negotiate for adequate pay. You need to think about your worth and gather information that supports your point of view. You should address these steps before engaging in negotiation.

  • Research
  • Self-Assess
  • Prioritize

You first need to research salaries for registered nurses in your area. You can do this by using internet sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or Zip Recruiter. Salaries can vary according to nursing specialty, type of healthcare facility, work experience, education, location and gender.

A self-assessment helps you pinpoint your strengths and what you can offer an employer. Make a list of your accomplishments. Have you implemented new projects or received positive feedback from coworkers and patients? What are your nursing attributes? Are you a good organizer, collaborator or instructor?

To decide if a job and salary is right for you, focus on your priorities. Do you need healthcare benefits that cover family members? Do you need an adjustable schedule? Is it important that the employer values professional development and career advancement?

How Should You Negotiate?

When negotiating your salary, always be professional and calm. Be positive instead of pushy and make a point to be kind, but firm. Before your meeting, you may want to rehearse what you want to say to reduce anxiety about the conversation.

When talking about salary, ask for about 15 percent higher than the average salary. This way, you give yourself leeway to settle on a favorable rate.

Once you have a job offer and an ideal salary, you should make sure that it is put in writing and signed by the employer. This protects you against the employer changing the provisions of employment. Here are tips for negotiating:

  • Make eye contact.
  • Actively listen.
  • Be confident, but not aggressive.
  • Structure your requests in the form of questions, not statements.
  • Do not hesitate to inform the employer about your education and certifications.
  • Know your minimum salary requirement.
  • Consider the full package being offered, not only the salary.

Many employers understand that an investment in dedicated and skillful employees will boost their quality of patient care and reduce the expense of staff turnover. Thus, they may be open to negotiation. As a nurse, you are exposed to stressful situations and may have to apply evidence-based research to your nursing practice.

If you think about negotiating for a job and salary the same way you approach nursing, you already have the necessary tools needed for a successful result. There is always the possibility that you may not get what you want but knowing how to negotiate is a step in the right direction.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online RN to BSN degree program.

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