Finding the right nursing job can be a long, stressful process. You may be tempted to say yes to the first offer you receive. The listed salary in this offer might be just right, but it also might be lower than what you expected, or feel you deserve.
Know this: Negotiating for a higher salary can set you up for success in this position as well as in future roles. Whether you are a newly graduated nurse trying to secure your first position or are transferring to a new hospital, here's how to successfully negotiate your nursing salary.
1. Know your worth
Nurse.com reports that most nurses believe salary is the most important indicator of job satisfaction. However, about half of the nurses surveyed say they never or rarely negotiate a job offer. Most employers expect to negotiate on salary, and healthcare facilities might start with an initial salary offer toward the bottom end of their range.
To effectively negotiate your nursing salary, start by researching the salary range for your location and experience level. Our Salary Calculator can help you understand this number better. Here are a few factors to consider while researching your salary range:
- Completed degrees and certifications
- Years of experience
- Other specialized experience or skills
- Academic accomplishments
Your professional network is an invaluable resource when it comes to salary research. Speak with others in your specialty to ask what a fair salary range is with your experience. If you belong to any professional nursing networks, search their website for published salary data. If you contact them directly, they may offer information about nursing salaries upon request. If you are in a new grad nurse salary negotiation, also consider asking a professor or mentor about a potential salary range.
2. Practice the negotiation
Don't wait until you get an offer to practice what you'll say during a salary conversation. You can even draft a sample nurse salary negotiation letter to help you gather your thoughts. Review the job description and pull out keywords to emphasize during the conversation. Your goal is to remind the nurse recruiter how your experience aligns with their needs for the role.
Be ready to point out what sets you apart from the competition. You've already highlighted your impressive credentials in your cover letter and resume, but once you're offered the job, salary negotiations are an appropriate time to remind your new employer of why you're worth more.
You can even practice a few different role-play scenarios to prepare for the nurse salary negotiation conversation. Determine your salary expectations and then talk through how you will convince the hiring manager you're worth your desired salary. Remember to cite your experience and any other special skills you can bring to the position.
3. Consider the entire employment package
It's easy to look at an annual salary figure and ignore the details, especially if the number is higher than you expected. But understanding the full benefits package is critical, especially if you are considering more than one offer.
Here are some core benefits to consider during nurse salary negotiations:
- Holiday, vacation and personal time
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
- 401(k) matches
- Sign-on, quarterly or annual bonuses
- Continuing education reimbursement
- Scrubs or other nursing equipment
- Staff discounts
- Mileage for community health positions
- Schedules and flexible time
During new grad nurse salary negotiations, there may not be much wiggle room with the actual salary. When you compare the entire package, though, one role might stand out to you as the winner.
4. Don't burn bridges
You may find what looks to be the perfect job opportunity, only to discover the low salary means you have to turn down the position. If you find yourself in this frustrating situation, stay professional and courteous, even as you decline the offer. While these conversations may be challenging, try to be honest throughout every step of nurse salary negotiations.
Write a thank you letter to the employer and let them know you are interested in future opportunities. Keeping these lines of communication open might lead to a new position down the road that meets both of your needs
5. Request the final offer in writing
Once you and the employer agree on a salary and benefits package, request the job offer in writing. That way, you'll have your pay, benefits and the formal offer all in one place. If an issue crops up later, you can cite this paperwork. If the employer says that they don't regularly send a formal nursing job offer or refuses for another reason, this is a major red flag. Try to address this issue with the hiring manager immediately.
If you're about to enter the application process for a new nursing job, our Resume Builder can help you create a resume that showcases your expertise, letting any prospective employer quickly see your worth. Our Cover Letter Builder can help you convey your nursing experience and skills in a thoughtful, well-written and compelling story that enhances the content in your resume.