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Career Coach

Salary Negotiation Etiquette

Published March 24, 2009 11:50 AM by Renee Dahring

"Dear Career Coach, I have been offered my first NP job. I have to admit I am a little disappointed with the salary ($34.78/ hr). The average salary in my area is $85,000. My questions are: What would be a fair salary? Should I counter? The position is part-time without benefits. I have been in the medical field since 1985. I would appreciate any advice you can provide."

This is a great question and very timely. This is a sort of "good news/bad news" scenario. First the good news, which is that you have been offered a job AND they are willing to take a new graduate.

The bad news, of course, is the wage is lower than you were hoping to see. This is actually a trend we have seen over the past couple months. On the one hand, employers are offering lower starting wages in general, but the upside is that they are becoming much more "new grad friendly."

However, this doesn't mean you are without options and have to take their first offer. I agree this salary seems low, and you have been wise to do your homework to find out what the average salary is in your area. A counter would not be out of line.

Making a counter-offer is hard for us as nurses, we aren't used to the back and forth negotiations over wages and benefits that is common in the business world, but our experience has been that most employers are expecting to receive a counter.

So how do you effectively counter? Just simply coming back with a higher wage demand is not likely to get you far unless you have some justification. In this situation I can see at least 3 areas you can use to your advantage: 1) The offer is not in line with the average salary in your area, 2) this is a part-time position with no benefits, generally you should see a slightly higher hourly wage offered to offset the fact there are no benefits, and 3) your RN experience.

Don't hesitate to heavily emphasize your years and experience as an RN. Your RN experience is generally your best leverage as a new grad when countering, especially if you can directly relate your past RN job experience to the job you have been offered.

How much to counter? That question is trickier. Look to my next blog for some thoughts on what factors to consider when looking at wages.

Did I mention we love questions? Email renee at onlineaps.com if you have suggestions or questions for us to address in our blog.

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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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