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Career Coach

Selling Your Salary

Published February 19, 2014 4:40 PM by Renee Dahring
I usually conduct a brief survey when I speak to groups about job searching. I ask participants to rank a list of topics to indicate where they feel they need the most assistance. The choices are: resumes, cover letters, finding job openings, negotiating and interviewing. Across the board the recipients choose negotiating to discuss. This holds true whether I query new grads or seasoned clinicians.  

The results are not so surprising when you consider that the market has been improving for both our professions. A few years ago it was a challenge to find a job, much less get an actual job offer. Now that jobs are relatively easy to land, we now have the luxury of focusing more on our compensation. 

"Nobody likes to talk about money, but everyone wants to be paid," a former colleague of mine used to say. As a profession the idea of negotiating tends to make us a bit squeamish. Publicly we are seen as healers, and the implication is that we shouldn't really be talking about money. However, privately we are like everyone else who has a mortgage and bills to pay. 

Our backgrounds and education don't do much to prepare us for negotiation either. If you listen to the so-called "experts" you will be lead to believe all negotiations are a contentious back and forth horse-trading type affair. You know, an endless cycle of smoky backroom deals where they make an offer, you counter offer, then they counter your counter, and continue ad nauseum. No wonder most of us suffer from "negotia-phobia"! 

Out of curiosity I attended a breakout session on negotiating at a national conference. The level of anxiety in the room was palpable as participants we treated to a summary of "tactics." It was there that I had an epiphany. This wasn't a talk on conducting negotiations, it was a lecture on how to make demands! 

I realized that an essential key concept was missing.

Before you can negotiate, you must first make the sale. It's only after making the sale that you can begin to have a conversation of the terms of the deal. 

So if you want to have a less stressful negotiation, then study sales. You will learn a sale does not start with a price. It starts with both parties coming to an agreement on the need for the product. Think about the last time you made a large purchase. There were likely many features and benefits you didn't even know you needed until the sales person pointed them out. By then, you were happy to pay the asking price.     

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