How do I negotiate salary with my new degree?

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Hello Nurse Beth,

How do I decide what salary to ask for? I am starting the dissertation phase for my Ph.D. which means I anticipate starting a Job Search to utilize my new degree in the next 7-8 months. I will be exploring all types of roles and am prepared for different questions based on what type of job I'm applying to. However, I have never been in a position to negotiate my salary. I have been in the same job for over 13 years which I started as a new graduate. When I started there was not a salary negotiation just a statement that all new grads receive XX pay. After considering location based salary norms, how do I decide what to start salary negotiations at?"

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Starting Job Search,

Congrats on earning your PhD!

Salary negotiations are rarely easy or comfortable. No one wants to be seen as pushy and it's important to remain gracious throughout the process. But salary negotiation is  actually a perfectly normal part of the hiring process. An employer won't withdraw the offer just because you asked for more, even if they don't budge. Just don't draw it out too long or go back and forth too many times. 

If at all possible, let the employer talk numbers first. If you are asked, say you aren't comfortable discussing your salary just yet. If pressed, be prepared with  a salary range rather than a figure.

Talk to your classmates if there are any  in your area/region. It's a really helpful way to find out what other employers in your area are offering, and compare your offer to what others are making.

 If you are going to ask for more money, do it after you receive your job offer, preferably in writing, because then you know they have decided on you above the other candidates and you have more leverage.

It's not enough to simply counter offer or ask for more than offered. Don't negotiate just for the sake of negotiating. You should have a justification for asking for more money. Help them understand you deserve more. Your reason may be you need more to live on, or you have received an offer from another employer

Hi, Joan. Thank you so much for the offer. I'm excited to get started and excited about the possibility of being on the team. I was hoping to discuss my compensation. I've researched the the current market value in our area. I would be most comfortable accepting a salary of $95,000 for this role, given the combination of my qualifications and experience.


Thank you, Richard. I'm excited about the offer and I'm happy about possibly being part of your team. As you know, I have been discussing job opportunities at other organisations and I have received an offer of $85,000 elsewhere. Is there any way  to get me closer to this salary?

During negotiations, make sure they know you are their preferred employer (if they are).You are trying to get where you want to be, not threatening to go elsewhere.

If not the salary, can the benefits be negotiated? This can include support for education and training, paid leave, vacation time, moving expenses, and 401(k) contributions, just to name a few. Also consider benefits such as loan reduction and health insurance.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth