Negotiate a Raise in Healthcare

Asking for a raise is tough. Here's how to negotiate a higher healthcare salary with a minimum of angst.

Negotiate a Raise in Healthcare

Negotiate a Raise in Healthcare

Although the thought of asking for a raise may give you the jitters, you probably won't be able to avoid the issue forever. At some point in your healthcare career, it's likely you'll have to request a salary increase to get paid what you deserve in your healthcare job. Here are some tips for negotiating a higher healthcare salary with a minimum of angst.

Recognize Industry Limitations

Some segments of the healthcare industry, like hospitals and public health agencies, are infamous for their rigid salary structures. "There are many staff-level healthcare positions where it's not possible to ask for a raise," says Donna Cardillo, RN, of Cardillo & Associates in Sea Girt, New Jersey. "Because of budgetary restraints, there are very set salaries or salary ranges." In those positions, the best way to increase your salary may be to get promoted or attain additional certification or education.

Negotiate Early

Whether a workplace has a rigid or loose salary structure, the best time to negotiate your salary is when you're interviewing for a new healthcare job, says Robert Johnson, assistant administrator for human resources for the Quincy Medical Group in Quincy, Illinois. "Individuals have to make sure they communicate their background and experience," Johnson says. "They have to show what their value will be to the organization."

Arm Yourself with the Facts

Asking for a raise when you're already an employee requires ample preparation. If you believe you're being underpaid, gather regional salary data to support your claim. You can often find such data through your professional association, or by doing a job search on the Internet for workers in similar positions in your area, Cardillo advises. "Going in with hard data will impact an employer's decision," she says.

Highlight Your Accomplishments

Before you meet with your supervisor, take stock of your strengths. Make a list of your accomplishments, including new projects you've implemented, results you've achieved and positive feedback you've received from colleagues, clients or patients. "Think about what you do well," Cardillo says. "Are you a good speaker, manager, teacher or organizer? You have to create awareness of the value you bring to the job and be able to articulate that when you go into a negotiating session. You have to be able to sell yourself."

Do It Face to Face

After you've readied yourself with the appropriate facts and figures, set up an appointment with your supervisor or the appropriate manager. Tell him you want to discuss some career-related issues, but keep it lighthearted so he won't think you're going to resign, suggests Cardillo. A face-to-face meeting is essential. "When you have something important to discuss with a manager, you should always do it in person," she says. "Never ask for a raise on paper."

Make a Convincing Presentation

Don't beat around the bush during the meeting. State your objective right up front, advises Cardillo. Begin by briefly expressing your happiness working with your supervisor or department so you don't seem to be threatening to leave. Then use a phrase like, "I believe I should be making a higher salary than I am now, and let me tell you why I think that" or "I'm asking for a $3,000 raise, and let me tell you why I think I'm entitled to it." Ask for a specific dollar amount or a range of increase as opposed to leaving the amount open-ended. Then enumerate your strong points and share your salary research. Provide a written summary of your request after the face-to-face meeting.

Stay Objective

During the meeting, be straightforward and pleasant. "Try to make an objective argument rather than an emotional argument," Johnson says. Granting or refusing your request is a business decision, not a personal one, for employers. Don't take it personally. "Be calm, self-assured and professional," Cardillo says. "Never go in with a hostile or defensive attitude."

Enjoy the Payoffs

Asking for a raise is "one of the hardest things you'll ever do, but it pays off," Cardillo says. "It shows you're assertive, interested in staying in your job, looking to advance and able to articulate your strong points." Even if you don't get the results you want, your request may spur your supervisor to think about what it will take, like more flexibility, greater challenges or better benefits, to keep you happy.

Learn more about healthcare careers.