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Negotiating for your benefit

by in HR - Human Resources, Salary

There have been a number of threads on the forum recently about PM salaries, terms and conditions, benefits and entitlements. Some of us have been astonished at how little some of our compatriots are being paid, or what pitiful T&Cs some partners are offering.

So, I’ve created a little guide on how to negotiate; think about what you want, and try to get it!

A recent survey by www.salary.com showed that 18% of respondents have never negotiated a salary on accepting a job offer, and a whopping 44% of respondents have never tried to clinch a pay rise following an appraisal!

When starting with a new employer…

Do your research!

What are other people in the same job, in a similar area, with the same level of responsibility, getting paid? Practice Index could be really helpful in this area, if people are willing to be open about their salary.

Agenda for Change can also be useful, even if the practice isn’t using it. All AfC jobs have been evaluated using set criteria and banded accordingly. If you can see similarities between your job description and that of one on the NHS Jobs website, you can use that as leverage; for example, “I can see that a post with this level of responsibility and accountability, looking after a budget/organisation/department of this size in a nearby hospital, would attract a salary of…”

Know your own value; if you have loads of relevant experience to bring to the role, remind the recruiter of this. If you have less experience, be aware that this may be a valid reason for offering you less. But even so, if you have transferable skills then make a big song and dance about them as they still equate to experience that counts!

Be confident!

You’ve already got the job offer, so well done you! Recruiters generally don’t want to have to go through the rigmarole of another recruitment process or ending up with their second choice if they can avoid it, so you should feel fairly confident that there will be some ‘wiggle room’ in terms of salary. You don’t want your new bosses thinking you’re not even sure you’re worth it, so go in with confidence.

Focus on the future, not the past

It’s not uncommon for the new employer to ask what you’re currently getting. You need to remind them what the differences are between your current role and the new one – whether there’s more responsibility or accountability, more travel commitments, a longer commute, longer working hours, more flexibility required, etc. Your old job is your old job; you’re leaving it for this one so it needs to be worth your while! The new employer should be enticing you away, and if you make it clear that you wouldn’t be choosing to leave for the same money, then they’re more than likely to up the offer.

State your offer first

None of this “well, you start” business. New employers NEVER make a really high offer initially. More often than not, they’ll ‘low-ball’ you. This can take the wind out your sails and leave you feeling deflated. So, don’t let it happen! Take the initiative and if they ask, “What are your salary expectations?” be realistic but, you know, at the top end of realistic! If the salary range is £40-£45K and you’ve done a similar role for a number of years, start at the top. If it’s a promotional opportunity, pick a grand or two below the top. NEVER pick the bottom of the range. If they aren’t willing to negotiate, they won’t; they’ll just offer you the bottom of the range. If they’ve asked you what you expect, there’s room for discussion, so go for it! If it’s definitely a promotional opportunity and they state the bottom of the range, it doesn’t mean they won’t go higher – now or eventually. If you feel confident enough to negotiate higher then go for it, but be able to justify it. If you think you can’t just yet, accept the bottom of the range on the proviso that the salary is reviewed after X number of months.

When aiming for a pay rise or additional benefits with your current employer…

Still do your research!

What could you be getting elsewhere? You’re in the post and you’re now assuming your bosses want to keep you, so what’s out there that could tempt you away?

Demonstrate your worth

What have you achieved in your current role? If you’ve increased income AT ALL, this is a definite bargaining chip. “I’ve brought you this money – now give me a piece of it.” If you’ve brought down costs: “I’ve saved you this money – now give me a piece of it!” If you’ve reduced turnover or sickness levels, reduced appointment waiting times, brought in initiatives that reduce clinical workload… all of that has a monetary value in some form or another… “So give me a piece of it!”

But don’t focus on personal needs

It can be a real turn-off if you start talking about your mortgage payments increasing, or childcare expenses going up, etc. The chances are your bosses have faced the same problems, or know people who have, and they haven’t received a pay rise, so why should you? Keep the discussion positive and focused on what you’ve achieved.

Think about who you’re asking

These are people you work with, so you know them. What do they value? What should you point out that you know they’ll appreciate? If one partner is obsessed with finances, tell them what you’ve saved or brought in. If one’s more concerned about staff well-being, tell them about all the initiatives you’ve set up. If one prioritises time with patients, talk about how the projects you’ve introduced have freed them up for longer consultations. Know your audience and use that to your advantage.

Practise and prepare

Practise in advance what you’re going to say. You want to come across as being confident and worth the investment, so stumbling over your words won’t work! Also think about when to have the discussion. Following an appraisal is always good, as hopefully you’ve just spent the preceding hour or two talking about how great you are!

And in both cases…

It doesn’t have to be about money

Employers don’t just have salary to negotiate with (and salary may be non-negotiable in some cases). But you don’t have to give up there. What others benefits are included that could have some ‘wiggle room’? Could additional annual leave be granted? What about agreeing to fund some training or a qualification? Flexible working can also be a draw – annualised hours, compressed hours, etc. may be a huge benefit to you if you don’t want to work 9-5, Monday to Friday.

Don’t be afraid to ask!

For most senior roles, recruiters expect to have to negotiate on something, so don’t feel bad about asking. Just be realistic; don’t be pushy and don’t be a pushover! Good luck!

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