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How to Negotiate a Pay Raise as a Nurse

No one likes discussing their salary with a boss or hiring manager, but a conversation is often necessary to get paid what you’re worth. If you’re a nurse in North Carolina, this conversation may be especially important to you as a large percentage of nurses in the state are underpaid.

Yet, even if the conversation is important, it can be tricky to successfully negotiate a pay raise in your current nursing role or during the job search. To help, we’ve boiled the process down to 3 easy-to-follow steps.

Set up a meeting with your manager

Surprise spices up many life events, from birthday parties to unexpected job opportunities. But for other events, surprise feels like an ambush. Asking your hiring manager for a raise out of the middle of nowhere most likely falls into the second category.

Instead, set up a scheduled meeting with your manager. While you don’t have to reveal that you want to discuss salary, you should say you want to discuss your career development so your manager is in the right headspace for the conversation.

Another alternative is to bring it up during a performance review or annual evaluation. These are designated times to discuss your work, where your career is heading, and any changes that are needed, including a pay increase. This time is especially good if you and your hiring manager are proud of the work you’ve done since that praise will set a great tone for the conversation around salary.

If you’re currently on the job hunt, you should discuss with the HR representative what the hiring process looks like. The later into the interview process you discuss salary, the more bargaining power you’ll have since the company already invested into multiple rounds of interviews. But sometimes, companies sometimes bring up pay earlier, so it’s always best to have a range in mind before you start interviewing.

Gather data to support the pay raise

Once you have set a meeting with your current or prospective nursing manager, it’s time to prepare. Just like you wouldn’t take your NCLEX without studying, you shouldn’t enter salary negotiations without knowing the market and the value of your education and work experience.

To start, research what nurses are making in your state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a great source of data on this subject, though it only gives you a general idea instead of a salary range customized to your experience.

The second area of research is much more personal. Reflect back on why you deserve the raise. Jot down a list of your responsibilities and how they’ve changed since you first started your current role. You can also document praise from your manager and patients and any other evidence of the hard work you’ve invested in your job.

Approach the conversation from a place of collaboration, not conflict

Often, salary negotiations bring up images of fighting, fear of having to walk away without the raise, and conflict with your manager. Similarly, if you’re discussing salaries for a new role, you might be afraid that if you ask for too much, you won’t get the job.

Money is a highly personal topic, and it can be easy to get defensive about how much we think we should make. From a defensive state, our manager can look like an adversary if they push back on our salary expectations. Instead of viewing your manager as the opponent, approach the conversation in a spirit of collaboration.

When you express your reasons for wanting a raise in an honest, non confrontational way, a conversation about salary can be a productive tool to strengthen your career and relationship with your manager. If your manager or a prospective employer can’t meet your desired pay, they might be able to provide other non-monetary benefits, such as more vacation time or working fewer holidays.

If you’re still not content after your salary negotiation, don’t be afraid to walk away (politely). Whether you take the job or pay raise or decide to walk away, leave the salary negotiation in a spirit of collaboration instead of resentment.

After walking away, you can start looking for a new nursing role with more green flags than your previous one or the one you just applied to–and you can keep a good reputation with a prospective employer or your current workplace.

If you’re searching for a new role, remember not to settle. With the right tools, including the free HireMe Healthcare app, finding your dream nursing role in North Carolina can be a reality. Download our app and start scrolling open nursing roles near you.


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