Once you’ve been extended a formal job offer, most nurse practitioners do a happy dance and get ready to sign on the dotted line. This is a mistake. Contract negotiation is key part of the job process and skipping over this is leaving opportunity on the table.
Why nurse practitioners don’t negotiate
One of the reasons why nurse practitioners (or really any employee) doesn’t negotiate is because they’ve had past negative experiences doing it, don’t know how to negotiate, or are worried about what will happen if their potential employer won’t negotiate.
I want to acknowledge that it takes a lot of courage to negotiate a job offer. Putting yourself out there to do something you don’t do every day is tough.
What’s tougher is being rejected immediately.
Let’s talk about what happens if your prospective employer will not negotiate, at all. They say no to everything, “we don’t negotiate”.
How do we proceed when an employer won’t negotiate?
We have three options.
1. Accept the offer
Sometimes there’s no wiggle room and this is the best option considering your particular situation. Accepting the offer is a perfectly appropriate option.
One important thing to know is that you must enter this job recognizing that your employer may be foreshadowing how they typically interact with employees in the job.
Not a guarantee, but they may be foreshadowing their lack of flexibility (e.g., if you voice concerns about having too much documentation to take home after work or being double or triple booked with patients and feeling overwhelmed, etc.).
This employer may be showing their true selves during the negotiation in terms of how they treat employees and may continue to do this once you are employed.
If you know this ahead of time and can accept that, then when you take the job offer you will be less dissatisfied or caught off guard while employed.
2. Walk away from the offer
If you feel you’re worth more and the offer is not something you can see yourself accepting, you can tell the employer “thank you but I will have to respectfully decline your offer” (and pursue employment where your value is recognized).
Basically, what LeBron James said, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” (or wherever it is you’ll be going). You can say that last part or not, up to you.
Basically, you’re saying “no” because you’re more valuable and armed with this negotiation experience, you can continue practicing your skills as you find a job that fits your needs.
This is a perfectly acceptable option as well if your prospective employer will not negotiate at all.
3. “Retreat, reassess, and make a concession”
Your third option is to retreat, reassess, and make a concession. Jia Jiang, author of Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection discusses this third option. Jiang suggests that when you’re told no, first ask why when the request is denied.
Then retreat, reassess, and make a concession (“if you can’t do X, can you do Y?”). This shows that you’re coming halfway, and you’re likely to get more headway.
This strategy is a way to maneuver around a “no.” It might look something like this: “if you can’t allow me to meet weekly with a collaborating provider to review difficult cases, can I have 30 minutes of blocked time per week to spend on continuing education/learning about X?”.
By having a plan of retreat ahead of time if told “no,” you can maneuver around rejection and more effectively negotiate.
You can also do a combination of these three options. You can retreat, reassess, and make a concession. Then, if your prospective employer still says “no,” you can either accept the offer or walk away from the offer.
Make a decision with intention
There are no wrong answers or options here. Just understanding the nuances of each option is important so you make a decision with intention.
Negotiation is tough. But let’s not remove ourselves from the game when presented with this particular challenge.
Know that you deserve to receive appropriate compensation for this exceptional work you will be doing as a nurse practitioner.
Remember, you are valuable, you have agency, and you can do this.
And once you have, go on and do your happy dance.