When asked if I would consider less (as shared in Goal 3, go back to read it here), here’s what I said: “No, I don’t think so. That would be very difficult for me because I wouldn’t be able to meet my own expenses at that amount.”
Ok, so this may not be 100% accurate, but it is 100% true. It’s not 100% accurate because as a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker emeritus who has spent 5 months of my life walking across the USA and living outside carrying only life’s necessities with me in my backpack, I feel even more confident in my ability to live on practically nothing than I do in my salary negotiation skills.
It’s 100% true to say I can’t meet my expenses because the other thing thru-hiking ingrained in my is that my most precious resource is my time. I had already worked through Goal 1 and was pretty clear about the minimum I was willing to trade my time for. This offer had not hit it, and this is why I could respond earnestly, “No, I don’t think so. That would be very difficult for me because I wouldn’t be able to meet my own expenses at that amount.”
Guess what happened next? The interviewer squirmed. They tried to explain why they needed to provide less - blah blah blah. Always consider this white noise. I listened patiently and emotionlessly to the justification of the lower pay offer. Then I didn’t budge and emotionlessly repeated, “I can’t cover my expenses on that amount.”
I can’t cover my expenses on that amount.
Now would’ve been a fine time to briefly review comparable market rates and all the value I was bringing - my years of nursing experience, my track record of being results driven, a self starter, excellent with technology, my exceptional performance reviews. However, those are all things we’d reviewed in the interview already. I’ve gone down that road in the past, and when I did, I have led myself into the squirming position.
It’s difficult and it doesn’t feel good when trying to convince someone else that your personal worth is tied up in a specific dollar amount. Remember when I told you about the time I was negotiating for an internal salary increase with the president of my organization, and he dismissed me with a wave of the hand? That was a very devaluing moment in my career that I will never care to repeat.
It’s difficult and it doesn’t feel good when trying to convince someone else that your personal worth is tied up in a specific dollar amount.
It’s my belief that once you’ve reached this part of the interview, now is not the time to make your case and attempt to attach your worth to a dollar amount. You’ve already demonstrated your worth in your interview, through your resume, and maybe through direct observation of your work. You will potentially have opportunity to do that again during your reference checks. So when you find yourself at this part of the process, do yourself a favor and stick to something that the interviewer can objectively understand, your ability to cover your expenses.
It’s an easy concept for leaders to grasp - if the amount they are offering you will not cover your expenses, then you can’t in good faith accept the position and support yourself. It signals to them that it’s up to them to do the right thing and pay you what you need to exist. You’ll both be seriously considering if this job will be a good fit and if one of you needs to leave this negotiation at this moment.
So after the interviewer made their case for lower pay, and I repeated emotionlessly, or perhaps with a tinge of regret, “I’m very sorry. I can’t cover my expenses on that amount,” the interviewer came to their conclusion, “I cannot make this decision on my own so I will have to review this with my leadership team and get back to you.” Whether I got the job or not, I felt a success in this moment.
A day later, I received a request to check references getting me one step closer to the fifth and final goal in nurse salary negotiation: counteroffering.
In this series, we're working on 5 goals of nurse salary negotiation:
In this series, I am helping you create a bulletproof plan using these 5 goals of Salary Negotiation for Nurses - go here to start from the beginning. Make sure to subscribe so you can get notification for all future series focused on helping nurses achieve financial independence, security, by investing for wealth. For even more benefit join our private and supportive group of Nurses Investing for Wealth on Facebook and follow for regular musings on Instagram.
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- Valuing Your Time & Skills
- Going Rate
- Your Salary Ask
- Emotionlessly Negotiate