Advice for Negotiating Your Salary

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While it’s certainly possible to get promotions and raises after you’ve been hired into a role, negotiating your salary when you’re first hired is very important. While some employers won’t budge on their starting salary offer, in many cases, there is wiggle room, and therein lies your opportunity. If you feel a little daunted by this process, you’re not alone. Self-advocacy can be tough for even the most seasoned professionals, but it’s well worth the effort. 

Rest assured, there are tried-and-true methods to help get you through this exciting challenge with maximum impact. The team at Behavioral Health Jobs has put together some resources to get you started. We offer many other tools to help you find the right job for you in the behavioral health landscape. Reach out to us at [Direct] or send a message online for more assistance. 

The First Hurdle: Knowing Your Worth and Your Needs

Before you sit down at the negotiating table, flesh out your own understanding of your worth as an employee and consider your needs; if you tend to undervalue yourself, try reframing your preparation as if you were building a case for a good friend instead of for yourself. How would you advocate for this person’s core strengths and accomplishments? Remember that the salary and benefits you establish now form the baseline from which you build going forward. The better the package you get now, the more money you’ll make over time and the more secure and motivated you’ll likely feel. 

Look up what the usual salary range is for positions comparable to yours, and factor in your experience level if this is an option. Your field’s regulating body or professional association may have a website that makes these statistics available. You can also look at more general salary information, including data provided by the federal government. If your new job involves relocating, remember to research cost-of-living in your new locale as well and factor this into your asks. Relocation expenses are a common budget line in salary negotiations. 

To succeed in negotiations, you’ll also need to be prepared to make a great case for your value as an employee. Go over your resume or CV with a fine-tooth comb and remind yourself of your own professional narrative. What are your key selling points as a new hire? Everything from skills gained or relationships built during an internship or residency to published bodies of research and program facilitation is on the table. Look for the times when something you accomplished created measurable positive change for your organization or clientele, and think about how you’ll apply this expertise in your new role.

Tips for Negotiating Your Salary

Once you’ve received a concrete job offer and spent some time reflecting on and researching your value as an employee, consider the following tips for negotiating your salary package: 

  • Plan for various scenarios. For example, consider how you’ll respond to arguments to a request you make for more money. If your new employer cites a career gap on your resume, what important skills or experiences developed during this time will you mention?
  • Prioritize the salary and benefits that are most important to you. While it may be tempting to ease in by discussing less important matters first, clarity and directness will likely serve you better. 
  • Demonstrate your value to your employer. Strategies include citing your major accomplishments, mentioning the typical range of pay for someone in your field with your experience, and even mentioning any counter offers you may have from other potential employers. 
  • Know your numbers but avoid being the first to say them. Ideally, you want the employer to make the first salary offer, so you don’t inadvertently lowball yourself. If asked about your salary expectations directly, you can inquire about the typical range. As far as possible, place yourself at the top end of this range or of the range you discovered through your research.
  • Think of non-salary benefits as part of your overall compensation since they are of real value. Health, vision, and dental are likely given in the behavioral health field, but do confirm they’re present. Also, discuss benefits specific to your field. In academia, for instance, research funding might be a factor, and in clinical jobs, you might negotiate subsidization for licensing exams. 
  • After negotiations, get your new offer in writing. Politely but firmly make sure that any verbal agreements you come to are reflected in contract form as soon as possible to avoid discrepancies. 

A salary negotiation doesn’t have to be stressful. For further advice on negotiating your salary and more, visit the Behavioral Health Jobs website.

Find More Resources for Job-Seekers at Behavioral Health Jobs

Learn more about important topics for job-seekers by creating an account with Behavioral Health Jobs. You can also receive support by reaching out online or calling [Direct]. Our knowledgeable team is standing by to help you find great opportunities in your area. Step up your game today by investing in your future as a behavioral health professional. 

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