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4 Keys to Negotiating a Higher Salary

What is your work worth? Perioperative nursing is a competitive specialty and the skills you have could be worth more than you think. If you are in a position to negotiate for more compensation than you are currently getting, consider these tips to make it happen.

1. Know Your Worth

You must have a specific number in mind and have the rationale to back it up before you walk into any negotiation for a pay raise. Don’t leave the numbers to your manager, who could suggest a lesser amount, and make sure your number is at the top of the range so there is wiggle room for negotiation. Check out AORN’s Salary Survey and Calculator to calculate your potential perioperative earnings and access results from AORN’s most recent salary survey.

2. Make the Case

Building a strong case with hard data and specific examples will show your manager you are serious about this pay raise and with continuing to move up the ladder. Collect the data supporting your raise, such as average salary numbers for other nurses in your role and geographic area, and then present these data in a visual way that is easy to explain during your negotiation. Data driven decision making is key for your manager. By providing this data, which your manager will likely share with those she reports to, you can cinch the deal. Also have data on your accomplishments and the reasons you deserve the raise. Did you lead a quality improvement project with good outcomes? Did you improve a step in your clinical workflow to boost efficiency? Sell these accomplishments. Written praise from colleagues can also help.

3. Act the Part

Make sure you portray raise worthy actions, both inside the OR and during the negotiation. Your manager will be observing your practice and speaking with other leaders and staff you work with to understand if a raise is in order. So, go above and beyond with a difficult case, take on committee work, offer to help your manager with an administrative task, and generally make it difficult for those who can approve your raise to see any reason not to put more in your paycheck.

4. Believe You Deserve It

Portraying confidence in yourself and truly believing what you portray is key when it comes to successfully negotiating a raise. “Your fate lies in your hands. It lies in the concepts you have and the assumptions you make about who you are and what you’re capable of,” says Elle Sommer in a guest blog post for Dr. Quinlan’s blog,

Show this confidence through your body language and choice of words during negotiations. For example, consciously avoid saying "um," "ah" or "and" to connect sentences—taking time to pause is a good thing. Also, be sure to stay aware of your posture and eye contact: sit up straight, but comfortably, and maintain eye contact, particularly when you are talking about yourself.