Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.

Three Tips for Negotiating Your Salary at Your New Job

JUNE 16, 2017

You likely have spent countless hours preparing for this moment.


Maybe you have a job that you don’t enjoy much and are trying hard to escape. Or, maybe you’re a recent grad trying to find your first “real” pharmacy gig.


If you’ve been searching for jobs, you have probably spent a ton of time reviewing your résumé. Maybe you even spent some money on professional résumé editing for pharmacists.


You have combed the job boards and read the forums where other pharmacists have shared that they are displeased with their career. You have interviewed a handful of places—or maybe as many as a dozen. Then, you finally get the call from the human resources department or the pharmacy director, who says those magical words: “We would like to offer you the position.”


A Critical Moment

This is a critical moment, whether you realize it or not. Now, most pharmacists come into the conversation and think, “I’m just thankful that they’ve offered me a job, so I’ll take anything salary-wise”

This mindset is destroying our pharmacy industry. It’s forcing students to believe that everyone needs a residency in order to have a fulfilling career. It’s making community pharmacists feel trapped into working a job in which they may lose their full-time benefits and eventually be forced to become a floater.


What follows are three tips that any pharmacist or student can use when negotiating a salary:

  1. They want you.

A job offer means that the company wants you more than all the other candidates. This should be encouraging! You shouldn’t come into the conversation thinking to yourself, “Thank heavens I finally got an offer.”

You should treat yourself like a professional who deserves respect. Salary negotiation nothing more than a respectful discussion between professionals, and hiring managers expect negotiation.

Think about the opposite scenario: What if there is no negotiation at all? You may think that the company would be happy. Actually, the exact opposite is probably true.

When the hiring manager at my first company offered me the position over the phone and stated the starting salary, I accepted immediately. Thankfully, no one could see the stunned look on my face.

Guess what the company was probably thinking immediately after they made me that offer? They were probably wondering if they offered me too much money. They may have been feeling shortchanged or like they were spending too much money on me because I willingly accepted their first offer.

Negotiation is a great way for you to get more of what you want. It’s not unreasonable to ask for 5-10 percent more than the initial salary offer—even if you know it’s your dream job.

Also, many people forget about—and therefore, fail to negotiate—the ancillary benefits of being in a job, such as vacation time or flexible work schedules.

Everything is negotiable, even if the company says that certain things are set in stone.

You can work at a job and get the benefits you want. I would have never dreamed of getting some of the benefits I currently enjoy, and I got them because I simply asked.

Remember, the company wants you. If you haggle with them about salary, they’re probably not going to hire someone else.

The average pharmacist salary is around $115,000, so another $5,000 isn’t going to bust the company’s budget.

 

  1. Don’t talk first.

Silence is a powerful negotiation tactic—and silence can get you want you want.

Staying silent after you receive a salary offer can transform the entire conversation.

After your awkward silence, an inexperienced hiring manager may say something like, “Well, we could do a little better …”

A more experienced hiring manager will probably be familiar with your use of silence, so don’t expect to get that lucky all the time.

One of the worst things prospective employees can do during this time is to start blabbering away. However, my friend, Kwame Christian, Esq., founder of the American Negotiation Institute, suggested one acceptable question to ask in this moment.

If you feel compelled to talk after hearing the salary offer, the best question you can ask is: “How much flexibility do you have on the offer?”

The question is not confrontational, it invites collaboration and shouldn’t make anyone feel threatened.

But overall, silence is your best tool. You don’t need to accept the offer right then and there. In fact, you shouldn’t.

If you are married, don’t be a buffoon like I was and accept the offer without discussing it with your spouse.

Tell them that you would like to speak with your colleagues and your spouse about it and will get back to them in a day or two. Be sure to set a deadline for your response and stick to it.

Your hiring manager will appreciate the fact that you are letting them know when you will get back to them and that you will have a decision in hand.

When a company makes an offer, they should know that it takes time to make a decision—this is not something that you should decide on the spot.

This is a big deal, especially if you are moving your family and yourself to a completely new area and starting a whole new life.

  1. Don’t die on the hill of salary.

Some people fight too hard. They become obsessed with getting the best deal. It reminds me of a friend who, when going to the Mexican markets in Juarez, starts yelling and arguing with Mexican vendors about the prices of things.

For her, it’s natural. To someone like me who was born in rural Michigan, the idea of arguing with a vendor about the price of something is totally foreign. Some people take the negotiation process too far and want the company to bend over backward for them.

What I tell those people is that they need to understand that the company only has so much wiggle room. Even if the company can only concede a little bit on the salary, you can still focus on the ancillary benefits that so few people negotiate.

Talk to the hiring manager about creating a work schedule that maximizes your time with your kids. Ask them to put a better retirement package in your contract.

Don’t be shy about asking for those benefits; they can be total game changers.

As my good friend Timothy Ulbrich of yourfinancialpharmacist.com discusses, just a one percent investment in yourself and in your future retirement is one of the best money decisions you can make. Why not ask your company to invest in you and your future?

If you want more tips about salary and benefits negotiation along with scripts of what to say during these difficult moments, check out my free resource, “A Pharmacist’s Guide to Salary and Benefit Negotiation.” I’ve taken research from hiring managers, salary negotiation experts, and personal experience and compiled in all in a pharmacist-friendly resource to help you get the salary and benefits you deserve.

 


SHARE THIS SHARE THIS
3
Pharmacy Times Strategic Alliance
 

Pharmacist Education
Clinical features with downloadable PDFs


Next-Generation Pharmacist® Awards


SIGN UP FOR THE PHARMACY TIMES NEWSLETTER
Personalize the information you receive by selecting targeted content and special offers.