Congratulations! You have made it through the interviews, the background checks, and there is a school therapy job offer sitting on the table, just waiting for you. It’s almost a perfect scenario. The only problem is that the compensation package isn’t quite what you were hoping for. Whether it’s the CEU budget, reimbursements, or pay itself, something is missing. So now what do you do?
When your dream therapy job is coming up just a little bit shy of perfect, you can always negotiate for what you want. In a competitive field, compensation and benefits negotiations can be intimidating, but it’s important to your own financial security and happiness to make sure that you’re accepting a job that will meet all of your needs.
First and foremost, be sure that you know the market and what comparable positions are offering to new hires. Going in to negotiate and requesting things that are simply far-fetched isn’t likely going to get you what you need. Have realistic expectations when entering into any negotiation. Use the research you have done to create a compelling argument for your request. When you approach your company with a counter-offer, make sure that you have plenty of data and reasoning to back up your request.
Know your own worth and don’t be afraid to speak highly of yourself. The school district and your recruiter already decided that you’re the best clinician for the position, but in order to grant your request for more money, they will need to understand the value that you’ll be bringing to their students and staff. You’ve already asked them to do something for you, let them know exactly how increasing your starting pay will benefit them in the long run.
If your request is for other benefits like reimbursements, the same rules apply. These are still items that have a financial impact on the company and you will still need to show them that giving you that materials stipend or CEU fund is going to be worth the money spent. The relationship must always remain mutually beneficial.
Be careful to avoid burning bridges. While you want to be confident and assertive, remember that this is a negotiation. Being overly demanding and threatening most likely will not swing the decision in your favor. Instead, you’ll likely find the initial offer retracted and you’ll be back pounding the pavement rather than preparing to start your perfect new position.
Know what you’ll do if the company decides that they cannot increase your offer. In some cases, there simply isn’t enough in the budget to meet your requests and the company’s initial offer is all that they can do. Is the experience of the job worth taking the original compensation package? Is there room for increase at a future review? Ask yourself these questions ahead of time so that you’re ready with a response should negotiations not go your way.
While it can be intimidating to negotiate pay and benefits, you owe it to yourself to ask for what you are worth. By coming to a mutually beneficial agreement, your new job will be a profitable experience for everyone involved.