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How to negotiate a salary or Raise

It is important to understand the importance of why pharmacists should talk about and agree on higher salaries. Here are the scenarios involved:

  • Lowball offer: First and foremost, about 52% of employers in 2020 offered a lower initial salary that makes room for candidates to negotiate. That means you are receiving a low offer more than half the time, along with the opportunity to negotiate.
  • Higher raises: Salary raises are typically based on a percentage that is determined by performance and/or inflation. Therefore, a higher starting salary equates to a higher amount in the raise. For example, a 5% annual raise on a $100,000 salary is $5,000, while the same raise at a $110,000 salary is $5,500 — which may not seem significant, but over time it can add up.
  • More money: Higher pay provides extra income to put toward savings or debt repayment. Just a few thousand dollars a year can have significant impacts on your savings and financial goals. If you do not negotiate your salary it is cash left on the table, which results in a remarkable amount of wealth lost over the long term.
  • Future job salary: Negotiating your pay now will result in not just more money in the near term, but allows for more negotiating power for any future jobs. If you decide to change positions down the road, having a higher salary lets you negotiate for ever higher compensation.

Now that we understand why it is important to seek a better salary during the hiring process, how exactly do we go about negotiating? First, when you are given an offer, ask for a timeline of when you would have to make a decision on the initial offer. This will allow you some time to gather the information needed to counter with a higher salary.

Here are several other suggestions:

  1. Know your value. You got the job offer because the company wants you. Know what you are worth. Leverage your experiences and skill sets, such as additional certifications and training that you have or experience working in a subspecialty. Having a board certification or being certified in a specialty, such as a certified diabetes educator, can help in negotiating a salary. If the employer is seeking a pharmacist with teaching experience, having a teaching certificate and experience as a preceptor or lead pharmacist will help elevate your value.
  2. Do your research. A simple internet search or asking friends and colleagues in the profession for what the fair market rate is within a certain geographic area and specialty will give you a good idea of how much more you can negotiate your salary.
  3. Think outside of the box. If salary is not negotiable, the benefits may be where there’s more wiggle room. This includes the number of vacation days, flexible work hours, remote days, bonus structure, medical benefits, employer educational assistance, and employer retirement contribution. Prioritize what is important to you.
  4. Be confident. When you are ready to negotiate, be confident. Confidence is exuded in how you present yourself and how you approach the negotiation. Be prepared to explain what value you will bring with your knowledge, experiences, and skills.

When to ask for a raise

Let’s say you have been at your current job for some years without ever asking for a raise. When and how do you ask for more money? Many pharmacists think that they cannot ask for a raise, or simply do not know how to approach the issue. 

The best time to ask for a raise is during the annual performance evaluation. This is a time where you are getting evaluated and can bring up all your achievements and contributions. With the evidence provided of all you have contributed, it will build a great case on why you deserve a merit increase. 

If you do not have an evaluation coming up, consider setting up a meeting with your manager to discuss job performance and a raise. Never ask for a raise in passing; having a set meeting will allow your manager sufficient time to prepare and let them know you value their time.

Making the ask

Now that you are ready to ask for a raise, how do you go about it? Following these tips can help you prepare and make you feel more confident when pitching for more pay:

  1. Going above and beyond: Keep a log of the work, projects, and types of interventions that you have made. In fact, taking on additional work or projects outside of your typical tasks and responsibilities will make you stand out. Logging your achievements and extra efforts will showcase the strengths you bring to the table and your impact.
  2. Additional training: Getting new certifications or training can help you negotiate for a raise, and some companies even offer step increases for receiving certifications.
  3. Know the market: Like with negotiating a salary, knowing the fair market rate will help you calculate how much of a raise to seek. If you know you’re being paid below market rate, approach the conversation with evidence and data.
  4. Speak up: Do not be afraid to ask for what you want. If you don’t ask, you will never know what the outcome could’ve been. Focus on why you deserve a raise by highlighting your achievements and contributions. Do not dwell on why you need the money or threaten to leave the job. Lastly, remain calm, composed, and professional.

Salary negotiation is a two-way street. Not only should it benefit you, but also your employer has to know the benefit and value of having you on board. After doing your research and knowing what you have to offer, you can confidently approach a salary negotiation or ask for a raise. 

Chances are you could come out with a higher salary and be glad you asked. And if your raise can’t be had at this time, your manager will likely keep in mind what you want and may offer suggestions or improvements that could result in a raise in the future.


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