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There’s a right way and a wrong way to get a raise
Career counselors tell you the right way
Job unemployment over the past year may have been the lowest it has been in seven years, but health care recruiters will tell you they’ve still got plenty to do, what with trying to find pharmacists and lab technicians and nurses. It’s not an easy job, as the candidate pool for skilled health care professionals is shrinking and the number of entry-level candidates is diminishing.
In spite of the shortages, data compiled from last summer’s salary survey reveal that raises in the profession were modest. The 2003 Hospital Recruiting Update Salary Survey found the majority of salary increases were in the 1% to 6% range, with 40% of respondents reporting raises of 1% to 3% and 32% reporting 4% to 6% increases. Things could have been worse — 14% of respondents reported no change, and 4% reported a salary decrease. There were, however a few who reported significant salary increases: 1% reported an increase of 16% to 20%; 2% reported increases of 21% or more. (To see charts outlining the results of this year's survey, click here.)
"In this economy, [higher raises] are rare," says Elizabeth McAloon, CPCC, a certified career and life coach and founder of The McAloon Group, an association of career and life coaches and consultants. "Of course, there will be some exceptions for superstars in the organization or those who came in far below market rate and have proven themselves worthy of a market adjustment."
The opportunities in the field are good due to a number of factors. One is the need for health care. Over the next 25 years, it is estimated that 134 million Americans will need care for chronic conditions. Finding qualified professionals to care for patients will keep many recruiters on the job. According to a July 2002 report by the Health Resources and Services Administration, 30 states were estimated to have shortages of registered nurses in the year 2000. The shortage is projected to intensify, with 44 states plus the District of Columbia expected to have RN shortages by the year 2020. (See pie chart on gender division of recruiters.)
Another July 2002 report, "Workplace Forecast, A Strategic Outlook, 2002-2003," by the Society for Human Resource Management, included Health Services and Personnel Supply Services in its list of industries with the fastest wage and salary employment growth. Health Services is projected to grow 4.6% by 2010; Personnel Supply Services 4.1% in the same period.
"I think there is always a market for good recruiters," says Andrea M. Booth, MA, president of AMB Resources Inc., a human resource consulting firm with offices in San Diego and Asbury Park, NJ. "Recruiters need to stay current in business and the profession of recruiting," she adds. "I also always recommend reading, attending appropriate conferences, joining an organization such as the Society for Human Resource Management, and networking, networking, networking."
The question remains, however, how can recruiters position themselves to receive the big bucks? "The key is your productivity and your value as a contributor to the company’s bottom line," says Richard Bayer, PhD, author on labor economics and chief operating officer of The Five O’Clock Club, a national career coaching and outplacement firm. Bayer suggests building a business case for your merit increase. "Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center," he says. "In one column, write down the basic requirements of your job. In the other, write down what you’ve actually accomplished. Then schedule a meeting with your boss and say, I’ve exceeded the basic requirements, and I think I merit a wage increase.’"
The boss likely will say no, citing budget or other limitations, but don’t give up, Bayer says. "Almost everybody hears no the first time. The key is persistence," he says. "Ask, What can I do to get a higher raise?’" he advises. Then set up a time to meet after you’ve done the things that your boss suggested. "In all meetings, your mantra should be I just want to be treated fairly.’"
If you’ve presented a good business case, based on your accomplishments and on data you’ve collected about the salaries others are making in comparable positions, and you’re perceived to be a good employee, most likely your boss will work to find more money for you, he says. "This is a campaign," Bayer explains, "and the campaign should last until it’s successful. It may take several months."
It’s really about the company’s bottom line and how you contribute to increasing revenue or saving dollars. "The general frame of mind needs to shift from, What can I get from this organization?’ to What does the organization need and how can I help make it happen?’" says McAloon. She advises that you seek out opportunities above and beyond your job description to contribute. "Strategize, quantify/track, and communicate how you are impacting the bottom line of the organization for the better," she says.
Think cost savings (e.g., negotiations with agencies); revenue generators, ways for the organization to gain more recognition/prestige, and morale boosters, McAloon adds. "The contributions need to be significant and ongoing and clearly related to your specific actions," she explains. "Then carefully document all your contributions — quantify the value of them with honest accuracy. Don’t be shy about an ongoing dialogue with your boss — don’t wait until review time to talk about what you are doing and how it’s helping the organization."
McAloon also advises that recruiters demonstrate a strong ongoing commitment to professional development. "Working with a career coach can help you recognize and act on opportunities to stand out as a star in your organization and receive the rewards you deserve."
Bob Rosner, author of Gray Matters: The Workplace Survival Guide (Wiley, 2004) and author of the "Working Wounded" column appearing on ABCnews.com, offers three don’ts:
Don’t beg. "You should never go in with hat in hand, talking about how much you need the money," says Rosner. Asking has to be in the context of adding value to the company. If you are rejected you need to ask, What would I need to do to get a raise in the future?’"
Don’t use guilt. An entitlement case — "I’ve been here 20 years and deserve a raise" — won’t work, says Rosner. "The key thing you want to say is that you’ve saved money, created revenue, provided value."
Don’t go in unprepared. "You’ve got to present a business case for having earned the money," he says. Rosner suggests compiling salary data from four or five places so you can tell your boss what others doing a comparable job are earning.
If all else fails, be prepared to look elsewhere. "As long as you stay within the system, the company will never value you that highly. You’re a serf. They own you," says Rosner. "The best way to get a raise is to have someone else make you an offer at a higher rate. It’s ironic, but even if you present a professional case, you’ll get only pennies on the dollar."
• Andrea M. Booth, MA, president of AMB Resources Inc. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Bob Rosner, author of Gray Matters: The Workplace Survival Guide (Wiley, 2004) and author of the "Working Wounded" column appearing on ABCnews.com. E-mail: email@example.com. Web site: www.workingwounded.com.