Asking for a raise can be an uncomfortable conversation to have. But, if you’re a nurse practitioner who thinks you deserve more, taking the initiative to ask is the first step if you truly want to see more dollar signs on your paycheck. So if you’ve bitten the bullet and managed to get through the undoubtedly awkward meeting with your boss, kudos to you! Unfortunately though, no matter how well deserving you thought you were of a raise, your boss may have responded with a resounding “no”. 

Not getting the answer you hoped for can make you question the validity of your hard work and whether this setting is the right place for you to continue your career as a nurse practitioner. Don’t beat yourself up too much just yet. There are many reasons why your employer may have denied your request and fortunately for you, not all of them are a poor reflection on your practice as an NP.

1. Your timing was bad

Timing is everything. Asking for a raise during a time when patient census is low or the company has had an otherwise bad quarter can make or break your chances, so it’s important to be cognizant of the financial state of the company and whether this was a good time to have asked for more money. And if the company is in fact in a bad state, remember that there are other non-monetary forms of compensation you can and should negotiate for (like these perks) instead.

Company hardships are not the only timing problem that may stand in your way. Asking for a raise too soon into your employment or during a time of year when raises typically aren’t given out are also factors to consider. Ask human resources when employees are typically eligible for a raise and if the company typically gives them out at a certain time of the year. And although very unprofessional, sometimes not getting a raise can boil down to how well your boss’ day was going.   

2. You gave up too soon

You can bet your bottom dollar (pun intended) that your manager has been trained in the art of negotiation; and of the most common negotiation tactics is silence, i.e. your employer didn’t react in the slightest way when you finished your opening pitch. Perhaps you took this moment of awkwardness as a “no” and crumbled before he or she could respond. Or maybe when the back and forth negotiation process began, you succumbed to the pressure and took an early bow. Not backing out of the discussion too soon is critical if you really want a raise; as well as if you have undeniable supporting evidence, such as patient productivity metrics, for why you deserve one. Next time, allow your boss the opportunity to mull over the discussion and stick to your guns. If you’re truly deserving of a raise, you won’t leave the meeting empty handed.

3. You overestimated your performance

It’s a tough pill to swallow but sometimes the reason you didn’t get a raise is because you didn’t deserve one. Are you a team player? Do you go above and beyond, exceeding expectations, or do you do the bare minimum? Take a good hard look at your performance and attitude as a nurse practitioner. If you are doing a mediocre job at best, this may be why you didn’t get the raise you asked for. If you’ve determined that you are as good as you believe you are, send a follow up email to your employer to ask how you can improve and what their expectations are of you. Don’t be shy in asking how you can earn a raise in the future. Taking constructive criticism from your boss will show your willingness and dedication to the company, too.

4. You were underprepared

Flat out asking for a raise and expecting your boss take it from there is not going to cut it. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. Chances are that your boss probably asked you why you felt you were deserving of a raise. The most successful candidates who ask for a raise support their requests with fact-based arguments and tangible examples. For example, you might note that you routinely see 4 patients per hour compared with the average of 3 in your clinic. You don’t need to create a Powerpoint presentation, but you should do your research first and had the information with you in your meeting in anticipation for this question to arise.

In preparation for next time, be sure to do your homework first. Research what other nurse practitioners in your region with your level of experience are making and predetermine a ballpark figure for yourself. Take the opportunity to showcase what a valuable NP you are by making a list with examples of your accomplishments, performance and contributions. When you provide facts and figures, along with how your practice adds value to theirs, your boss will have a hard time denying your request next time you ask.

5. It’s not you, it’s them

Sometimes not getting the raise you asked for has nothing to do with you at all. Your company truly may not have the room in their budget to give you a raise or they may fear a wave of requests may come in if they say yes to you. Consider what alternative benefits you’d accept and try to negotiate for them instead. You may need to ask yourself how important a raise in salary is to you and evaluate whether or not there’s a chance the company finances will turn around. The answers to these questions will determine whether you should stay in this position or if it’s time to begin searching for a new nurse practitioner job.

Have you ever been turned down for a raise?


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