Wrapping up interviews for nurse practitioner jobs can get a bit hairy. Perhaps you were expecting a more substantial salary that the prospective employer had in mind. Or, maybe you have interviewed for multiple positions and want to wait for other employers to have a chance to extend offers as well before accepting. In some cases, regardless of your other options, you might just need some time to think through the implications of accepting a particular position or discuss the job with family.
As much as I hate to admit it, I accepted both my first, second, and third nurse practitioner positions on the spot. Initially, as a new graduate, negotiating my offer seemed pointless given that I had little leverage. When it came to subsequent offers, my lack of business knowledge and desperation for a new nurse practitioner job took over. In some cases, I may not have been able to negotiate a higher salary and taking time to think through the decision would not have changed my course, but I still wouldn’t recommend this route. Accepting a job is a weighty, long-term decision and must be treated as such. So, how should you react when you’re offered a nurse practitioner job?
1. Avoid an immediate response
Avoid accepting a job offer on the spot. In most cases, if the offer is made verbally you haven’t had a chance to review the ins and outs of the agreement. Once you read through the small print in the proposed contract you may want to negotiate a few terms but have lost all leverage for doing so as you have already indicated you plan to accept the position.
Avoiding an immediate response is easy in most situations. The line I recommend using goes something like this: “I appreciate the offer and I have enjoyed getting you know you and the other teams members here at __________. I promised myself I wouldn’t accept an offer without taking at least __________ days to think about it. Can I let you know my final decision by __________?”. This way you’ve bought yourself some time to review the agreement and think about the position meanwhile outlining a timeline for doing so.
2. Acknowledge the offer and ask questions
Even if you aren’t sure if you will accept or decline a job offer, or simply need a few days to think it over, it is common courtesy to acknowledge its receipt. Thank the employer for the offer and let them know you need some time to review the terms. Give a timeline for doing so. Ask for clarification on terms that you don’t understand. Your email should be professional, well laid out, and straightforward. Avoid using exclamation points, emoticons or other indicators that you will be accepting the job, if that is the case, in your initial acknowledgement.
If you receive a verbal offer, following up with an email is always a good idea. Outline the terms that were laid out in the conversation, reiterate your thanks for the offer and your timeline for making a decision. This way, you have a written record to point back to if necessary.
3. Get the offer in writing
When it comes to an employment agreement, a handshake means nothing. You need to review each and every document outlining the terms of your employment. Be wary of an employer who isn’t willing to put the conditions of your employment in writing. While this is rare, it happens on occasion. You may even consider having an attorney review your employment agreement for any red flags.
4. Ask yourself “Is this what I really want? Is it practical?”
Thinking through what your day-to-day will look like should you accept a position is imperative. Is the commute sustainable? If you will be moving for the position, are you really ready to relocate? Ideally you should take these considerations seriously before applying to nurse practitioner jobs. Reassess the practicality of your decision before accepting an offer.
5. Review the terms of the offer carefully
You would think that it goes without saying that you need to review your employment agreement in its entirety before signing on the dotted line. But, too many nurse practitioners simply look at the financial terms of the offer and commit. Look for conditions that pose potential problems such as non-compete or no moonlighting clauses.
If you aren’t happy with certain conditions of your offer, now is the time to speak up. It never hurts to ask, right? Consider making an ask that is slightly better/more agreeable than you are comfortable with so that if your prospective employer meets you in the middle you get what you want. For example, if your offer outlines a salary of $85,000 and you were hoping to make $90,000, ask for $95,000 (if you feel you have the experience to back this up). Referring to the average salary for nurse practitioners in your area gives a reference point for your ask and gives you more negotiating power. Don’t be afraid to mention that you have another offer, if this is the case, in negotiating your employment agreement.
7. Accept(!) or decline in writing
Just as you should acknowledge receipt of a job offer in writing, you must accept of decline the offer in writing as well. This creates a written record of your intentions. Keep the email upbeat, professional, and brief.
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