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Top 5 salary negotiation tips

February 1, 2010
by Bernie Reifkind
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Employers: Your obvious goal is to hire the very best available employee at the lowest salary in your budget, right?


Not a 100% wrong, but sometimes “you get what you pay for” and a better goal may be to hire the best employee at a salary that is mutually agreeable.

Here are the top 5 salary-negotiation tips that you need to know right now:

  1. Make your highest and best offer first. If you are really serious about hiring an outstanding employee, then nothing can be more insulting to an employee than a “lowball offer.” If your intent is to make a low offer and then raise it if the person declines, you have already created an adversarial tone. If you are serious, make a serious offer.

  2. Incentive bonuses are not for everyone. Most people (if they are being honest with themselves) are doing their very best to be successful and should not need an incentive bonus to achieve better results. If someone needs an incentive to be successful then be very careful about hiring them unless, of course, this works to your advantage, such as in a sales position where commissions are involved.

  3. Ask for a current pay stub to verify a candidate's current salary. Before you make an offer, you want to be absolutely sure that you are not overpaying the going rate. Trust, but verify salary quotes.

  4. If you are the hiring authority make the offer yourself. Most people want to hear offers from their boss's mouth and not from human resources or even an outside healthcare recruitment firm. Enthusiasm sells. So when you make an offer, do it with excitement! “It gives me great pleasure to extend an offer for you to be part of our team!”

  5. When you make an offer, give 48 hours for a decision. If a candidate has made it this far (offer stage) and has probably had three to four interviews with you and your staff, then emotionally he or she has a pretty good idea whether or not to accept. Time kills all deals. If you extend an offer and ask for a decision in seven days, then guess what? The decision will be in seven days. If the offer is declined then you have wasted seven days!

Bernie Reifkind is CEO and founder of Premier Search (, a healthcare executive search firm in Los Angeles. He can be reached by e-mail at or (800) 801-1400. Long-Term Living 2010 February;59(2):36