The best way to increase your income is through salary negotiation, either when you’re first offered a job or during a performance review. It may make you uncomfortable, but it’s extremely important. Here’s how to get what you want out of a negotiation.
The Salary Negotiation Decision
Studies show, women are less likely to negotiate salaries than men. If you have not had an adjustment to your dental hygiene salary in two or three years, you should consider it. Even if the employer doesn’t agree to one, it will get them thinking (and hopefully worrying). Ideally, they would give you want, but even just acknowledging your efforts and value with something tangible is better than nothing. Never be afraid to ask!
The most important mentality of salary negotiation is win-win. If either you or the employer feels they lost or won – neither wins. When only one wins, the other becomes resentful. Proceed with the mindset that you may not get everything.
Salary Negotiation Homework
Utilize the dental hygiene salary information on our site, but also talk with other hygienists in your area to get their take. Another great resource are temporary staffing agencies who have an excellent command of an average dental hygiene salary for the area.
Next, know your value and articulate it numerically and anecdotally. Direct results such as production numbers or number of patients seen are a couple common examples, but there are other things. Client or patients you saved from leaving the practice (they were mad but you smoothed it over). Or could be patients you have retained (they only want you to see them). Inter-office project successes are also great. Maybe you negotiated a better price, found an efficiency, setup a new protocol, or helped locate a new office.
Understand the scarcity of dental hygiene professionals in your area. Are there lots of applicants for jobs? If there are, you will need to differentiate and position yourself as the best solution for that office.
Economic conditions for both the community and the office you are applying at are big factors. Some offices are booming while their overall community is suffering (or vice versa). Community conditions are easier to learn. But the office may be harder to determine. Take note of the age of the equipment and office furnishings, and ask how long the practice has been around. Even check out there website to get a feel for things.
Ask questions to understand the entire job package. Not just the hourly wage, but salary structure, bonuses, health and retirement benefits, and paid vacation and sick leave, paid training, and perhaps uniform or instrument allowance. If your dental hygiene salary is based on production or patient load, ask for historical data – it’s a fair question to create a clear expectation.
There are other factors, too, such as commute time, sketchiness of the neighborhood (for some), and comfort level with the staff and doctor. Are there regular reviews and/or cost of living adjustments? Do you have a relationship with any of the patients (if you’ve been offered the job) or how strong of a relationship do you have with all the patients you’ve seen (if you’ve worked there a while)?
For each and every job you interview for create an organized salary negotiation plan that takes into account all the factors mentioned in this article. Before you interview, have three figures in mind: one on the high side, one in the middle, and one that would be the bare minimum of what you have to have or you will walk away.
The Right Time
If you are applying for a job, avoid the subject of salaries until you are one of the finalists for it. Some will insist on knowing your salary requirements. If so, give them a broad range and indicate that it will depend on a lot factors – something like a $6 to $8 per hour spread. Or you can simply say you are aware of industry averages and comfortable with them for the area. Here’s a couple more great responses:
“For me, it’s not entirely about the money. If we’re a good match I am sure we can work out an agreeable wage.”
” What do you have budgeted for the position? I’m certain I can work with a wage in that range.”
If you are negotiating with an existing employer, pay attention to the mood of the office. Pick up on cues that might indicate when times are good and not-so-good. The last day of the week your office is open can be a good time. Maybe just before the boss goes on vacation, too. It’s different for everyone, study it out and choose the best opportunity.
Counter Offer the Offer
- If they make you an offer, don’t be afraid to make a counter offer – in fact it’s recommended. There are lots of things you can counter with. Doesn’t have to be salary, it could be covering your continuing education or uniform – anything! You could also counter offer for them to review your performance and adjust your salary after six months (that’s a great win-win).
- It’s probably okay to counter offer up to a couple times, but make sure it’s over more finite details the further you go. Beyond a couple rounds can become more of a nuisance and source of frustration for everyone and you won’t end up with what you want. Be okay with smaller victories. In fact map out a list of several things you want to shoot for over a longer period (like say five years).
- Use the if/then technique. If you make it known the salary isn’t quite what you want, need or expect and you still want to consider the offer tell the employer you are willing to make the concession if they are willing to concede something as well (perhaps some type of benefit).
- Stick to your guns. If you really truly have to have your dental hygiene salary at a certain level then don’t compromise if they reject a counter offer. Unless you need the job as just a temporary stop-over, and as long as you’ve been realistic in your expectations, then move on.
- Before you accept any offer (whether it’s surprisingly good or a little less than hoped for), pause. First, there’s the immediate pause. Good negotiators know that if you pause for the right amount of time (seconds) after an offer you are sending a signal that it’s not quite what you wanted. There are times the person making the offer will flinch a little bit and up the offer with some kind of perk or even a little more salary. It’s kind of like playing a game of “chicken” but that little pause can boost the offer.
- But, there’s also a more lengthier pause to consider. You want to take time to truly evaluate all the different factors and think about not only this short-term offer, but the long-term potential as well. The office you are considering or working at, may have a lot of upside or downside and that’s important to think about. Where will this office be in five years? How about ten years? Where will you be, what will your needs be? Tell the employer you would like 24 hours to consider the offer so you are really certain about it.
Final Salary Negotiation Advice
- Get everything you agree to in writing – especially if it’s something you negotiated for or is outside the normal package. This protects not only you but them, too, and it just helps prevent any confusion or forgetfulness which unfortunately happens all the time.
- Dental hygiene salary negotiation is an “ask” or “request” it’s not a demand – especially when you are newly hired. There are very few people who are not replaceable in the dental world. You have value for sure, but there’s always a tipping point and it’s different for every employer so stay realistic and helpful to them.
- Always maintain a high level of professionalism in your negotiation efforts. Nothing will hurt your chances to improve your earning situation more than creating a situation where you don’t handle it well and with class. Never let it turn into something personal (even if you feel the results are based on things outside your control or are unfair) it will only come back to bite you later.
- Keep in mind, most government jobs are not very flexible. They usually have a very rigid set of hiring guidelines and there’s not much room for negotiation.
- Give the employer a thank you note when the negotiation is complete. Everyone likes to be acknowledged as generous, and they also appreciate genuine gratitude.