By Dr. Becky Nicholson MRCVS
Whether you are looking to stay in the same job or move to pastures new, salary negotiation is inevitable in permanent vet jobs and locum vet jobs. Some employers will perform annual salary reviews as standard, but that doesn’t eliminate the need to discuss salary with your manager. Routine reviews are predominantly inflationary (if that!). As you progress through your career you will gain insight, expertise, and practical ability – this should be reflected in your salary.
Even the kindest, most team-focused of employers has their eye on finances and won’t spend if they don’t have to. In an industry where we are inclined to undervalue ourselves, we tend to settle for what is offered, not wanting to seem precocious. Earning what you are worth is important for you and your longevity in the profession. Learning to tackle salary negotiations with confidence can improve job satisfaction and feelings of professional worth, provide better opportunities for recreation outside of work, reduce stress, and improve general well-being.
If you do find yourself questioning your career, register with The Vet Service and explore your job and salary options.
Where To Start
Don’t dive into a salary review straight away – identify you are deserving of a pay rise – then give yourself a month or so to prep before discussing things with your boss.
Consider Your Worthiness
Be honest with yourself. Most likely, you’re an excellent employee – diligent, giving your best, and bearing the weight of much responsibility. Think of the gratitude you’ve received from clients, the late shifts you’ve worked, the flexibility you have given in altered lunch breaks, covered shifts, and more. All of this is to the advantage of your employer. They should honour that financially.
Show You’re Motivated
The flip side of your reflections in preparation for a pay discussion is that you may identify areas where you could improve. Perhaps you tend to roll into the car park with 30 seconds until your shift starts – forgetting you still need to login to the computer system? Any habit like this is probably less pronounced than you fear, and more than outweighed by everything you do that’s over and above – but the run-in to a salary review is a good time to polish up a little.
Formulate Your Case
Always go into a meeting prepared. There are three key areas of preparation for a salary review meeting:
- What am I doing to help the business?
- What are people in my area, of my level of qualification, earning?
- What can I bring to the business moving forward?
What Are You Doing to Help the Business?
Evidence-based key points are a good start. Think about what you offer the practice day-to-day. There’s a good chance you have a Unique Selling Point. Perhaps you are an exotics fan or wildlife rehabilitator? Perhaps you deal with insurance company enquiries, or you’re the member of the team who tends to rally others on a tough day? Whatever your USP, acknowledge it to yourself and use it in your review.
What are Others in My Area Earning?
Talk to peers about what they are earning – but go outside your own practice for this. You could talk to co-workers, but you don’t want to make things personal or awkward. Sourcing figures from peers in nearby practices gives a level of detachment but a strong case for comparison.
You can also look at the salaries of jobs offered in your area. The Vet Service have a diverse range of roles available worldwide: Vet jobs in The UK, vet jobs in Australia, vet jobs in New Zealand, vet jobs in Canada, and further international vet jobs
If you find your salary is below those around you, this can dramatically help your case. Address this but keep it non-confrontational. Your boss will read between the lines – they know a more lucrative deal within your hometown is a temptation for you. You are more likely to achieve your desired salary outcome if you are friendly and assertive rather than bitter and threatening to leave.
For a helpful breakdown of UK Salaries why don’t you check out our blog How Much Do Vets Earn On Average in the UK?
What Can I Bring to The Business Moving Forward?
A salary discussion is about what you are worth now, but retrospective and prospective analysis can help your case. We’ve covered the retrospective; it also pays to put a bit of thought into where you plan to go next. You don’t have to be completing certificates, or service-enhancing Veterinary CPD – although if you are, highlight that for sure! The advantage you offer could be as simple as ‘I am building a following of clients’, or ‘I would like to help run future promotions’ – you can encourage your employer to incentivise this motivation.
Job Interview Negotiations
When attending an interview, you should prepare in a similar way to an in-house review, by finding comparable salaries in the local area and other current job ads. For a starting salary negotiation, there are a couple of additional considerations. Know your absolute baseline amount – a figure you will not accept less than – what you need to pay your bills and live your life. Also, have in mind your target salary. By the time of the interview, you will have calculated an amount as a starting gambit, a bit above your ideal end amount. You should always start a negotiation above your ideal final figure.
Try to hold off from discussing salary until you have impressed with your credentials – get the interviewers to want you on their team before discussing your value. Then try to press them for an expectation first – if they ask you your salary hopes, say ‘well, what range are you willing to work between?’ They might offer higher than you anticipated!
Salary conversations are not easy for the many in our profession who are humble, and ‘in-it-for-the-love’. The veterinary profession can be a poisonous rollercoaster of giving and not taking – then feeling deprived and under-valued. Vets shoulder a lot of responsibility – the responsibility for ‘us’ is often sacrificed – one too many difficult conversations.
You deserve a good salary for the exceptional work you do. Sadly, no one else will take responsibility for that on your behalf.
So, prep your argument, collect your data, rehearse your self-confidence, and request your salary review. Walk in proudly and sell yourself – your skills, your knowledge, your personality. Whether it be a job you’re in or a job you’re applying for, know what unique advantage you offer as an employee. In combination with good comparative data for salaries in your area, if you find your selling points, you will have a strong case to be offered the top-end.