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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

The advice in this book comes from Candi Wingate, President of Care4hire.com.
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Caregivers Negotiating Their New-Hire Compensation

Caregivers often find it uncomfortable to negotiate with their new employers about their new-hire compensation.  They fear that they will be perceived as greedy or, even worse, lose the job opportunity due to the perception that they want more compensation than the employer is willing or able to pay.  Here are a few tips to help a caregiver negotiate her new-hire compensation successfully (and, hopefully, more comfortably as well).

  • Research wage data in the geographic area of the new employer.  For example, what is the prevailing wage rate for caregivers in Philadelphia?  Or Kansas City?  Or Honolulu?  This data can be found online, commonly through each state’s Department of Labor or the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Some local chambers of commerce and trade associations maintain this data as well.  The US Census maintains wage data by region, but not by specific field of endeavor (I.e. caregiver-specific wages are not provided); the US Census wage data can be used to approximate the prevailing wage rate for the caregivers of the area.
  • Research the cost of living in the geographic area of the new employer and calculate the total compensation needed and desired (two separate numbers) by the new-hire caregiver.  Cost of living statistics can be obtained by performing an Internet search using key words “cost of living” and the name of the geographic area involved.  Total compensation is comprised by base wages, cash bonuses, insurance benefits, paid time off, etc.
  • Determine what the caregiver’s strongest selling points are.  Years of experience?  Long list of glowing references from prior employers?  Experience with the kind of medical condition that the new employer’s child has?  An LPN license?  A fun, high-energy personality to which young children relate well.
  • Determine if the caregiver has the option to walk away from the job offer if at least the needed total compensation is not offered.  If the caregiver needs this job (for example, if she is currently unemployed and in need of income), then refusing the job, regardless of compensation, may be ill advised.
  • Professionally (i.e., tactfully and without emotion) negotiate total compensation based on the above information.  For example, a caregiver may say, “I’m really excited about this job, and I’d like to negotiate with you about that starting rate of pay.  I’ve researched the pay rates that caregivers typically get paid in your area.  I’m e-mailing to you now the link to the website with that data.  It lists a range of pay that is typical for this type of work in your area.  I believe that I should earn $______, which is on the upper end of that pay range, because of my years of experience, my integrity, my dedication, and my long list of glowing references . . . all of which show you that I will be an outstanding employee for you and your children.”
  • Ask for a bit more in total compensation than the caregiver realistically wants (i.e., desired total compensation).  If the new employer grants the caregiver’s request, great!  If the new employer engages the caregiver in negotiation, she can reduce her number a bit and still be within her acceptable range (that range is her needed total compensation to her desired total compensation).
  • Negotiate by flexible substitution, if needed.  Is the new employer unable to offer the caregiver more than $____ in base wages, and that is less than the caregiver desires?  Ok, then would the new employer be willing to set up and contribute to a tax-free retirement saving account for the caregiver that would bring her within her acceptable total compensation range?  Or offer her more time off with pay?
  • If the new employer will not negotiate satisfactorily with the caregiver, and the starting total compensation is below her needed total compensation, she will have to decide if she can turn down the job offer.  Either way, the situation should be handled professionally.   If she chooses to reject the job offer, she may say, “Well, I’m afraid that I can’t accept that rate of pay, so I’m going to have to decline your job offer.  If you change your mind, at some point down the road, please feel free to call me as I’ve very much enjoyed the time I’ve spent visiting with you and your children.  Meanwhile, if I hear of anyone looking for caregiving work in your area, I’ll be sure to refer them to you.  If there’s anything else I can do to help you as you look for a new caregiver for your children, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to help any way I can, and thank you for the time and consideration you’ve shown me throughout this interview process.”  If she chooses to accept the job offer, despite its low total compensation, she may say, “I will gladly accept your job offer.  Our compensation negotiations didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, but I hope that, over time, my love for and dedication to your children will show you what a worthy employee I am.  I will strive every day to be the caregiver that your children deserve.”

By following the tips above, newly hired caregivers can negotiate new-hire compensation successfully (and, hopefully, comfortably ).

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