Do You Need to Take A Pay Cut When Working Remotely?

If you’ve worked years at the bedside, remote nursing work might seem like it’s too good to be true without taking a pay cut. However, remote nursing work is valuable to businesses and patients, and remote nurses deserve adequate compensation. 

Negotiation has been corporate practice for years. Nurses should be taken seriously as professionals and should be able to participate in this business standard. 

Remote Nursing Work Luxuries

The law of supply and demand dictates salary in a capitalist marketplace. Companies may use less-than-desirable bedside conditions as a reason to undercut your pay. 

Additionally, remote nursing work does come with a few cost-saving luxuries:

  • Less vehicle wear and tear (the average is 20 cents a mile)
  • Saved fuel cost
  • Less commuting time 
  • Spending less on ordering food at restaurants or the hospital cafeteria
  • No need to buy scrubs or work clothes
  • Lower likelihood of work-related injuries, including neck and back pain
  • Possibility of improved mental health

How to Negotiate

If your resume stands out in the remote nursing work candidate pool for a position, you’ll receive a screening call from a recruiter. This is to determine if you should move forward with the interview process. The recruiter will go over the logistical aspects of working with their company: basic benefits, schedule, qualifications for the role, required licensure, and internet. 

Negotiation is a communication process that begins the moment you speak with a member of the company. 

Here are 5 tips to guide you through the negotiation process:

1. Calculate Your Floor

Your “floor” is the lowest salary you would be willing to accept for that specific position. Evaluate the job duties, the cost-saving luxuries that remote nursing work will bring you, and the money you need to pay bills and maintain your savings. 

2. Evaluate The Options

On the recruiter call, if they give a compensation range with the high end below your floor price, it’s best to evaluate if your time would be better spent applying for other jobs, rather than interviewing with this one.

3. Answer Questions Tactfully

If the recruiter asks for your compensation range, try your best to avoid giving them a number before they give you one. Ask them, “What is the budget for this role?” If they aren’t willing to give you an answer, say something like “I need to know a little more about the role and responsibilities to be able to determine my desired compensation for this position.” 

If the recruiter is unwilling to move forward without you providing a number, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Try to determine if the salary is based on your geographical cost of living (COL). If it’s a local company or a national company with state-dependent compensation plans, do market research. This will help you determine a fair remote nursing work wage in your area. If the company doesn’t base pay off COL, you may have the opportunity to ask for higher pay, depending on where you live. 
  • Give the recruiter a range, rather than a specific number. The bottom of your range should be about 5-10% higher than what your actual floor price is, so there’s some wiggle room. For example, if your floor price is 70,000 per year, don’t throw out any number below 74,000. 

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Try

When you receive a job offer, it’s always appropriate to negotiate. There’s a minuscule risk that the recruiter will rescind the offer, but they’ve already invested time into you. No reputable company will rescind an offer because of your attempt to make a professional counteroffer. A good rule of thumb is to counter between 5-10% higher than what their offer is. That’s usually enough to keep the team within budget and get you a little closer to your desired range. 

Tell the recruiter, “After hearing more about the expected responsibilities of this role, I am looking for compensation closer to X,000”. The recruiter may say one of the following:

  • “Sorry, this offer is firm and non-negotiable.”

Pat yourself on the back for negotiating. The practice of negotiation will help you both in your nursing roles and while you’re job hunting. Now it’s up to you whether or not you’d like to accept the remote nursing work role as is. You can still try to give them a small counter, but it wouldn’t likely win you very much. You have to decide if making the counter is worth it.

  • “I’m not sure if we will be able to do that, but I will check with the hiring manager and get back to you.”

This is a “maybe”, which is great news in a negotiation. Be patient while the recruiter is going back to the hiring manager with your offer. You may end up securing another few thousand dollars per year.

  • “That seems like it would be within our budget. Let me make some changes and get back to you with a finalized offer”

This is a rare response, but it’s possible, especially in corporations that don’t hire a lot of nurses. If this happens, it’s likely because your counter was on the low end of what they are willing to pay you. 

5. Evaluate Your Total Package 

Take into account your entire remote nursing work benefits package:

  • Healthcare premiums and benefits
  • FSA and HSA
  • Retirement (401k, 403b) and employer match
  • PTO
  • Scheduling and schedule flexibility
  • Home office stipends
  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Tuition reimbursement and professional career pathways

Do What’s Best For You

You can always take the remote nursing work position and continue looking for other opportunities. Or, you can politely decline the offer and continue looking for other opportunities. Taking a job should be based on your own personal circumstances and comfort level. Not everyone has the financial resources to say “no” to a job offer. Never let someone guilt you into making a decision you’re uncomfortable with, and trust your gut. 

For assistance with optimizing your LinkedIn profile to get recruiters coming to you, check out the Nurse Fern LinkedIn Light-Up Course.