I am a new LPN and passed my NCLEX in April. After a month-long, exhaustive job search, I finally got an interview and a job offer. Out of the 20 or so LTC/rehab facilities that I sent my resume to, this was the only one that called. They offered me a job on the spot. I was excited, but afterward I realized that I had forgotten to ask some very important questions and had possibly made a mistake.
The first thing that bothers me is my asking pay. I have received advice from different people, including recruiters, on asking price. In my area, LPNs make around $20 to $25 per hour. I didn’t want to go too low or too high, so I asked for $22, and that’s what I was offered. Now, I am kicking myself for not asking for $25 per hour because it is a big difference. One of my fellow students got $21 per hour and others got $25.
My second issue is I was only offered part-time hours to start while I wait for a full-time slot to open up. That would mean three days per week, including every other weekend. If I want benefits, I would have to take on a fourth day per week, which would mean a commitment to work every weekend. Part of me feels like I am being taken advantage of.
I also forgot to ask if tuition reimbursement is part of my benefits, as I am returning to school next year to pursue an RN license, and if the job is unionized. Should I assume it isnt since this was not mentioned?
When I speak with the person who hired me, is it inappropriate to mention salary? Is it unprofessional to use leverage of covering weekends for an increase in pay up to $25 dollars per hour. Also, do most LTC facilities pay you for 7.5 hours out of an eight-hour day, or do you get paid for all eight hours of your shift?
Dear Donna replies:
First of all, congratulations on passing the NCLEX. That is quite an accomplishment. I also am happy to hear that you found a patient care position since the job market is very tight right now for nurses. Regarding your hourly rate, if you haven’t started yet, you may be able to renegotiate the hourly rate, but only if there is room for negotiation. In other words, every employer has a scale, and you might be at the top of that scale for a new-hire LPN. Your salary offer may have been based on that scale rather than your “asking” salary. You mention colleagues who are earning different hourly rates, but presumably this is at other places of employment. You could say something like, “I presume you start all LPNs at the same rate and have offered me the most competitive rate you can offer, correct?”
Regarding benefits, don’t assume anything. Simply call the human resources office and ask for an explanation/listing of benefits. You should receive a booklet or manual with all of this listed.
It is not inappropriate to use “leverage” to try to get a higher rate for additional weekend work. It never hurts to ask, especially since your ideal salary is not far from where you are now. Read How to Negotiate Salary at http://news.nurse.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2001103050312.
I don’t know what the standard pay practices are in your area, but it is not unusual to be paid less than your actual time at work to account for a meal break. You can check with your state department of labor to see what is allowed, customary and fair in your state.
Also, I suggest that you join and get active in the National Federation of LPNs (www.nflpn.org). This will help you to develop a support system, increase your learning curve and provide a forum for information exchange.
My best wishes,