Caregiver Resources – Negotiations 101: How to Get the Job You Want or the Care You Need

Having worked as a caregiver for more than 30 years in private in home care, adult care homes, and owning my own residential care facility, I have participated in the hiring process many times. I have been on both ends of the hiring spectrum. As an owner I hired employees and managed their work. As a worker in various facilities, I have done hands on care under the supervision of my employers. I have been self-employed and I have been employed by others. In every case, the process of hiring or being hired was vital to my satisfaction in the partnership established. This was due in large part to agreements I negotiated ahead of time.

The tempting thing to do when hiring or being hired is to go with the emotions of how we feel about the person we are interviewing or being interviewed by. Sometimes just having a job or hiring a worker seems like the most important goal. A quick decision without much forethought or preparation will often quickly lead to misunderstanding and dissatisfaction. This in turn leads to a continuous turnover of workers or another job search. The time taken in initiating and training is wasted and must be done again and again with new workers or jobs. The frustration and stress level increase with each failure to get it right.

Preparation ahead of time is invaluable when entering into a contract for caregiving. Whether the position is for a relief caregiver, an hourly worker, a shift worker, or a full-time live-in companion/ caregiver there are many things to consider before entering into an agreement. Negotiation ensures both parties are satisfied when the process is finished. Working out all the details and answering all the pertinent questions ahead of time, guarantees a smoother working relationship with all parties involved.

Just the word “negotiation” can be intimidating for people who aren’t sure how to do it. I have learned over time that the whole process can be simplified by taking the time to prepare for and anticipate as many areas as possible that need discussion and negotiation ahead of time. An employer often wants the most work possible from an employee, for the least amount of output of resources and wages. On the other hand, a person applying for work wants the most pay for a manageable amount of work done. Often the gulf between expectations is very wide apart. Many times only a fraction of the important issues are discussed. The mindset is usually that when the actual working relationship begins, these issues will be ironed out on the job. From experience I have found this to be a huge mistake. It is much easier to establish ahead of time what you are able to do or allow, and what you absolutely will not give in on. It’s a type of boundary and limitation setting that should take place in all relationships, personal and in employment situations. Many problems can be avoided on the job when they have been discussed beforehand, in detail, with agreements made and understanding clarified.

A list of topics, issues, question, and expectations to check off during the interview will ensure every area is covered. This will make you feel much more efficient and professional. The process can actually be very satisfying when you know your future is being decided as you proceed.

You often hear advice given on how to dress and present yourself for an interview. Those things are very important, but the art of negotiation will have a longer lasting impact on your ability to work in a friendly environment, with a staff that is considerate of each other and who all have consistent expectations. Of course, one thing to remember is, the actual negotiations can only begin when you are confident you will be hired.