I am in the U.S. I have both a Bachelor's degree in Nursing and Master's degree in Nursing, and experience as both a registered nurse and nurse practitioner. My most recent work experience has been as a Nurse Practitioner, receiving the higher pay commensurate with that degree and certification. Now I desire to work part-time and am willing to work in either area, which means I would be negotiable on my salary. Job applications, however, often ask what my last salaries were, and when employers see them, they immediately rule me out as a candidate despite me sending a cover letter. I found this out only by contacting potential employers, who were still reluctant to consider me after my explanation of being willing to accept a lower salary. I can only assume they are concerned I will leave them sooner or later for a higher salary.

First of all, are there any good ways I can let prospective employers know that I am not interested in the higher pay (at this stage in my lifetime) without getting into lengthy details about my life (single mom of teenager, taking care of older mom, etc.), and second, reassuring them that I am not going to jump ship when something better comes along?

  • 1
    "at this stage in my lifetime" Will you be in a later stage? Because then this might happen: "I can only assume they are concerned I will leave them sooner or later for a higher salary."
    – Kevin
    May 9, 2014 at 15:28
  • But you only want to work part-time. Are you asking less per hour? Couldn't they hire you full-time if your personal situation changes?
    – user8365
    May 9, 2014 at 16:55
  • I think a lot of people are missing the fact that the question of prior salary is being asked on an application form, so being able to "explain" that the comparison between past full-time work and desired part-time work is not applicable. May 10, 2014 at 23:04

4 Answers 4


I would investigate salaries for the job you wish to transition into (part-time nurse based on your question), and the area you live/plan to live. Once you have determined the rate, figure out what you will be happy with.

From there on, I would quote this figure in any correspondence as the rate you'd like to achieve. If they push about previous salary, mention that you worked full-time as a practitioner, and that you don't think the comparison between that salary and a part-time nurse would be applicable. And reiterate that you are focused on being part-time nurse for the foreseeable future.


Ideally you want to only talk salary very late in the interview stage.

Once you've convinced them of your skills, they'd either be more inclined to match your current salary (even if they didn't plan on going that high originally), or be more open to negotiating down to a lower salary.

When asked your current salary, you could redirect to just saying what your target salary range is instead, although doing so may not be particularly easy or possible. I wouldn't go as far as refusing to give your current salary or lying about it, as neither of those are a good start to a working relationship.

Whether you mention your salary early or late in the interview stage, the following points would basically be your argument:

  • Say enjoying your work (or certain benefits?) is more important than the money, or that money isn't particularly important to you (you probably wouldn't need to elaborate on that).
  • Admit that you're a bit overpaid.
  • Say you're very open to negotiation.
  • Mention an actual figure for what you'd be willing to accept (that they'd be willing to pay), or, similarly, ask them what they're willing to pay, and say you'd be willing to accept that.
  • If applicable, mention the difference between full-time and part-time, or perhaps only offer an hourly rate rather than your monthly or yearly salary.

Employers are reluctant to consider you despite your obvious talents because like it or not, they believe that you are likely to jump ship to another part-time gig the minute you get an offer that's more commensurate with your talents and abilities.

You need to tackle the issue of money head on because that's the issue that's ringing the alarm bells with them. And these alarm bells are ringing so loud in their heads that they are drowning out anything that you are saying.

I'd say that the best plan of attack is to change their frame of reference. The past salary figures that you have given them is based on your status back then as a full-timer. The hourly rate that you are willing to accept is predicated on that you are not a full-timer i.e. that you need some flexibility in your scheduling so that you can take care of matters at home. Tell them that the old salary was for the full time rate and it is apples and that the hourly rate that you are willing to accept is for flex-time work and it is oranges, and oranges is what you are interested in. In other words, the part-time work is a completely different paradigm than the full-time work and that by seeking part-time work, you are seeking hourly pay that is commensurate with this paradigm and if the result of going with this paradigm is lower pay, then things are what they are so far as you are concerned. And here's to hoping that the argument works on someone :)

If the argument doesn't work on anyone, then you have the option of working full-time with the prospective employer who is the most likely in your estimation to work part-time. Then after a few months, you'll be asking for an accommodation to let you work part-time.

Another strategy is to network with the RN's and nurse practitioners in your area, find out who is working part-time and ask them who gave them this arrangement and what arguments they successfully made to be accepted for part-time work. You can also pick their brains on the matter of your higher full time salary and ask them how they would manage the prospective employers' expectations so that the full-time salary issue is not a deal breaker. I am sure that there are some nurses who are working full-time and who might be interested in a job sharing arrangement.

Good luck to you :)


It's perfectly acceptable to decline giving past salary information and put the focus on what you're looking to earn now.

It's also perfectly acceptable to inform a potential employer that you're interested in a position with less responsibility than your last, and if asked why, just state that it's a "personal lifestyle choice". The key word here is "PERSONAL". If the interviewer presses you, just smile and say, "It's personal."

Turn the focus back to what's going on NOW and what you will do NOW. That's all. You might need to practice to get the hang of it. Maybe you can do so with one of your colleagues that you trust.

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