The results of each year’s C+D Salary Survey seem to bring with them new and worrying reports of plummeting locum rates. With 2015 delivering a seven-year low to an average rate of just £20.85 an hour, it’s easy to feel disheartened.
So what can locums do? Miraj Patel, CEO of My Locum Choice – which markets itself as a locum solution – offers his tips for tackling common problems facing locums today, from negotiating rates to making a lasting impression on staff.
1 Negotiate your pay
Fighting for higher pay can be difficult, but it’s important to agree on a fair wage, Mr Patel stresses. His preferred strategy is to “barter a little bit and stand your ground and show what you have to offer”. He recommends giving examples of any extra training you have received – such as carrying out flu vaccinations – to show employers that they’ll be getting their money’s worth. Other factors to consider in the negotiation process include high travel expenses, which you should try to claim, and emergency shifts, which should be paid at a higher rate, Mr Patel says.
2 Adapt to your surroundings
Assuming the position of responsible pharmacist can be awkward when you’re unfamiliar with the pharmacy team, so Mr Patel recommends following their lead. “Where possible, always adapt to the way that they work,” Mr Patel suggests. Allowing staff to work in the way they are used to – assuming this is safe – can minimise tensions. “Why change something if it’s doing well?” he points out.
3 Show an interest
Making the extra effort with staff creates a friendlier work environment. “The staff are your best friends,” Mr Patel stresses. Don’t underestimate how big an impact the smallest of gestures can have. Phoning to introduce yourself before you arrive, getting to know the individual roles of staff and even offering to bring back some snacks when you go out to buy lunch are a few small things you could do to let staff know you’re taking an interest, he suggests.
4 Branch out
It can be tempting to only work for the companies you are familiar with, but Mr Patel recommends getting as much experience as you can in different environments. “Work anywhere where you think it’s going to benefit your development,” he says. The more experience you can get working with both multiple and independent businesses, the more attractive you will make yourself to employers.
How easy have you found it to secure locum work over the past 12 months? Tell us in the C+D Salary Survey 2016