Use these salary negotiation tips when negotiating your physician contract and working with your hiring employer.
Use these salary negotiation tips when negotiating your physician contract and working with your hiring employer.

10 salary negotiation tips

Read PracticeLink articles from Michele Gutermuth.
Michele Gutermuth

Table of Contents

You’re probably not used to going to the movies to brush up on your negotiation skills, but it may not be the wrong place to go if you’re looking to improve in this area.

I’m not saying you should use negotiation styles from “The Negotiator,” “Wall Street” or “Erin Brockovich,” but media outside your daily routine and studies can inspire unique ideas, including ways to hone how you negotiate.

If movies are not up your alley, you could read a book such as Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss. 

Before signing on the dotted line remember these salary negotiation tips:

  1. Do not try to negotiate the language in your contract unless you are both a physician and an attorney. Leave that to a health care attorney.
  2. It is usual for a facility not to change language in an agreement, but you still should understand what you agree to. Again, hiring a health care contract attorney can help in this area.

When it is time to negotiate, keep in mind these 10 tips:

Tip #1: Have all your questions ready at once. Only negotiate one time. It is not OK to ask for additional money, have the potential employer agree to that, and then say, “Thank you, I also thought I would like one extra week of vacation.” Sit down, write down your positives and negatives, and ask for everything in one transparent negotiation.

Tip #2: Negotiate only the parts you can’t live without, and then some. This was the best tip I received from my negotiator mentor. Trust me, this works. In the movie “Erin Brockovich,” there is a classic negotiation scene where the title character firmly tells the defendant’s attorney there is a minimum they will accept. Of course, her strong-arm approach will not likely land you any position in the workforce, but if you can’t live without the offer, then gently make your case.

Tip #3: Don’t negotiate over your skills or what is competitive in the marketplace. Make sure you are OK with this salary.

Tip #4: Be happy with your decision once you make it. You will always hear about your friend’s uncle’s cousin who got this incredible offer. Your friend’s uncle’s cousin probably did not get that offer.

Tip #5: Don’t sign a letter of intent and then negotiate. You have technically already agreed to the terms. Although the letter of intent is not binding, this will not go over well. Negotiate upfront.

Tip #6: Noncompete agreements may not be negotiable, but check with your health care attorney because they may also be nonbinding. When discussing these, though, do not make it seem like you are not intent on staying with your potential employer long term.

Tip #7: Know how you’ll be paid, including what your bonus, relative value unit (RVU) and additional compensation streams really mean. There is no reason to negotiate a higher salary if you could make less money overall in your bonus structure.

Tip #8: Make sure to back up the reasons why you deserve more. Look on the facility’s or comparable competition websites for information to back up why you deserve more. Maybe you have done additional training; maybe you have awards.

Tip #9: Research salary surveys. There are several organizations that produce annual reports listing salaries by specialty and additional details. Some of these include the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), American Medical Group Association (AMGA) and Medscape, a medical news and perspective provider.

Tip #10: Know when it’s time to move on. This is the best tip. If your negotiations have left a wrong impression and your health care attorney tells you not to continue, then it is time for reflection. You can always get a second opinion and hire a second attorney, or you can walk away.

Read PracticeLink articles from Michele Gutermuth.

Michele Gutermuth

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