More than others in many other professions, physicians often avoid negotiations with potential employers. In particular, they stay away from negotiating their salaries. They often do not ask for more compensation before starting a new physician job, and they also do not ask for more money over their years of work in the same role. The result can be significant lost financial opportunity as these doctors miss out on higher starting salaries as well as pay increases over the duration of their careers.
Given that their salary is non-negotiable through much of their training, it is perhaps not surprising that doctors do not always realize that they can and should negotiate with their potential and current employers. They have also not been given the opportunity during their training to develop negotiating skills, and there is little transparency in terms of what doctors should expect to make in certain jobs. Nonetheless, to ensure that they are happy in their new positions, physicians should consider what matters to them and make appropriate negotiations. Here are 3 things that can help:
- Elicit Help. While salary is the first thing most people think of when they consider negotiating with employers, there are several other aspects of a job that can be negotiated that can improve how much a physician will enjoy their job. Having a professional such as an attorney review the employment contract may help you identify areas of flexibility where you will have more success negotiating. For instance, perhaps three are certain benefits you can get more out of, or perhaps you can have more say over your schedule or vacation time.
- Do Some Research. Without knowing what is deemed normal or appropriate within the organization you are considering joining, it is difficult to negotiate. You should work to find out what people in similar roles earn both at this organization and at others. If there’s a significant difference, find out why. It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself and to define what will make you happy in a new job before jumping into the negotiations.
- Put Your Best Foot Forward. While you are negotiating, you are more likely to be successful if you find ways to demonstrate your value to the people you are negotiating with. What do you bring to the table in addition to the credentials and technical skills that are likely similar to other candidates? If you can identify for your potential employer why and how you will improve their organization, they are more likely to want to work with you to ensure that you will become a productive and happy part of their team.
Physicians often complete years of training with significant clinical skills but little experience in negotiations. Before starting their first job or switching to a new job, they should consider what they want most out of their careers and how to best advocate for themselves to get those things. Being upfront with potential and current employers about your needs and expectations can make all the difference in getting what you want out of a job.