Why You Should Always Negotiate Your Starting Salary

Dante Antonini

Negotiating may not be your strong suit. You may be the most skilled surgeon or the most experienced nurse, but your expertise in the field did not prepare you for a starting salary negotiation. Talking about money is an uncomfortable subject for many people, but it grows more delicate when you’re considering how to negotiate after the offer is made. Here’s why and how to negotiate your starting salary.

Best Tips for Healthcare Salary Negotiations

Rule number one in salary negotiations in the healthcare field is to don’t talk in anything other than generalities about compensation until the offer is made. Set your baseline for what you want, then go a bit higher to establish the threshold that would cause you to walk away if the offer is less. Then wait for the offer before negotiating. By the time the offer arrives, it will be clear the organization is interested in you. This gives you more leverage to negotiate the first offer.

You may choose to use an intermediary to negotiate at this point. Some doctors and administrative RNs choose legal representation to stand in to get the best offer possible. Many times, these healthcare professionals engage a lawyer to review their work contracts. You will find that these attorneys usually offer some sort of salary negotiation as part of this service. Whether you use a third party is up to you. Some providers also use their staffing agency representative to negotiate salary, assuming their trust in the person is high.

In any case, adding a third party into the negotiation process will not stymie the offer; this is a standard operating procedure in many employment processes.

Before beginning the negotiation, it’s important to do some soul searching on what is important to you. In the same way, you set a threshold for the lowest dollar amount you will take; you should evaluate clearly what benefits matter most. Look closely at the offer beyond the numbers, including what on-call requirements, research or administrative leave, and PTO are offered. What does the termination and non-compete express? Does it require malpractice insurance even after you leave?

There is plenty of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) data out there that will inform a discussion of whether the offer is a fair one financially. Your lawyer or recruiter can also share insight into what the regional outlook is like. For comparison, look at Sullivan Cotter or the AMGA. Determine upfront how aggressive the negotiation should be. If you’re handling the negotiation personally, you can phrase your counteroffer in a way that encompasses your value proposition to the organization. Use language that reflects a humble approach, such as, “Thank you for this generous offer. Would you consider…” In our experience, a humble but firm approach is important.

Keep in mind that demand for certain clinical specialties will continue to grow in the coming years. It’s not a bad idea to pursue several simultaneous offers, then compare and leverage these options to move your top pick toward closure.

MedSource Consultants is the nation’s leading staffing agency in the clinical field. We can assist you in the negotiation process by representing you to the nation’s top healthcare organizations. Our team is experienced, professional, and discrete. Don’t trust your professional job search to anyone else.