Salary and Contract Negotiations: What to Consider When Offered a Job
I remember when I got my first healthcare position. I was overwhelmed with excitement and a feeling of relief since I didn’t have to interview anymore. The interview process I had just gone through was a long, drawn-out process. I had to talk to several different people, which was stressful. However, by the end, I was confident I had gotten the job when the manager assured me, I would be hearing back from them.
A few days later, I got a phone call with my official offer. It took all I had to not scream on the phone with exhilaration. I gladly accepted the position and salary, signed my paperwork, and started a couple of weeks later.
Looking back, I see that I missed a valuable opportunity in negotiating my salary. At the time, my only goal was to get a job so I could start my career path.
Salary and contract negotiations are one of the most critical discussions for NPs, and healthcare leaders to have during an interview process. Unfortunately, too often the negotiation discussion is overlooked and pushed to the side benefiting no one else except the company.
The reason why most people do not negotiate their salary is usually fear based.
Salary negotiation conversations can be scary and uncomfortable if a person lets them be. In 2018 Glassdoor stated, “It is important to understand that negotiating your salary is a perfectly normal part of the employment process and getting the salary you deserve is part of advancing your career.”
The company that is offering the job is always prepared to negotiate and is expecting it. Therefore, when a person accepts the first offer or fails to ask for changes in their contract, the person is setting themselves up to leave money on the table.
It is essential for a candidate to know their worth and realize what skills they bring to the position and be confident in owing it. Once a person owns their position at the negotiating table, the negotiating conversation becomes much easier.
Three critical items to be analyzed by the candidate before accepting any offer:
- Salary. The dollar figure offered should compare to the going rate in the market. It is also significant for the candidate to know what makes sense for their financial picture. Another good thing to think about is if the salary isn’t where the candidate wants it to be will there be opportunities for future pay increases. Also, if possible, let the company make the first offer, which allows for the candidate to have a better idea of what the company’s pay range is. Do not be afraid to say no to the first offer. Remember negotiating a salary if a perfectly normal part of the employment process. Taking the first offer only benefits the company in most cases.
- Benefit package. Not all benefit packages are created equal. Depending on the size of the company, benefits can vary. Benefits may include, but not always medical insurance, vacation time, CME allowance, liability insurance, 401k, tuition reimbursement, to name a few. If the benefits package doesn’t have everything that a person needs and supplemental benefits are purchased, this an opportunity for negotiation. For example, if dental insurance is not part of in the benefits package ask for an increase in the dollar amount for the salary due to the cost coming out of the candidate’s funds compared to the company. Look at all the perks.
- Company culture. Company culture is one of the most overlooked aspects of a negotiation. The goal is that a company’s mission and vision is in alignment with the candidate, which is an essential factor, especially in healthcare. Things to consider about a company cultural are the mission and vision, the scope of practice expectations and duties of the positions, patient load during training and after, provider onboarding process, provider staffing model, and the makeup of the leadership team. Asking questions about what a company expects is critical in the candidate’s success. One question to ask if the interview process is going well is about the potential of shadowing another provider. Shadowing provides an opportunity to see things firsthand and ask questions. If the company doesn’t agree, this could be a red flag. Candidates need to evaluate the situation before deciding to take a position that doesn’t align with their values. If the candidate accepts the job out of the fear that another job will not come along, the candidate will most likely be miserable, leave money on the table, and the position will be short-lived. If a conscious decision to take the position is decided the candidate can use this as an opportunity to negotiate for more money, or benefits (asking for additional vacation time could be an excellent option to discuss).
A job where there is a value misalignment, low pay and less than stellar benefits will be difficult to work in.
The importance of contract language.
After the position details are discussed, sometimes a company will provide a Letter of Intention (LOI) to the candidate to sign. The LOI is a non-binding contract that has the employment details outlined. An LOI allows for the company or the candidate to have the ability to back out if something changes regarding the position.
The details of the LOI are in the final contract. The final agreement is binding and should be read thoroughly before signing. It is critical that if something doesn’t make sense in the language of the contract, the candidate brings it to the company’s attention. It is best practice to have a lawyer or a more experienced NP look at the contract before signing, especially when first starting.
Two items to think about that will be in the contract and could affect a candidate’s ability to move on if the candidate is ready for something new, or something doesn’t work out are the non-compete language in addition to the notice period required if the employee resigns. Not knowing these details can have a significant impact on the ability of the candidates next position. Companies take non-competes and notice periods very seriously and will call out a candidate if violated.
The key to any successful negotiation is to relax. Remember, the healthcare field has many great opportunities for work. Come from an abundance mindset, be okay with saying “No” and be confident that something better will come. Analyze the complete offer and find opportunities to negotiate.
Finally, always remember to negotiate with a smile.