The most important thing to remember when preparing for an employment opportunity is that employers expect you to negotiate your contract. As a physician, you are in a prime position to bargain for more since there is an ongoing shortage in family practice. Here are a few strategies to help you secure a better deal for your employment contract.
1. Be Familiar With the Main Elements of a Contract
To negotiate a better deal, you must know everything there is about the employment contract. As a starting point, these are the main elements to focus on:
- Compensation should be in the same range as what other physicians with similar expertise and experience receive.
- Incentive compensation can be offered in addition to the base salary.
- Benefits commonly cover paid time off, health insurance, medical malpractice insurance, retirement plan, loan forgiveness, and more.
- Work schedule and on-call obligations.
- Termination provisions refer to the period of employment. Or if the contract can be terminated without cause, then it sets the notice period.
- Restrictive covenants are enforced by many states. Although Texas does not encourage arrangements that restrict employment opportunities and mobility, a non-compete agreement is enforceable. However, this must be based on valid reasoning and be considerate with its time and geographical limits.
Read all you can about these aspects and do a lot of market research. It is essential to know what other similar employment opportunities have to offer and what other physicians within your range receive. This data will serve as your compass during your negotiation proceedings.
2. Know Your Employer
Before diving into negotiations, you should become familiar with your employer. Conduct extensive research online and offline. Visit their web page and follow their social media posts to get a general idea about the place.
If you are particularly interested in research, you can also search for the institution’s apport to medical journals and conferences. Try to look into some of your future colleagues’ achievements. This information can give you a good idea of whether your initiatives and interests can find fertile ground.
Being informed about your employer will be particularly useful during the interview process as it will show the recruiters that you care and are involved in the proceedings. However, the information will also come in handy when negotiating your contract. During your research, you can get an idea of what an employer can offer and what you can ask.
For example, if you find many articles in medical journals written by employees, make sure to bring up research grants or any other support for such endeavors. If you have already prepared a clear proposal for a study, this will be a great selling point in your favor. Make sure to mention how your research can impact the institution as well. What will your employers have to gain from this? Convince them of the benefits and you are one step closer to sealing the deal.
3. Don’t Make the First Offer
When negotiating, never make the first offer or accept this if it is given to you. This will set the base for the negotiations to come, so whoever proposes the first deal starts with a disadvantage.
Experts advise you to hold off on making the first offer and try to create the opportunity for your employer to mention it. Once you have the starting point, build on it strategically. Remember that there are many family practice jobs in Texas, this gives candidates an upper hand.
4. Always Send a Counteroffer
Once the employer has sent you an offer, read it carefully and prepare a counteroffer. Make sure that you can back up your needs and desires with some leverage, like expertise and background. Know your strengths really well and use these. For example, in the past year, the healthcare system experienced great digital transformations. Therefore, make sure to mention any technology-related skills that can come up in your practice.
When you have the counter-proposal, rather than emailing it back to the employer, ask for an in-person conversation to discuss the changes. If it is not possible to meet in person, you can also get in touch through a video call or a simple phone call. This way, you have more of an opportunity to build a case for yourself and argue in favor of the proposed changes. Also, the entire process will be more personal.
During the conversation, stay assertive, but don’t be aggressive. Assertiveness is a social skill that can be developed over time. Here are a few effective strategies:
- Mention what you want directly and concisely.
- Bring solutions to problems.
- Repeat how you understand the other’s point of view.
At the same time, it is essential to maintain a degree of flexibility. Accept the possibility that you might not get exactly what you ask for, but you might end up pretty close. Furthermore, never lie in your CV or when negotiating the contract. Employers can uncover the truth, and everything you have built can crumble.
5. Ask for More Than You Actually Want
Start by deciding on what you want to obtain and then go beyond that. By asking for more, you ensure that there is room for compromise. Always equip yourself with something that you feel comfortable losing to ensure that you secure what you desire most.
6. Involve Experts in the Negotiation Process
If you have the means, consult a financial advisor and a lawyer to guide you through the process. These experts usually have access to national surveys and databases that are off-limits to you. They can provide more accurate information about compensation and other benefits. Use this valuable information when setting up your counter-proposal.
As a physician specializing in family medicine, interpersonal skills are one of your main assets. Remember that this goes for your employers as well. Therefore, take contract negotiation as an opportunity to showcase your assertiveness and flexibility. This can be a foundation for a relationship built on trust between employer and employee.