The Compensation Conversation

Whether a healthcare professional is just entering the field, coming up on his or her annual review process or even a career veteran looking for a change of pace, negotiating salary is a daunting task.

It can be difficult to know how to approach the situation and more difficult still to assess personal merit without proper preparation.

In recent interviews with ADVANCE, Joey Price, MS HRMD, CEO of Jumpstart:HR, LLC and host of the “Business, Life, and Coffee” podcast, and Eleesha R. Martin, senior recruiting specialist at G&A Partners, provided some insight and advice when it comes to discussing compensation.

Do Your Homework

One aspect that both Price and Martin highlighted was the importance of research into a prospective field and position. This includes knowing the median salary of other healthcare professionals at a similar level of experience, understanding the tasks associated with a specific career path and becoming familiar with the state of the industry as a whole.

For younger healthcare professionals coming out of college, this is especially important as they will have less experience than their competitors.

“Regardless of the place they are in their career, I find most people don’t do the research required to know their market value,” said Price. “One of the unintended consequences of that for the job seeker is [that] they leave money on the table.”candidate entering job interview

Once a foot is in the door, so to speak, salary negotiations become an expected part of the review process. Over the course of a year, healthcare professionals are bound to overcome several obstacles or accomplish certain milestones.

Track Your Progress

During her interview, Martin noted the importance of keeping track of these achievements-whether it’s getting a positive review from a patient or co-worker, taking the lead on a project or just getting ahead in CE certifications. A list of accomplishments gives an employee ammunition in the form of talking points during his or her review.

“I’m a strong believer in keeping track of what you’re doing throughout the year-whether it’s a folder, like a manual folder, or something in your email,” explained Martin. “By keeping track of the different things you’re doing throughout the year, you make it easier on yourself when it comes to your year-end review, as you’re not having to rack your brain trying to remember what you did months ago. You already have it at your fingertips, easy to access.”

In today’s work environment and economic climate, it’s rare that an employee will end up with the same company for the duration of their career. Somewhat inevitably, there will come a point where a healthcare professional is looking to take the next logical step in his or her career and leave their current job for a different position, a promotion or a new company or organization.

Situations like these provide the most effective bargaining power. With the safety net provided by current employment, the shift to a new position becomes less about needing a job and more of the benefits of one work environment over another.

“Patience is a virtue,” continued Martin. “So, it’s encouraged to wait until the offer has been extended-and then don’t feel obligated to accept right away. If there [are] certain factors in the offer that you want to do more research on, this is a great opportunity to do so. It’s okay to tell that recruiter or that hiring manager that you need more time to think about it.”

Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate

When the time comes for a career change, leveraging offers is an effective way to ensure the best possible outcome in a new position. Martin referenced an experience she’d had in negotiating with a young medical laboratory professional with competing offers.

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One offer was, of course, better than the other, but had been presented slightly differently. Because of this, Martin recommended that healthcare professionals consider more than just the salary itself during the negotiation process.

Through the back-and-forth of negotiation, a healthcare professional can use the different aspects of their current employment in order to secure perks in a new job-be it a salary increase, vacation time or even the hours.

“There is a lot more than salary that you can negotiate,” said Martin. “You can negotiate things like vacation or bonuses, work schedules, benefits, opportunities for growth and so forth.”

Regardless of whatever stage a professional is within his or her career, the process of negotiating a salary and benefits can be stressful and intimidating. Many healthcare workers can be too quick to discuss salary and jump the gun or just too timid to bring up the subject at all.

According to both Martin and Price, the more research done prior to the compensation conversation, the better the chances are of achieving the desired outcome.

Most importantly, however, it is vital to know your worth! By staying prepared and bringing the appropriate statistics, counteroffers, career accomplishments and attitude to the meeting, the negotiation process should run much smoother.

Michael Jones is on staff at ADVANCE. Contact:

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