If things are going as planned, it’s likely that in the near future, you will (finally!) be searching for a job. While finding a job may be your next most difficult hurdle, once you find a job, you will get one chance, and one chance only, to negotiate the best job package you can for yourself. Your negotiating power ends the moment you sign on the dotted line. But when you know that you have no experience, and you’re completely ecstatic that you found a job that you like, how are you supposed to find the wherewithal to negotiate for yourself?
The answer is simple. You’ll need a big pause to catch your breath, a lot of preparation and some creativity.
- Stop and think. We know you’re excited. You’ve waited a long time for this day. You want to accept that job offer right now! Anything they’re willing to pay you will be a big improvement over the annual deficit called ‘tuition’ that you’ve been paying for the past few years. But as we mentioned earlier, you only have one chance – and it’s right now! – to negotiate the best job package for yourself. So as enthusiastic as you are, you need to take a step back and view the situation objectively and (dare we say it) opportunistically. Take the time to figure out what your wish list is when it comes to compensation for the dentistry that you will be delivering. In the meantime, you want to identify yourself as the best possible candidate for your employer, so make sure your letters of recommendation are very strong.
- Do your homework. In order to figure out what you should be receiving as compensation for the treatment you’ll be delivering, you have to do some snooping around. Find out what is included in a typical job package in your area. Also, to make an appropriate assessment, you need to consider the practice itself. Will you be an employee in a large corporation or joining a solo practice? Does the practice accept insurance fees or do most of the patients pay out-of-pocket? What is the per capita income in the area in which the practice is located? In addition to salary, you need to know what benefits employers in your vicinity are offering. Consider vacation time, continuing education tuition, moving expenses, malpractice, disability, health and life insurance, a 401(k) plan, relocation expenses, a sign-on bonus and travel expenses as possible benefits. Once you have a realistic understanding of an appropriate compensation package for someone with your level of experience in your type of practice in your neighborhood, ask for more! You may not get everything you desire, but you will most likely get more than you would have if you hadn’t asked.
- Use your imagination. We know that you have no experience, and that you can’t even believe that someone is going to pay you for the treatment that you’re going to perform. And you hardly feel in any position to be negotiating for something better. But all you need is a different perspective and a little creativity. At a moment like this, it’s difficult to come up with a list of your assets, but it will greatly benefit you to do so. Perhaps your new employer has not kept up with technological advances. If that’s the case, you may be able to help convert the office to electronic health records. Many seasoned practitioners do not understand social media. You may be able to help market the practice using your social media skills. Maybe you can increase productivity by your willingness to work evenings and weekends, when the office is currently not in use. While your employer is only willing to accept fee-for-service, you might consider increasing revenue by accepting insurance plans. There are definitely creative ways for you contribute to your new practice. For example, you can familiarize yourself with the types of treatment rendered by your prospective employer and identify complimentary services that will increase your value. Then make sure to tout those services to your prospective employer.
Once you realize that your future employer needs you just as much as you need your future employer and that you actually have something to offer, we’re hoping you’ll feel more emboldened and entitled to advocate for yourself. Let’s face it. If you don’t, who will?
~ Drs. Peltz and Studley, DOCCUPATIONS