Reprinted from TraineE-News, a quarterly collection of articles written by and for trainees, and curated by the ASH Trainee Council, that is delivered to trainees and fellows who join ASH as associate members.
Your knowledge, performance, relationship skills, and the mentorship you receive throughout your education and residency are essential to your career success. However, even if you possess great qualifications, how you approach the job negotiation process is of optimal importance. A successful job negotiation process involves five key principles: truth, fairness, attraction, contributing value, and fit.1
As you begin this period, you may be aware of the basic elements of the process but miss critical details. Here are some problems and tips to consider:
- Problem: You think the ultimate goal is to maximize your income and may not focus on what you actually value.
Tip: Concentrate on your comprehensive inventory of values and how much you can contribute to the organization and its mission. Always try to understand the organization’s perspective and go for a win/win situation.
- Problem: You are paid less than the current market salary for your position.
Tip: Know your numbers! Look up salary data in the American Association of Medical Colleges Report,2 which can often be found at your university library. Data are presented as median, 25th, and 75th percentiles for various professions, including adult and pediatric hematology/oncology, in different regions in the United States.
- Problem: You get a job offer on paper with title, compensation, and responsibilities, but you do not know what the job will really entail.
Tip: Do your homework about the organization and do not be afraid to ask questions.
- Problem: You may be fully qualified for a position, but fail to communicate the value of what you can add to the organization with your set of skills during job negotiations.
Tip: Keep track of all your accomplishments and contributions in order to be able to communicate them clearly at the time of negotiations, demonstrating your ability to maximize your potential in your new organization.
- Problem: You are not happy and feel underappreciated in your new organization.
Tip: Understand the culture of your organization, learn how to work with it, and know what you are getting yourself into. Learn about faculty turnover and staff retention: Are people happy? Do they feel appreciated or valued? Recognize what you can and cannot change. If there is something that you feel you can change, do not be afraid to speak up.
- Problem: You think you should not ask about benefits and relocation packages.
Tip: Don’t assume that obtaining benefits or relocation packages is impossible until you ask. Relocation packages are more likely to be negotiated, but you need to have a reasonable financial estimate of the cost of moving in order to negotiate accordingly.
- Problem: If you approach the process with a seller mentality, your fears can undermine your ability to engage in a successful negotiation, forcing you to limit yourself to the first opportunity with which you are presented.
Tip: Opting for a buyer mentality, you can approach negotiations with a more objective rationale. You think about the implications, are more discerning, and will be able to negotiate. You do not know how marketable you are until you actively pursue multiple opportunities and explore what is out there for you.
- Zwell, M. Six Figure Salary Negotiation: Industry Insiders Get You the Money You Deserve. Avon, MA: Adams Media. 2008;272.
- Association of American Medical Colleges Report on Medical School Faculty Salaries (2014-2015). Washington, DC: AAMC. 2016;334.