How to Negotiate the Best Raise Possible

Shelly Reese


July 27, 2016

In This Article

Can You Talk Your Way into Earning More Money?

You realize it's soon time to renew your contract. The signing bonus, relocation allowance, and loan repayment you enjoyed when you signed your initial contract are now a distant memory. You work hard. Your patients love you. You want your employer to sweeten the pot a little.

Whereas an employee in the business sector would make a case for a raise on the basis of her performance and success in helping the organization meet its objectives, your compensation is spelled out in your employment contract. So how does a doctor negotiate for more money or a few more financial perks?

Experts say there are a few keys steps that can help you present your case.

Be Bold About Asking

Troy Fowler, vice president of recruiting with Merritt Hawkins, says that often, doctors simply don't ask for what they want. "We see a lot of disconnects because we see doctors who are unhappy about their pay or their schedule or whatever, and 90% of the time they haven't told anybody," he says.

That's a problem for everyone, because instead of trying to resolve their complaints with their current employers, they look for new positions—a process that is expensive for employers and disruptive for doctors and their families.

Opening the lines of communication with a simple request—"Hey, it's been a while since we discussed my compensation. Can we review it?"—affords everyone an opportunity to address sticking points, Fowler says. It enables the physician to make a case for better compensation and makes the employer aware of issues before they snowball into a retention problem. Fowler recommends scheduling the meeting a month or two before your contract expires so that decision-makers know what you want and have time to explore what they can do.

In some cases, women physicians may have more trouble psyching themselves to ask for a raise than do men. Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has coauthored several books on negotiation and the gender divide. She says a key problem is that women, unlike men, often don't ask for what they want. She cites data indicating that men initiate negotiations about four times more often than women and are more likely to describe the negotiating process as "winning a ball game" or "a wrestling match," whereas women are more likely to equate it with "going to the dentist."[1]


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