Keys to A Successful Radiology Negotiation

February 17, 2015

Advice for getting the radiology job, and terms, you really want.

It is getting to that time of year…the last six months of fellowship. Fortunately for most new graduates, the job market seems to have picked up a bit since the last few years. If you’re really lucky, you’ve already managed to obtain an offer that you will likely accept. You’ve had a lawyer review your contract, and before you sign your name on the dotted line you wonder to yourself, “Should I ask for more??"

I bring this up because a few weeks ago a friend called me with this exact scenario. They received a job offer, are pretty content with the terms, but were wondering if, “I should try and negotiate and ask for more money?” Though I have never been involved in the hiring process, I do believe I have some advice to share that may be helpful.

First off, much has been written about the science of negotiation, some of which has been published in journals like JACR. “Negotiations” was probably the most helpful and interesting class I took as part of my MBA coursework.  I would highly recommend some cursory reading about the topic, regardless of your situation. I believe any of these will provide help during your career. A simple Google or PubMed search will lead you to countless excellent resources.

Secondly, salary is one of the easiest points to negotiate. It is tangible and can be easily compared among job offers. I believe it is also one of the easiest things for your employer to say that they cannot change. In my mind, it is also an easy way to make your future employer feel defensive and shut down before a fruitful negotiation can occur.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"32125","attributes":{"alt":"Jonathan Flug, MD, MBA","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_5504646503889","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3394","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 213px; width: 160px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Jonathan Flug, MD, MBA","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Rather, consider what is truly most important you. Identify these tangibles, and consider negotiating those issues. Is your total salary most important, or is it more important to ask for a signing bonus or advance to help cover moving expenses or pay off some of your more expensive medical school loans? Does your practice have many distant locations where you would prefer not to work? Is some protected time for academic work or business promotion important to you? What percentage of your time are you practicing your subspecialty versus general radiology?  

Your potential future employer may be more willing to discuss these issues and reach a compromise that works for both parties. From my point of view, it shows that you are concerned about your long-term presence and success within the group and are focused on more than just dollars and cents.