An Offer You Can Refuse


What is the main reason women make less money than men in identical positions? A lack of negotiation skills, says Rachel George, MD, MBA, FHM, regional medical director and vice president of operations for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cogent Healthcare.

“Women aren’t as comfortable negotiating as men are,” Dr. George says. “The fact is, individuals who ask for more generally get more.”

Dr. George offers women the following negotiation tips:

1. Investigate. Research average salaries for the position you are applying for, the region you live in, and the company you’d be working for. One place to start: the 2007-2008 SHM Bi-annual Survey on the State of the Hospital Medicine Movement.

2. Set goals. Define how much you want to make and ask for that amount. “You try harder when you set a goal,” Dr. George says.

3. Create BATNA. This concept, from the book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreements Without Giving In”, is about the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). Ask yourself: Do you have other positions lined up in case the one you’re applying for doesn’t work out?

4. Be realistic. Ridiculous offers will get you nowhere. Don’t ask for higher than the 95th percentile of the average salary for the position you’re applying for.

5. Look beyond salary. If your potential employer won’t budge on salary, consider other forms of compensation: CME money, PTO time, fewer work hours. “All these things can be negotiated to achieve the right package for you,” Dr. George says.

6. Practice, practice, practice. Negotiation is a learned trait; try role-playing with someone you trust.

7. Be persistent. Women tend to give up sooner than men. “Bargaining doesn’t end at the first conversation or transaction,” she says.

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