Negotiating your salary: Writing a counter offer

Congratulations on the job offer! Should you accept or try to negotiate? If you’re reading this, according to the Center for Professional Success, the first thing you should know about providing a counter offer is that you should have already received a job offer.

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 9.39.55 AMIf you have been put in the position of being asked “What are your salary and other consideration requests?” either be prepared with an answer that is somewhat above your actual expectations, or explain that you are not ready to state that until you know more about the office, its patient load, its financial outlook and your expected role in the position. You should know these things in order to provide a reasonable salary range or to fully consider the offer the employer is putting forward.

[Counter Letter example]

There are three options available to you once an offer is extended: accept the offer as is, decline the offer, or submit a counter offer. Submitting a counter offer can be the most stressful option.

The window for negotiating a counter offer is small, but it can have a large impact on your final pay. Here are some steps to take before submitting your counter offer.

Research the position. Know the salary range you should expect. Make sure to factor in the location of the practice and, if possible, try to find historical information on the employer’s salary range. Ask questions about patient load, salary calculation, the practice finances and the like (see The Associateship Interview: Come Prepared With Smart Questions). Use this information, along with your own needs and wants, to establish your own best alternative to a negotiated agreement (often called BATNA). This is the goal toward which you are aiming when you start to negotiate, and you’ll do better if you have it foremost in your mind.

When the offer is extended, first thank the interviewer and be sure to express interest and excitement in the job. Let them know that this is a major decision that will require careful thought and ask them how long you have to consider the offer.

Maintain gratitude in negotiations. The conversation should be cordial not a battle. If not handled with tact, presenting a counter offer could cause the employer to change their opinion of you and to rescind the offer.

Consider asking for a salary or terms that are slightly better than you will accept. How does that saying go? “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars.” Justify your salary expectations by playing to your attributes. Remind them of your experience, education, your willingness to grow the practice, the revenue you will bring in, and solutions you can provide.

Be prepared for a refusal to negotiate or an offer lower than your ask. The offer may be firm. If the offer is below your minimum, be open to walking away from the offer. This is where having your BANTA in mind helps. You won’t get caught up in the negotiation and be tempted by slight concessions that still don’t raise the offer to the level of your basic needs.

After an agreement is reached, get the offer in writing. Also important, don’t ask for anything more after the negotiations are over, it may sour the relationship or lose you the job offer.

ADA member, Dr. Colleen Greene, has generously shared a counter offer letter template to use in your salary negotiations. Good luck!

Disclaimer. This document is not intended to provide either legal or professional advice, and cannot address every federal, state, and local law that could affect a dentist or dental practice. We make no representations or warranties of any kind about the completeness, accuracy, or any other quality of the information in the above piece. Nothing here represents advice or opinion as to any particular situation you may be facing; for that, it is necessary to consult directly with a properly qualified professional or with an attorney admitted to practice in your jurisdiction for appropriate legal or professional advice. To the extent the above includes links to any web sites, the ADA intends no endorsement of their content and implies no affiliation with the organizations that provide their content. Nor does the ADA make any representations or warranties about the information provided on those sites, which we do not control in any way.

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