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Planning on Switching Jobs? First Do Your Homework

Negotiations Begin Well Before You Get an Offer or See a Contract

devil in the detailsMost of us think we start to negotiate for a job when we get an offer or a contract.  Then, those of us who think we are clever find a lawyer to check it out.  Maybe a family member or someone’s brother who won’t charge too much.  Familiar scenario?  Unfortunately it is.

The smart negotiator starts the negotiations well before there is any substantive talk of an offer, a contract or even a formal visit.  The negotiation starts the first moment you contemplate looking for a new job.  It starts in your head where you begin to formulate what it is that you want to do, where you want to do it, with whom you want to work, and how you want to work.  And whether you hire a head hunter, a recruiter, or just go it on your own, the process of collecting all the information you need from the different jobs you might seek, is a very large part of negotiations.  A big part.

How can this be?  Seeking information projects your knowledge of what it takes to understand and thereby perform a job.

There are (at least) 4 critical areas that need in-depth investigation before an offer is received.  Knowing the inner workings, the guts of the organization also let’s you position yourself to insert your needs into the conversation before it becomes a legal document.  This knowledge helps you make an informed decision and assign the proper value to the job.  These are:

  1. The details of the job description–the devil is in the details: What does a day/week/month/year in your life at your new place look like?  If you serve on committees, what is your role, how often do they meet, are you in charge?  If your job includes seeing patients 4 days a week, how are those days structured.  Are you running to three different places, always feeling pressured to be on time when you are constantly in traffic?
  2. The corporate structure–form determines function:  In the administrative/corporate structure, where exactly do you fit in? Do you have the power you need to get the job done?
  3. The financials–follow the money:  How economically healthy is the organization or institution that you are going to join?  Do they have the resources to fulfill their commitments to the doctors, patients and others?  What are your responsibilities for income generation, resource allocation and budgets?  And how much support do you get in doing that difficult job?
  4. Strategic plans–strategy creates structure:  Where have they been and where are they going?  Do they do what they say they are going to do?

Painting an exciting “big picture” can be persuasive,  but it is only the shiny penny that can detract from the real job–getting all the information you need to go in with eyes wide open but more importantly, gaining high regard from your future employer and colleagues who will see you as thoughtful and thorough–someone they have to have on their team. The contract will evolve to reflect your (and their) needs and requirements.  Bring these forward as you understand and mold the job you want to do well no matter where you work or what  you do.

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