Negotiating an optometry salary can feel a bit intimidating. If it’s your first time negotiating compensation for a professional job, it’s tempting to just take whatever an employer will give you. New optometrists often feel like they have zero leveraging power, but this is simply not the case. You just need to use different negotiation tactics when negotiating salary in optometry jobs.
Negotiating is not some scary thing that happens in a vacuum, and it’s not always about cold, hard cash. Dr. Brett Kestenbaum, Head of Growth at CovalentCareers, recommends that new grad optometrists negotiate on salary as a new OD. Instead, focus on the benefits, he recommends.
Negotiation tactic #1: continuing education costs
“You might try and get more CE money,” suggests Kestenbaum. Continuing education is not cheap, but that’s sometimes a hard truth that hits new optometrists only after they’ve accepted a position.
While Dr. Kestenbaum feels that negotiating for PTO can be risky for a new optometrist, he feels that negotiating for PTO specifically designated to attend continuing education could be a major win-win. If you negotiate too hard for time off, warns Kestenbaum, “it could come across that you’re not really interested in working.” Instead, he suggests, negotiate continuing education reimbursement, travel costs, and even additional PTO, as long as it's used for education.
Negotiation tactic #2: relocation costs
Moving can be extremely pricey, especially when you have a family to consider, or are crossing state lines. If you're relocating for a new job, absolutely negotiate relocation compensation. Again, negotiating moving costs does not come across as greedy or entitled, but rather shows that you're making a big move for this position and that the risk should be shared across parties.
Negotiation tactic #3: looking ahead for additional compensation
Dr. Kestenbaum suggests looking ahead during negotiations. By hiring you, your employer is taking a huge risk. Training you is expensive and time-consuming, which is why many employers are hesitant to budge on salary right away. They're afraid to take too big a financial risk on what amounts to an unknown quantity - a flight risk, if you will.
If you respect the risk your employer is taking by hiring you, you automatically increase your negotiation power in the future. If your employer is not open to any wiggle room with salary, but you really want the job, Dr. Kestenbaum suggests that you set hard timelines for renegotiation of your salary.
Dr. Kestenbaum suggests saying something along the lines of, “I can accept that salary today. But I plan to do X, Y, and Z for your practice.” Make sure these three things are solid, measurable value propositions. For example, you could add a new program, introduce a new marketing scheme, or create an on-boarding system for new ODs.
But whatever you propose to do, make sure it's measurable and that you set goals to reach on both a 3-month and 6-month timeline. If you haven't met these goals, you can't expect a pay bump. This puts the employer in a position where she is not taking an upfront risk.