Job seeker says, Let’s make a deal’

Here’s way to negotiate future rewards

Finding it difficult to get the salary you want, and think you deserve as you scour the job market? One access professional solved the problem by arranging for future rewards based on the attainment of certain goals.

"I was able to negotiate a deal where I’m able to have my productivity measured, based on reaching certain objectives, and can obtain salary increases of 5% or 10%," says the access director, who works with a multiple-hospital system and asked not to be identified. 

"What you do is have the objectives written out, with the specified period of time you have to obtain them," the director adds. "You define what the threshold [for the achievement] is, and what would be considered a high achievement."

According to this arrangement, the person adds, "If I don’t reach the goal, I don’t get any [increase] at all. If I’m at the threshold, I get X amount. If I’m a little above, I get a higher amount, and for high performance, the highest amount."

The salary hikes could be based on an overall job appraisal or an objective that’s more clearly defined, like the amount of upfront cash collections.

"All of these [terms] are subject to negotiation," the access director notes. "It gives you the opportunity to show what you can and can’t do. It’s something to strive for."

Along the same line, this candidate carried to the job interview a portfolio that outlined some noteworthy past achievements, which may have strengthened his bargaining position. "I didn’t have [an arrangement] quite this good before," he adds. "A lot of it is timing — how much the organization wants you. The point is that access people are becoming more and more valuable to organizations."

The access director described above did "a heck of a job" negotiating his employment terms, says Scott Johnson, senior vice president and partner in J&J Resources, a health care placement firm in Houston.

"What it sounds like to me is that this was a hospital in need, and this guy obviously had the skills needed," adds Johnson, whose firm focuses on accounting, finance and business office professionals in hospitals. "The hospital really wanted a change but couldn’t come up with the money on the front end," he speculates. "I don’t think that’s real common."

In order for such a strategy to work, Johnson advises, "the person needs to be really qualified and will need to bring to the table something they’re not getting right now."

"I recently placed a guy with a hospital system who was told the job paid $100,000," he notes. "He said he was fine with that, but when he went in for the interview, he did a dog and pony show, and then said he wanted it at $130,000."

The candidate demonstrated to his potential employers — who didn’t have a cost accounting or support system in place — that he could build a team in that area, Johnson says. "That was his specialty. He was able to show them he could save them $500,000 in the first year."

In some cases, he says, he is able to help a client work out a three-month review, for instance, that is tied to an increase in cash collections.

[Editor’s note: Scott Johnson can be reached at (888) 496-2603.]