Learning how to negotiate my first job offer

November 7, 2018

PA Tierney Manning, a new PA school grad, shares her story about negotiating her first job offer and employment contract under extreme pressure.

PA Tierney ManningOn the surface, it was a great offer at a large hospital system in Chicago. I had graduated from George Washington University and passed the PANCE when I interviewed for a regular full-time position last December.

They responded with what I call an “exploding offer.” I had 48 hours to take it or leave it.

I was really hesitant to make this decision. Despite reviewing basic contract negotiation at GWU, I knew very little about how to negotiate the contract in front of me. I contacted my university for help and they referred me to a career consultant who specializes in PAs; she very quickly helped me negotiate the offer.

The consultant interpreted the language for me, and that was very important because I didn’t want them to take advantage of me, and I wouldn’t have known if they did because I didn’t know the legal terms. I wouldn’t have known if the contract was standard or not, and I was worried it could come around and not work in my best interests later. The consultant walked me through AAPA’s Salary Report, because I wanted to know what was reasonable when negotiating salary and benefits for general surgery, in the Midwest, with one year of experience.

Over the weekend, I came to the conclusion that the position wasn’t the best fit for me and my interests based on the contract, position, and location. It was hard to turn it down, but I balanced what I was willing to sacrifice in the first job of my career and the things I wasn’t willing to sacrifice.

In January, I found a job that was right for me at another large hospital system in the city. I interviewed, negotiated, and accepted a position. I felt empowered to negotiate assertively to get my message across, while still being very professional. And I was able to negotiate a sign-on bonus using information from the Salary Report.

For more tips on contract negotiation, visit AAPA’s website here.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2017.