Case Study: Helping a physician in Health IT negotiate a fair market value for a niche role at a major tech company

Helping a physician in Health IT negotiate a fair market value for a niche role at a major tech company

Lucy was being recruited by a major tech company and she was excited about making her next big move in her career as a physician working in Health IT. (Lucy’s real name and the specific company name withheld upon request.)

While eager about the opportunity, she didn’t want to accept an offer that was below fair market value. But because she’s in a niche field and the role was a new one for the company, it wasn’t clear what fair market value was. On top of that, the company’s compensation structure also differed quite a bit from other places she’d worked.

Unlike previous salary negotiations she’d gone through, Lucy was uncomfortable going it alone. She also felt she couldn’t tap into her traditional sources of advice.

“When it comes to specific numbers related to options and bonuses, sign-ons, various incentives you no longer feel comfortable discussing it with certain family members or close friends — that gets awkward,” she says.

When Lucy came across my resources, she found a particular level of detail and expertise about negotiating with this company she didn’t find elsewhere. But she was still on the fence about hiring me, concerned about whether she’d get the bang for her buck.

“My husband asked ‘why are you paying some other dude to do something that you traditionally do on your own?’” she says. “That’s the biggest thing. Do I really need somebody? What if I end up thinking I could have done it on my own? My other discomfort was Josh didn’t have experience helping other physicians going to major tech companies, so would he give the type of customized guidance that I need?

In fact, Lucy still wasn’t 100% sure about whether she should hire me after reaching out to me a few days before her offer came in.

But when the company sent her their initial — and frankly, underwhelming — offer, Lucy decided that she needed to work with someone who is deeply familiar with navigating this kind of negotiation. It was worth the investment to get peace of mind that the final result she’d end up with would be based on her best shot.

Because Lucy had a meeting with HR scheduled the very next day after the offer was sent, we accelerated the start of our work together to help her prepare for it.

Josh turned on a dime and jumped on a call with me that evening, which was amazing,” says Lucy. “He went outside of his customary process, knowing that I had a call the next day and that I really wanted to get this going. That was really valuable.”

I worked with Lucy to help her step carefully through what was a bit of new territory for both her and the company to determine what appropriate compensation for someone with her unique experience would be. And while getting the best compensation she could was important for Lucy, she also didn’t want to walk away from this job opportunity.

I helped her interpret the recruiter and hiring manager jargon to understand what they were actually saying and what it meant for our negotiation strategy. I provided scripts to use in her responses to make the case for a higher offer, working with her to refine them.

Lucy says she appreciated having someone to provide a neutral perspective to focus on the objective facts in the communication, as well as the personalized approach we took to ensure the best chances of success.

“Because it’s a niche role and because my situation was unique, coming at me with a one-size-fits-all type approach to the negotiations would have been such a turnoff because that’s not what I needed,” she says. “This was not a cookie-cutter type scenario and I wouldn’t have felt confident that we had optimized the plan if I’d been given cookie-cutter advice. Josh was really in-tune with the details.”

At each step along the way, I offered guidance on what to expect (providing calculated predictions of likely outcomes as well as potential alternative scenarios) and continually checked in with Lucy, which she especially appreciated when the company took a little longer to get back to us after the second counter we made. Strategically, I also advised her when we should push for more and when it was time to stop.

A substantially improved offer and peace of mind

Having made the best possible case for maximum compensation based on Lucy’s unique experience, we successfully negotiated about $60,000 more in total RSUs and $70,000 more in sign-on bonuses. By presenting evidence that she’s worth even more than what the company is willing to offer as initial compensation, Lucy is also well-positioned for future raises and promotions.

Although the company didn’t reach the number she was originally hoping to get, Lucy says she was happy with the outcome.

For me, the biggest thing was I finished the negotiations with the peace of mind that this is the fair market value for this niche role,” she says.

"Instead of going off other niche friends who might say 'ask this and ask for that' and unrealistic numbers, it really felt like the number ended up being what Josh had guessed from the get-go would be right. My number had been too high and too ambitious. I can rest easy knowing that we tried our best and they moved a bit, but that it was time to stop pushing. Had I gone it alone I wouldn't have felt as comfortable."

Lucy appreciated our work together so much, she’s already discussed her experience with other colleagues who are looking for their next big gig in Health IT and how helpful she found it.

The types of jobs we are applying to these days as clinicians didn’t exist a decade ago and in some cases even 3 years ago,” she says. “So having someone with expertise in salary negotiation with major tech companies, coaching you in the strategy and nuances associated with this type of negotiation is invaluable and difficult to find. I would 100% recommend working with Josh to others.”

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