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Job Hunting and Negotiating: A Guide for Future (and New) PM&R Faculty. Kevin M. Means, M.D. Professor and Chairman University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Little Rock, Arkansas

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Job Hunting and Negotiating:A Guide for Future (and New) PM&R Faculty

Kevin M. Means, M.D.

Professor and Chairman

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

College of Medicine

Department of Physical Medicine

and Rehabilitation

Little Rock, Arkansas

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ObjectivesBy lecture’s end, you should be able to:

  • List key steps involved in the planning and process of a search for an academic faculty position

  • Discuss the important issues to consider when approaching an academic faculty position negotiation

  • Identify elements to address in negotiation for compensation and benefits, and academic support

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  • This is my perspective as a chairman

  • Influenced by my experience

    • As a faculty member

    • As a researcher

    • As a mentor

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Why Do Faculty Leave?

  • The most important reasons for leaving:

    • Better career opportunity elsewhere

    • Personal reasons

    • Low job satisfaction with administration

    • Not enough financial reward

  • The most important changes needed to


    • Fewer administrative/political problems

    • Higher salary

    • More protected time

    • Effective mentor/role model

    • More support for research

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Before The Job Search

  • Know Thyself

  • Develop a Plan

  • Find Appropriate Role Models

  • Learn From Mentors

  • Do Your Homework

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Know Thyself

  • Your Interests and Goals

    • What do you want to do?

    • Where do you want to be?

  • Strengths (and weaknesses)

  • Needs

    • What will you need to be successful?

  • Any Restrictions?

    • Geographic, economic, family, etc.

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Do Your Homework

  • Research the Position (job advertis.)

    • How long has the position been offered?

    • Replacement vs. New

  • Research the Dept. (website, reports)

    • Commitment to research

    • Critical mass (in Dept., on campus)

  • Research the Faculty (Medline, Google)

    • Academic productivity standards

    • Potential collaboration, complementation

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Other Information Sources

  • More Helpful:

    • Mentor(s)

    • Research Faculty

    • Program Director or Chair

  • Less Helpful:

    • Non-research Faculty

    • Other Residents

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Know Your Worth

  • Salary Information

    • Salary Surveys

      • AAMC (202 828-0416 or online:

      • MGMA, Others (include private practice)

      • AAP, AAPM&R

  • Marketability

    • Supply and Demand

    • Skills to Complement the Dept.

  • Variation among Departments

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  • CV & cover letter

    • Use a good model/format

    • Keep your CV updated

  • AAPM&R Job Bulletin Board

  • Online, Print “Position Wanted” Listings

  • Letters to prospective employers

  • Word of mouth (mentor, chair, PD)

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Where to Apply?

  • Academic Journals (Am J PM&R, Archives)

  • Online Job Listings

  • AAPM&R Job Fair (pre-screen;

    be selective)

  • Networking Leads

  • Headhunters?

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The Interview

From the Chair’s Perspective:

  • What kind of person is this applicant?

  • How qualified is the applicant for the position?

  • Will this applicant fit in with the team?

  • Will this applicant help me accomplish the Department mission(s)?

  • What will the applicant cost me?

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Typical Interview Questions:

"Tell me about yourself."

A short & professional synopsis; no personal info

"Why do you want to work here?“

Tell how does the Dept. aligns with your goals, needs

"What do you see yourself doing in five years?“

Independent research funding, academic promotion

"What is your greatest strength; weakness?“

Take a strength that relates to the job description; give an example;

Take a positive trait and make it a weakness (e.g. perfectionist, too focused sometimes)

“What would your ideal position look like?”

Be honest, but be realistic

"What kind of salary are you looking for?“

Avoid discussing specific amounts at this point

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Possible Interview Outcomes:

  • Negotiation

  • An invitation for a 2nd interview

    • 2nd interview may address fine points of the position, spouse issues, etc.

  • A Job Offer (written offer letter)

  • A decision (yours or theirs) to move on

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  • A necessary “evil”

  • An expected process

  • Give & take; “win – win”

  • Set priorities

    • What do you need?

    • What do you want?

    • What can you get?

  • Consider if the item is worth the fight

    • Choose your battles wisely

  • Some things may not be negotiable

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More Common



Decision Date

Start-Up Package

Clinical, Teaching Load

Faculty Track

Start Date

Moving Expenses/ Housing Help

Salary Recovery Time

Less Common

Bonus Guarantee



Research Assistants

Computer Resources

Travel and Conference Expenses

Faculty Rank

Job-Hunting for a Partner or Spouse

What Is Negotiable?

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  • The salary you accept now will affect your future salary

  • You deserve to be compensated fairly for your effort (know your worth)

  • Money isn’t everything ... But it sure helps

    • Pay loans, bills, etc.

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When Negotiating Salary:

  • Let the Chair bring it up

  • In early negotiations, talk about salary ranges only

    • Don’t sell yourself short; Don’t price yourself out of the market

    • Salary expectation should be based on data

  • If the salary is firm but less than you want, but the job is perfect, focus negotiations on

    • Future salary / Bonuses

    • Other forms of compensation

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  • Fixed salary is safest option for new faculty

    • Usually guaranteed for 1 year

  • Base salary with an incentive bonus based on productivity

    • Typical for academics

    • Most fair system for you & your employer

    • Is the bonus based on billings or collections?

    • Is there a cap on the bonus?

    • Is there a “penalty” for academic activities; reward for grants, salary relief

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Factors That Influence Salary

  • Fellowship training – especially research fellowship

  • Board certification (AAPM&R, SCIM, AANEM, etc.)

  • MD-PhD

  • Faculty rank (instructor vs. asst. prof.)

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Academic Salaries

  • Academic salary and/or bonuses are often linked to the Department/ institution bottom line

    • Ask about the fiscal status of the Department when interviewing

  • Ask about recent faculty pay

    • COLA, Merit raises?

    • How often have bonuses not been paid?

    • Have salaries ever been cut?

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  • Usually pretty standard within Univ., may differ between institutions

  • Insurance: Malpractice, Health, Disability, Life

  • Retirement plans can differ among institutions

    • Employee contribution, employer match

    • Time to full vesting

    • Employee control & investment choice

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Other Benefits

  • Moving allowance

  • Vacation and Sick leave

  • Maternity, paternity benefits

  • Educational leave

  • Tuition discount

  • Health club/fitness center membership

  • Parking

  • Mileage

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Negotiating Tips

  • Is your demand legitimate?

    • Be realistic

  • Define your limits and keep them private

    • Know when you will “hold” or “fold”

  • Don’t be afraid to ask

    • But remember, some things may not be negotiable

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Negotiating Tips, cont.

  • Never say yes to the first offer

  • Have a deadline, but be flexible

  • Negotiating is a 2-way street

    • Requires give AND take; compromise

  • Fine line between protecting your interests and being seen as difficult

  • Be courteous, ethical, prompt, fair

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  • You are negotiating with your potential future employer

  • More negotiations will follow

    • Was the negotiation process fair?

    • Was it unnecessarily difficult?

      It’s unlikely to get better next time!

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Kevin’s Top 5 Things New Research Faculty Should Ask For

  • Protected Time

    • Serious new researchers can’t survive without it

    • Get as much as you can for as long as you can

    • 50 – 75% time for 1-2 years is generous

    • Expect strings attached (salary relief from grants)

  • Salary

    • Clarify who will pay you, how much, how long, and how much will be salary, how much bonus

    • A guaranteed 1st-year salary minimum is reasonable

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Kevin’s Top 5 cont….

  • Start-Up Funds for Research Expenses

    • Research assistant, statistician, equipment, imaging or lab tests, animals, drugs, staff, grant writer, etc.

      4. Benefits

    • Travel is important for research networking and adds up

    • Include $ for prof. dues, meeting travel until funded

  • Research Space

    • Ask for what you will need to conduct your research (basic vs. clinical); be specific

    • Ask established researchers to verify your needs

    • Allow for future growth

    • Expect strings attached

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Other Items

  • Beeper

  • Cell phone and service

  • Office furniture

  • Computer equipment, internet access, access to Medline

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Employment Contract

  • Start negotiating before you have a contract in writing

  • Many academic departments use an offer letter in lieu of a contract

  • Details of the contract will differ depending upon the institution

  • Get everything in writing, preferably in the offer letter

  • Contracts can be changed; read them carefully; revise if necessary before signing

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You Must be Eligible to Obtain:

  • a state medical license

  • a DEA number

  • privileges at affiliated hospitals

  • participation in health care plans

  • Board certification

  • drug testing

  • orientation and training

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What are Your Responsibilities?

  • Research: apply for grants, conduct research, present & publish scientific findings

  • Clinical: clinic, hospital, on-call

  • Education: clinical & didactic teaching

  • Faculty meeting & conference attendance, committee service, academic citizenship

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Obligations of the Department:

Typically, the Department should provide

  • Office space

  • Computer

  • Supplies

  • Clinical support

    • Receptionist, transcription, nurse

  • Billing services

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Now that you’ve been there a while...

  • Do you have enough support staff? Negotiate -if you haven’t burned the negotiation bridge

  • Have you received a grant or funding for a clinical trial?

    • If it offers salary support, then your obligations to the department should change accordingly

  • Meet with your chairman yearly to review your academic progress

  • Work hard, get noticed, increase your value!

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Final Comments

  • The offer letter should include all items that were discussed

  • If you can’t reach agreement or compromise, don’t be afraid to politely decline the offer

  • You can negotiate with multiple offers in hand, but negotiate in good faith

    • Disclosure is recommended

    • Don’t unnecessarily “hold” an offer open

    • Don’t collect offers unless you are serious