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In salary negotiations, do you specifically give a salary expectation and salary history or wait for them to give you an offer?  


I am a PA who has 8 (almost 9!) years of experience in Emergency Medicine, limited CT surgery, and most recently, upper extremity Ortho and Hand.  I have had 2 interviews and shadowed with a private ENT/allergy practice with 8 ENTs who are very interested in hiring a PA (not NP..yay!) for the first time.  They want someone who has experience with procedures, rounding in hospital, seeing consults, but not necessarily for OR, which is fine with me.  They offer autonomy after the training period...which would be awesome.  There are some wrinkles to iron out, however, they seem to have a good idea of what they want their new PA to do, etc.  They even want to send me to the ENT for PA conference in April to get acquainted. Overall, I'm ready to take the job....BUT...we haven't discussed salary yet.  


They emailed me to say they are very interested and asked for my salary history and salary requirements.  I'm hesitant to share with them my history because currently, I feel somewhat underpaid for my years of experience with my current practice  (in my 5th year of ortho, 8.5yrs total as a PA).


Here are my stats:  I make 93k full time and I got a $2500 bonus.  I haven't had an increase since Jan of 2014 and my doc has been dragging his feet for any increase at all, despite telling be I do great and he wouldn't know what to do without me.  I have given him salary reports, asked for a 7% increase (to cover the last 3yrs), etc, which I think is still on the low side.  I'm just not his priority and I have been looking to get out for a year now...I just came back from Maternity leave.  We are still in limbo despite HR and myself approaching him about the issue.  This specific job sounds great. 


I want at least 100k, plus bonus.  I don't think that is unreasonable, given the reimbursement for ENT, my years experience, etc.  I feel that if I tell them what I currently make, they will not want to offer a lot more than that.  


Any thoughts!?  Sorry so long!




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Just to give you an idea, I'm a new graduate as of December 2016 and have been working for almost two months.  I make $95,000 in a general ortho practice, and so far the workload has not been overwhelming.  It will definitely pick up some, but I'm never on call, and only work M-F generally 8-5, with about 1-1.5 hours for lunch/dictations/paperwork.  I don't know what it's like at your current job and what the cost of living is like where you live, but with 5 years of ortho experience (not to mention the other experience), you should be making much closer to the $120k that EMEDPA stated.

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gosh, I'm underpaid.  I knew I was...but, I haven't found anything better.  I'm in Northern KY and Southern OH.  


I'm hesitant to respond to the email with my current salary because it is so low (given my circumstances)!   I don't like that they asked for my salary history...but, this is the first PA the group has hired.  I just don't want to answer that question.

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I'd be forthcoming about your reason for dissatisfaction with your current benefit package to the new group. That'll set the stage for acquiring the salary you're worth given your experience. You can show salary data that shows you're being severely underpaid so that your new group doesn't try to justify a low ball offer but honestly I would just start from the beginning with ENT salary data. Sounds like the new group doesn't know where they want to start the salary negotiations at and are having you provide the leg work since you're their first PA. I agree with Emed about having them throw you a number rather than the other way around.


Side note, I was the first PA to join my previous position, and I ended up leaving because of this very topic. They didn't know what an appropriate PA package was and I felt like I was having to continuously fight for benefits that should be industry standard. Definitely best to approach the uncomfortable topic head on prior to joining so that everything is transparent from the start.


Congratulations on your new prospective position. 

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Just to add a data point. I'm a new grad 2 weeks working and I'm getting 95 with 36/hr week and 8-10 pts/day Urgent Care. I second what the others said - with that sort of experience you're grossly underpaid. Forget a 7% raise, someone will give you a 50% raise with that experience if you search.

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ENT performs a lot of procedures with high reimbursement (nasal endoscopy, laryngoscopy) as well as quick procedures with lower reimbursement (cerumen removal).  You should be able to command at least 110k or more with your experience.  Your CT/ortho experience is of limited applicability to ENT unless they want you to perform perioperative care, but your ED experience certainly helps.  


Every regional market is different, see what ENT or subspecialties earn in your area and use the above points to negotiate.

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There are two opposed thoughts on who should talk salary first.  I generally side with the "avoid talking about salary period until the job has been offered to you, then make the first move" approach as it sets the tone of the negotiation up front.  If you wait for them to offer you money then they set an unconscious operating range in your head that may not actually have any basis in the reality of what they are willing to offer.  So I'd get the AAPA report, find the 75th percentile salary for your region in ENT with your years of experience, present that as your salary history, then ask for a little bit more.  That sets the negotiation and defines the range for them for what you find acceptable. 


They want you, have gone through the trouble of interviewing you and now is your chance to capitalize on your experience.  You are in a position of relative strength since you don't NEED the job. 

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just one man's opinion but if you speak first you are somewhat committed. Your prior salary is irrelevant to what they want you to do and is generally used as a way to keep an offer low. It is a different job with different requirements so prior salary has no use in the conversation.

I generally politely say "I'd be interested in hearing your best offer." That is what I did for the position I just started a few months ago and got about 30k more than what I was thinking. God luck!

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  • Moderator

another reason to not divulge prior salary....











In a groundbreaking effort to close the wage gap between men and women, Massachusetts has become the first state to bar employers from asking about applicants’ salaries before offering them a job.

The new law will require hiring managers to state a compensation figure upfront — based on what an applicant’s worth is to the company, rather than on what he or she made in a previous position.

The bipartisan legislation, signed into law on Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, is being pushed as a model for other states, as the issue of men historically outearning women who do the same job has leapt onto the national political scene.

Nationally, there have been repeated efforts to strengthen equal pay laws — which are already on the books but tend to lack teeth — but none have succeeded so far. Hillary Clinton has tried to make equal pay a signature issue of her campaign, while Donald J. Trump’s daughter Ivanka praised her father for his actions on this issue when she spoke at the Republican National Convention.


By barring companies from asking prospective employees how much they earned at their last jobs, Massachusetts will ensure that the historically lower wages and salaries assigned to women and minorities do not follow them for their entire careers. Companies tend to set salaries for new hires using their previous pay as a base line.

“I think very few businesses consciously discriminate, but they need to become aware of it,” said State Senator Pat Jehlen, a Democrat and one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “These are things that don’t just affect one job; it keeps women’s wages down over their entire lifetime.”

Federal law already prohibits gender-based pay discrimination, but violations are hard to prove and wage gaps persist in nearly every industry.

Nationally, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the United States Census Bureau. A number of factors affect that statistic, including the career fields women choose, but economists consistently find evidence of pay disparities not offset by other variables.

The Massachusetts law, which will go into effect in July 2018, takes other steps as well to combat pay discrimination. Companies will not be allowed to prohibit workers from telling others how much they are paid, a move that proponents say can increase salary transparency and help employees discover disparities.

And the law will require equal pay not just for workers whose jobs are alike, but also for those whose work is of “comparable character” or who work in “comparable operations.” Workers with more seniority will still be permitted to earn higher pay, but the law effectively broadens the definition of what is equal work.

Other states have also been stepping up their protections. In May, Maryland passed a law that requires equal pay for “comparable” work, and California last year enacted a law that is one of the nation’s strictest, requiring employers to be able to prove that they pay workers of both genders equally for “substantially similar” jobs. It, too, had the backing of important local trade groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce.

And Massachusetts joins at least 12 other states that already require companies to let employees compare notes about how much they are paid.

The distinguishing feature in the Massachusetts law is that job seekers will no longer be compelled to disclose their salary or wages at their current or previous jobs — which often leaves applicants with the nagging suspicion that they might have been offered more money if the earlier figure had been higher. People will still be allowed to volunteer their salary information.


“This is a sea change, and we hope it will be used as a model in other states,” said Victoria A. Budson, executive director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and chairwoman of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. The law in her state, she said, “will help every single individual who applies for a job, not just women.”

Efforts to pass a national anti-secrecy law, the Paycheck Fairness Act, have been repeatedly blocked by congressional Republicans. Opponents, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobbying group, say that such laws would increase litigation and unfairly restrict employers’ compensation decisions.

But proponents of equal pay laws say that attitudes are shifting among businesses. In Massachusetts, for instance, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce was an early and enthusiastic backer.

“That really set the tone,” said State Representative Ellen Story, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill. “Now it wasn’t just members of the women’s caucus, it was business leaders, too, asking for this.”

The Massachusetts attorney general will be in charge of enforcing the law, which also gives workers the right to sue companies directly for violations.

In June, 28 businesses nationwide, including large employers like Gap, Pepsi and American Airlines, signed an Equal Pay Pledge promoted by the White House in which they committed to conducting annual audits of their pay by gender across all job categories.

“Companies that want to do the right thing are seeing that these new laws really pose no threat,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, which tracks the fair pay bills introduced in state legislatures. “It’s absolutely started to pick up. These laws are not just passing in completely blue places,” she added,” they’re passing with bipartisan votes.”

Businesses are also beginning to talk more openly about the often uncomfortable things those audits find. PricewaterhouseCoopers published the results of a pay analysis it did of its British staff. It found a 15.1 percent pay disparity between men and women, and changed its promotion practices to bring more women into senior leadership roles. Salesforce, a cloud software company, says it spent $3 million last year to raise the salaries of female employees to match their male counterparts.

Academic research has illustrated the negative effect pay disparity has not just on individuals, but also on the broader economy. Closing the gender wage gap would lower the poverty rates in every state, according to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Just as important, according to advocates of equal pay, are the changing demographics in boardrooms and statehouses.

Ms. Jehlen, one of the Massachusetts bill’s co-sponsors, recalled the first time she testified about equal pay issues before the legislature’s labor committee: All the members were men.

She and others had taken up the cause on behalf of a group of female cafeteria workers who filed a lawsuit in 1991 seeking parity with male janitors, who did comparable work, the cafeteria workers said, but were paid significantly more. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against the women, saying that the state’s equal pay law was not clear in its definition of comparable work.

This week, one of those cafeteria workers attended the ceremony at which Governor Baker signed the new law.

“For me,” Ms. Jehlen said, “that was the most emotionally powerful thing.”

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The right answer to the question, “What’s your salary range?” is almost always some version of “I’m not telling you.”

The person who gives the first number sets the starting point. But if that’s you, you lose. If you request a salary higher than the range for the job, the interviewer will tell you you’re high, and you’ve just lost money. If you request a salary lower than the range, the interviewer will say nothing, and you’ve just lost money.

So you can only hurt yourself by giving the first number. You want the interviewer to tell you the range for the position, because then you can focus on getting to the high end of that range. But you can’t work to the high point if you don’t know it.

So if there are two good salary negotiators in the room, it will be a game to see who has to give the first number. Fortunately, the company cannot make you an offer without also offering a salary, so the cards are stacked in your favor, as long as you hold your ground.

So here’s a list of responses for all the ways the interviewer will ask you how much money you expect to make. The more times you can fend off the question, the less likely you will have to be the one to give the first number. This works, even if you don’t have the upper hand and you really need the job.

What salary range are you looking for?
“Let’s talk about the job requirements and expectations first, so I can get a sense of what you need.” That’s a soft answer to a soft way to ask the question.

What did you make at your last job?
“This position is not exactly the same as my last job. So let’s discuss what my responsibilities would be here and then determine a fair salary for this job.” It’s hard to argue with words like “fair” and “responsibilities”—you’re earning respect with this one.

What are you expecting to make in terms of salary?
“I am interested in finding a job that is a good fit for me. I’m sure whatever salary you’re paying is consistent with the rest of the market.” In other words, I respect myself and I want to think I can respect this company.

I need to know what salary you want in order to make you an offer. Can you tell me a range?
“I’d appreciate it if you could make me an offer based on whatever you have budgeted for this position and we can go from there.” This is a pretty direct response, so using words like “appreciate” focuses on drawing out the interviewer’s better qualities instead of her tougher side.

Why don’t you want to give your salary requirements?
“I think you have a good idea of what this position is worth to your company, and that’s important information for me to know.” Enough dancing–this is one last attempt to force you to give the number first. Hold your line here and you win.

You can see the pattern, right? If you think you sound obnoxious or obstinate by not answering the question, think of how he feels asking the question more than once. The interviewer is just trying to get a leg up on you in negotiations. If you give in, you look like a poor negotiator, and the interviewer is probably not looking for someone like that.

So stand your ground, and understand that the interviewer is being as insistent as you are. And it might encourage you to know that research shows that if you mirror the behavior of the interviewer, you are more likely to get the job. Sure, this usually applies to tone of voice, level of enthusiasm, and body language, but who’s to say it doesn’t apply to negotiation tactics, too? Try it. You could come away lots richer.



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Thanks everyone!!  This is a fantastic set of responses and I will print them out to keep for later.  I read some of this info after I had already replied to the HR email....however, I stood my ground and asked for $110k.  I was pretty general about my past compensation history.  I am the first PA they will have had (hopefully...if I get the job).  She called back and asked other questions such as my typical weeks vacation, past CME, etc.  I really think they are trying to put together a package and dont know where to start.  The salary I asked for would be a huge jump for me and I feel it is on the higher side for my area for non-ED and urgent care type of work.  Hopefully, I will hear something soon!!!  


Any tips for non-negotiables I shouldn't forget if they come back with an offer?  In my head I have malpractice coverage, licensure and society fees, vacation, cme, bonus structure, maternity policy, cell phone reimbursement....  

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Since you're the first PA they are considering hiring, you might have to do a little education on your own value. That includes throwing out the first offer. I'd take it as a good sign. If you can back up your requests it sounds like they might give you what you're asking for.


Good luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got the job and desired salary for my location.  I used AAPA salary report.  starting 105k plus bonus, annual review with expected increase depending on how i'm doing, 1800k a year for cell reimbursement, fully paid licensure, CME, DEA.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with it.  As I gain experience in ENT, I hope to steadily increase my salary over time.  Thanks everyone for your thoughts.  

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