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Everything is Negotiable: 5 Tips to Successfully Negotiate Your First Job Contract as a Physiotherapist

With over 1,500 physiotherapist job vacancies across Canada, it’s likely you’ll receive multiple job offers when coming out of school. Although this is a blessing, it can also be a curse. Choosing the right job offer for you can feel overwhelming.

How do you empower yourself by increasing your knowledge and understanding of offers, compensation models, and potential risks and rewards? What questions do you need to ask and how do you speak to the value you bring to place yourself in a position to negotiate and successfully land the best job for you?

In this article, we share 5 tips to help you negotiate your first physiotherapist contract with confidence.

1. Know Your Value and See if It Aligns with the Owner’s

An employer will invest in you if you are willing to invest in them. Understanding what the owner/company values will allow you to speak to what you can offer them. Start with understanding their purpose and the impact they seek to achieve with both their clients and their business. Then, be prepared to speak to the value you bring to the table as a contributor in their practice. Alignment between their purpose and yours is necessary for both to be successful and provides a space for them to see you as the ideal candidate. This gives you negotiating power.

2. Understand the Contract Terms

Most employees and independent contractors don’t take the time to understand contract terms, and what they mean, before signing. Your contract is a binding agreement that governs the working relationship between you and your employer. This includes what happens when your employment ends, along with certain conditions which can outlive your employment. Elements of a contract, such as total compensation, non-compete, and termination clauses are negotiable, which can make a large difference both during your employment and when your contract ends.

3. Know the Compensation Model and Your Earning Potential

Compensation is not as simple as a number you earn each month/year. Understanding the different pay models physiotherapists are offered, along with what the total compensation components will be, can help you negotiate and choose right when weighing different offers. Ultimately, you want your job to meet your financial goals.

A common compensation model in private practice is known as a ‘fee split’. A 50% split may seem enticing, when compared to a 45% fee split. However, the are several factors which can lead to better financial and benefit outcomes, even with a lower split. Some of these factors may include the impact of an administration fee applied by the business, or additional perks such as bonuses, pension/RRSP contributions, health benefits, education allowances, and paid time off. Knowing how to calculate your total compensation, and match them to your financial goals, will put you in a stronger position to negotiate. Start with your ideal end state in mind. What, to you, is a target you would like to make at the end of a day? Work backwards from there to determine your take home earnings, and other added benefits.

It’s also important to ask your future employer what your total compensation growth looks like in the future, and what you need to do to achieve this.

4. Understand the Difference Between Independent Contractor and Employee

When considering your job offers, weighing the benefits and the risks of starting as an independent contractor (IC) versus an employee (EE) can be challenging to navigate. Working as an independent contractor may result in giving up value such as benefits, compensation, and access to growth and development opportunities. On the other hand, you may enjoy the benefits of working with multiple employers and realizing the tax advantages that come along with being an independent contractor. Either way, it’s important to understand the differences in these working relationships, and what your responsibilities are under both scenarios.

5. Assess the Total Rewards

Compensation is a component of total rewards. However, the value an employer can provide extends well beyond the financial earnings you take home. These can include health benefits, work-life benefits, performance recognition, professional development and resources, which can improve your efficiency and effectiveness overall. Determining what is important to you will help you consider the different offers and ask the right questions.

At the end of the day, knowledge is power. This is especially true when negotiating something as important as your job contract.

Need additional guidance? At ELEVATE, we will help you prepare, negotiate, and successfully land your top choice offer.  Schedule a free consultation with us to get started or learn more.  We typically work with new clinicians through 2 hours of coaching to help them secure their first job contract with confidence.

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