We have been asked numerous times about how we go about negotiating contracts. How we have been able to land salaries 13-30% higher than the initial offers. In order to properly address this topic we are going to do a three-part series. The reason for this is straight forward. There is no magic to getting paid more!
This 3 part series covers the following topics:
Now that you have developed you skills and have true value as a clinician it is time to move on to the next step in getting paid what you are worth.
2. Communicating your value
The first step in communicating value is the resume. A good resume is a MUST, especially for the traveling therapist. Building, or re-building, a resume can be a daunting task. To make your life easy we have provided you with a simple outline to streamline this process and quickly communicate your worth.
One sentence that summarizes your goals. Some experts say this is archaic but I strongly feel that this is the polish that will make the whole resume shine. Plus, for travelers, you do not include cover letters with a resume submission so it is a great way to let your voice be heard.
This is my actual objective that I currently use on my resume.
Seeking a physical therapy position with a mission oriented organization committed to team development and outstanding evidence based patient care.
No, it is not perfect, but it is straightforward and patient focused which sets up the rest of the resume nicely.
Summary of Qualifications:
This is your chance to hit the high-lights of your resume. HR departments do not have time to sort line by line through piles of resumes so this is a quick 5-8 lines of what makes you perfect for their job.
Again, this is another chance to stand out. DO NOT SIMPLY LIST JOBS! Most hiring managers do not care how many different outpatient clinics you have been to and in what city they were located. They care about overall years of experience, and what you ACTUALLY DID in those jobs. Include a sentence describing your role at each position. Be creative and make each one unique. Here is one of mine as an example:
Physical Therapist April 2014-August 2014 Horizon Home Health Care, Orinda, CA
Managed complex home-bound patients in inner city Oakland, California.
Coordinated care plans with a multi-disciplinary team.
What makes this work so well is it focuses on the unspoken challenges of home care in the inner city, mentions complex patients (implying that I can handle tough pathologies) and also ties in with my Objective statement by discussing my abilities to work with others in a team. All of these are qualities any boss would want.
You have these qualities too! Now you need to find your own way to describe it succinctly.
One other note here. Physical Therapy is not my first profession. I was a High School teacher for a few years. Since I can use that to my advantage in an interview I include it in this section, but only briefly. Now, if you were in a profession with little to no carry-over to therapy then it does not need to belong.
This section needs little explanation. List the important ones, hopefully they are similar to the ones I describe here.
Again, this is a clear cut section but if you have room it is nice to include the title of your doctoral research project and any honors or leadership positions you held in school.
Undergrad only gets one line for where you went and your major. Lets be honest, it doesn’t matter much anyways.
If you do not have any presentations to list then stop reading this and go write one! This is a fantastic way to stand out in a crowd. Clinicians who can give community presentations are instantly regarded as confident and competent candidates, which is precisely what HR is looking for.
Joining the APTA is a must. I wont go into details why, but the quick and dirty of it is that without them our practice acts would be ripped to shreds by politicians and lobbying bodies of competing professions who will remain nameless here.
Besides the APTA include any other professional groups but more importantly any therapy or healthcare related activities you have participated in. This is a great place to include the health fair you volunteer at or sports physicals you assisted with last fall.
Upon request…nothing else needed.
Remember that as a traveler most interviews are completed over the phone where HR managers are unable to read body language or facial expressions to determine how you will act with patients and how confident you will come off while representing their company. Use the resume as a way to set the stage for implanting that impression in their mind early on.
Another tip about resumes is to be diverse in your experience. In the rapidly homogenizing world of physical therapy it is difficult to stand out from the herd. Even if you have no desire to work in Acute Care or Home Health long term taking a PRN or part time position in that setting for a few months not only makes you more marketable as a traveling PT, but it shows that you are competent in many areas, again, a trait hiring managers look for.
First is first. As a traveler it is important that you are not only aiming to impress a company, but also trying to see if you even want this job! Be prepared to walk away. As we have discussed before there are 3 reasons why companies need travelers.
1. They are growing too fast
2. They are located in a less than desirable location
3. They are a sinking ship of an organization.
Your goal is to feel out why they are looking for, and willing to pay for, a traveling therapist. Ellen and I have turned down a few job offers because we were uneasy about the company or the location we would be living in.
Secondly you must demonstrate a “calm competent confidence.” Personally my preferred way to do this is through asking questions. I feel that by turning the responses back towards the hiring manager is a subtle way to shift the power dynamic of the conversation and to help me feel as though I am in the drivers seat.
There are two different types of questions I rely on in interviews:
1. Questions to Demonstrate Confidence
Notice the difference between these two questions:
“Will I be supervising any PTA’s?” vs. “How many PTA’s will I be supervising?”
Both questions will yield the same information that I am trying to obtain, but the second statement sounds as though it comes from a person who understands the position and has no problems fulfilling the job description. Even if there are no supervisory responsibilities with the position, you have now come across as a prepared and confident clinician who is more capable than the job requires.
2. Questions to Demonstrate Operational/Factual Knowledge
Asking “nuts-and-bolts” type questions help to illustrate your vast experience. Again, compare these two questions:
Both questions will get the same answer, but this time the first question clearly demonstrated that you are at least familiar with some of the EMR options out there.
Bonus Tip: Do your research on the clinic you are interviewing with. If possible read the bios of your potential co-workers and mingle into conversation how you are excited to work with someone with XYZ expertise.
How to handle the standard interview questions
Every single interview will have the “what is your biggest weakness?” question. Every. Single. One. So, why don’t you have a home run answer already scripted out? All of us know how to answer this (for those of you who don’t, you need to be sincere but also demonstrate a track record of a thoughtful effort to improve upon this flaw), so don’t let it blindside you when it matters most.
Take 10 minutes, or 5 if you use Google, and list out the most common interview questions. Then script out answers. Remember: confident, knowledgable, humble.
How to demonstrate “Added Value”
So far you have been able to establish that you are a competent clinician, you have confidence – which patients will like, and that you are experienced – which means you will require little training to get up and running independently. Many times this is enough to land you the job. Congrats!
Now, demonstrating “Added Value” is the icing on the cake that transforms you from “Steve the new staff therapist” into “Steve, exciting new clinician who is going to transform our total joint program!” Both of these guys will get the job they want, but only one will be able to get the job they want at the pay point they are hoping for.
So how do you do this? The possibilities are endless. As you have already established that you are an amazing PT, you can draw from your years of experience working with elite athletes and hint at the possibility of helping to build a reputation as the “go-to sports therapy clinic.” Or possibly you have done some marketing in the past and would be excited to help manage the social media for your clinic. There are so many directions to take this you just have to be creative and give it some forethought.
I once spent half of an interview with the two owners of a home health company in California discussing an ACL prevention program that I initiated while working at an outpatient orthopedic clinic in Alaska. We discussed how I came up with it, and how I taught the coaches as well as the players, etc. etc. Once it was all over I got a call from our recruiter with a job offer considerably higher than he had initially said was their pay range. He said that out of the blue the clinic owners offered to pay a higher premium because they wanted to be sure to secure me for the position. Mind you, ACL prevention has NOTHING in common with home health! I demonstrated that, while not even directly applicable to the position, there was an intangible added value to having me as part of the team.
Final quick tip: Smile! – Yes, even on the phone
There is plenty support for this one as it is referred to in multitudes of call center training manuals and even the legendary Dale Carnegie talks about its benefits. A smiling person sounds happier and more successful! That is you!
Now that you have the resume of an All Star and just rocked out your interview it is time to move on to contract negotiations. Check out Part 3 for details on how to finally get paid what you are worth!
Call for comments: Do you have any rock star interview tips? Share Below!
Written by: Dr. Stephen Stockhausen PT, OCS