Expect a fair salary offer...

That probably sounds counter to your negotiations with hospital or practice administrators. You always felt they were low-balling you and you were often right.

In corporate America medium to large companies usually spend considerable time and resources determining salary ranges for specific jobs and the the people in them. The rule of thumb when I was a hospital executive was to try to bring new executives onboard near the mid-point of their position's range - with the range being a bell curve based on market information representing low, high and most usual incomes for competitive organizations - also adjusted to where our organization wanted to be relative to the competition. The idea was that income point allowed the company to increase compensation, pay bonuses and other incentives without working outside the range, but knowing they were in their competitive zone with other similar organizations.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't negotiate. It only means you should know most organization expect to make you a fair - measured externally, and equitable - measured internally, offer. You should negotiate if you are certain competitors are offering more, if it's been recommended you negotiate, i.e. this is our starting point..., or if you believe genuinely the job is worth more based on what you know you can deliver to it - your value proposition.

However, before you begin negotiating, assess the "total package." That's a term you've likely heard and it means the sum of all cash and benefits. I've had clients offered signing bonuses, interim housing allowances, to have existing homes purchased, sweetheart financing for new homes, not to mention more expected stock plans, funded retirement programs, the expectation of annual bonuses of 20 percent to 40+ percent, and all the typical insurances. So add it up before you decide to negotiate. Greedy doesn't sell well.

If you do decide to negotiate, have good reasons. The best reason is the company's return on what you'll bring them. If you negotiate from this position, present hard numbers, and be willing to accept some increase in a bonus, i.e. based on the performance you profess to be able to deliver. And, if the income level is a make or break, don't be afraid to walk away - just remember, you can usually get away with that tactic only once.