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salary negotiation

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:52 pm
by Eileen
Hello all,

I have recently accepted an offer for a scientist position from a good company in the SF bay area. We are in salary negotiations now. I think the company and I will be able to come to an equitable agreement, but the initial offer was on the low end of the pay scale that was put forward during the interview process. The company representative said that I didn't have the "salary history" that would justify a higher pay rate. My salary history is that of a graduate student stipend, and then an NIH postdoc salary. I tried to explain that it wasn't appropriate to use those positions as salary history because they were still part of my scientific training rather than independent scientist level positions. What more could I have said? What are your ideas about how to handle that question? Do you think it was appropriate of the company to use my salary history, such as it was, to justify a lower offer?

Thanks in advance for your input.

salary negotiation

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 1:12 pm
by Dave Jensen
Ellen, you are absolutely correct. It is TOTALLY and COMPLETELY unfair to use the salary of a grad student and postdoc to compute the starting industry wage. If it is a credible employer, they should have guidelines for starting salaries of other people with a similar training. They need to refer to their own salary guidelines to make the decision about the offer, not your salary history.

In your position, all you are requesting is a COMPETITIVE wage, one that falls into line with other companies and other employees at the same firm with similar backgrounds. Ask them what this number would be . . . "What are other people with similar years of postdoc earning at XYZ Company?", or "How does the Radford Survey indicate that my position should be compensated?" -- This survey is only available to employers, but they all know what it is and they subscribe to it. It offers guidelines on salary offers by showing the average salaries in the Bay Area amongst hundreds of other firms.

If you don't get the salary you are looking for, ask if you can have a six-month salary review instead of waiting till the next year for an increase. They may just be hesitating because you have no 'track record' yet with them, but in six months you will.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.

salary negotiation

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 3:37 pm
by Bill L.
Hi Eileen,

Salary should be calculated in relation to previous experience and present responsibilities, not in relation to previous compensation.

Your salary is compensation for the work that you are going to do for them in the future. The work that they require you to complete has a particular market value. Also, you're being paid for your academic training, professional experience, techinical skills, and whatever else you brought to the table.

I agree with Dave in that they are probably putting you in the low-middle part of the salary range because they are concerned about payment equity among employees in your range and about your track record. But if that's the case, they should say that and you should negotiate in good faith from there.

But if you follow their (faulty)logic of payment in relation to previous salary, you will open yourself up to a lifetime of making less than the scientist next to you.

Good luck negotiating!

Bill L. & Naledi S.

salary negotiation

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 12:10 pm
by Susan
Seems to me that even asking about your salary when you are coming in from a grad program or postdoc is a bit ridiculous. Why would companies do that? Wouldn't it be smart advice not to say anything at all about your past salary - to somehow hide the issue and not even let the discussion get started? I don't know if there is a way to do that, but I'd be very offended if a company asked me this and then used the information against me in the offer process. Don't the books say to "keep quiet" about salary?


salary negotiation

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2004 1:39 pm
by Jonathon W

Salary negotiation is always a difficult situation. I am undergraduate student with a double major in Molecular Biology and Genetics and currently taking a Business Communication class. We have covered the topic of salary negotiation in our class. What I was taught is that you always what to know the pay range for such positions that you are applying for and what you would be willing to accept, immediately and down the line once you have had a chance to demonstrate your value to the company. I believe that it is best to indicate a desirable range and that you are flexible and that your first and most important interest is helping the company and proving yourself. Keep in mind that employers, including academic employers, have pre-set salaries/ranges that are locked in. Also, for positions such as department chairs, keep in mind that such positions often require long-term previous success within the department before being elected to the chair position. For academic jobs, it would be a good idea to talk with someone in your department about your long-range goals

Some additional advice to give you is to call a professional organization to which you belong for information, and also, ask your instructors or people you know who work for another company in a similar position.

The above information are some notes taken from the Business Communication class.

P.S. Thank you, Dave Jensen, for this great and informational forum.

salary negotiation

PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:45 am
by Dennis

Have you looked at to compare your job description/title with what is on this salary survey site? It may help. Then you need to determine where your fall in the percentile range. Are you better than half of the candidates out there? If so ask for higher than the 50 percentile salary. If they want to hire you, I would guess they think you are better than half of the candidates.

Good Luck.

salary negotiation

PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 12:57 pm
by Dave Jensen
Please watch that site very carefully. is reputed to be as much as 35-40% off one way or the other, depending upon the job and the location. They know very little, in particular, about science jobs. Just an FYI,


salary negotiation

PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 7:34 pm
by Kelly Ann
Ok, so knowing that online surveys give an exagerrated salary ... how does one know what to expect. When I am asked my salary expectations in an interview, I feel like I am beating around the bush by saying within "the expected range given my experience and education." However, I hate applications that require you to specify a number. It is something that is soo important but something nobody wants to talk about. It seems to be a bit too personal of a question to ask someone in an informational interview and even the HR people shy away from the subject. I kind of know what to expect (from past experience and observation) but I am wondering if anybody out there has anymore recommendations.

Thanks for continuing this thread.

salary negotiation

PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:30 pm
by Dave Jensen
Despite how much you don't like beating around the bush, that is your job. Their role is to bounce numbers off you, your goal is to not be the first one to pass along a number. (On applications, just leave "Salary Expectations" blank or write "Competitive". On "Present Earnings" you will be expected to have a number on the form.)

Why not ask people in informational interviews the question, but make it less specific to them, such as "How would you suggest that I answer the question about my desired salary?" and "What would the average salary offer be for a [Research Scientist] coming right out of a postdoc?" . . . I think you are being a little gun-shy about money questions. You'll find people in industry are a lot more "open" about this than you'd think. I ask twenty people a day what their salary is (that is my job!) and I've had one person react negatively to that in five years. It just is a part of life in industry; people are much more used to the whole salary discussion process.

And one thing they all seem to agree upon . . . when you are in an interview environment, you don't pass along the first number. You wait for the other party to name a figure.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.

salary negotiation

PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 11:36 am
by Michael
This idea of asking for salary history or base salary seems to be prevalent nowadays.
It is even more so with companies asking that you apply "Online" at their website.
I've been looking at pharmceutical companies and my experience is that most of their "online application forms" ask for base salary(which is tantamount to salary history) and salary expectations. In my opinion, companies HR do this to weed-out/screen out. How can one give salary expectation when interview has not occurred. Unfortunately, I think they lose out on good candidates.
My situation is similar, I've done postdoc in the past; I've also recently completed another Doctorate degree.
Like more thoughts on this issue.