Negotiating a possibly fixed salary

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Negotiating a possibly fixed salary

Postby James Tyler » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:21 pm

I have been invited to interview at a university for a stem cell technician position. The job description had a salary code and I looked it up and the position only pays 32k per year. I currently make $22/hour, which is the equivalent of about 45k per year, but I work in an industry position. I looked up a salary for a similar position at a different university close by, and the salary was 36k per year. The university that I’m interviewing at also has research assistant positions, which pay more, so the technician position is a lower position.

I want to be paid at least 36k per year and was wondering how I’d go about bringing it up if they ever discussed salary with me. In academia, are the salaries usually fixed (I live in California)? Would they possibly be willing to go up to 36k? What would be the highest they would possibly be willing to go? Do you ever bring up pay during the first interview when they ask if you have any questions at the end?
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Re: Negotiating a possibly fixed salary

Postby Derek McPhee » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:59 pm

They might not want/be able to give you that kind of bump for that particular position, but you might want to explore if they will reclassify it to the higher level
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Re: Negotiating a possibly fixed salary

Postby P.C. » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:52 pm

Just call the interviewer and state that you will not consider interviewing unless the position is on par salarywise with your current salary... why waste your time and others? And why would you want to sabotage your own career by taking a huge cut in salary ? Particularly if the job is on soft money...
Something is wrong with this whole scenario you are laying out.
If you took this kind of cut, and moving back to academia, a reviewer of your salary history would think you were someone to avoid. Unless the position were funded by a line item in the budget, I would not recommend going to work for academia. Most of those positions are on soft money. Which often means no retirement benefits, low salary, and
a temporary job position. Given the cutbacks that seem very possible in the discresionary part of the federal budget, you should be very cautious about going to a grant funded enterprise. I would strongly you consider the funding source very strongly if you decide to interview and clearly work this out if given a job offer. Academics can be very informal and careless about their hiring and often unclear about the terms of employment (temporary vs regular, benefits, pay.). The mind set is often that every employee is a trainee and pay and benefits adjusted downward accordingly.
Last edited by P.C. on Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:15 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Negotiating a possibly fixed salary

Postby James Tyler » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:30 pm

Derek- how would you recommend that I go about asking them to reclassify it to a higher level? Should I mention it at the end of the interview when they ask if I have any questions?

P.C.- why would it cause problems if I took a job with a much lower salary than I have now? Why would future employers want to avoid me? Does the hiring manager review salaries before making a decision?

If it matters, I don’t have much experience. I worked in a lab as an undergraduate, then went to grad school and dropped out. After grad school, I got a job about 6 months later, where I have been working since May 2012. So I have about 8 months of “real” work experience.
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Re: Negotiating a possibly fixed salary

Postby David Taylor » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:05 pm

So how is the $32K equivalent to $45K - is this based on location?

In my experience, salary levels ('codes') are generally presented as a range - this allows organizations to set standards for raises and offers room for salary negotiations. Unless you've found the levels published on the employer's web site, I wouldn't necessarily put too much weight into them.

$4K isn't necessarily too much to negotiate when you get an offer. Is your 8 months and/or grad experience relevant to the position? You'll have to sell your skills.
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Re: Negotiating a possibly fixed salary

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:17 pm

There's too much focus on salaries here. The person who is successful will not focus as intently as you are on a salary figure. People in H/R, and recruiting organizations, consider this a red flag. Salary is important but it is number 3 or 4, and not number 1. So, I agree with PC that there's something missing from this equation.

I wouldn't want to go back to an academic lab after being in industry. That will be a constant thorn in your side in future interviewing. And, you could get "stuck" and have to do the whole darn academia-to-industry shuffle once again. The quality of the work will likely be good on both sides of that equation, but if you plan a career in industry, don't backtrack from that,

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