Question about starting salary

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Question about starting salary

Postby Shehan9762 » Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:10 pm

Hi all,

I applied recently to a vacant position as a synthetic organic chemist in a small research institute. The hiring manager replied to me and asked me what sort of salary I am looking for before I even I got called up for the first interview. It sounded strange to me as I was expecting a salary negotiation at the late stages of the hiring process. What shall I expect from them ? How much shall I ask for?

Thanks for your advice
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Question about starting salary

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:22 pm

Hi John, I'll give you a brief response of what I think is going on, but I've also asked John Fetzer, our resident expert on chemistry careers, to answer you as well.

My guess is that the hiring manager is not a real experienced interviewer. His phone call requesting salary information, is a rather crude way of determining if you "make the cut" and fit within their guidelines. Answering a question like that can be difficult -- chances are, you are either too high or too low. Why not just ask him what their range is? "Dr. Smith, with a question about salary coming up so early in the process, I can only guess that you are restricted to a certain range, and that at this point it is a part of the screening process. Can I ask you please what that range is? If it isn't of interest to me, I'll give you that feedback immediately." Or, if that is a bit too "weird" for your communication style, you could say "Dr. Smith, I'm earning in the mid-$50's right now, but because I have no idea of what the job entails yet, I can't really project what salary I'd want for your position."

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Question about starting salary

Postby John Fetzer » Thu Jan 06, 2005 10:57 pm

I agree with Dave on the reasons it might have happened this way. Inexperience would be likely in a small research institute.

Rather than replying with an answer of expectations or even one of what you make now *which could give the manager a point to work from in lowballing your salary - offering one somewhat above your current one, but lower than they would have - a vaguer reply would be better. Emphasize that salary and benefits are the compensation package, not just the salary. Mention that research opportunities and other professional aspects would mitigate the circumstances and so on. If he corners you into a range, never give one number, give a very broad range that is not going to pin either of you down. Remphasize that other benefits, like relocation costs, retirement, health and dental care, etc. are important to you and make your range flexible.

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