A very recent PhD attended the Negotiation Process
seminar. This person seemed to be both pleased
This person expressed not being aware of the importance
of receiving a formal offer letter. The list of possible
items that could be negotiated and how to form and
conduct the process were quite valuable. However,
it seems, preliminary research work for this small
company had already begun without pay or even an
Let me indicate that this entry is not focused on the
offer letter and its contents. Please refer to excellent
entries in Sklover Working Wisdom.
This person asked: What should I do now, as I have
not heard from the small start up company entrepreneur?
The verbal job offer for the PhD was $50K/ year.
This is clearly an opportunity to put the negotiating
checklist and negotiating process to work. It is
important to ask for an in person meeting to seek
a written commitment stating starting date, title,
salary and formal benefits and any conditionals
(like, receiving a grant or funding or contracts).
The person should be doing formal due diligence on
this position and its competitors, should be forming
a negotiating team to help define and evaluate, should
be establishing BATNA and all the other process
steps and checklist items.
To start, going to the ACS Salary Comparator can
establish a ground state. It does not seem to me,
besides protests to the contrary, that $50K is a
reasonable starting salary for a full time PhD position.
The 2013 data assessment bore this hypothesis out.
SCENARIO Academic Commercial
Specific area N. E. outside of NYC and Boston
research Contract Profession
80 %ile $83K $109K $114K
60 %ile 73K 96K 100K
30 %ile 61K 80K 83K
10 %ile 51K 67K 70K
There is certainly room to seek a better offer just
The workshop provided 30 other negotiating factors
that in the best interest of this person should be prioritized
before the formal in person meeting.
In addition, a viable back-up plan needs to be developed
in short order.