From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

November 2021
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Job Offer. Low Salary, No Offer Letter
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations)
Posted by: site admin @ 1:10 pm

A very recent PhD attended the Negotiation Process
seminar.  This person seemed to be both pleased
and concerned.

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
offer letter.

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
                                              Research       Services
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
in this. 

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.

One Response to “Job Offer. Low Salary, No Offer Letter”

  1. site admin Says:

    A colleague contacted me recently about negotiating a
    part-time pre-lecture review script for an online chapter
    in a technical field on a chapter by chapter basis.

    Can he negotiate? What should he ask for? What other
    things might he consider? he asked.

    I contacted him and (1)referred him to two people I hold
    in high regard who have done technical reviews of texts
    to speak with about rates. One was a full professor with
    many years experience and the second is a lecturer who
    has recently published a textbook.

    In addition, I offered several legal concerns
    (2)”You are a consultant on the project and thus can be
    compensated in a variety of ways besides a end of project
    fee. It is possible to ask for an advance and good faith
    payments. The length of time to complete the project
    can be negotiated.
    (3)What other things would you like as forms of
    (4)there are general negotiating best practices
          First might be to thank them for the offer and that
    you are taking it seriously.
          Are there legal restrictions and requirements that
    would prevent you from pursuing your personal goals?
          Are there any conflicts of interests that might be a

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