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What am I worth?

Laura Whitman whitman at arris.com
Fri Jun 30 13:05:01 EST 1995

In article <dperdue.2.142AC993 at wolfe.net>, dperdue at wolfe.net (Donna O.
Perdue) wrote:

> Hi folks--
>         I have a job interview soon, and would appreciate pointers on how to 
> negotiate the best salary/benefits package.  As a grad student and now a 
> postdoc,  I don't have any experience determining what I'm worth-- in 
> these positions, we just accept the salary offered if we want the position.
>         I'm being interviewed for a research leader position at a
biotech company.  
> How do I find out what other employees at this level were offered and 
> presently earn?  How can I do some homework before I go for the interview? 
>  I'm not a shy person, so I'm willing to ask people point-blank or do some 
> snooping if that is the way to go.  But I also suspect that the
'etiquette' of 
> interviewing might discourage appearing too blatantly nosy about
salary.   The 
> bottom line is, I just want to find out what is fair and reasonable so I know 
> my options.  
>          I would appreciate any advice from folks with experience and/or
> opinions in this matter.  You may either email me or post replies.   I will 
> pass along any  helpful comments in case any other readers could use the info.
>                                                 Thanks in advance
>                                                 D.O. Perdue
>                                                 dperdue at wolfe.net

Just a few quick hints I learned from other grad students who had gone off
to work before me.  These are things I would never have even known about
if someone had not told me.  

1. ALWAYS make a counter offer.  whatever they offer you, ask for more. 
usually around $8,000-10,000 higher depending on how you feel.  they won't
give it to you, but they will usually come back somewhere in between. 
They will NOT rescind the job offer.  The worst they will do is tell you
that the original offer stands and they cannot go any higher.  Usually it
is personnel who decides the salary, and scientists who offer you the
job.  Thus personnel does not have the power to take away the offer, they
can only negotiate slary.  Don't be afraid to do this.

2. Don't forget those stock options!!  Nobody has become a molecular
milllionaire on their salary.  Plenty of people have from stock,
especially at small biotech companies which have a lot of potential.  3000
shares of original genentech stock at 50 cents/share are worth well over
$3 million now(splits, buy outs, etc).  Bargain for more stock as this is
often more flexible than salary.

3. Ask for a moving package.  Many of the larger companies include these
in their regular offers, but some of the smaller companies don't. 
generally if you ask, they will give.  Some average packages include
some/all of the following: 45-60 days in a company rented appartment while
you look for a new place.  Whatever $$ it takes to break your old lease, $
for deposits (rent/utilities/etc), last months rent.  Plane fare out
twice(once to look for a place, once to move out), often for you and your
spouse if you have one.  Actual Moving expenses (furniture, car, etc -
have competent movers take it).  Incidentals, ie:$ for food during travel,
first weeks, etc.

As to how much you are worth, there are several statistical reports as to
what people earn.  in Biotech in the SanFrancisco/Bay Area there is the
Radford Survey.  Surveys all 263(give/take) biotech companies in the area
and compiles statistics on salary/level etc.  this is not a bad place to
look to see where you will fit in.  I am not sure what is available for
universities.  Average slaries I hear of in this area for scientists just
finishing a post-doc are $50,000's to low $60's depending on

Good Luck!!

Laura Whitman
Research Associate
Arris Pharmaceutical Co.
whitman at arris.com

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