Monday, August 6, 2012

On negotiating

A lot of women are notoriously bad at negotiating (though Dr Becca and @SciTriGrrl are really good at it) but it is something that sometimes needs to happen. What I am struggling with at the moment is when you are in the position to negotiate? 

Dr. BrownEyes and I have decided that in a couple of years we want to move back to the home country, and in a few weeks we are going there and while we’re there we are going to talk to a couple labs about potentially working there in the future. The system in the home country is different from that in the US, in that there are few tenure track positions that are advertised for. Most people just sneak their way back into join a research group and from there on build their own line of research and eventually will become independent that way. So people will hire you as a senior post-doc and when you get your own grants you are able to hire more people and build your own research group. However, rumor has it that they will usually only offer you a year if you come without your own grants and if you don’t get grants in that year you’re out… (although I’ve seen examples when due to goodwill of the PI this didn’t happen). So in order to have a couple years to acquire grants, we are starting to network now and hopefully have grants when we are planning to go back. 

To me it feels like I’m not (yet) in a position to negotiate because I don’t have any grant money to bring to the table. I do have ideas and I learned slice electrophysiology which I think has increased my market value. But is that true? Or do I need to figure out what I want and ask for it? For example I will need certain equipment in order to do my experiments. And in case I don’t get my own grant(s) before moving back I want more than that 1 year contract. Do I ask for this already in this first interview? And what are other things I should consider negotiating about? And most importantly: how do you negotiate if you don’t know if and how much grants you will be able to bring?


  1. First of all, you don't negotiate until you get an offer, i.e. once you have already convinced the hiring committee that you have the potential to be a good hire and the potential to bring in grants (if you have none yet). What you should do in this respect is to demonstrate that you know exactly how to go about getting grants in that particular country: sit down and thoroughly read the websites of various funding agencies of that country, find out what agency and what type of grant fits best with your plans and then think of how you would submit a proposal for this particular grant scheme. Then describe this in the chalk talk part of your job talk with exact details of what and how you would apply for, if you got the job (in Europe, you usually don't get a 2-day interview with a separate job talk and chalk talk, but the chalk talk part is expected to be presented briefly as a part of your job talk). See here for what I mean with chalk/job talks and for more aspects of interviewing:

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the advice! I found Dr Becca's awesome advice aggregator yesterday too and it's so useful!