Negotiating Your Startup

Negotiating Your Startup

Negotiating Your Startup

Michael Walter

January 22, 2020

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GL Director Mike Walter led a Postdoctoral Development Workshop on the subject of Negotiating a Startup. 

Takeaway points: 

  • Negotiations are a partnership.  You are joining a team.  Do not be combative; be positive.  Everyone wants you to succeed. 
  • Prior to your interview, research the department and all the people with whom you will be working.
  • Wait until you have an offer before you begin to negotiate the finer points.
  • Take your time, be patient, confident, positive, sincere, and honest. 
  • Be unselfish:  suggest win-win situations, such as sharing resources.
  • Factors affecting your negotiations:  research vs teaching; private vs public; large vs small.  You cannot negotiate intellectual and organizational benefits. 
  • Question if your salary is funded through a research grant, is it at risk? 
  • Chart your needs, both for the present and in the future.  You need to work towards your tenure from the start. 
  • Identify the equipment without which you cannot conduct your research. 
  • Make your list of needs detailed, down to power sources and furniture!  Justify what you need in an excel list.  You won't get everything at one time.
  • Request funds to outsource your data while you are building your lab.  Include funds to visit other campuses/labs to gather your data. 
  • Negotiate your teaching time so that you have time to get your research done.  Can you negotiate a co-teacher?  Use a previous professor's coursework?
  • Biggest line option on a budget are people.  Will you need to hire a technician?  Can you negotiate a PhD student to help you, or a postdoc?  Can you share a technician from another department?  Communicate your needs with the people in your department.
  • GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING, including square footage for your lab space, the office you want, the exact time your tenure-track begins.  Once you obtain the offer verbally, email them back stating what you understood from the phone call. 
  • Other important details:  parking, house-hunting visit, moving expenses, day care, holiday time, teaching requirements.  It is recommended that only after you have received your offer should you discuss possible assistance with partner hire.  If you are asking for your partner to be hired at the same department, consider discussing it earlier.  This issue can be a very delicate and divisive issue.