Figuring Startup $$, Part II

Well, it’s just a comment really- and not an entire post. I received an email, from an avid reader of the blog, on my post from yesterday regarding startup $$. This commenter writes:

‘Frankly, we are not seeing the startup numbers you are talking about (>500K). We were not even offered this to begin with, despite our equipment lists etc. being close to this number. State schools especially are financially strapped this year and are not able, at least from what we have seen, to make the big offers that they have been in the past. I hope that your university is still able to provide large startup, but I don’t know that this is the norm across the board, particularly this year. As you say the process is a negotiation, but I would caution the ATBTT letter writer that this year is different.’

Yes, this is something to consider, and 500K will not be the starting offer across the board, for sure. Anyone who has been hiring this year knows that this year IS different, and in more ways than just this one.  Some state schools may be having financial difficulty- some have just frozen their searches all together. But there may also be special circumstances that surround particular hires- for example- a single department attempting to hire multiple faculty in a single search. .. in this difficult financial climate…

And thanks to you all for so many insightful comments on yesterdays post- I hope ATBTT faculty is reading and soaking it all in.


6 thoughts on “Figuring Startup $$, Part II

  1. First post here- thanks for a great blog, BTW, it’s been very helpful in my job search and negotiations, so I feel obliged to describe my situation.

    I’m currently negotiating on my written offer letter from a medium-large NE medical school. I think I have to feel good about it, especially in the current climate: my salary (>$100k) x 3years; salary (no $ limit) for 2 postdocs or techs x 3 years and as many grad students as I can handle; $450k for for equipment; $50k/year x 3 years for supplies, etc. Probably totals around $1.2m when summed, but of course the salaries might be variable.

    Of course there are issues that I’m negotiating on (and did: before the written letter I had asked for funding for 2 postdocs rather than the 1 postdoc they initially offered), but I think I should feel good about the offer in total.

    I thought I should let people know that even in the current economic climate, institutions still know that they have to put up adequate “venture capital” in order to get a return in grant funding later…

  2. Great to post that information meshugena313. I’ve always thought that keeping salary/start-up information in the wraps means that applicants are handicapped compared to the departments doing the negotiation. And, it’s great to know that people are still investing these amounts to get a person set up and started.

    I negotiated my position 10 years ago, so my numbers are not comparable to the current climate (≈450K, relatively unrestricted funds, salary, and a soft promise of help paying for post-docs if I could attract them). But, for others making the comparison to meshugena’s fairly generous package, here are some things to consider:

    1) salary support. My 450K was actually 1M if you took salary support into account. Medical school packages, compared to other places, can look unnaturally big if they include the PI’s salary.
    2) unrestricted funds are good, and worth more than other things.
    3) figure out exactly how support for students/post-docs will work. Will they pay whenever you find a post-doc? How firmly can you get this in writing? You don’t want to get caught in a funding transition.

    The really big and important thing is to ask for what you *need* to meet the goals that will be required for you at the institution you’re joining. And, you should really try to get the scoop on what you need.

  3. That’s why I posted this info, transparency would help everyone. I had to pester a lot of people to get info for my negotiating position (and follow a lot of blogs!), it would be really great to have more salary and startup packages in the open.

    I’m pushing to get more flexibility with my offer, I haven’t signed yet… But I had only one offer, so I have a bit less leverage than I would have hoped. I did already get the offer stepped up from salary for 1 postdoc to 2 salaries. It helps that the chair said to me something along the lines of “it’s time to start the dance” when he gave me the verbal offer.

  4. I actually didn’t negotiate at all. My chair proposed a nice round number, and I said, “Sounds good! I’ll take it!” I was just dumb lucky that the number he proposed was sufficient to get off the ground.

  5. Comrade! In the spirit of transparency talked about above, do you mind sharing any details of your deal? And what you would have asked for if you had negotiated? It would definitely help others in their careers.


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