How to Negotiate and Accept a Non-Academic Job Offer

In this webinar on “How to Negotiate and Accept a Non-Academic Job Offer” Jennifer Polk, PhD, hosts Marquita M. Qualls, PhD. Marquita is Founder and Principal at Entropia Consulting. She has a PhD in chemistry, but her passion is in industry and helping graduate students and PhDs thrive in new careers.

Negotiating as a PhD

Negotiating can be tricky and intimidating for many, especially PhDs who are transitioning from academia to industry-level positions. Graduate students and PhDs often grapple with the myth that “they don’t have enough experience to negotiate,” says Marquita. But this just isn’t true. All of us have a particular skill set that makes us valuable to employers; unfortunately, not many of us stop and think about how valuable these skills may be.

In order to figure out your worth, you have to first think about what you want out of a job. The first step in negotiating, then, is to establish some priorities. Do you have an ideal location you want to be in? Do you want more money? Do you want more vacation time in your next job?

Marquita compares this part of the negotiation process to looking at a restaurant menu. “When you go to a restaurant,” she says, “you’re looking at a menu, studying it, and deciding what you want. And that’s the same thing that you have to do with a job.”

Preparing for Negotiations During the Interview Process

Preparation is also critical during negotiations. Not only should you know what experiences you bring to a company, you should also know what competing companies would offer someone with your unique set of skills. Marquita suggests making a list of your skills and getting friends to help you identify your strengths and competencies. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Friends can often help us see skills that we don’t see ourselves. After researching salaries for your particular job and geographic location, talk to people in similar positions to gain more insight about what’s reasonable to ask for.

And finally, prepare a “walk away point.” “All too often, we go into a negotiation ill-prepared because we don’t have our walk away point — and it weakens us,” states Marquita. A large part of this pitfall is that PhDs overlook the value of their experience. We assume that bringing up our accomplishments during a negotiation is pretentious, so we fail to show how they connect to our request. Marquita suggests we re-think this perception: “Don’t underestimate yourself – you’re not bragging; you’re identifying what your value is.”

In short, knowing what we want, what our value is, and what our worth is lets us know what a desirable response to our request should sound like. Hint: it should be one that meets what you’re asking for. If not, feel free to walk away.

If you would like to hear more from Marquita, you may be interested in renting the video below for her full webinar.

Beyond the Professoriate Community Members attend events like this for free each month and access replays free for two weeks. Ready to launch your next great career? Join the Online Career Hub for PhDs.

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