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I'm a post-doc in some research institute outside of my country of origin. I've already worked in industry before - but in my own country, not where I'm doing research now, nor elsewhere in the world; and salary differences between countries can be quite significant as we all know.

I'm currently in a job search, which - fortunately or unfortunately - has kind of a wide scope. I've gotten a sort of a pre-offer to work for some company, which has relevant sites in two other countries; the pre-offer - made verbally - included the sentence "you'll need to tell me where you'd like to be located physically and what your salary range/expectations are" (I'm not sure whether it was "range" or "expectations" or "requirements" etc.) with two potential locations (never mind exactly where, but it's in the US and Canada).

I'll also mention that this company is in a part of the hi-tech industry in which I've not worked before as an employee. And what do I know about salaries in places X and Y? Especially for researchers with a unique area of expertise who are to have (hopefully) a lot of leeway in their activities? Also, I don't even know if I should be thinking about a single, global, salary range or different ranges for the two different locations.

I'm not particularly worried about asking a little too much or too little compared to what my soliciting company is expecting, but I'm frankly a bit scared of asking 50% of what they were thinking of paying, and also of asking 200% of that.

So, what do I do?

  • How should I find out what the relevant salary could be?
  • Is there some public data, official or unofficial about this?
  • Also, even suppose I knew how much the lowest and highest paid person in some relevant set of positions is paid; how would I go about picking a number?
  • What could be a relevant rule of thumb?

If you need more specific details for an answer, do ask in the comments.

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    Have you tried something like Glassdoor? – skymningen May 29 '17 at 8:13
  • I have now; although it's not immediately obvious what I should be comparing against. Thanks - unfortunately an answer beat you to the suggestion. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica May 29 '17 at 12:58
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How should I find out what the relevant salary could be?

As already mentioned in the comments, you could try use a website like Glassdoor which contains reviews of employers, but also typical salaries. Additionally, you can ask around in your own professional network; perhaps you know someone who knows someone who made a similar move at some point in their career.

Also, even suppose I knew how much the lowest and highest paid person in some relevant set of positions is paid; how would I go about picking a number?

This would be a good way to set a range, which seems to be what they are asking for. In general it is best to delay mentioning a specific number for as long as possible. Also, considering you're moving from academic research to industry, it depends a bit on your background. If your research has given you relevant experience for the job you're currently applying to you can use this to motivate the range that you give.

Also, I don't even know if I should be thinking about a single, global, salary range or different ranges for the two different locations.

I would say this depends on the locations. If they are very different in terms of costs of living (say one is New York, the other is Edmonton) it would make sense to give them two different ranges, or to at least mention that for the more expensive location you'd expect a higher salary range.

  • Great answer. How much people usually get in a particular location for a particular job is affected by supply and demand. If the COL is high it won't help to get 10% more nor are you likely to get it if many people are qualified for the position. How you want to live is another consideration, do you want to support a wife and 4 kids or do you want to marry a Doctor? Small money in a place where it's inexpensive means you can't move to greener and more expensive pastures. Large money permits you to move where things are inexpensive and be even more rich. Balance your values. – Rob May 29 '17 at 19:41

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