Sometimes, negotiating with a prospective employer is easy. "In fact, I wrote my own ticket," says K.C. Nicolaou, a chemist lured from the University of Pennsylvania after being courted by the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif., and the University of California, San Diego, for a dual appointment. "Essentially, [Scripps and UC-San Diego] did exactly what I asked them to do." It didn't hurt his position, he recalls, that "at the same time I was recruited by Yale."

Clearly in the catbird seat, Nicolaou negotiated from a position of strength and chose a dream situation: two new labs, colleagues he respected at UC-San Diego, the opportunity to hire colleagues he wanted at Scripps, and, virtually, carte blanche to determine the direction of a new chemistry department at Scripps--on top, of course, of salary and benefits he describes as "very generous." Not bad.

Yet hammering out an agreement doesn't always go...

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