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I am putting together an application for an academic position that has been advertised as either level D or E at an Australian university (equivalent to full professor or chair professor in the US). The selection criteria are slightly different, depending on the level at which I apply, and I need to specify which level I am applying for in my application. I would happily accept the role if offered at level D, but would also be a credible candidate at level E.

My publication record and h-index are comfortably on par with existing level E professors in the department, my grants and funding record is good, and I would also bring the industry experience and leadership skills that they are looking for. On the other hand, I am not a shoe-in for the role, even at level D: my research interests are only just within scope for the department and I have limited teaching experience. It's a ("Group of Eight") research-focused university, so teaching is likely to be secondary to research, but it is still a factor.

I am guessing that they would not consider me at level D if I apply at level E, or vice-versa. Australia has less of a culture of salary negotiation than the US. I have thought about addressing both sets of selection criteria and leaving it up to them, but worry that might simply be annoying.

What is your advice?

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    Call the department head and ask. – JeffE Jul 27 '16 at 3:46
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    added "in Australia" to title as presumably the answer is Australia specific? e.g., the A to E system; how pay is heavily tied to level rather than negotiated; how promotions between levels work; etc. feel free to remove if you don't like – Jeromy Anglim Jul 27 '16 at 6:54
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It is my understanding that when a position is advertised so broadly, i.e. D or E, they are likely looking for someone really big. That being said, I think they are likely looking for someone at the level E, but would consider a strong candidate at level D.

If it were me, I would evaluate my qualifications and fit with both D and E positions honestly, and then put all my effort into whichever feels like the best fit.

If the only motivation to try for E is salary, and you probably fit better for D, then you are likely risking both.

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You should be very careful in deciding whether you would be happy at the lower level. Australian academic levels are quite distinct, and transitioning to a higher level is not a simple case of applying for a promotion: you essentially need to have your role re-graded, and the process can take 2 years.

There are typically very few full professors (grade E) in a School or Department, and it is a big deal when a new position is offered at a Go8 university. Expect a lot of competition from people with international reputations in the field. Often potential candidates are approached by representatives of the university, so if you are considering an advertised position be aware that you may well be an outsider to done prime contenders.

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The level is mostly about your salary floor. It sounds like level D is sufficient money to satisfy you. I don't see why you would increase your risk by applying for level E.

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    It isn't entirely about salary floor. It's also about future salary prospects: if appointed at a salary near the top of the level D range, I would need to pass a major hurdle to get pay rise (a promotion case involving reference letters by eminent leaders in the field and review by the vice chancellor, amongst others). If appointed at the bottom of level E, subsequent pay rises would not require passing such a hurdle. To be honest, there's also the matter of prestige and position title. – Significance Jul 27 '16 at 1:56

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