Faculty Jobs: Reflections on Negotiation

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Now that we're really getting into territory that I'm not an expert on, might I recommend Stanford's Career Center Guide for PhDs? Page 36, in particular, includes "36 Negotiable Items in an Academic Position". This is very useful to read. As is talking to your fellow students who have recently obtained assistant professor jobs, your PhD advisors and/or postdoc mentors, as well as any contacts you may have at similar institutions.

The Professsor Is In also has some posts about negotiating offers: (1) How To Negotiate Your Tenure Track Offer, (2) Negotiating Your Tenure-Track Offer(s), (3) How (Not) to Negotiate a Tenure Track Salary, (4) Stop Negotiating Like a Girl, and (5) Category Archives: Negotiating Offers. The Professor Is In even does negotiation consulting for about $500, here: TPII: Services and Rates.

University in Vermont

So there's lots of lists that include what to negotiate for at a higher level. But what do the items in these lists include? I'm going to list some specific items. These aren't necessarily what I requested, but maybe it'll give you a good feeling for what can be requested? I stuck every item I wanted into a spreadsheet with (1) the item (and quantity), (2) price, (3) frequency needed (once, every year, etc.), (4) URL, and (5) Note/Justification. Just remember, I don't actually know if I did any of this successfully or not ;)

I included everything I could think of needing for my first three years, even if I knew the school would be supplying that (i.e., a desk, student funding, etc.) from alternative sources outside of the start-up package. I told the search committee representative (who was negotiating with administration on my behalf) that we could discuss what items on this list are being provided by other resources, so s/he knew that I was open to items being removed from my proposal.

Do not spend excessive amounts of time finding the best deal, in fact, quote the price of the highest quality version of the item you can find. You might be stuck with that item for quite awhile!
  1. Salary: 5-10% increase. Research says women tend to avoid negotiating, so I made it a point of feminism to request this, no matter how uncomfortable I felt about it (i.e., very). Your justifications are either your qualifications or other comparable offers you have (careful).
  2. Start-up package (first 3 years):
    1. People: Student researchers (number of grad students, undergrads, etc.) during the school year and during the summer, Transcription services, Human subjects payment funds, Research programmer time, Lab managers?, ...
    2. (Equipment) Computers: Laptop and desktop, Laptop docking station, Ergonomic keyboard, Ergonomic mouse, Wrist rests, Monitors, Monitor stands, Powered USB hub, Port adapters, Printer/Scanner, Speakers, Headphone/Mic set, USB Conference phone, Webcam, Pointer/Clicker, Tablet (worked example video lectures), Other things you need to virtually collaborate or give presentations...
    3. (Equipment) Research Equipment: Audio recorders, Video recorder, Tripods, Student/Lab computers, Mobile devices, Mobile device camera stand, Bamboo tablet, 3D Printer, Laser cutter, Eye tracker, Virtual Reality whatever, High speed computation access, Other specialized equipment you need to do your research...
    4. Software: Statistical software & add-ons, Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, Camtasia/Screencast Software (for your flipped classroom), Data Visualization Software, Cloud server storage (AWS?), Subscriptions to SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics, Professional Github Account, Mobile Developer Licenses for you + students, Other software/digital licenses needed to do your research or presentations/publications, ...
    5. Furniture: Ergonomic chair, Ergonomic keyboard, Ergonomic mouse, Adjustable standing desk, Standing mat, Sitting chair, Task lamp, Whiteboard, Rollable Whiteboard, Bulletin board, Lockable filing cabinet (for you and students, if needed), Bookshelves, Stuff you'll need in your lab space...
    6. Space: Office, Lab/Desks for students, Human subjects room/closet, ... (Note: Liberal arts colleges tend to be a bit squishier on the space-front)
    7. Miscellaneous Office: Money for books and articles, Money for printer ink/paper, Research poster printing funds, Money for assorted office supplies, Professional memberships, ...
    8. Travel Funds:
      1. Money for conferences you're presenting at
      2. Money for conferences you're not presenting at (Justification: Networking)
      3. Money for PC meetings
      4. Money for workshops
      5. Money to send students to conferences, etc.
  3. Moving Funds: Get an online quote or two to move your belongings and car. If you're going to drive your car, there's a government reimbursement rate for mileage you can find online.
  4. The Internet recommends other categories: Extended time to consider the offer, Guaranteed junior sabbatical, Summer salary, Starting date, Paid visit to look at houses, Spousal positions, Summer insurance, Purchasing your graduation regalia, etc. etc. Ask around. Do your research. I've emptied my pockets of ideas.
The Professor Is In says to never accept an offer the day you receive it. She also says to request the offer in writing, and not to negotiate before you have that. However, every academic institution I spoke with wanted to know my start-up package and salary demands before writing an official (PDF) offer. So, while theoretically it may make more sense not to negotiate until after the official offer is provided, practically, I'm not sure if that ever happens.

Things To Ask About

  1. Expiration/Extension of start-up package funds
  2. Starting date (expected arrival / expected paychecks)
  3. What happens if I use up all my start-up funds before the 3 years is up?
  4. Faculty housing
  5. Look up benefits/insurance
  6. Know the tenure and sabbatical clock
College in Pennsylvania

Handling Multiple Offers and Various Timelines

Having multiple offers is a great problem to have, but it also introduces a great deal of pressure and stress. Quite simply, the schools on the earlier timeline (November and prior) will interview you in December and produce an offer the week of Xmas. Meanwhile, you're still waiting on campus visit invitations for January and February. Once you get an offer, you should tell any schools you've remote interviewed with in which you're still interested that you've received an offer with a decision deadline of __/__/__.

Thus begins the never ending dragging out! Academic institutions want you to accept within a week of the offer being extended. You can usually pretty easily get this pushed back an additional week. But two weeks won't be enough for the other institutions you've notified to give you a campus visit and offer. So you have two options: (1) begin negotiations or (2) be very grateful and appreciative as you decline the offer. If you do begin negotiations and you continue to get additional offers, then you may be able to get additional time, or decline less ideal options as you go.

In general, you should not decline an offer unless you (1) really don't wish to work there or (2) you've accepted another offer. This was advice I was given, and it nearly killed this honest-to-a-fault lady. So. I don't know what advice to give. These timeline pressures are awful, and I hated it, and I'm glad things magically worked out the way they did. And it's over. Thanks be to the FSM.

College in Upstate New York

BYOV Posts on the Faculty Job Search
  1. Overview of the Assistant Professor Job Search
  2. Applying for Academic Positions
  3. Remote Interviews
  4. Packing for On-Campus Interviews
  5. On-Campus Interview Lessons Learned
  6. Sample Assistant Professor Job Hunt Timeline
  7. Reflections on Negotiation
  8. Descriptive Statistics of my Job Search
  9. Deciding Research or Liberal Arts


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