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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Offer! Offer!

That's right, dudes and dudettes, I just heard from the dean at Decent Regional U, making me a job offer. On the tenure track. At a place where I think I'd be pretty happy. What the hell?

But now I need your help, dear readers. I need to do this whole "negotiating" thing for my salary and start-up funds, and I'm not sure how to go about it. I've been emailed a copy of the terms that the dean outlined over the phone, but in our conversation he did not indicate that anything was negotiable except the amount of my start-up money (which would be determined based upon the specific needs I outline when I get back to him).

So. . . does that mean that salary ISN'T negotiable, or just that one has to ask? (At Small College, by contrast, the President said straight-out that there could be some wiggle room on salary if I were made an offer.) My instinct is to go ahead and ask for $4-5K more than the figure the dean gave me, but I want to make sure that I'm not committing a horrible faux pas by doing so. And does it matter whether these negotiations are conducted over the phone or via email?

Finally, what the hell is a reasonable amount for start-up funds in the humanities? My job placement officer at INRU helpfully outlined a normal range for new hires at INRU. . . but what's normal there is, uh, in the five figures. I'm kinda thinking that a public comprehensive school is not working in that range. On the other hand, I do genuinely need to spend some time in the UK for at least the next two summers, and that gets expensive fast.

Any thoughts welcome--especially from those of you who I know have just gone through this process!

link | posted by La Lecturess at 1:50 PM |


Blogger Prof. Me commented at 2:36 PM~  

Wow -- this is FANTASTIC news! Many, many congratulations to you on a great job offer. Are you still within driving distance to GW Boyfriend?

Don't have any good advice on the negotiating thing, since every place I interviewed at said the salary was negotiable (within reason, of course). And on the start-up fund issue, mine was non-negotiable.

I'm so happy for you!

Blogger Terminaldegree commented at 2:42 PM~  

I don't have any advice on this one (but I'll be reading your comments in hopes of learning from other commenters!).

But anyhow....

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Wonderful news. :)

Blogger Ianqui commented at 3:17 PM~  

Congratulations! What wonderful news!

I can't really speak for the humanities, but I'll tell you what my dean said when I was first interviewing and then offered this position. He knew I wanted a very expensive piece of equipment, and so when I asked him if it would be likely to get a start up big enough to buy it, he said, "Well, ask for as much as you want. The worst that can happen is that we say no." I ended up getting every penny.

I don't know about the salary issue, though. I'll be curious to hear the answer. One thing you might want to do is check at the Chronicle's AAUP Faculty Salary Survey and make sure you're where you want to be in the category for assistant profs at your school.

Blogger Margo, darling commented at 3:31 PM~  

Huge Congratulations!!!! I did a terrible job bargaining for my salary and still regret it almost every day, but I don't know how I would have done it differently and have no advice.

But if DRU is anywhere near Chicago, please, please, please let's be friends in real life.
xoxoxo Margo

Blogger Dr. Virago commented at 3:49 PM~  

Hooray! I'm so happy for you!

I was an idiot and didn't even know I could negotiate anything when I got my job, so I don't know if I can help you there. But, I can tell you that my public DRU gave me $6000 in start-up funds, if that helps. Be sure to ask them if they can be used for moving or not. Apparently mine weren't supposed to be, but they forgot to put that in my letter, so they had to let me use them for moving expenses, which I did. I was moving from thousands of miles away with lots of stuff, so I needed that.

Also, find out if your office computer is a) automatically supplied and b) any good. Ours are woefully out of date and rarely updated/replaced. So if you want to buy yourself a new home computer and need to buy a new office computer, too, then budget for that in start-up funds.

And again, hooray!

Anonymous Dr M commented at 3:49 PM~  

A few years ago I interviewed at a branch of a big midwestern state U. and they offered new professors $5000 startup funds.

Blogger phd me commented at 3:59 PM~  

This is GREAT news, LL. Congratulations!!! I'm definitely no expert but I'll offer some info from my recent experience.

Salary: Everyone I talked to told me to negotiate over the salary - I'd only be cheating myself, they could only say no, etc. From my conversation with the department head, though, I had a good idea that he was offering me as much as he could. Then, I did some research on-line and got a picture of past and current salaries (the link Ianqui offered plus the university site). That made my salary look just fine. So - call me stupid if you wish - I took exactly what they offered. It's a great salary; it's right in line with the info I found; and I didn't feel like the energy the negotiation would take was worth it. That said, there's no reason you shouldn't ask for more. Every single one of my colleagues did and every single one got $1000-2500 more.

Start up: Everyone I talked to told me to negotiate over the start up funds, too. This, I did, and I got a great package. I'm not in the hard sciences, so I didn't have expensive equipment on my list but the costs of a new computer plus software, books, moving, etc. add up quickly. Think big, justify your reasoning and ask away!

That's my two cents. Keep us posted!

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 4:08 PM~  

Major congrats, big sis!

Budget yourself a new Powerbook! :)

Good luck with negotiations.

Anonymous hk commented at 4:17 PM~  


Not being in academia, I'm not sure how the bargaining goes, but it might be helpful (in getting into bargaining mode) to remember that women often get lower starting salaries and raises than men because they don't push as hard. You will earn every penny and you DESERVE it.

Blogger Hieronimo commented at 4:52 PM~  

Congrats! That's great news!

Since I've been job placement officer at State U for the past few years, I'll give you some of the advice I give our grad students: they may not tell you something is negotiable, but of course it almost always is, within reason. So long as you don't make yourself obnoxious, they won't love you any less just because you ask for stuff. So ask away.

It helps a lot if you can give the chair some rationale for what you're asking for, so s/he can present that to the Dean. So you should mention that you'll need to go to UK libraries if you are going to write your book, e.g. Another thing that helps is to get a sense online of the cost of living there. Any other expenses--e.g., if you will be commuting to see GWB--will help the chair argue on your behalf to the dean.

It just stands to reason that a school is not going to offer you the highest salary they can offer right off the bat. So there is almost certainly some wiggle room, even if only $500-1000.

Beyond salary, one-time payments are easier than recurring moneys, so: research (startup) funds (I'd ask for $5000 and see what happens--that should cover 2 trips to UK at least in part), moving expenses, computer.

The other thing you can sometimes negotiate is a reduced teaching load (if DRU is above 2/2 as I imagine it is) for the first couple years, so you can get acclimated. Some places won't do this, but again, it can't hurt to ask. And finally, do they have a junior leave? If not, that would be a great thing to negotiate (semester off in 3rd year, say), and easy to justify if you are planning to write a book for tenure. Again, they might not do it but if they are trying to raise their profile (and everyone is), and since they have the 2-track tenure system of a book or a bunch of articles, they might like it if you tell them you really are excited about your book and want to publish it and the semester off would be a great help.

It's worth prioritizing these in your mind so you can give them a sense of what is most important to you if need be.

Let us know how the negotiations proceed. Congrats again!

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 5:31 PM~  


Blogger kermitthefrog commented at 5:46 PM~  

Congratulations, Lecturess! (Now to-be-professoress?)

Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. commented at 6:13 PM~  

Nothing of use to offer in the way of advice--but jaw-dropping envy beaten out only by that warmth you feel when the universe does right by a wholly deserving person. Good for you--lucky for them and your future students. Brava!

Blogger luckybuzz commented at 6:19 PM~  


Blogger Tiruncula commented at 6:53 PM~  

Yay! What great news!

My only advice besides what others have suggested is to get in writing what the policy on pre-tenure leave is, and if there's no set policy, that would be a very good thing to ask for, as Hieronimo suggested.

And you could see if you can get the cost of a microfilm reader included in startup funds!

Blogger PhilosophyProf commented at 7:06 PM~  

I would certainly ask about additional money for salary, but often the school will say no unless you have a second offer and they feel the need to negotiate. At some places there are associate profs. who have not received raises for a while (because of state budget problems), and the incoming assistants make nearly as much if not more, so this may be in the background if there is resistance to the request for an increase. So sometimes pushing really hard may not the best idea, if one does not have another offer. In philosophy, the usual starting salary for an assistant prof. is around 42-50K depending on the area and cost of living, in case that helps. (But philosophers are at the lower end of the humanities scale I think.) Definitely be very specific about the need for research and travel money (to England, visits to libraries or conferences, cd-roms, a computer, etc.), as that will increase the odds that you will get it. And absolutely ask about the pre-tenure developmental research leave, as a lot of places that do not mention it up front still have it as a possibility when push comes to shove. Same for reduced teaching. But even if you don't want some of these things, or if there are other things that you wouldn't mind but don't need, include them all in an e-mail in order of preference, and maybe you'll get the top 7 out of 12, and so get the 7 that you actually want.

Congratulations! This sounds like a very energetic department and a great situation.

Anonymous rachel commented at 7:39 PM~  

cngrats! how terrific. so are you definitely taking it?

i was very lucky in so far as my school offers a very good start up deal (about $12000 for two years, of which only $3500 can be spent on IT, plus a very generous moving allowance), though the overall salary is not as competitive as other schools. i didn't know the first thing about other thigns i could ask for (they gave me a 2-2 teacdhing load, plus only 1 class my first term), so i just left it.

sometimes just leaving it is ok too!

this is just fantastic news -- enjoy it!

Blogger ABDmom commented at 8:08 PM~  

Congratulations! You have mail, btw. :)

Blogger RageyOne commented at 8:35 PM~  

Wonderful news! I'm excited for you!

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 8:39 PM~  


In my opinion, the "offer phase" is when you are in the strongest position and the school is in the weakest. I recommend that you come up with a number you like that is no more than 20% over what they offered, come up with reasons why you need it, and share it with them.

There are many forms of compensation; you can suggest that if it makes it easier for their budget cycle, they can give you a "signing bonus," a "relocation expense budget," or a "signing bonus to be paid at the end of your first year."

Maybe I'm just in Corporate Wonderland. But this is your only time that you will have the upper hand.


Anonymous Anonymous commented at 8:45 PM~  


I am so happy for you! Congrats!


Blogger timna commented at 10:24 PM~  

YEA! I've been checking every day!

Blogger Tabitha Grimalkin commented at 10:39 PM~  

Wow!! What wonderful news! Congrats!!

Blogger Professor B commented at 10:58 PM~  

Congrats, LL! It must be a great feeling. I agree with some of the other posters - you are never in a better bargaining position than right now. Ask for a little more and the worst they can say is no. I asked for $2K more than originally offered, and didn't get it, but I did try. :-)

Blogger Dr. Mon commented at 11:23 PM~  

MANY MANY MANY CONGRATS!!! What a great week for my bloggyfriends!!

Everyone told me salary is always negotiable. I might try to have this conversation over the phone. I too was given the impression that the amount was fixed but my salary moved up over 5K from what I was told at my visit over the course of several phone calls. Aim high--I think your idea of a range is smart.

Start up funds are tricky--I say put your travel and research dreams into a package and ASK. You won't get everything, but you won't know how much until you ask. Will you have a yearly travel/research funds?? It would be nice if you could secure some regular summer funds for your overseas travel as well--consider asking about that.

Best wishes on your process and many congrats again!!

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 11:39 PM~  

Wowza! So many comments, and so helpful--thanks, everyone.

To answer a few questions: the job is technically within driving distance of GWB, but not really--it would be more or less a full day's drive, mainly for topographical reasons (it's much closer as the crow flies). However, it's a very short and pretty cheap plane flight away. And no, Margo, I won't be particularly close to Chicago--but I still totally want to be your friend! I *will* however be relatively close to at least one bloggy friend. She'll be getting email to that effect soon.

After reading these comments and some that you folks have sent to me privately, I'm feeling that this is actually a damn good deal that I've been offered, at least for this not-particularly-remunerative field. I'm promised a new computer and printer, relocation expenses (there's a max, but it's a pretty generous max for my circumstances), and I'd bet I can get at least $4K in start-up. The salary I was quoted is also in line with the AAUP chart--it's $4K below the average salary for assistant profs, but that average obvious covers everyone from year one to year six.

I think I'll still ask for more--I really really want another $2K, just to push myself over a certain psycho-financial threshold--but if I don't get it, I'll be content enough. It's a cheap region of the country, and I have to keep reminding myself that the salary is actually toward the higher end for (non-Ivy-type) academic jobs.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Blogger Bardiac commented at 11:51 PM~  


Absolutely negotiate.

Get hold of *Women don't ask*, which is about gender and negotiation!

And again, congrats!!!!

Blogger Simplicius commented at 2:17 PM~  

Let me add my voice to the chorus of congratulations. I'm absolutely thrilled for you, and wish you have the best of luck in negotiating.

For what it's worth, my school offered what I thought was a pretty generous salary and research package, so I didn't even bother trying to up those (and maybe I should have). But I did get them to double their moving allowance and came away feeling as if one-time expenses were more flexible and more likely to be met. But, by all means, it never hurts to ask.

And, again, congratulations!

Blogger negativecapability commented at 2:45 PM~  


(I must admit, part of me is just excited to know that people actually GET jobs anymore...)

Anonymous What Now? commented at 4:03 PM~  

Oh, LL, I'm just thrilled for you! Congratulations!! This is wonderful, wonderful news. I'm about to send an email to this effect to a bunch of folks who are going to be really happy for you.

I have no advice about negotiating, since when I started my job it was clear that there was to be NO negotiation, and start-up funds are sadly unheard of here at St. Martyr's. But everyone else's advice sounds good.

Many, many congratulations to you!

Blogger PhilosophyProf commented at 4:11 PM~  

Also, I think that the AAUP chart is including in the one category assistant professors in the humanities and assistant professors in business, law, the sciences, etc. (so this would be relevant if the DRU has a law school or a decent-sized business program). These folks make a lot more than humanities folks, so with the offer at 4K below the overall average (including assistant profs. in years 1-6 as you say) I think they might be trying very hard to get you. Which of course means that if you ask for more you just might get it!

Blogger Weezy commented at 11:14 PM~  

I'm of no hope with negotiating-- I've been told by others that 4 to 5 K more is a good number... Congrats!!!!

Blogger RLM commented at 12:24 AM~  

Catching up on blogs after a couple of days, and just had to chime in. Sweet!!! You rock. :) Now I will channel my father and say you should definitely negotiate on the salary. At least try one volley. It does not hurt to ask. When I was offered my current academic library job, I asked if the salary could be more toward the upper end of the range given in the job posting (the number they offered was right in the middle). They said no, the budget wouldn't let them go any higher. But it was certainly worth asking.

Good luck, and many many congrats!

Blogger MaggieMay commented at 8:39 AM~  

Congratulations! Wonderful news. I have no advice, only to echo what others have said that start-up funds typically are between $3 - $5K in most places I'm familiar with.

Blogger jo(e) commented at 9:00 AM~  

Congratulations! What wonderful news.

No advice except don't be afraid to be assertive ....

Blogger Another Damned Medievalist commented at 2:21 PM~  

Congratulations! Yay, you!!!! And I wish I had some good advice, but I suck at negotiations (I probably should have asked for $2400 or so more, to make what would be comparable to the FT position at present school) ... but you know, I totally caved on everything. And I'm not really unhappy about it, because the non-money rewards have already been great -- I get e-mails from the department chair telling me of things that will be going on, etc. But I would ask for everything you want -- if they've mede you the offer, they aren't going to withdraw it.

Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway commented at 10:49 PM~  

Belatedly, CONGRATULATIONS! What awesome news!! I have nothing of substance to add to what everyone else has said. I asked for $4K more when I started, and they offered $1K, and I said, Yeah, sure. New computer was provided, I got $3K in startup, and $1500 for moving. In retrospect I wish I'd asked them to up the moving expenses, since they were way more than that and I think we're still paying them off... I also kind of wish I'd negotiated about the course release/leave kind of thing (I'm quite sure, though, that this place wouldn't have been able to offer me a semester off; but only after the fact have I found out that they're actually fairly flexible with course releases. But as a teaching school this is probably different here.) Still, in my first job I didn't negotiate ANYTHING, and I totally regretted it. I did have to keep reminding myself that they wouldn't withdraw the offer - I felt like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel or something!

Blogger Clancy commented at 1:54 PM~  

The stakes are too high not to ask for more money. Even if they can only give you $1k more than they originally offered, that adds up over the long term. If you find out that someone they hired after you asked for more money and got it, you'd regret not asking.

Blogger Dr. Crazy commented at 11:48 AM~  

I'm totally late to the party but CONGRATULATIONS!!!! And I wonder if you'll be near where I am.... hmmm.... Again, Congratulations!

Anonymous Rebel Scholar commented at 6:52 PM~  

Hi, sorry I am so late to comment, but I just found your blog. So, first, congratulations. Not being wise or anything, my advise may be worth no more than a crooked cent but here goes:
1)ask for anything you think you can justify. For example you obviously have teaching experience, and a lot of new hires do not. That has to factor in, as the institutions are now claiming that good teaching is as important as good research and etc.
2)Start-ups in my experience tend to be fixed, but then there are start-ups and start ups. I got a lot--yes, in six figures and impressive ones to, but I had to some pretty fancy work, as did the department (it helps that they really wanted to hire me)
3)Start-ups are not the end of the story. Ask about grants and etc. that are available from WITHIN the university for junior scholars. If the institution is worth anything, they will have been building up these kinds of facilities for a while now, having realised that if THEY want you, other people probably would as well, so that they have to incite you not just to come, but also to stay, at least through to the tenure process. Remember that searches are expensive, time consuming and a universally-hated procedure...now that they have picked you, they really do NOT want to go back to the drawing board, so you have some initiative.
4) Finish those articles you've been meaning to write for publication because, as soon as you've spent a year in your new position, you'll be able to tell whether you are properly appreciated or not. If not, get yourself back on the job market pronto (discreetly of course). Odds are that now you have a "tenurable" track record, you will receive another offer, with which you can then hasten to your department chair or your dean and resume negotiations. It would probably be good for another five to ten K.
5)If your institution follows the usual pattern, salary increases follow this pattern: an across the board increase, which everyone gets, and then a merit increase, which is decided by a panel of your elders and betters. Really, without hesitation, I can say that it is all about publishing. So pull out the stops in your first two years because a) this causes your base salary to increase, and as further raises are based on percentages, the higher your salary is earlier, the more you make over the long term and b)you inculcate in your new colleagues the belief that you are a productive and remarkable scholar. This will serve you well in years in which the turkeys have got you down and you can't do quite as much as usual.
Above all, abandon modesty all ye who enter here! They don't know anything about you except what you tell them and no invisible friend is going to outline your many good qualities and qualifications on your behalf. So TELL THEM, and ask that these be considered assets for which they should pay you more. In the end, all they can say is "no." And they might say yes.

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