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recent grad

If by 'negotiating,' you mean salary, then my experience is similar: I've been told that the offer was firm before it was even made. However, I have been able to negotiate for other things, even at my teaching institution.


Marcus: Thanks for hosting this!

Recent grad: that's very helpful! Especially going forward, I can start to think about what I should prioritize if I get the clear message that something (e.g. salary) is entirely off the table.

Ben A

I can't offer anything better than personal experience, but I thought I might offer that anyway, if only to temper the messages passed along here so far.

When I was hired in 2013 at my teaching-first state university, starting salary was one of the few things that was indeed negotiable.

When I was hired in 2009 at a large community college, HR made it clear to me during my on-campus visit that nothing was really negotiable, and that salaries were determined by a set grid that had been collectively bargained.

Interestingly, both institutions were unionized, so you cannot necessarily assume that salary will or won't be negotiable if your institution is unionized.

Chris Stephens

I only have personal experience to offer as well:

At an R1 I was once told that there was no room for negotiating salary (my offer was already the "maximum" for new faculty), but it turned out I could negotiate other things (like a teaching reduction before tenure; or a job for one's partner).
At a small private school (no philosophy major, only 2 or 3 philosophy professors), the salary was very negotiable and the Dean expected me to negotiate (when I made it clear that I wasn't likely to take the job there, he took this as me playing hard ball in negotiations and started offering more money, etc.)

At some institutions, even if salary is not negotiable, I found that "soft money" often was - money for a computer, money for travel (at least in the first year or two) - and in most cases the Universities didn't tell me whether such things were negotiable before asking.

Some administrators also made it clear to me that that they couldn't give me more of X (salary, travel money, whatever) without being unfair to others who were already at the institution. That might just have been negotiating tactics on their part; I'm not sure. Its also true that you don't want your new colleagues resenting you.

Some departmental level administrators are happy if you can negotiate for more of whatever because it just means that they can make a better case for their other colleagues who don't already have whatever you're bargaining for. But this all depends on the dynamic at the particular institution, from what I can tell.

My own sense is that (mostly) it can't hurt to ask, especially if you ask nicely.

I found negotiating a difficult part of the job process - ask around to any faculty you know and trust.

Recent Grad

I took a job at a regional/satellite state school, and I got the line Chris got:

"Some administrators also made it clear to me that that they couldn't give me more of X (salary, travel money, whatever) without being unfair to others who were already at the institution."

I had been a visiting position previous to taking the position, and I was able to get a tiny bump in salary. It was a couple hundred more than what I would have gotten anyway.

Young Prof

I was hired in 2013, at a regional state university, and was able to do some negotiating. As it happened, my department head was on board with this - they actually called me before making the offer in writing, saying "I'm going to offer you x in salary and y in start-up funds, but please ask for at least z additional funds in each case or else I can't give them to you." I also have a fellow-philosopher spouse, and was able to negotiate a several year VAP that eventually turned into a TT job. Obviously that's not everyone's experience, but it's worth mentioning, I think, because it means that even regional state schools can be really different - so I agree that it can't hurt to ask, and it might be very, very worthwhile.

(Also, if you're given the "it would be unfair to others here" rational, then I believe that most state schools will have their employee's salaries listed on a publicly available database of state employee salaries. Checking what others in the phil department are making could help you figure out whether it's a negotiating technique on their part, or a real thing.)


Again, anecdotal, and this one isn't my experience, but I have a friend who had two offers, both at private, niche schools (School 1 was a 4/4 load teaching school, while School 2 had a grad program and lower teaching load but isn't well known). Even though the salary at S1 was the same or higher, my friend was able to make a case to S2 about the differences in cost of living, and my friend got a salary bump at S2 (and perhaps some other perks, I'm not really sure). My friend stuck to the rule of thumb of not asking for more than a 10% increase on starting salary, although I'm not sure of the % increase that was actually received.

Sara L. Uckelman

When I was offered my current position (at a good but not Oxbridge British university), I contacted recent hires to find out how much, if any, they had negotiated. I ended up negotiating a higher starting salary; I told the vice-chancellor (who was the one who called to formally offer me the job) that I really wanted to accept but couldn't see taking as much of a paycut as it would've been from my current position -- which was just a post-doc! -- and he asked what I was making and said he'd match it.

Someone we hired the next year negotiated a year's delay to the start date, because she still had one more year left of a grant at her current institution.

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