In response to our newest "How can we help you?" post, Tom asked:
Quick question: is negotiating still a thing? I've had a number of flyout interviews (no offers from those; still happy with my postdocs), and all of them were extremely straightforward about negotiating being essentially impossible.
So, ok, I realize if I'm the hottest thing out there and manage to magically get several offers, then I can probably do some negotiating. But being frank, I'm not and I won't. So I'm actually curious if anyone here has recently gotten an offer at a non-R1 school recently and actually done some negotiating. Like I said, I've had several flyouts -- both at midsized regional state schools -- where it was made clear from the dean on down that there was precisely zero room for negotiating. None. Like there were comments along the lines of "Don't ask, because we can't give it and it's just awkward for everyone. Be glad there's a position to offer at all, we had to beg and plead for it in the first place." (It wasn't stated this bluntly, but that was the content being communicated.)
This could be either (a) a fluke, and I had a weird experience with a few weird schools, (b) a bluff on the part of the folks at these schools, or (c) a new fact of life. Marcus, Tim, where are you guys on this? Anyone else out there have further confirming or refuting evidence?
I think these are good follow-up questions by Tim. Do any of our readers have any recent experience with these matters? Specifically:
- Is Tim's experience typical these days (i.e. with deans and others making it clear that negotiating is off the table)?
- If what happened to Tim happened to you (it was implied negotiating was off the table), was your experience that it was genuine or that it was a bluff?
Since Tim asked me, here are my thoughts. I was on the market last two years ago, and got very different pictures at different types of schools. At some fly-outs, it was made very clear (as to Tim) that negotiating was off the table; at others, I was given no view one way or the other. Interestingly, in line with Tim's remarks, it was in every case a small or mid-sized state school that gave me a clear impression that negotiating was off the table--with one making it clear that it was off the table because the faculty were unionized and contracts were standardized. In one sense, I guess this isn't too surprising. State funding for higher education and humanities departments in particular have been under great pressure lately--so there may be unique reasons for state schools to play hardball (as it were).
Anyway, I'll be very curious to hear what other people's recent experiences have been. Did you try to negotiate? If so, what did you ask for and what did you get? And, were you actively deterred from negotiating (like Tim)? I hope some of you with recent experience chime in. It should be very helpful for job candidates!