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I hope I can piggyback on this question. My partner is a librarian. Does anyone have experience with Universities hiring partners in non-faculty positions? Is that something that can be negotiated?


In my experience this varies wildly. I have really only been watching this since I went on the market in 2012, but maybe it's helpful to give a rundown of the couples I've known and the solutions they have found in that time?

~Applying for 2 TT jobs. My partner and I went on the market last year and applied for 2 TT jobs at the same school. We made it clear in our cover letters that we were a package deal, and were both offered the jobs - I'm not as confident that we would both have been offered the jobs if we hadn't been a package deal. My partner and I are still junior, but I know a tenured couple who recently managed to move in this way as well - although they got jobs in Australia, where it is I believe more common to be hired as a more senior person.
~Starting out with 1 TT line and negotiating for a second. I know of two couples who made this work when initially applying for a job. Be warned, though - in one case the couple ended up at a much less desirable job than others one partner had been offered in order to get the spousal hire, and in the other the couple only made this work after many years of long distance - and I think it only worked in the end because the partner offered the original TT job is *very* fancy.
~Sharing 1 TT line. I know a couple who negotiated sharing a TT line that one of them was offered. I believe they were told that this *should* be converted into two TT lines within a few years, and I think that it has been - but be really careful here, because I've heard that follow-through on this kind of thing often fails (and that additional problems come up with tenuring a split line if it comes to that down the way).
~Starting out with 1 TT line and one non-permanent convertible line. This is how my partner and I got our original jobs - I got a TT line, and negotiated a 2 year VAP for him. As it happened we hired in his area the next year and he got that job, but that was *not* a foregone conclusion - the job was actually offered to someone else and turned down before it was offered to him. There is also another couple in my department, who also started off with a TT line for him and a 2 year VAP for her. She was able to get that VAP converted to a TT line by getting another TT offer elsewhere and threatening to leave with him. But again, this wasn't a foregone conclusion - the dean could easily have just let them go. There are options here, though.
~Getting 1 TT line and negotiating a permanent/temporary non-TT line for a partner. When I was on the market last year I was told during one fly-out that if they offered me the job, they best they could offer my partner was a "permanent" teaching job. This wouldn't have been a bad job at all - slightly higher teaching load, slightly lower pay than TT - but it was only permanent as long as teaching need and budget held steady. Two friends also recently moved in this way, with a variation - one was offered a TT line, and the other was guaranteed full-time teaching positions through tenure, which had the potential to become a permanent full-time-teaching position if tenure was gotten.
~Start out with just 1 TT job, stay for a while, then go on the market and use an outside offer to negotiate a spousal hire. This one is pretty self explanatory. If they can't do anything for you when you're immediately hired, usually the only way you get bargaining power again is to get an outside offer. I know at least one couple for whom this has worked (although the relationship started when one partner was already in their job, so this wasn't exactly a case of failed negotiation the first time around).

Basically, I think there are lots of options, but remember that absolutely nothing is guaranteed unless you get it in writing - places that they say they'll try to make something happen for you in the future may or may not follow through when the time comes. To make couple hiring as easy as possible, though, my tips are, in order 1) be very, very fancy, or 2) apply for jobs in otherwise less desirable locations, where departments and universities know they need to offer something extra to make solid hires. Good luck!


And in response to Kye - I think this depends a lot on what your partner does. I know of even VAPs who were able to negotiate jobs for their partners who worked in fundraising or law (note - the law accommodation was legal counsel for the university, not a faculty job). for you I suspect it depends on whether you're looking for a TT librarian job or a broader librarian job. If TT, then I suspect it's about as easy as getting a spousal accommodation for a partner in another department; and if it's the the latter, then I suspect it's easier.


I know a case where a senior administrator negotiated a position for their partner on campus that was non-academic - tech support. They negotiated quite the deal. But that is easier for senior people.
I also know two couples who initially took 2/3 positions each and later got full positions. In both cases they were not entry level, but they were not senior either.
And I know people who got something temporary for a partner, and then the partner got a TT afterward at the same place. But you cannot count on anything. So live as if the solution you have now is the solution you will have to live with.


Hopeful, thanks very much for this detailed advice, that is very helpful. Like Kye, I have a connected question: how different do things look when the partner for which one wants to negotiate a job is in another academic field (say, specifically a field that is not only in a different department but in a different faculty)?


Thank you for taking the time to share your experience, hopeful. This is extremely helpful as we head into interview season.


For what it's worth, I've tried to negotiate partner hires four times. None of them worked. Two were at undesirable locations. (Think middle of nowhere and very very cold sorts of places.) One was a desirable location, but an institutionally bad place to work (think dysfunctional. no-name recognition, and high teaching load). One was a desirable location and a desirable institution.

I've found that the 'undesirable locations will need to court you' simply doesn't ring true. In one case, the department made at least 5 offers. If they lost their candidate, they just went on to the next one.

Only one campus offered me any form of work (at all) for my partner and that work was adjuncting in a field that they don't have a PhD in and don't currently work in (it was in their MA area, though). We didn't take it because my partner already had a well paying TT job that they weren't going to give up to adjunct outside of their field. We assumed it would have been a career killer, eliminating our possibilities of gaining a better situation later. My partner is not a philosopher but also works in the humanities

I turned down two TT jobs trying to seek a better situation than the one we had (I had a great renewable VAP in the same state as their TT, so we were able to see each other on the weekends). Finally, I took the third TT job I was offered, simply because I felt I couldn't keep turning down TT jobs. We're both taking a bit of time off the market (them to get a book contract and me to get my CV in better shape) and then will do some more unconventional strategies like applying for two TT jobs at the same institution and noting that we are partners in our letters.


Anonladygrad so how often do you get to see your partner now? Sorry this has been a rough road.


My knowledge of dual TT offers is not that positive, I'm sorry to report. Anecdotally, getting a temporary teaching gig for one partner or (at an R1) arranging a 1-2 year postdoc with a partner institute is fairly common for a very attractive TT candidate. I only know of one couple, however, that was able to make the dual-TT job things happen, though: they were both from the same fancy PhD programs in philosophy, she got the initial TT offer, he had a 2 year postdoc, and they negotiated for him to be hired as TT when the postdoc was finished. Another friend who was one of the market successes a couple years back was able to negotiate a postdoc for her partner, but that's it (and she had a competing offer, both schools involved were private, well-funded schools with PhD programs, etc). One senior philosopher I know was able to negotiate for a librarian position for his partner when he took a new position. In all of the other cases of people I know personally, either (1) one partner eventually gave up on the TT and either took a renewable teaching gig, went into alt-ac, or left academia altogether or (2) the two partners are living apart, trying to find jobs close to one another still. The couples in position (2) may still make it work, but it depends on how long you would be willing to make that work.

What I am curious about, though, is negotiating for an administrative position. My partner has a good job outside of academia, but will move wherever for my job. If I end up at a school in an isolated location without much else around, an administrative job might be a good route for my partner. Does anyone have experiences with that, or even know if they're possible?

success story

I'm sorry so many people have had such a tough time.

Probably their experience is more representative than mine, but in the interest of diversity of perspectives and honesty, I can say that some places can be very helpful and accommodating. I work at a large research institution that recruited my partner and made up a postdoc for me. The next year when I had a job offer, our university stepped up and hired me to the tenure-track.

This is not uncommon at my university. Our department is regularly asked whether we'd consider hiring someone whose partner has an offer elsewhere in the university. We only say yes if it's someone we're excited about, but it sometimes is.


In response to D's question, I'm afraid it's usually harder. Often getting a TT line as a spousal accommodation isn't treated as an additional line for the department - it's treated as buying a line on credit. In other words, you get this line, but the next time someone retires/leaves, the spousal accommodation you already took counts as your replacement line. So I think other departments/faculties tend to be unwilling to do this, because they obviously want to be able to choose their own person and area of hire.

Oh, and one other thing I should have said before. To whatever extent to you can, try to figure out whether a hiring department already has couples in it. As others have said, it varies massively by institution, and department within institution. That a department has done it in the past is often an indication that they are at least willing to try to do it again. So I'd say apply to all jobs in that category, even if they don't initially look attractive.

Shen-yi Liao

I think Hopeful has laid out scenarios really well so I don't have much to add on that front.

I do want to add that it's important to think of "success" here as not exclusively professional success. Some people will think the professional stuff as more important as the relationship stuff; some people won't. But whatever you think, do talk to your partner about what's preferable and what's acceptable BEFORE the job market. Some couples are fine with taking the overall higher salaried opportunity even if that means one person is tenure-track and the other isn't; and some couples aren't. But I think, regardless of your position, it's helpful to honestly talk about it with the other person before the job market, if you want the relationship stuff to be part of the success.


If there was more acceptance within the philosophical community of philosophers who do not hold tt positions, then many people wouldn't worry so much about not getting one. After all, in other positions one can do many of the things a tt person does. You can still be a "real" and "professional" philosopher. What they need is equal philosophical respect. This would be better for those who do not want to move because of their spouse, or have other reasons for not moving. It would also diversify the field in a good way. Consider, for instance, someone who works a non-academic job but occasionally adjuncts or publishes a paper. I think the profession would benefit from this diversity of perspective, but as things are now I don't see publications from those in non-academic positions as getting much respect within academia.

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