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SLAC Associate

I'm not sure there's enough information at present to give a satisfactory answer here. It depends on a great many things, among them:
(1) Is there reason to believe the school in question has existing needs in the partner's academic discipline? (E.g., have faculty recently left, are there any faculty nearing retirement age, does the department significantly rely on adjunct labor, etc.? Some of this can be discovered by poring over class schedules online.)
(2) Is there reason to think it might be difficult for the school in question to attract faculty in your partner's discipline, either because your partner's discipline is in great demand, or because of location, budgets, etc.? (E.g., some schools sometimes find it difficult to hire and retain faculty in computer science, applied math, chemistry, finance, etc. because such individuals can command a higher salary outside the academy.) If your partner can fulfill some need the institution has difficulty meeting, that might actually make your application slightly more attractive.
(3) How large/wealthy is the school in question? Larger or wealthier institutions may have more flexible budgets that permit them to hire a partner out of the usual hiring process.
(4) Are you an exceptionally in-demand candidate, such that there's reason to think the school in question would try harder than normal to hire and retain you?
(5) Is the hire of your partner a sine qua non for you to take a position at the school in question? If so, you should be upfront about that during the interview process. If it's not a sine qua non, then the answer will depend much more on the answers to #1-4.


I agree with SLAC that the answer to this question will vary greatly depending on the circumstances, both your personal circumstances and the school's. My department is very good about finding spouses courses to teach, but there is no guarantee of anything permanent. And I think ours is a common position. Unless it is a big money school, creating a new line for your spouse is highly unlikely. So, do your own research to see what the odds are of your spouse getting permanent work.

I think that you if your answer to number five is no, and you really want the job, and your spouse is willing to move with you even if they don't have a job, then don't mention is at least until the fly out. They can't ask you about it.


SLAC associate is of course right that the factors they point towards will matter a great deal. To report on the advice that I received while on the market (my partner is a philosopher), there are upsides to both (1) revealing your situation during the campus visit, and (2) keeping your business to yourself until you receive an offer. The benefit of strategy (1) is that if they really want you, they have more time to look into the possibility of hiring your spouse prior to making an offer. The benefit of strategy (2) is that if you're not a (clear) favourite, or if they know that their university wouldn't be able to support a spousal hire, your two-body problem may make you a less attractive choice. I personally preferred strategy (2) in light of my own situation. But some of the factors that SLAC associate highlights didn't apply to me--e.g., I wasn't famous/a big star, for whom (1) might very well be a less dangerous strategy.


I would say that you should only bring it up before having an offer if you are a big star. For those of us who aren't rising stars, any offers we get are likely to be made after deciding between us and people who would make equally good hires. If you tell them before they make an offer, then it makes them think it's less likely you'd come/stay, and so gives them a reason to choose someone other than you. If they make you an offer before you tell them, then they are invested in you and in finding a way to get you to come when they get that info.


I agree that you should tell them after the offer.

It’s also worth saying that, at the junior level, it’s pretty hard to get a TT offer for your partner in the same year as your own TT offer, although you might get a full-time or part-time lecturer offer.

In my experience it's (relatively) easier to get a partner hire when Partner X is already on the TT somewhere and then acquires some sort of leverage: Partner X getting an offer, Partner Y getting an offer and that new institution considering making an offer to Partner X, etc.

Kenny Pearce

I agree with all those who note that the conventional wisdom applicable to the large majority of cases is to keep it quiet until after you have an offer. This is applicable to almost any case in which there is some chance that you would accept the position even if they didn't make an offer to your spouse. However, I just want to note that I witnessed the following case, involving two spouses in different disciplines, neither of which was philosophy.

I was at a SLAC that would likely be placed somewhere near the middle of the US higher education ecosystem (in terms of funding, prestige, admissions selectiveness, etc.). Two independent positions came open, matching the couple's expertise. They both had sufficiently strong CVs that the college would likely have been worried about whether they could successfully recruit and retain them—perhaps not superstars (since they weren't in philosophy I'm not in a position to judge), but notably stronger than the norm at this college. They both *stated in their cover letters* that they were an academic couple looking for jobs together and had both applied. The involved departments both saw this as an opportunity to recruit and retain stronger candidates than they might otherwise be able to, and both partners were offered (and accepted) the jobs. I had the impression that this sort of thing was not regarded as particularly strange or unusual there. But I think that in order for this strategy to work your situation has to be very similar to the one described, and you also have to be aware that if the other department decides they don't want to hire your partner then you are probably out of luck as well.

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