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Shen-yi Liao

Karen Kelsky has quite a few posts, and I don't have much to add on the logistical front:


However, I do want to add that I think the more important and difficult negotiation is within the relationship. What are some dealbreakers? What is the ranking of preferences for outcomes? For example, is it better for the two people to share one tenure-line (equal position but less money), or is it better for one person to be tenure-track and one person be non-permanent (unequal position but more money)? You can't know what to ask the school until you've had this internal negotiation.


Ask for a TT position. This probably won’t happen unless one or both of you have other TT jobs/offers, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Even if you don’t have leverage, hopefully they at least will offer your partner a full-time lecturer position as a compromise. Keep in mind that two different parties have to agree to do the partner hire, namely. the administration and the department, and their interests don’t always align. If your partner could work in several different departments, this is worth mentioning, since administrators like to spread the hires around. Also mention what your partner would add to the relevant department(s). (My experience is primarily with public research universities.)

SLAC Tenured Professor & Chair

At my SLAC (not so elite) I've faced this problem as the chair for my past few searches. Schools of my kind simply can't do it. We fight for years for a line and likely won't get another for many years to come, if ever. The administration does all but laugh when I ask for such a thing.

I know this isn't advice on how to ask, but I suppose a word to say not to take it personally if an institution won't do it.

I've always offered teaching opportunities to significant others, but that was the absolutely best I could do. The inability to provide a spousal hire likely doesn't reflect on you or your spouse.


Unfortunately I think that SLAC Tenured Professor & Chair is offering you the most realistic perspective. I am at a large private research university with decent funding and while it does sometimes happen, its pretty rare to get your spouse more than the opportunity to adjunct.

In my experience (at my school and from colleagues at other places) is that it is MUCH more common for you to be able to get your spouse a job after you have made yourself a valued member of the department and university (several years down the road). Then there is better possibility of working out a permanent position for your spouse, even more so if you get a job offer in hand.

I think that Shen-yi Liao's advice is also very solid. You need to know what both or your expectations are and what you are willing to sacrifice for a job that is VERY hard to come by.


I think most places that can offer a second TT job will start with a lower offer, such as a regular teaching position or a post-doc type appointment. In these situations, the key to getting a good deal is to be able to say no to a TT job that doesn't come with a second TT job for the partner. This is partly a matter of having already a good situation for both, but this is also partly a psychological matter. You'd have significantly higher chances of finding two TT jobs if you were (apparently against reason) unable to accept a single TT job, even if declining it came at the cost of unemployment for both. Most people will get there in steps, improving the partner's situation with each new job offer (first nothing, then teaching gig, then TT), as the new bidder has to give you more than you already have.

Job seeker

D, do you think they will start with something lower than a TT even in the hypothetical case in which both partners currently have TT jobs in the same department and are looking to move?

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