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As is often the case with the job market, a great deal depends upon luck. My partner and I met in grad school, and he was a few years ahead of me. He got a (permanent/TT) job while I was still finishing the PhD. (VERY) fortunately, a few jobs opened up at his institution and I managed to get one of them (not as a spousal hire; I had to go through the entire process like any regular applicant). I had another job offer and asked them about the possibility of a spousal hire; even though the institution wasn't cash-strapped, and my partner has a rather impressive CV, they still weren't able to do it. I think in general, the possibility of a spousal hire is often going to come down to luck: what the SH can offer the institution (do they need someone working in their area? Is the SH impresessive independently?), whether or not they can afford them, how much they want the person whose spouse they're considering hiring, etc. Another point:(and I'm willing to be corrected on this) I'm fairly sure that spousal hires, to the extent that they do happen, are more common in the US/Canada than in the UK. My impression is that the UK system is incredibly bureaucratic, and that philosophy departments there are often heavily constrained in what they can offer by HR rules.


Anecdotally, it certainly happens, but also anecdotally, leverage helps.

I work at a department in which two recent PhDs (they both graduated last year) each independently got TT offers at different places, and were able to convince one of them to find a position for the partner. Would the second position have materialized if the partner in question didn't have a different TT offer, where both partners might have decided to go instead? I don't know.

I remember when I was a grad student, there was a married couple a year or two above me where one of the partners got several offers straight out of the PhD, and was able to convince one of the places they had an offer to do a spousal hire. Would they have been willing to do that without the credible threat of taking a different offer? Again, I tend to doubt it.

Alex Grzankowski

This is also relevant to the earlier post on dating. It’s hard enough to find any job whatsoever let alone target a region, but some of these tough issues seem more navigable in the U.K. I know of quite a few spouses here and though they are at different institutions it’s possible to travel by train and live somewhere in between. Maybe this would be true in parts of the US but it’s tougher. So one thought: keep an eye on jobs.ac.uk. One person in London and one person in Leeds isn’t nearly as absurd as one in the northeaster the US and one in a small town in the Midwest with a regional airport.


On thing that can help, I think, is looking in generally less desirable living areas. Schools there often know that to keep you they need to do something major - and a spousal hire helps a lot.

Spousal hire but not a spouse

It happened for me and my partner, though it took me doing a postdoc for 1.5 years while things got worked out. I think it helped a lot that the dept. and administrators wanted to keep my partner, having grown attached since my partner started working at the University. They might not have been as willing when my partner was the most-preferred of 3 flyout candidates.

One contrary data point on overlapping specialization: my partner and I both work in overlapping areas. And I was spousal-hired anyway, in a not-huge-but-not-small (11-12 person) department, where we also have some specialization overlap with other faculty. It has meant that I've had to teach in areas outside my research specialization, which has made more work for me. But it's worked out well, overall.

Despite the research overlap, I think my colleagues were happy to have another person whose work they like, and who would have a lot of reason to stick around at the University, despite its undesirable-to-many-location (seconding Rosa's comment above about location and retention).

In many cases (including my own, I believe), departments receive reassurances that the spousal "won't count" or "won't count as fully" against their claims to new positions. When these reassurances are credible (which isn't always the case), I think they can temper the disincentive against hiring folks with overlapping research agendas.


If anyone has any experience on partner hiring when the two of you work in completely different fields, I would like to hear about it.


Curious, that's my and my partner's situation. At our current institution he is my +1. He's a lecturer. (Which is fine for him; he wasn't looking for a professorship.) Different department, though still within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Essentially in these cases it often comes down to what the *Dean* is willing to do to hire the candidate the first dept wants. The Dean can, for instance, offer to partially subsidize the hire of the second person, in order to make the deal more attractive to the second department. But also, depending on what position the spouse is interested in, it might not be that difficult to hire them; an assistant professorship would have been impossible for my husband but again lectureships are easier (and tenurable).

Another factor mentioned above is the location of the school. Our school is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so they are used to spousal accommodations--I've met an incredible number of spousal hires here compared to at my previous institution. But my previous institution was in a city.


I agree that it's mostly luck; it basically depends on the institution and their traditions, and the particular skills of the candidates.I also think it can vary more within the given divisions of the university than between actual different universities. I was at one research institution that basically just wouldn't consider it. Or at least the humanities wouldn't. The physical sciences did spousal hires frequently. It was up to the dean of the division. Anyway, we had super stars wanting to come to our department and they wouldn't consider hiring their spouse. Then at another institution I've spent time at, it happens frequently, and the admins often look at it as a bonus. I'm talking two tenure-track hires, rather than giving the spouse a non-TT position.

The above said, I think it is much easier to negotiate a non-TT position (most of the time.) My advice would be to ask for a TT first, and if that doesn't work and you are willing, ask for a lecturer position. I have a friend who is a permanent lecturer and it is part of his contract that his position is renewed as long as his wife stays at the university. I would recommend the OP think about whether either or both of him and his partner are willing to to take a lecturer position. This is a hard life choice.

Another friend of mine has a husband who was offered a TT track job in a very desirable part of the country. The next year she got a flyout that was a four hour plane ride away from him. She finished as runner up but wasn't offered the job. She had one other TT flyout that year. The next year she applied very selectively to relatively close schools. After that, she decided that in spite of pressure from her supervisors and the profession, she was happy, and that being in a city she enjoyed with her husband was more important than what the profession considered the right kind of career. She was an adjunct at his school for a few years before being promoted to a lecturer position. She still does research and goes to conferences, etc.

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