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one of two bodies

Thanks for setting this up. I'd especially appreciate any advice or stories of success or failure about spousal hires.


Just from my personal experience getting hired at small catholic U and then at a midsized regional comprehensive state university:

Salaries are not the place to ask. These are set by schedules and budgets.

Look at faculty handbooks closely before asking for a pre tenure sabbatical. Schools either do they or don’t. They are not. going to invent something new for you unless you are at an impressive place with resources that is begging you to accept.

Moving expense is def a place to negotiate. I was offered 2500$. I asked for 5000$ since I was moving a great distance for the job. I had some info on average costs. They agreed to the increase in moving expenses.

2 body problems are institution relative. I asked for teaching with the goal of ntt full time for my partner. They agreed to a three year timeline to get partner a lecturer position. Partner stayed behind for one year, taught part time for one (3/3), and then was given renewable lectureship by year three. This department had full time ntt lecturers, so I was not asking for them to invent a position for my partner, only to get them into one.

For the spousal hire here is my advice: unless it is a deal breaker, you need to ask in a way that does not make it a condition of your accepting the offer. Otherwise you risk starting on a bad foot. But you need to ask before accepting. So ask about the possibility of full time teaching (tt hires for spouses are a thing of the past unless you are a rockstar or at a wealthy institution). And ask in good faith, meaning that you understand this is not easy, lines are hard for departments to secure, that it might take 3 years, etc. people get it that we don’t want to be away from our loved ones and generally speaking will try to make good on that the best they can. But don’t expect a TT. And don’t expect full time starting when your contract starts. Be willing to be patient. See it as a goal rather than a demand. This worked for me. Good luck to you!

placement person

Keep in mind that no advice you are going to get here generalizes. But I disagree with Rory. You should almost, but not always, ask for more salary. Lots of places will negotiate (some even significantly) on salary. Lots of places also won't! But you should still ask, in a careful, respectful way, unless you have very strong evidence that you are getting a non-negotiable offer. In part, that is because it is very common practice for institutions to intentionally lowball on salary because they are assuming candidates are going to ask for more. I would personally suggest asking for more salary at almost every institution for this reason.

Dual career assistance

On spousal hires: sometimes universities or faculty unions have an explicit policy that you can find via Google, usually under the label "dual career assistance". Some of these policies are quite good, others are more modest, and some are quite vague. Universities in less desirable locations sometimes use generous spousal hiring as a recruitment/retention tool. If a university doesn't have an explicit policy, you can probably infer that their unofficial policy is to not do spousal hires or that they will not handle the matter well.

placement person

(My personal experience negotiating is only at R1s, but I've advised many students with job offers about negotiating at smaller/poorer/different kinds of schools. All of them have asked for more salary, and I'd say it's about a two thirds (yes)/one third (no) split on whether they've gotten a higher offer after asking for more money. None of the ones who didn't get more money got their offers revoked, or had anyone reprimand them, or had their negotiations start them off on a bad foot at their jobs.)


So I disagree with what Rory says re spousal hires. You might get lucky and something might work out over time, but nothing is guaranteed unless it's in writing when you sign - and lots of places will gesture at future spousal options to get you to sign, but then not follow through. It often isn't up to the department whether there is follow-through, and Deans honestly usually just don't care.

The other thing about spousal accommodations is that that is probably your one big ask - if you're asking for that, don't expect much or anything in terms of other negotiation items. Good luck!

a postdoc

This question may be naive: if I ask for a spousal hire, and that gets turned down, can I negotiate on other stuff?

The advice that this is one's "big ask" has me a bit confused on this point.

Assistant Prof

I want to add some points to this thread, as a member of a couple who recently negotiated joint offers.

1. Although I found that much of the advice in
Karen Kelsey's (TheProfessorIsIn's) book was sometimes idiosyncratic, sometimes bad, when it comes to philosophy, I found the parts on negotiation very helpful, and cohered with what advisors in the field said. We don't get training as academics on how to negotiate, so I recommend reading this.

2. One thing to note that seems to have changed: now the standard is to negotiate BEFORE an official offer is made (some places still throw an offer that can be negotiated, but my sense is that that's becoming more uncommon). So, we explicitly asked the question, 'are we now negotiating?' to make sure. (I'd imagine if there's no room for negotiation, they'll say: 'No. This is our last offer'.)

3. A lot will depend on the sense you get from the person you're negotiating with. Often it will be the chair of the department. This is the ideal situation. Although in paper they represent the university as a whole (which would want to get you for as cheap as possible), the reality is that they represent the department, which has committed to you (but how they do so is regulated by norms, so they can't simply say: 'Ask for a raise---we can go much higher!'). If you get the sense that this is the situation you're in, I think a good idea is to ask: 'what can and can't be negotiated?' (The advice to follow is based on the assumption that you're negotiating with someone who seems open to doing so. Everything thus has the caveat that sometimes you may get a sense that almost any ask would be unreasonable.) Also: do your research. If it's a public university, salaries are likely public. Research them. And even if it isn't, having a sense of what public universities around the area pay, may give you grounds to negotiate.

3. You always start with your biggest ask. If you have a partner, that's the main ask, and often the hardest. (Otherwise, a raise is probably the one). There were some places that could do essentially nothing, as part of university policy. Supposing you get a good sense from the chair, start out strong with your ask: e.g. 'I'm wondering what the possibilities would be to get an TT position for my partner'. From our experience and what we have heard from others, very few universities will make this happen unless your partner has other similar offers, or you already have a permanent jobs, etc. (i.e. if you have options). And, of course, the department needs to be independently interested in both of you. But I also know of situations where after this first big ask, the university was able to offer a very good arrangement. Even if you think it's unlikely the partner can get a TT, start with that, since it will put you in a better negotiating position.

4. We negotiated significant raises even after the partner hire. But, again, this was because each of us had very attractive offers that we had a lot of trouble deciding amongst. But my understanding is that this is rare nowadays.

5. One reason to start with a strong ask about partners, is that this opens you up for further negotiations. Say the university is not able to offer a TT position, but they say they can offer a long-term renewable teaching position to the partner. I would think you could then still negotiate other aspects, like a raise or other goodies (travel $$).

6. This is perhaps the most important piece of advice: because each case has particularities of its own, SEEK ADVICE FROM TRUSTED MENTORS who you can fill in about your position. Sometimes they will even know how previous negotiations have gone with that very institution (our field is small). Our thesis supervisors were great at this, but we also found that other people in our department were very willing to give advice.

Last: congratulations on being in a position to negotiate, and best of luck!

Anon TT

1. Thanks so much to everyone who has given advice so far! I just wanted to ask if any reader has some UK-specific advice? I understand there is much less room to negotiate here but beyond that I would be really curious to know if the norms or expectations differ for example.

2. I know someone personally who had their R1 TT offer revoked simply for trying to *open* negotiations. It happens. Always open by gently confirming that there is a possibility to negotiate, in a way that doesn’t sound like you expect more than what you’ve been offered. Tread very lightly. In this market the stakes are simply too high not to.


Asking for a higher is the most important issue, if you do not have a partner you are trying to secure a job for. Salaries at State colleges move slower than turtles. So an extra $2,000 over 30 years is $60,000 (and remember cost of living raises, which are usually given as a percentage of current salary, will also be given on this extra bit). Moving costs etc. are short term gains, but the real gain is in the basic salary. (as they say, you do the math).


When I was about to negotiate, my advisor asked me to make a list of items ranked from the most important (salary) to the least important (a new computer). I found this more helpful than I thought as it gave me a sense of where to start.

This list also helped me see what my next step would be if some requests were declined. For example, I did not get a pre tenure sabbatical. But I did get one additional course release. My request for more start-up money was declined, but they agreed to move part of the moving expense into my start-up (I was just out of grad school and did not have much to move).

Mike Titelbaum

Two quick things:

1. Start by figuring out with whom you're negotiating. At some schools, the chair is on your side trying to get the best package possible for you from the dean. At other schools, you're negotiating "against" the chair. And then some schools are in-between. If the chair is on your side, then you can seek more guidance from them about what kinds of asks might be appropriate.

2. At some schools there is no way to negotiate sabbaticals—for instance, my school has a sabbatical policy that does not allow for early sabbaticals in any situation. However, departments and deans have the ability to negotiate pre-tenure "course releases", which can give you entire semesters to focus on your research. Asking about course releases can get you much different results from asking about sabbaticals.

trouble negotiating

Has anyone had any experiences with a very hostile process of negotiating?

I am currently negotiating for my second tenure track position (I already have a position). The chair has been extremely hostile since we have started, and not only in the sense of refusing to consider my requests (i.e., matching my current salary, partner hire), but also has been utterly antagonistic, bordering on personal insults and threatening to rescind the offer. It has been such a bizarre process, and I am so confused!


@Trouble negotiating: *me waving the big red flag the chair is giving you*

Conrad's friend

As Conrad notes, this is a red flag. Perhaps the chair did not personally support your appointment. So it could be rocky from here on in. But it could be a local thing - that the chair has absolutely NO power to offer you what you are asking and is now thinking they will never get you there. So the impatience could be a function of fearing the department will lose the line.


Trouble — I agree with the others. I have gone on the job market from a TT position, gotten a TT offer, and then asked for your requests, i.e., matching salary and partner hire. Without saying too much about the results, I can very much say that the response has never been antagonistic. Even where the hiring department has been unable to meet the request, I have always had them understand and be sympathetic to the request. This is a huge red flag.

trouble negotiating

Thanks, everyone! It makes sense, it really seems like a red flag-- I honestly don't know if he actually has the power to consider requests or not. Re: partner hire, he gave no institutional reasons, but more based on his judgment (for example, 'reservations about partner hires in the same department in general'). Anyhow, good to know this is not a usual thing!

negotiate over email

Recently learned from experience that it is a bad idea to negotiate over the phone instead of over email. You have less information and experience than the person you're negotiating with, and having less time to make your case only hurts you. Don't be fooled: when they say they prefer to do things as a "friendly conversation," it isn't friendly. It's a tactic and the goal is for you to take a worse offer.

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