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absolutely do not say anything until you have an offer in print. You have nothing until you have an offer. So you will just piss your current place off supremely. And, as Marcus notes, many places will not make counter offers. I was at a place that would not even give a junior person a $ 3000 raise for staying - this was ome years ago ... but $ 3000!?

Tenured now

I think this depends massively on your university AND your department. I have had friends get retention raises for turning down on-campus interviews, and my current university apparently at least sometimes does this. My previous department had (what I think was not a wise) hiring strategy according to which they hired the very best people they could assuming they would move on to better jobs after a few years, so our chair was aware of and supportive of us being on the market - he'd like to retain us if he could and so liked to have more time to try to arrange something if an offer came through, but would not hold it against us if it didn't. Which is all to say that if there is someone senior you trust in your department or a similar department, I would ask them in confidence. If there is not, I would follow the advice from Marcus and Prudence. Good luck!


This is not my case, but anecdotally a colleague of mine told their department chair that they were invited for an interview, and it was at that stage that they were made a counter offer to turn the interview invitation down. Not saying that always or usually happen, but that was one case I know of in which it did.

I will say that how to get raises through getting external offers (which seems to be the only way to get any meaningful raise) is something that is under discussed and quite opaque to me at my institution, and more information on what strategies were successful would be very welcome.


Also, I have spoken candidly about this with my department head with no ill feelings on their part (as far as I can tell). They know I am happy here, but we both know that salary here is not great. They have no reason to get supremely pissed because I wish to better my financial situation. Not saying all department heads are as understanding, but it is not obvious that one cannot be candid with some people at the institution.

R1 person

If you are at an R1 and you definitely want to stay, I would tell them ASAP. Your chair should hopefully have an idea about whether the admin will negotiate to get you to withdraw from an interview, and typically they will want to do that. This is a safer and better bet for you than waiting to see if you get an offer and only negotiating then.

Don't overshare at work

Speaking as a former lawyer, do not say anything until you have another offer.

Some people think that their current colleagues are their friends and have your best interest in hand, so itโ€™s good to talk to them! If you are early in your career, be very wary of doing so.

It would help if you considered how your chair, or someone committed to your current institution, would be impacted by what you tell them. If you tell your chair, for example, you may want to leave; they may wish what is best for you. Or, more likely, they may see you as one foot out the door, and now you are just another work problem adding to their already busy work life.


I do think this varies by institution and department, but I've been invited to apply elsewhere a few times and, when I would actually consider moving, I've had a candid conversation with my chair letting them know that I'm happy where I am but that there are some appealing features of the position I've been invited to apply for. My chair then advocated for me to the dean and secured a substantial retention offer for me to pull out of the other search. I know other colleagues have done the same. I'm at an R1 (but not one with a PhD program), and my department is friendly and supportive, and the upper admin doesn't seem keen to punish people that can generate interest from other departments.

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