Sunday, November 11, 2012

Negotiation is a Dialogue: Compiled Advice

This post was inspired by the following paragraph from a Chronicle article:
If you're like most academics, you either negotiate a job offer poorly, or you don't negotiate at all. The cost to you of failing to negotiate your first faculty position can be significant. Here's just one example: Miranda, a recent Ph.D. in the social sciences, negotiated a 6 percent increase in salary over what her new department initially offered her, from $49,000 a year to $52,000. If we assume she enjoys a 30-year career and receives annual raises of 3 percent, the extra salary that she negotiated (just $3000 more) would translate into an additional $143,000 over what she would have earned without negotiating.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled advice from our CSWA resources, previous CSWA blog posts (here and here), other resources (here, here, here, here, and here), and advice I’ve been given.

Before launching into the advice, if you’re planning to attend the winter AAS, I highly recommend attending the ‘Negotiating Strategy and Tactics’ workshop on Thursday, January 10th. If you will not be attending the AAS, find out if your institution provides negotiation training.

General Advice:
- Ask for the offer in writing and establish a mutually agreeable period for you to respond.
- If anything is vague or confusing about the initial offer, ask questions.
- At each stage in the negotiation, request the newly accepted terms in writing. There are too many anecdotes of verbal offers not being upheld.
- Do your research (see specifics below).
- Do mock negotiations to practice your answers. Have prepared responses for moments where you need to give yourself more time to think, for example, ‘You’ve given me a lot to think about. I will come back to you with my response.’
- Have a clear outline of your expectations/needs, in order of priority. What is the bottom-line salary, teaching responsibility, research support, etc. you would accept? What would be ideal?
- Determine your deal breakers. Be prepared to reject the offer if the terms are unacceptable to you.
- Think about how you would advise a friend or colleague in the same situation. We are often better advocates for others than we are for ourselves.
- If you must, forego one-time expenses to net a greater salary increase. Even small increases in salary can add up over time. Remember, your starting salary affects your future salary. Many institutions have standard cost-of-living adjustments and few opportunities for significant increases. One-time expenses are much easier for an institution to offer than salary increases, though less advantageous for you.
- Your institution wants you to be a permanent hire. It's your responsibility to ensure that you'll have the time, money, and support you need to develop your teaching skills, pursue your research, publish, and provide committee service. Think of this guiding principle each time you ask for something more.
- Remain calm, professional, and honest.

Negotiation Timing:
- Wait until you have received an offer. If salary and other negotiables are mentioned in your interview, try to refrain from accepting any circumstances at that time.
- Items like spousal accommodation often require approval by multiple layers of administration and therefore take much more time to resolve in your favor. Items like teaching assignments are usually left up to the department chair and can pushed later in the negotiation process.
- Contact institutions where you remain on the shortlist. Let them know you've received an offer and will need to make your decision in the weeks ahead. Inquire about the progress of their search, and with luck, they will be inclined to promptly indicate your status in their search.

- Find out what the salary range is. If the salary isn’t posted, do your research until you find a baseline range that matches your level of experience. Check the Chronicle of Higher Education,,,, etc., to get an idea of pay scales.
- Know what you need to live, what you need to save, and how much risk you can tolerate (use a budget calculator, like this one.)
- Don’t be the first to state a salary. You don’t want to ask for less than their initial offer. You can only negotiate up from what they state.
- Ask for more than you expect to receive. Be willing to consider a compromise in response to your counteroffer.

Teaching Support:
- Teaching relief for the first year as well as a semester in the third year for time to write papers (on track for tenure)
- Stockpiling. Some choose to negotiate to teach their full teaching load in one semester, so that the other semester is focused on research.
- Schedule. For example, require a Monday/Wednesday teaching schedule so that the other days are free for research, accommodating a spouse in another location, etc.
- Which courses you’ll teach (i.e., upper/lower/prep-time/number of preparations).
- TA/grader support.

Research Support:
- Summer salary for the first year.
- Funding for undergraduate research assistants.
- Funding for graduate research assistants.
- Funding for a postdoctoral fellowship.
- Publication costs.
- Conference and travel support.
- Early or delayed tenure.

Family Leave & Childcare:
- If your institution has no (or poor) family leave policy, negotiate three+ months of paid leave, one year tenure clock delay per child, and teaching/service relief during that year.
- Saved spot in on-site daycare.

Spousal/Partner Accommodation:
- Job opportunities for your spouse or partner. As for many of these, this should be a post of advice in itself.

- Institution-matching of retirement funds (IRA).
- Do you have access to detailed information on the institution’s benefits package?

- Start date (if you have funding to continue in your current position and could benefit from more time in that position, consider negotiating deferring the start for a year or more).
- Moving expenses.
- In some high-cost of living areas, employees have access to special housing arrangements. Find out if you can take advantage of these.

Additional considerations for non-tenure positions:
- Ability to serve as a research advisor to students
- Ability to serve as a PI on external grants

- Some items may not be negotiable due to state law and union contracts at public universities. Use caution before pushing too hard against such firm constraints.

How to Say No:
- Start off with a positive statement thanking the organization for the offer.
- Let them know that you will have to unfortunately decline their offer.
- Provide them with an appropriate reason for the decline (i.e., you had another offer you are pursuing, the location, the benefits etc).

Final important note: The way this is written is as if these are the 'must-follow negotiation rules' established by the community. They are most decidedly not. In the end, do what’s comfortable for you. And don’t hesitate to contact us at the CSWA if you need advice on your specific situation.

Posted by Laura Trouille.