Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

Everything is Negotiable

When I was talking to the chair of BigCityUniversity about my start up package there, he said that “everything is negotiable.” At BigCityU, you could negotiate your housing, since you had to rent from the university. I have seen BigShotProfessors negotiate their parking spots. I negotiated for HusbandOfScience to be given a tenure track position. I truly believe that anything is negotiable.  Of course, different schools are more or less accustomed to negotiating for certain items. BigCityU was used to negotiating housing, for instance. My current department had never negotiated a spousal accommodation before, but they were able to figure it out.

Some common items you can definitely negotiate:

  1. Salary for you.
  2. Equipment. It may be easier to get if multiple people can use it.
  3. Salary for people in the lab.

Some less common, yet equally important things you can negotiate:

  1. Daycare access or rank on a daycare list, especially if the university runs the daycare, and the list is long.
  2. Housing. (Number of bedrooms, location to campus, view.)
  3. Parking. (Parking location, rank on a list of parking lot.)
  4. Your spouse’s academic position. (See two-body issues in previous posts).
  5. Your spouse’s non-academic job. (Some universities can place spouses in administrative positions, or have other “non-academic” departments that they can tap into.)
  6. Your tenure clock (and you can re-negotiate later, if you need to have it longer or shorter).
  7. Your starting title. (Associate Professor without tenure? Full Professor with tenure?)
  8. The classes you will teach and the number of times you teach them before you switch. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Getting to repeat teaching a course is the key to getting better evaluations. Three times is usually perfect to get it right. More on these ideas later in teaching-related posts.
  9. If and when you will get relief from teaching during your first 5 years (many schools do this.)
  10. Your service duties. You can specify what you won’t do, too.
  11. Other future tenure-track hires that you will get to lead, or have say in recruiting and hiring. They can actually promise to make N hires over X years in your field.
  12. Space renovations. Double check if your start-up money has to pay for it, or if the university, dean, or department is fitting the bill.
  13. Office furniture and other amenities. (Do you need a mini-fridge for pumped milk and some curtains so that people can’t see in your office? They should provide that.)
  14. Travel to conferences.
  15. Career development opportunities, such as leadership conferences. These are pretty pricey (~$10,000), so this is no small potatoes to negotiate.

I say get as many of these thing in writing as possible, too. They don’t have to be listed in the offer letter, but get a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is signed by you, the chair, and the dean (or higher ups, if the money is coming from them). Not all these things are for a start-up either. They can be deployed for retention if you are being recruited away or are on the market.

If others have examples, please share as a comment or make a guest post.

Comments on: "Everything is Negotiable" (1)

  1. […] thus, none of us are all that practiced at it. I have had a couple older posts about negotiating (Everything and Practice and […]

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