Negotiating the Academic Job Offer

Negotiating the academic job offer sounds so frightening that most people are reluctant to even attempt it.In fact, what happens most often is that we’re so excited we received the offer, that we say “yes” right away. Experts, however, offer the following advice for negotiating.

  • Don’t negotiate until you’ve received an official job offer—either in writing or by phone from the department chair or search committee chair with a letter of confirmation to follow. It’s best not to give an immediate answer (even if you know you will accept).Take some time to think about what you might need from the institution (i.e., more information or specific items to be included in your contract/compensation package).
  • Gather information you might need to conduct your negotiation. Public institutions publish salaries so look at the entry level salaries at these institutions to ensure you’re negotiating within an appropriate range. Consider cost of living expenses and look into what benefits are provided such as health care, retirement, and tuition benefits for family members.
  • After you receive the hard copy of the offer letter, begin negotiations. If possible, negotiate either in person or by phone. Be polite and professional in your negotiations.
  • Salary is often the number one item that people consider when negotiating. First, ask if salary is negotiable. Many positions have a salary range, but some chairs will make an offer at the top of the range or offer what their budget allows. Equity may be an issue as well so instead of focusing on salary as the only negotiable item consider the following: a reduced teaching load, start-up package/research support, office space, travel funds, summer teaching, moving expenses, or dual career assistance.
  • Give the final offer some thought but provide a definite response within 1-2 weeks. Following the negotiation, have the terms put in writing.