Negotiating an Offer

For those that are on the cusp of Phinishing and have had the fortune of receiving an offer from an academic institution, congratulations! If you have not had the opportunity to attend a workshop on negotiating, read on. Your first offer is just a starting place.

Your salary is always negotiable. In public (and many private) institutions, salary information on faculty is available and reviewing this will give you an idea of the typical range at your institution. Also useful is knowing national averages, which is published annually in the AMS Notices. This report from the AMS contains the most recent publication.  Make sure you are aware of your institution’s group when reading this report and note that these graphs represent information from only those departments that responded to the survey. Remember your benefits are also tied to your salary, so there is a compounding effect on your retirement plan.

Another negotiable aspect is the teaching load or the structure of your teaching load. Some departments are able to offer a lower initial teaching load. Others have no problem shifting the load, say from a 2-2 to a 1-3. Again, it is very helpful to find out what is currently done at the institution via the department’s website or by simply contacting the faculty you met on your on-campus interview.

Startup packages are important to discuss. It is important to know what the department provides and what you will eventually have to maintain on your own. Anticipate the specific needs of your profession: office space, office furniture, desktop/laptop/printer/hardware/software and their eventual replacements/updates, office supplies, travel / conference funds, relocation, funds to bring collaborators/speakers, summer teaching, etc… You should also distinguish between what you need (minimal requirements) and what you want (ideal situation). Note that every compromise requires a give and take from both parties and it helps to be thorough yet flexible. Do your homework: (1) find out the costs of others’ packages and what they included, (2) have a general idea of the costs for the items you are requesting.

Do not forget: your future chair / colleague is mediating your negotiation with the Dean. So, when you receive an offer, respond.  Non-responsiveness can burn some bridges, whether intentionally or not. If you need more time, respond saying that.  For those with a “two-body” problem, you should definitely discuss this issue during the negotiation period. The sooner you disclose this information during the negotiation, the greater the possibility the department has to adjust and assist your situation.  Be honest with your needs and truthful about competing offers — the mathematical community is a small world. Be consistent about what you ask for and with whom you negotiate. It simplifies this already complex experience.




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1 Response to Negotiating an Offer

  1. Dagan Karp says:

    For undergraduate faculty positions, another item worth requesting: funds to support summer research students. You can request funds for x students for the first y years, and prepare to negotiate down on both x and y.

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