Negotiating for the Long Term

In negotiating offers, newly minted Ph.D.’s often find themselves looking like proverbial kids in a candy store, finding treats wherever their eyes may land. On the advice of mentors, sometimes new faculty negotiations can turn into something like a buffet that ends up including items from every direction: specific courses to be taught, numbers of course preps, start-up money, special faculty-development funds, library-purchase funds, research support, and even housing allowances.

While it is important to document these kinds of discussions, it is easy for new faculty members to come off looking like high-maintenance prima donna’s when all that is happening is that they are negotiating out of enthusiasm and perhaps a touch of joy over having a “real” job. I rarely have the sense that new faculty candidates are trying to be greedy; more times than not their mentors have just advised them to negotiate from strength and to document everything in writing.

There is wisdom in specificity, as one’s negotiating position is always strongest on the way in to an institution rather than while one is internal. However, it’s also easy to forget that one is negotiating for the foundation of a career, not merely for a year. It’s important to remember that the negotiation process sets the tone for the future relationship with the administrators who are involved.

What negotiating advice would you offer? How much detail should new faculty members require employers to provide about their job duties?

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