The Graduate School
G-1 Communications Building
Seattle, Washington 98195-3770
Academic Job Offer and Salary Negotiations
by Briana Keller
Some graduate students may fear the negotiation process because they have little or no experience negotiating a job offer. Here are tips for negotiating a starting package that can maximize your personal and professional satisfaction as a future faculty member.
- Ask faculty in your department what they think would be a fair package.
- Research average faculty salaries online by state and institution.
- Check the websites of professional associations in your field for academic salary information.
- When you’re offered a position, the balance of power shifts in your favor. As a result, you will likely never be in a better position to get what you want.
- Departments expect you to negotiate.
- Do not assume anything. Ask questions.
Maintain a positive attitude
- The way you negotiate sets the stage for future interactions with your colleagues. Strive for a win-win situation. The hiring committee and your supervisor want you to be happy with your starting package.
- Be professional, courteous, appreciative, ethical — and firm.
- Be willing to compromise and accept “no” as an answer.
Frame your requests appropriately
- Frame your requests in terms of what you need to be optimally successful and productive at the institution.
- Focus on the value you will bring to the department.
- Always ask for a higher salary! Your starting salary has a big impact on your overall lifetime earnings because raises are calculated from your base (starting) salary.
- Evaluate other aspects of an offer so you know what you’re getting yourself into: relocation expenses, confer- ence money, office space, lab equipment, job responsi- bilities, student and staff support, healthcare, retirement, family benefits, etc.
- Try not to get so excited about having a job offer that you forget to think about the future.
- Pick your battles—prioritize what’s important to you and then only negotiate the things about which you feel strongly.
- Ask yourself “What do I need to be happy, be produc- tive—and get tenure?”
- Distinguish between what is absolutely necessary for you and what would be nice to have, but extra.
Get it in writing
- When you receive the official offer letter, make sure it agrees with what was discussed during the negotiation process.
- If the letter contains inaccurate information or is missing vital items, ask for an updated letter.
- If you agree to the terms, sign the letter, make a copy of it, and promptly return the original.
- Do not consider yourself hired until you and your employer have both signed a written document.
Golde, C. (2001). Be honorable and strategic. Science Careers. http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/
Heiberger, M. M., & Vick, J. M. (2001). The academic job search handbook. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Reis, R. (1999). The right start-up package for beginning science professors. The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/jobs/99/08/99082702c.htm