Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Nitty Gritty

Not that I'm not still relaxing and basking in the warm glow of my offer (actually, I'm planning for tomorrow's 2 classes - groan!) - but I've been thinking about my offer and how to negotiate. Hilaire suggested I write a blogpost on this and, because she is preternaturally wise and cool, I am doing just that.

The offer that's been made is really good as is (and that's not because it's simply an *offer* - which is awesome at this point - but I think it's empirically a good offer). I know that there are things like moving costs, etc. that they don't have any wiggle room on (it's set by the state system and out of their hands). Also, my computer allowance is generous and I get a nice first year travel allowance for research, conferences, etc. and after that, there are many internal grants and travel funds to apply for. They are reducing my teaching load slightly for the first year and so that's fantastic. Unfortunately, the department doesn't offer any pre-tenure leaves unless you have a grant, so I can't really ask for more time off. I still would like to ask about the benefits, particularly how much they contribute to retirement, etc.

The only thing I might want to "negotiate" would be my salary. Without giving anything away, certainly, I happen to know (b/c I sneaked a peek at the piece of paper the chair had in front of her in the office) the salary range for an Asst. Prof. and Assoc. Prof. in the department (they happen to be hiring for both this year). For both ranks it's a range of $4000 difference between the upper and lower ends. The offer I've been made is smack dab in the middle of the salary range for an Asst. Prof. - as I've said, it's very generous and more than I've made at other schools as a VAP! But, I know that the salary range for this position goes $2000 beyond that as well. I feel like I should ask for the higher salary because I believe that they can/will give it to me. But how should I ask? Do I need to justify why I would need the extra money (i.e., a commuter relationship for at least a year...)? I know this question is fraught with all kinds of issues - gender being a biggie. I just want to make sure that I get the best deal I can.

Also, we've heard from the Dutchman U that the most they would be able to offer me in response to this other offer would be a 3-year contract with a slightly higher teaching load, no chance to teach any medieval classes, and almost no chance of renewability or a tenure-track opportunity in my field coming open anytime soon. They have plenty of t-t scholars in my field already. We heard words from the Dean today on the renewability issue like "possible, not even probable"; "not automatic"; and "don't expect it". I knew this was probably going to be the case, but I think the Dutchman is really sad about this and so am I in a way. It needs a chance to sink in, but his little face was simultaneously so happy about my opportunity and so sad about me moving away.

I'm still overjoyed about this new development and I am savoring it, but there are real things in my life that will be effected by this. We will have lots of good talks in the next few days and we'll work out a game plan, but I think he's still in shock - he doesn't actually emotionally deal with things until they are right in front of him. He needs to talk to his folks, his friends, his colleagues, just like I needed to share this (the good and the bad) with my friends, family, and my blog buddies!

So, if anyone has any advice on the "asking for more dough" front, that would be lovely - I'm even open to getting help on the phrasing! :) Also, any advice on surviving a commuter marriage for a year or two, besides "don't do it!" (it's actually not in another galaxy - it's a total of about 2.5 hours flying time over two legs)??

Update: Job Placement Coordinator and advisor are suggesting that I simply take the offer b/c I don't have a competing one to bargain with.

What say you??



At 2:13 PM, Blogger Flavia said...

I got some awesome advice from the blogosphere when I landed this job last year, so here's the link to that post & comments, if you think it would help.

I think that you're right that this is a very good offer--it sounds comparable to the one I got (and indeed, they're pretty comparable institutions, I think!). But you should always negotiate, and what I think I'd do is really play up the long-distance relationship angle. Yes, they're common in academia, but it's still a significant hardship to keep two households (even if one of them is just a studio apartment), to be buying plane tix once or twice a month apiece, etc. And I'm guessing that your travel expenses would be on the pricier side, too.

That angle didn't work for me, I have to say, but I think it doesn't hurt to remind people that even though, gosh! You love them! You love the job!--you might well leave in a couple of years if they don't really help you make the long-distance thing work.

Good luck!

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Ancrene Wiseass said...

I'd agree with Flavia--the long-distance relationship and attendant costs are more than enough justification to ask for a little more. In fact, I'd bet they're expecting it.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger Flavia said...

Responding to your update: you can still negotiate without a competing job offer, although you are, obviously, in a stronger position if you've got a second one.

And hell: you do have an alternate job, since your current position is renewable (even though it isn't comparable in pay or status to having a t-t one). And at your current position, you're with the hubby.

They won't stop loving you if you ask for more money. They might not give it to you, but you should still ask. Even another $1000 a year would help with your commuting expenses--and remember that all future raises will be figured as a percentage of your existing salary, so an extra $1000 or $2000 added to your base salary next year will keep paying dividends for as many years as you remain at that institution.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Pilgrim/Heretic said...

On the one hand: I'm a big giant sissy about negotiating, so it would be really hard for me to ask for more, especially if I'd gotten an offer that was exactly in the range of what I was supposed to get. On the other hand: it never hurts to ask! I wouldn't ask without having some ammunition, though. Highlight the experience you already have, for example, because the long-distance angle is important, but sounds too much like "give me what I want" rather than "give me what I'm worth." Find ways to convince them that you're worth the extra $2000.

At 7:51 PM, Anonymous mythoclast said...

Sorry I can't help with your problem, but I have to ask:

why is gender an issue? Do a lot of women academics really give up their jobs if/when they have children? I wouldn't think they would, seeing as how difficult it can be to get in the first place...

Sorry to be so naive.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Bardiac said...

Ask. I read a book on gender and negotation last year that made a big point about the fact that women get lower offers (and take them), and since raises are usually based on percentages of the present salary, we get further and further behind.

They won't dislike you for asking. They won't rescind the offer. They won't necessarily say no, either :)

At 9:05 PM, Blogger medieval woman said...

Dearlings! Thank you for your feedback (and keep it comin'!) - especially, Flavia, thanks for sending the link to your post and comment roster about this same issue. Even though I technically don't have a t-t offer to provide a certain kind of leverage, that doesn't mean I can't ask.

Another question - should I mention that Dutchman U has offered to renew my position here and then ask if it might be possible to increase my salary to $XXXXX because there would be periodic travel back and forth? Or should I just say that there would be travel back and forth? I.e., do I mention that I can stay here? Or will they laugh me out of the room?

Ugh! And Mythoclast, thanks for your question about gender - I was going to respond exactly as Bardiac did (indeed, I read Bardiac's comment on Flavia's previous post this afternoon) - women tend not to negotiate as much. Base salary *is* pretty important as it's usually the basis of raises after that.

At 10:21 PM, Anonymous mythoclast said...

I see.... well, good luck with the negotiations :)

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I've heard is that one should ALWAYS ask for more. Maybe they can't or won't give it, but I would hazard a guess that they imagine that you will ask for more. It's always been presented to me as a statement that you know what you're worth. Also, I've heard people in meetings speak admiringly of candidates who are "shrewd negotiators." I wonder actually if you must articulate why you want/deserve more necessarily (especially since you know they have wiggle room). In your case where you will definitely have the expenses of a commute marriage (and it's really hard to deal with a long-term relationship if you see each other less than once a month -- more often is better), you have a good argument for why you'd want more.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger jb said...

Having 0 experience in this matter, and not being particularly assertive in such things, I'm not the best to advise. But I think you should at least *ask* for the larger amount, for the same reasons that everyone else gives: you have nothing to lose, and your future salary will be seriously affected by the difference. Besides, wouldn't you hate the thought that maybe you *could* have got the higher salary, but didn't try?

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Dr. Virago said...

Medieval Woman -- First of all a hearty congratulations!!!! (Since I'm just catching this and the last post now.) Woo-hoo!!! (And off topic, I owe you an e-mail anyway, so will ask for real life details when I send that.)

I agree with everything everyone's said here, and I have something to add, too. Ask them if you can shift that teaching reduction to a later year instead of the first year, if you want to. I could do that at my university (and it's similar in character to Flavia's, so, according to her, then comparable to yours, too) and I used it in my third year when I was editing my book in response to the peer reviews. That turned out to be a better use of my time than it would've been in my first year. Also, in my case, I got a 2-course release, and since I have a 3/2 load, I was able to take it all in one semester, effectively have a one-semester sabbatical (although I still had service obligations). You might ask if that's possible, too.

Such a course-release deal could be a way for them to sweeten things for you at no financial cost to them (if they can't give you more money). Something to think about anyway.

At 11:29 PM, Anonymous What Now? said...

Hooray, congratulations on the job -- that's so fabulously exciting!!

I have no advice on the negotiation front, but I do think Dr. Virago's suggestion is brilliant. In the first year, I think it's almost inevitable that one spends more time and energy on teaching than on research/writing anyway -- and this seems to be true even if one has a reduced teaching load -- so there's something to be said for waiting on the course reduction until one can use it to better effect.

Any possibility that your new school might offer a "trailing" position to the Dutchman?

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Another Damned Medievalist said...

Damn, I wish I were Dr. Virago. SMart woman. ANd I got bupkus on negotiation. I was crap at it.


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