Tuesday, May 3, 2011



One of the universities I've spoken with in the last few weeks has offered me a one-year VAP that maybe-kinda could be extended for a second year.  This was totally unexpected: I felt like I had screwed up my interview with the school, and I was pretty well shocked to get an email from them that didn't follow the format of:
Dear Dr. Koshary,
Thank you for your interest in this position.  We had a huge number of highly qualified applicants this year, and unfortunately...
You know the rest.

But that's not what I got!  They want me, they want me!

Now, then: aside from wanting to share my good news with my blogging colleagues, I want to get your advice.  I've actually heard more advice about negotiating for t-t jobs than for avowedly temporary VAPs.  Is there much point in trying to negotiate salary, if the sum is named in the job offer email?  Do I have a shot at getting some moving expenses?  I assume that research funding and conference travel is a long shot, since they're hiring me to teach a 4-4 load as replacement faculty.  Should I forget about that altogether, or see if they'll at least kick in for conference travel costs?

From another angle, is there any point in following up on the other jobs that showed interest in me?  The only other serious prospect I seem to have right now is an essentially identical job at another university, for which I have an interview set up next week.  Should I even try to nudge them on timing, or – since I clearly have very little bargaining power as a VAP hire – should I just tell them I must respectfully withdraw my application in light of the offer?  I'm leaning toward doing exactly that, and since I just got the offer email, I figure I have about twenty-four hours within which to figure out my plan of action before the school that wants to hire me starts wondering why the hell I haven't said anything.

Please, if you read this today, respond quickly.  I'm probably going to be celebrating and drunk in about twelve hours, so it would be good to get some advice while I'm sober enough to absorb it and act on it.  :D


  1. Congrats! See, I wasn't hogging all of the good luck.

    As to your questions (since I am in an identical situation): It doesn't hur to negotiate salary, even if they set one out. You definitely need to negotiate for moving expenses. It's usually a percentage of your annual salary (3%, in my situation).

    If you are interested in this other position, contact them NOW and say you have an offer, but are still interested. If they aren't willing to expedite your visit, withdraw.

    Respond to your offer, thank them, and then ask when they need an answer. Standard is around 1-2 weeks. Then say you will be in touch within the set timeframe.

    CONGRATS! I am so excited for you!

  2. Addendum: The most important point of negotiation...It NEVER hurts to ask. Ask for anything you need, spinning it in terms of "I would be more productive if..."

  3. Yay! And good luck with the negotiating!

  4. MAZEL TOV!!!! That is so awesome, Dr K, congratulations!!

    I second all of haphazardmusings' advice. Go get 'em!

  5. Yay, job!!!!!!

    I agree with the earlier advice. Moving expenses, however, are *not* standardized in any way across institutions --- I got $500 flat, the postdocs in another dept at this school were not eligible for anything. So I would ask, in descending order, about salary, then moving expenses, then travel funds, and I wouldn't expect to actually get any thing on the salary, since it is a replacement line. But I would push pretty hard on moving money, especially since you have quite a ways to travel.

    PS Yay!!!!!!!!

  6. Hooray and congrats!

    I agree that you should respond to the email quickly (and enthusiastically), but not make an immediate commitment. I doubt they'd give you two weeks to decide, with a late-term hire, but they'll surely give you a few days. I'd explicitly tell them that you're waiting to hear about another position (which is true, but which will also put you in a better position if there's any possibility that they can move on salary or other goodies).

    Salary is often totally inflexible; at my state institution (although not at all state institutions) it's a contractual issue. But other things, like moving expenses, travel funding, new computer/printer might be negotiable. (And will you get your own office? You should, but sometimes space is tight. Ask.) It's also possible that your courseload is slightly flexible. Maybe you could do 3/4, so you can get up to speed in your first semester? At least ask to double-up your preps so there are just two or three per semester.

    They want you for this job, and they likely have only one fall-back if you don't take it. You don't have tons of power, and they're probably legitimately constrained in what they can offer you. But they want to get someone locked in ASAP, so if you a) convey your great enthusiasm, b) indicate that you have another possible offer and delay a couple of days, and c) include in your negotiating some easy-to-grant things that don't cost them much (but that will genuinely improve your work life), you're in a decent position and are likely to get some of what you ask for. And whatever you get, at least you'll know you tried!

    Congrats again!

  7. Congratulations! So happy to hear it, especially in this still-bad market.

  8. Congratulations! Agree with all the other good advice you've already gotten.

    *woohooing loudly*


    I have no advice, I just wanted to cheerlead. SOMEONE GOT A JOB! HOORAY!

  10. Congratulations! Now stop reading these comments and celebrate!

  11. Congrats! good points made by everyone. But listen especially to Flavia. Don't delay responding, convey enthusiasm, etc.

  12. Thanks, everyone! I must say, I'm still jumpy about this negotiating business. I sent them an email asking about moving expenses and conference travel, and asking how much time I might have to give them an answer. A little while later, I got an email from one of my advisors from grad school suggesting that I not negotiate at all, but just take the job right away. This wouldn't intimidate me so much if zi were not currently the chair of hir department. I don't know how to process the fact that hir advice and the consensus of my blog readers seem totally incompatible. Dear God, could I have just cheated myself out of the position by asking what I did? Have I made a terrible mistake? Have I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory?

    Do I need a drink? Yes, yes I do.

  13. Congratulations!

    In response to your last question: the WORST they will do in response to your questions is say, "no, we're sorry, the salary we offered is the best that we can do."

    We tend to ask for a response in a week, but recognize that people have other interviews and such.

    Good luck! I hope you'll be able to get some moving help and all :)

    And, by the way. Congratulations!!!!!

  14. First off, A huge congrats. Anything in this climate is good, though still, frankly, unfair.

    I agree with Bardiac on this one, which is to say that they can easily say, "We have no more resources to offer you, and we need an answer today," at which point you both have gotten your answer, and learned a bit more about the department in the interim.

    One can always push without being pushy.