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Blog

Have Ph.D. Will travel. (Part 1)

Randall F. Clemens

As May approaches, Ph.D. candidates are scrambling to submit dissertation chapters to their committee chairs. At the same time, many have heard or are eagerly waiting to hear from search committees regarding potential jobs. Some even have job offers.

During a hectic time, the negotiation process only adds to the hubbub. Here’s some advice:

  • Take a deep breath. 
  • Talk to your advisor.
  • Take another deep breath.
  • Ph.D. candidates are often ambitious people. You will undoubtedly consider how each and every aspect of the offer will impact every minute of your life for the next 30 years. Don’t. 
  • Identify the negotiables and non-negotiables. Maybe the university does not have a lot of wiggle room in terms of salary. However, they may be able to offer a reduced course load or extra funds for research or travel.
  • Countless questions will run through your head: Why did they only offer $66,000? Glassdoor.com shows the average salary for assistant professors at So and So U is $75,000. Is the dean shortchanging me? Can I get more for moving costs? What about the teaching load? Work on getting the best package possible, but also consider the big picture. At the beginning of the process, Bill told me, “The first raise is the biggest raise.” A little later, he also said, “Do you want to be known as the new guy who is a diva?” In the long run, do you want to go to the mat for a $2,000 difference between what you would like and what they are offering? You may decide “yes.” But, understand the reasons why.
  • Get the offer in writing. Some universities use a standard contract. The dean will put any negotiated items in a separate letter.
  • If the job offer isn’t what you expected, the negotiations aren’t going well, and you didn’t have a great experience during the job talk, maybe you should consider other options. Don’t feel trapped.  
  • Last, if you accept the offer, allow yourself to celebrate. Having a Ph.D. and a job are quite the accomplishments. 

In my next post, I will discuss what happens when you move from one place to another.