• October 30, 2014
October 30, 2014, 9:51:39 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: For all you tweeters, follow The Chronicle on Twitter.
 
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
Author Topic: help--offer negotiation  (Read 6349 times)
snu88
Junior member
**
Posts: 52


« on: May 03, 2012, 1:29:20 PM »

Hi all,

Naturally, I am such a bad negotiator, I would like some advice from you gurus.

Some of you may remember my previous posting on my miserable life in the current position. Fortunately, I just got an offer from a school in the east coast (not as big as the current school, but still a well regarded school). It is at the "verbal" stage and we are to negotiate the details. The salary is 12% more of my current salary--that happens to be the average salary at the assoc prof level posted on their website. But things are rather complicated:

  • My current salary X is a 12-month salary.
  • The new offer Y (which is 1.12X) is 9-month.
  • (here's a monkey wrench thrown into the equation) The living expenses are very high in that location. According to living expense calculation websites, I should make 50-60% more of current annual income to keep the same quality of living. I think the big difference is mostly due to housing and commute, which means if I sacrifice the comfort living that I currently have, it might be doable to live on less than that, but that's only an uninformed guess.
  • The school has some sort of program grant that they want me to be part of, the chair says I can be paid for 2  extra summer months if I join the project, which I am interested in. Then the actual annual salary will be 1.22Y (or 1.37X). But this will not be written in the contract.
  • Currently asst prof, the offer is assoc prof. Tenure will be reviewed on the 6th year (which is kind of nice).
  • The new school is a private school--I have no idea how they pay... is there a tendency of higher salaries in private schools than in big, public ones?
  • The school offers a pretty good benefit package. I know from my experience in several work places, this will be almost the best benefit that I could get. Considering that, maybe it's OK to take the offer as is??  --- you see, this is me---the one who doesn't like to negotiate.

One thing I consider trying to negotiate is, on the incentives on external grants that I bring in. The pressure of getting an over $mil NIH grant to get tenure will be much less in this school---this is a euphemism of "there will be heavy teaching and admin loads expected in this job," in case you think it's not fair :). But they still encourage getting external research grants. (What schools don't these days?) Maybe we should discuss some incentives if I get NIH funding, and ask them to put them in writing? Maybe they have no reason to say no, because there's no burden on them...

The bottom line is, I want to move to that area.
  • Kids are excited to move. We had such fun times whenever we visited there for vacations.
  • But I just want to make this deal as fair as possible. Fair to them, and fair to me, too. Something that I will not regret over. My last negotiation was so horrible. I ignored a lot of "oh, no, no" signs and, since then have been paying for the ignorance very badly.
  • Finally, although this can be totally a dillusion of my own--I think the chair likes me (and I like him, too)--I say this based on the interactions we had over 5-6 years in the past. I would guess, it wouldn't hurt to try to negotiate if it is reasonably done. So, I would like to have some perspectives on what is fair to ask at this point.

Any advice would be appreciated.
Logged
zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,567


« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 2:04:32 PM »


I assume you've read Getting to Yes.

About the cost of living difference, 50-60 pct doesn't seem on target.  When I worked for a national company, the difference between regions was more on the order of 10, maybe 20 pct.  Obviously, you can't compare the price of a house with one acre of land between Bugtussle and Boston.

About public vs. private college, pay, you really can't tell, since it varies by state and school.  In my state, the most prestigious privates pay the best, the least prestigious privates pay the worst.  The middle privates pay what the publics pay, or within 10 pct or so. 
Logged

__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
mirada
New member
*
Posts: 16


« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 2:05:38 PM »

Mirada is also not a great negotiator and is in a very different field, BUT it sounds like you've gotten most of what you want. Congratulations on the offer!  My 2 cents: say you are extremely interested in the position, but ask if they can improve the salary.    (Higher baseline salary is always better than extra summer pay, which may come anyway, or incentive for grants, which also may come anyway.)
Logged
oatmeal
Senior member
****
Posts: 607


« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 2:39:01 PM »

OP--Congratulations on the offer. In terms of negotiations, in addition to what other have written, you do not want to draw any red lines at the moment. If you want to say yes and want to go, ask for "is they any wriggle room on the base salary?" They will say yes or no, or they will get back to you. Do not give them a salary amount but have an idea of what you want (not what you need). You can even say, I am very interested and I would like to say yes to this (or you can not say this and be coy). It sounds as though you have extra salary for extra work. Make sure this is something you want to do (and need to do for tenure, rather than it taking up a lot of time from your own research). It is normal for that not to be in the original contract. You can probably get that commitment in writing though. On the rank, remember that if you come is as an untenured associate, you will not get the salary bump at tenure (at least most likely you will not). This is probably why the starting salary is higher.

Other things to ask for, once the salary is set: computer, facilities, start up money, moving expenses (get the most you can), teaching load (this is negotiable), conference/research/travel money, graduate student help.

Good luck. You are probably not as bad at negotiating as you think. Always keep it professional, polite (but firm) and listen for cues. Always give yourself time to think and talk to your partner and set up times to phone back. Always signal interest in the position and excitement at the opportunity. Remember, they also want you to say yes. I have tried this approach three times and each time it worked for the negotiations.
Logged
snu88
Junior member
**
Posts: 52


« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 2:59:39 PM »

Thanks, oatmeal, miranda, and zharkov.

BTW, what is Getting to Yes?
I assume you've read Getting to Yes.

Logged
lurkingfear
Senior member
****
Posts: 729


« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 6:19:47 PM »

About the cost of living difference, 50-60 pct doesn't seem on target.  When I worked for a national company, the difference between regions was more on the order of 10, maybe 20 pct.  Obviously, you can't compare the price of a house with one acre of land between Bugtussle and Boston.

I don't know about this. Unless you are willing to live an hours commute from campus, it could easily cost 50% more to have a similar abode in Boston compared with Bugtussle. There are many areas of the country where one can have a three bedroom house for less than 100k. Somehow I doubt you'd find that for 2-3x that in many big cities. Other living expenses may be similar, but housing is the big one.

I would definitely express enthusiasm for the position (though not too much) before asking for that higher salary. At best though, you can expect to get it up 5%, maybe 10%, from the initial offer, unless you are really a star.
Logged
seniorscholar
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 7,503


« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 7:12:47 PM »

A couple of people who were my PhD students moved from a first job at Southwest Bugtussle State College to a private SLAC in suburban Chicago or Washington DC or similar. In both cases, the college had separate non-salary pots of money to deal with the cost-of-living issue: an interest-free loan for the down payment on a house that did not have to be repaid if you stayed there for ten years, or rental housing in a campus development that was far cheaper than the local minimum for something decent. Mentioning your concern about housing costs might lead the person you're speaking with to let you know of something similar, if the school has it available.
Logged
systeme_d_
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 16,154

No T, no shade. Usually.


« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2012, 8:06:59 PM »

In this particular case, Snu, you know the chair.  The odds are heavily in favor of the chair wanting to help you, and wanting to be your advocate as you negotiate.

Since you are nervous about negotiation, and since you are questioning your skills, I think you should frame this situation as a heart-to-heart conversation with the chair rather than as a negotiation.

Think about this conversation as a very sincere and honest one in which you say, very clearly, "I want this job.  I think your offer is a good one.  But I am nervous about housing costs in your area.  How would you advise me to proceed?"

In my experience, the chair will then help you to get what you want.
Logged

zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,567


« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2012, 10:27:46 PM »

Thanks, oatmeal, miranda, and zharkov.

BTW, what is Getting to Yes?
I assume you've read Getting to Yes.



Getting to Yes is an excellent intro to negotiations, available at many bookstores and libraries.

About the price of housing in/near an eastern big city, yes, it may be two or three times as expensive as "Bugtussle."  I had a friend who worked at an east coast college, and in phone interviews, a standard question for applicants concerned the price of housing.  Their intent was to imply to applicants that one could not buy a stand-alone house in the city in which the college was located on an assistant professor's salary. 


Logged

__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
tuxthepenguin
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,574


« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 1:10:58 AM »

Please excuse me for playing devil's advocate, the last thing I want to do is rain on your parade, but do you really think a move would be a wise idea? I see nothing in your post that suggests you should take the job.

If you've got a family, I have no problem believing that the cost of living would require 60% more income. Remember that the tax rate on the last dollar of income is a lot higher than the tax rate on the first. You're probably in the 25% tax bracket. Add in payroll taxes plus other deductions, and a $10,000 salary bump only adds maybe $6000 to your paycheck, which is what matters for the cost of living.

- Can you take that kind of financial hit? I couldn't, which is why I turned down an otherwise good offer a couple years ago.
- Have you looked at house prices? How much does it cost to buy a house in an area where you're comfortable with the public schools? School quality can add a lot to the price of a house. Private school is way too expensive on an academic salary.
- Already been pointed out, but it sounds like you'd be called an associate professor, but would really be an assistant professor who doesn't get a raise at tenure time. A school tried that with me.
- You say the summer money would not be part of the contract. It would be a nice bonus if it came through, but you can't count on it. You need to forget that money when doing your calculations. It can disappear for all kinds of reasons.
- Have you done the calculations of what you'll have to throw out of the budget if you move there? Sounds like you haven't. It's not so easy to tell the kids, "Surprise, no more movies, no more eating out, no more vacations, no shopping!" Trust me, when you have kids, their consumption will not go down, because they'll keep asking why the heck you moved if it means their life stinks now. Your kids say they'd like to move there. That doesn't mean much. There's a big difference between taking a vacation somewhere and living there. They don't have any concept of the sacrifices they'd potentially have to make.

Not trying to be mean or anything, I just don't want you to make this kind of decision unless you're sure it's a good idea. I think it would be a major mistake to accept the job because you haven't thought things through carefully. That said, you might tell the chair that after some thought the difference in cost of living is too great, at which point you might get a better offer.

Quote
Fair to them

Don't worry about that. They'll make sure the deal is fair to them - it's their job. If they talk about how giving you a better offer would destroy the university, they're trying to sucker you into taking a job nobody else wants. Just worry about yourself. No university has ever given me a $40,000 raise because I could have really used the money.
Logged
tuxthepenguin
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,574


« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 1:25:55 AM »


I assume you've read Getting to Yes.

About the cost of living difference, 50-60 pct doesn't seem on target.  When I worked for a national company, the difference between regions was more on the order of 10, maybe 20 pct.  Obviously, you can't compare the price of a house with one acre of land between Bugtussle and Boston.

About public vs. private college, pay, you really can't tell, since it varies by state and school.  In my state, the most prestigious privates pay the best, the least prestigious privates pay the worst.  The middle privates pay what the publics pay, or within 10 pct or so. 

It's not a 50-60% difference in cost of living. That's a common mistake. The 50-60% is the raise you'd need to get to make up for the difference in cost of living. Taxes and other deductions are the reason for the distinction.

It's not just housing, either. Utilities vary a lot across regions, as do state income tax rates, sales tax rates, cost of entertainment, cost of owning a car, and so on. Just moving to an area with toll roads can be quite a shock if you currently don't have to pay tolls. Start paying $6 or $8 on a regular basis and you'll be cursing yourself for thinking the difference is only housing...
Logged
snu88
Junior member
**
Posts: 52


« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 2:54:24 AM »

Wow, tuxthepenguin, I really appreciate your points. You are right in many aspects.

But one important fact that isn't highlighted in this thread, not that I try to hide, but just skipped here, is that my job is currently in jeopardy and I have to look for job next year anyway (my situation was described in detail in my last posting in January).

So if I really want to be straightforward, I should thank them for rescuing me and shouldn't even think about negotiating. But again, I am just being extra-careful not to repeat my mistakes, no more room for regret... I must make a decision that is good for myself and my family. Probably this will not be the final train to hop on. There may be another one coming shortly. Who knows?

In this particular case, Snu, you know the chair.  The odds are heavily in favor of the chair wanting to help you, and wanting to be your advocate as you negotiate.

Since you are nervous about negotiation, and since you are questioning your skills, I think you should frame this situation as a heart-to-heart conversation with the chair rather than as a negotiation.

Think about this conversation as a very sincere and honest one in which you say, very clearly, "I want this job.  I think your offer is a good one.  But I am nervous about housing costs in your area.  How would you advise me to proceed?"

In my experience, the chair will then help you to get what you want.

Unfortunately my last experience was the opposite. I was too naive and too eager to trust people. Of course, I think I know the chair of this school a lot better than I knew those snakes and sharks in my current job when I came here, but who knows? Do you know how deceiving people can be? Even though I like him---this is part of my problem, I like people too much, I must remind myself that it is possible that he could always turn away from me. I can't imagine how it'd be possible, but I am just stating an objective possibility.

It is sad, but I have to play a negotiator role here. The chair mistakenly revealed his secret (maybe his negotiation is as bad as mine) and told me (and my acquaintances) too much about the benefits that the dept would get by having me on board. Then I should at least do a "value check"---i.e., whether his bidding stake on me is fair for the benefits that they expect.

About the price of housing in/near an eastern big city, yes, it may be two or three times as expensive as "Bugtussle."  I had a friend who worked at an east coast college, and in phone interviews, a standard question for applicants concerned the price of housing.  Their intent was to imply to applicants that one could not buy a stand-alone house in the city in which the college was located on an assistant professor's salary. 

Maybe a little more details would help here, so that we can drop "Bugtussle"

Current living conditions:
  • 4 bedroom single house with 0.3 acre lot. Paid $250k
  • Excellent public schools (really happy with the schools kids are in).
  • 4 miles to office. Usually less than 10 min commute.

In the new location:
  • A single house with similar sqft and good schools is in the range of 400k--600k
  • Would be really lucky if we could find a home 4 miles away from the nearest train station, from which it'd take 30 to 60 min by train to the office.
  • Driving to work would be possible but not practical considering the traffic

Well, well, well, but that's kind of a premium to pay to live in the area. Everything is two-sided. Expensive living cost, but what if the benefit outnumbered it? I have been living in the US for 17 years now (which means I don't have "my hometown" in this country), and this place is one of my dream locations to live. So, it is really difficult to say no to this opportunity.

So, the real question to consider is 'what kind of housing options could we afford there?' Frankly, this doesn't seem easy.

As I am writing this right at this moment, I am actually swinging back and forth. One side tells me 'just grab it, something will come up so we will find something we feel happy to be live in,' but the other side asks 'really?'

Back to systeme_d_'s suggestion, maybe I should ask the chair this question. This seems too difficult to tackle myself alone.

At least we should go on a house-hunting trip and see what kind of options there are. Although we've been there a few times, surely it will be different with a perspective of potential residents.

Thanks everyone!
Logged
tuxthepenguin
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,574


« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 3:14:49 AM »

But one important fact that isn't highlighted in this thread, not that I try to hide, but just skipped here, is that my job is currently in jeopardy and I have to look for job next year anyway (my situation was described in detail in my last posting in January).

I don't come around here very often. In that case, congratulations on the offer! Good luck with your move.
Logged
no_quarter
New member
*
Posts: 45


« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2012, 5:54:24 AM »

I may have missed this: Does this place cover tuition for your children down the road should they decide to attend this school or other schools affliated?
Logged

My problem is, I practice sober and I play drunků
zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,567


« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2012, 7:47:00 AM »


One thing to keep in mind is that housing prices are higher owing to that more expensive area having more of the things that people want and need.  This can include access to the arts or sports, or houses of worship, or job opportunities for the partner, or the pay level of the partner's job.   And so on.

I was once tempted to take a job in a Bugtussle, but the lack of job opportunities and relatively low pay for non-academic spouse was one of the two or three reasons I did not move there. 

Logged

__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.