Nine Key Negotiating Points

Laurie Weingart, a negotiations expert and behavioral analyst, provides advice on nine issues that should be addressed when negotiating a junior faculty position.

  • Salary:

  • "The more differentiated you are from other candidates, the more you'll be able to negotiate salary."

  • Find out if it is a 9-month or 12-month contract.

  • Find out the salary "norms" for the job market

  • Use your colleagues and peers to estimate starting salaries.

  • Find the equivalent starting salary in governmental or industrial occupations.

  • "Negotiate for the extra summer support during your first few years and then wean off slowly."

  • Teaching load:
  • You may want to make the "transition argument"--that you need time to settle in and get organized before launching a full-blown teaching schedule.

  • "You may want to think about asking to minimize your preps the first year."

  • Ask how many unique classes you'd have to teach.

  • What will be expected in following years?

  • Does teaching help you achieve tenure?

    Start-up funds:

  • "This isn't just your lab money. It's the money you need to get started and to make the transition into the academic world."

  • "Think about all those incidentals that you need": Journal subscriptions, office supplies, software purchases.

  • Negotiate how much money you'll need.

  • Ask when those funds will be available.


  • Ask what the renewable status of your contract is. Is it yearly? Is it a 3-year contract?

  • "Sometimes promotion and the tenure decision are linked, sometimes they aren't."

  • During contract talks, also discuss your starting date.

    Lab needs:

  • Go into negotiations confident that you know that you've thought about everything you'll need to start up your lab.

  • Ask whether the institution already has pieces of equipment.

  • If they do, is it accessible?

  • If you have to buy equipment, will there be space for it?

  • Where will that space be?

    Research support:

  • "More people are trying to negotiate a technician for life."

  • You don't want to lose a technician if you lose a grant, so find out if you can negotiate for the department to pay their salary during times when your budget is slim.

    Travel support:

  • Do you have a fixed number of trips the department will pay for?

  • Is it expected that you present data or research findings at all meetings?

  • Some places will give you a pot of money--but make sure you justify why you need X-amount of dollars for travel and other expenses ...

  • ... and how you spent it.

    Secretarial support:

  • This perhaps isn't negotiable, but it does affect how you do your work.

  • Will somebody help you prepare your teaching materials and photocopy examinations?

  • Is there someone who can help you prepare applications and grants, or deal with new hires?

    Graduate assistants:

  • How do you enlist the help of graduate students and generate interest in your lab?

  • Initially, a few "free" hands in your lab will help you get organized, but later you may want to recruit graduate students to perform research.

  • What is the institution's policy for this?

  • How will you fit in with the graduate/Ph.D. program?

  • Will you be required to sit on committees that are responsible for graduate students in your lab?