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Dear BI Career Consultants:

 I’ve been offered a faculty /administrative position. Can you give me some advice on negotiation
strategies and protocol? Are there any nuances that are unique to higher education?

Faculty and administrative positions in higher education vary widely by institution. Often the nature of the institution —whether it’s public or private, research-based or training-focused, two-year or four-year — dictates the salary structure and flexibility with which one negotiates. Often colleges and universities have specified salary ranges for each position.  It’s best to do your homework up front to determine the range for the position and how it compares to your salary expectations.  Keep in mind that salaries also vary widely according to geographic location.
There are many resources available on the Web that provide salary data for faculty and staff positions. Numerous sites offer “salary calculators.” Try the one at It provides salary comparisons between geographic locations. Use these sites to gather as much information as possible. The best negotiator has data in hand when discussing his or her salary expectations.
Once you’ve done your homework, identify the unique skills and experiences that set you apart from others. Do you have a greater number of years of experience, higher teacher ratings than your colleagues, or awards you’ve received for excellence?  Use these skills and experiences to place yourself in the higher end of the salary range for your position.  Remember, salary negotiation should be a win-win for you and the employer.  Be sure to conduct yourself in a professional manner, and to take cues on when to stop pushing for more money.  Once you’ve completed the negotiation, ask for a formal offer letter in writing, and confirm the details of your offer in a formal acceptance letter.

My answer would be the same for both faculty and administrators. The first step in a successful negotiation is that you need to do very thorough research on what individuals at other institutions are getting, and what the institutions you are considering have offered to individuals in a like position.
Before you actually begin the negotiation process, have in mind a list of things that are important to you. Then, give careful consideration to how your credentials and background stack up in the overall pool of people who hold that position.
Is this your first opportunity for the level of position in question? Are there applicants with more experience who might be able to command more things on your list of negotiables?  Or are you a seasoned professional in the position who can demand a full array of things on the list of negotiables?
Having considered all of that, you can then take into account what things are absolutely critical before you would consider taking the job.
You are certainly going to be looking at professional development, operating budget, research support and staff available to support administrative duties, as well as opportunities for your personal professional development — i.e., what sabbatical opportunities you may have. Know what your own bottom-line position will be.
The strategy that I generally recommend is that you ask the other person to make an offer.  If they do not mention things on your list, ask if their institution normally offers those things.  You should know the answer to the question before you ask it.  If they say no to something that you know they have done, you might respond with: “I am aware of certain situations where this was offered or done; can you tell me the criteria that would need to be met?”
The discipline that you are in and the availability of other candidates with comparable credentials may determine the degree to which you are able to push. There are some things unique to higher education. One is the demand to keep up your own professional development in your discipline, particularly if your are in a faculty/administrative position. Make sure you negotiate the ability to do that while you are filling a dual faculty/administrative function.
In addition, you should look at the administrative turnover history of the institution and think about how you would negotiate if you leave that position to go back to a faculty position. For example, would you go back in a tenured status or not?
If you are looking to accept a position with only faculty responsibility, you definitely want to discuss whether you are coming in on a tenure track.
For women and minorities, there are often not the same informal communication systems to help one get through the tenure process that exists for White males. I strongly recommend that women and people of color make that part of the negotiations.  

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