Academic Job Offer Negotiation Letter Template

  • April 6, 2022
  • Noah Glaser
  • 4 min read

You got the call! The moment you have been painstakingly waiting for – a tenure track job offer. Even though everything in academia moves at a snail’s pace, this is one area where things will suddenly speed up. Once you receive the job offer you need to make sure that you know their timeline (if they don’t tell you then ask) and get ready to begin the negotiations. Now, you might be tempted to take the initial offer as is. After all, landing a tenure track job is seemingly less likely than winning the lottery these days. However, this is the point where you have the ability to get what you need to be successful in your new position. It is expected that you will negotiate. Conducting a faculty search costs a ton of money and collectively take up hundreds of hours between the committee members and those involved in the interviews. If you receive an offer then that means you are their candidate and they are ready to commit to bringing you on board.

What do you need?

After you have received your initial offer it is time to prepare your response. It will be important that you consider your priorities and figuring out what to ask for when compared to the initial offer. Negotiations tend to focus primarily around your starting salary and benefits. With your raises and promotion-based pay increases being based on your initial salary this is one area you will want to try to negotiate. Moving from there you will want to determine what it is that you will need to be successful in your new position. Depending on your research you may also want to negotiate for additional hardware, software, and resources. For example, in my own work I need a high-end development computer as I conduct research concerning the design of virtual reality systems. I never forget to ask for a specific computer in my negotiation (I provide all the specs to ensure I get what I need). Here are some other things you might consider asking for in your negotiation:

  • Moving expenses
  • An increase in start-up funds
  • Assistance with a trailing spouse or partner
  • Computer and tech resources
  • Administrative support
  • Funds for professional development
  • Temporary housing
  • Funds to visit the city and work with a real estate agent to secure housing
  • A graduate research assistant for your first year or two
  • Additional travel funds

The Response

Importantly, while you might want to ask for anything and everything, it is important to understand the limitations of the department and college. If you have received a job offer at a R2 institution then you are not likely to get the kind of funds and support that a top-tier R1 might offer. Instead you might need to temper your expectations and instead of asking for 25k worth of materials you might want to instead ask for 5k in professional development support. Each department has its own norms and expectations which should be pretty easy to determine. Further, academia is quite a small place. Within your network you will probably be able to find someone who either worked for that department or knows somebody that did. Use your extended network to get a feel for how you should negotiate.  Don’t make the mistake of being over zealous and asking for hundreds of thousands in start-up benefits if you received a job offer at a private teaching college.

After you have drafted up your counteroffer it is time to submit your response via email. In your response you should remember to again provide your contact information and general availability. You do not want to be missing calls from the search committee during your negotiations.  If you receive a phone call where terns are accepted or countered, you should ask to receive everything in writing. This is an essential step that you will not want to skip. Once you receive the revised written job offer it is time to submit your official response.

Sample Letter

This is a copy of the negotiation letter I most recently used. In my negotiation I asked for an increase in salary, a development computer (separate from start-up funds), an increase in relocation funds, and funds so that my spouse could visit the city with me to secure housing. I did not ask for things like more start-up funds or a graduate research assistant because the university included those things in the initial offer and was quite generous in the terms.  You are welcome to re-use and modify this sample negotiation letter. You can make a copy by going to File- Make a Copy or click this link