Resource for Prospective Tenure-Track Hires

Searching for a new academic job is a daunting process. You send out dozens of CVs and cover letters hoping to get a few nibbles, and when you get invited for a campus visit, it feels exhilarating to have made the cut for a “short list”. And, in today’s academic job market, nothing feels greater than the weight lifted off of your shoulders when the Department Chair calls and tells you the great news: “We’d like to offer you the position.”

All throughout our academic training, we have been preparing our studies and credentials for the interview process. We are acknowledged experts in our disciplines; we have an impressive list of professional accomplishments; we give compelling and engaging presentations describing our work to both colleagues in our field and to the lay person on the street.

What we are not quite as well prepared for is the employment discussions and decisions that come with being appointed to a new academic position.  While you will spend a miniscule fraction of your total academic lifetime negotiating your starting salary (it’s a one-time event), it can have implications on your total compensation for the entirety of your career with the university.  

The university knows this.  For the university, in addition to being a newly appointed faculty member, you are a line item on the budget. You are an employee. You are an expense.  And generally, university administrators want to keep costs down. Many administrators are former academics themselves and in many ways are more like colleagues than supervisors. But the business relationship between faculty and administrators is more like labor and management.  While it is not necessarily an adversarial relationship, at times it can be challenging, especially when it comes to financial issues.

If you ask around, you will find that CSU faculty mostly enjoy their jobs and interactions with some of the most collegiate colleagues you will find anywhere. And as most CSU professors will proudly state, we will put our graduates up against any other university’s graduates, any time, any place, anywhere.

This guide is meant to give you, the prospective faculty candidate some insight into the process of academic hiring and ways to be tough in negotiations with the administration on your starting salary. 

We have provided two documents, one suggesting the kinds of questions you should ask in a job interview, the other a list of Do’s and Don’ts when accepting an offer.  While some of the idiosyncrasies are unique to the California State University (CSU) system, there is also some general advice that should apply to any academic institution.

What should you ask during your interview?

DO’s and DON’Ts – Advice for people who plan on accepting offers