Thursday, January 25, 2007


I am now officially negotiating my job offer; the powers that be approved the hiring committee's recommendation of me for the position. Finally. So I had my initial discussion with the Dean yesterday. It wasn't as bad as I thought, as I had been warned.

I had been informed by the chair of the hiring committee that it had gone through and he'd be calling. So yesterday I put in a call to the faculty association at the university. I wanted to find out about actual salaries at the university - and in my unit - before trying to negotiate this. The new Uni has no salary grids, unlike both the place I teach now, and where I was last year (and many - most? - unis in Canada). As a person with exactly zero negotiating skills, I was pretty afraid of negotiating with no set scales. So I called up the Faculty Association and a short while later they emailed over some numbers for me. The salaries were higher than the Dean had led me to believe in my conversation with him at my interview. Ha.

About four minutes after I'd gotten this email, the Dean phoned for our initial conversation. Though he wasn't talking specifics about anything else, the first thing he did was throw out a salary figure. He lowballed me. And there's no way I would have known this if I hadn't called the Faculty Association. A lesson for me about the importance of doing some research! Anyway, of course I told him that was too low and I have the sense that he'll give me what I asked for. And everything else seems okay, though there aren't yet specific numbers attached to things. He seems flexible.

The worst part of this was that I didn't feel anything, in learning that the hire was going to through. I wasn't full of joy or relief - a reflection of my utter ambivalence about the place. Then last night, during and after my class, I had two more students tell me they'd heard a rumour I'd be leaving, they wished I could stay, I would be an asset to the department for my strengths in such and such an area. Damn. Damn, is all I can say. You know how much I want to stay here. I wish it didn't affect my feelings about the new job so much. But it does.

New job is not without at least a glimmer of hope, though. I did talk and email with my new colleague this week, about the courses I'd be teaching next year. It's a great load, allowing me to teach some wonderful stuff. And it was clear to me that I will really have some pull and some weight, and some ability to shape things. (Disclosure: I will be building a program from almost nothing.) Since I have lots of ideas, this is really exciting. Too bad it wasn't at a different place. We can't have everything, though, right? And it doesn't have to be forever.


Earnest English said...

I'm so sorry, Hilaire, that you didn't feel anything. But maybe it doesn't mean that much -- after all, you knew they had picked you -- and you're going into this job with your eyes open. (Don't all jobs have the hidden vortex of hell that they don't tell you until you're in it?) I am excited for you -- you'll have real weight and pull to do something new! YAY! And that will be great experience no matter what! And maybe you could think of it as a research project. At some point, you'll be writing about creating this kind of program, which is almost as good as writing about teaching!

I'm thinking of you -- especially now when I just want one of those darn schools to make up their minds! Getting an offer wouldn't necessarily make me happy either, I'm sure. Got to remember that. Thanks so much for this post.

medieval woman said...

You're absolutely right that it doesn't have to be forever - in 2-3 years if you decide to leave, just think of what an even more *amazing* candidate you'll be, building up a program from scratch. I know it will be a lot of work, but I'm happy that you'll be teaching classes that you will really enjoy.

And, damn, I'm so impressed that you found out about the lowballing! Right on! Hopefully I'll be asking you for some advice! :)

Bardiac said...

Good luck on all the negotiating and such, and GREAT work checking with the faculty association.

Pantagruelle said...

Good for you for checking out the salary norms with the Faculty Association. That was an exceedingly smart move to make! I'm surprised though that your new uni doesn't have a fixed salary scale. My uni doesn't, but I thought we were the only place in the country that doesn't. That kinda sucks, but, hey, if there's no fixed scale, at least it gives you the chance for your pay packet to grow by leaps in bound on the basis of merit, and if you're setting up a new program, then you will most definitely deserve for that to happen over the next few years--which will also allow you to negotiate high at wherever the next school is when you get a job that turns your crank a bit more a few years down the road.

dbm/gaa said...

If this was your dream job and you weren't feeling anything I'd be worried, but this isn't your dream job so feeling nothing much isn't anything to worry about. Wonder about maybe, but why waste your time doing that?

They lowballed you eh? I hope you get what you asked for, otherwise known as what you deserve!

What Now? said...

Sounds like you handled the negotiating incredibly well.

And this certainly doesn't have to be forever. It just has to be good enough for right now. (I'm all about lowering the bar enough to prevent paralysis, regret, etc.)

Hilaire said...

Thanks all, for your comments. I'm pretty pleased with myself about the call I made, I must say.

You put that really well, Pantagruelle - about the way this negotiation plays into my future salary negotiations - I hadn't thought about it quite like that. And, yes, it seems we're both at old boys' club unis that trade on their prestige instead of being accountable and fair to faculty by having salary scales.

Hey, WN, I like the way you put that..lowering the bar enough to prevent paralysis, regret. That is my new (silent, to myself) motto!