in Higher Ed

Negotiating your deal and other tips

This is a follow-up to my post on How To Become A College Web Person.

I got the idea for this whole series after noticing back when I was looking for jobs a few years back, that there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there for folks in non-teaching positions at colleges and universities. I don’t profess to this being the only way to do it, it’s just intended to give some who might be doing their first deal, a glimpse of what the process is akin to and hope it helps ’em…

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you probably got hired or are going to get offered the job in a few days. Usually, they’ll make an offer right there and give some time to think about it. If they don’t give you time to think about, ask for at least 48 hours (or more, if necessary) to come up with an answer that you won’t regret.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for the decision-making process:

Have a number in mind: Before you even get offered the job, it’s important to do your homework. If you know what the market rate for the job is, coupled with whatever experience you bring to the can estimate to some degree how much you ought to be making. Keep in mind whether it’s a public or private institution. Smaller, private institutions generally don’t pay as much as public schools. Public schools often have salary schedules that outline how much you can make at your pay grade. That takes a lot of the negotiating out of it and basically, you need to decide whether that number is enough for you or not.

You’re not a bad person for asking: For a job where the salary offer is dependent on experience, I think it’s far better to secure the job and an offer, before asking specifics about salary. The reason is simple. If you’re perceived in anyway to be “only about the money” it’s not going to make you an attractive candidate. If you’re taking the time to interview, you must want to work there and if money is the only reason you’re there, they might decide you’re not worth their trouble to begin with or choose someone who they feel is a better fit. But once the offer comes, be sure to ask how much they’re paying you.

Never accept it on the spot: Don’t take a job without thinking about it. I don’t care if it’s your dream job. Tell them thanks for the offer, make sure to ask about salary and benefits and ask for at least a day or two to mull over it. You want to consider where you are now and really evaluate once it’s no longer just an idea, but an actual offer, whether you want to make the move or not.

Tell the truth, but don’t show them your cards either: Here’s an example of this. Say you have a good job and a good situation. You get offered a promotion at a place you wouldn’t mind being and it’s an otherwise good fit in another state. Only one problem, they offer you a lot less than you’re making currently. What do you do? Well, you don’t take the pay cut, that’s for sure. You tell them that they’re short. They might ask by how much. The question there isn’t “How much less do you make than what we’re offering you?” The question is, “How much less are we offering you than we should be offering you in order for you to take this job.” Those are distinct differences and can be the difference between an easy transition to a new situation and a rocky one. The key is knowing the difference.

If you know you’re going to be looking to relocate, start saving early: Moving is a pain. There are no two-ways about it. Sometimes, the right opportunity can come along when you least expect it. If you’re not financially prepared, it can set you back rather than ahead, no matter how great the job is. You owe it to yourself to start saving at least 3 months before you start putting out applications to places too far for you to commute from your current location. That way, it gives you time to prepare for a possible move. And you end up staying where you are? Well, invest it or something.

The bottom line to this random smattering of tips, is to keep in mind that you only have control of these process once. You’re never as wanted and pursued when you’re on the outside than when you’re inside. Even if you can grow your stock and make yourself a valuable asset, you have to come in like a diamond to be treated like one — without acting like you consider yourself royalty. After all, anyone can do what we do. We’re not irreplaceable and while we all have our special and unique talents, there are plenty of other folks out there hoping you mess up so they get the chance to sit in your seat.

Once you’ve found where you sit, you owe it to yourself to make sure your seat is padded as comfortably as possible. Good luck.