Negotiating a Start-Up Package

Negotiating a Start-Up Package

Negotiating a Start-Up Package

Diana Roman and Lara Wagner

January 29, 2019


Negotiations take time and preparation.  Postdocs should begin thinking about this as soon as they arrive for their fellowships.  Seek out as many people as you can to help you through this preparation process.  Talk to your advisor, mentor, peers who have recently been through this process, and others.  Diana Roman and Lara Wagner offered to personally help you navigate through a start-up package negotiation once you have been offered a position.

Do NOT accept the offered position until you get what you want. 

Key processes and pointers:

  • You will receive a call from department Chair, now placing you in the advantage
  • Department head asks for your start-up package
  • Always take notes and follow up with an email summarizing the phone conversation
  • Offer is usually for a 9-month salary
  • Do your homework:  State Universities must publish salaries online, i.e. Chronicle of HIgher Education
  • Negotiate a higher salary than the one you are first offered
  • Negotiate your 1-1 or 1-2 classes per semester
  • You can negotiate a semester off or a sabbatical
  • You can carry credit from a previous faculty position
  • Negotiate a campus visit, i.e., to negotiate your office space, lab space, student space, or to check out the housing market
  • If you have selected an office or lab space, specify in writing the room number during your negotiations, or if renovations are required
  • Include need/funds for furnishings
  • Negotiate for travel funds in your start-up package for meetings you will attend prior to obtaining your own grant money
  • Ask about IT support.  Even funds for things like toner
  • Department Chairs can change before you come up for tenure, so have all promises in writing to support you until you get tenure
  • Once you are hired, they don't give you more
  • Obtain what will make you productive for the first 2-3 years; assume $0 grant money during your first few years, so ask what you need to sustain you

Will you have what you need to help get you tenure in 5 years?  Publication costs?  Equipment?  Universities want you to succeed, so if there are specific things you need in order to obtain tenure, they will provide it for you.  Learn to think creatively for solutions.  If they cannot provide you with an expensive lab, find out where the closest one is and negotiate funds and time for travel for you and/or your students.  The Chair negotiates with the Dean for items in your wish list.  Ask for personal things too, i.e., salary support for housing?  Consider where you are moving and the cost of living in that area.  You can also negotiate a visit with your spouse in order to investigate housing, day cares, schools, etc. 

Always negotiate in good faith.  Be honest about your needs.  Keep track of the funding you were given.