What experiences have people had with spousal hires? I am hoping to get an offer from a private liberal arts school but am not sure what the norms are for asking for a spousal hire. I have heard that R1 institutions are more likely to have the funds/flexibility, but if I get an offer, I feel like I need to at least try. How should I go about asking and when should I back down? My husband is in another field and will move with me either way, but I would be likely to go on the market again in the near future if he cannot find an academic position in the area.
Date: 11 Feb 2013 18:11
Number of posts: 11
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Here's what I did. I got the call saying that they were extending me an offer and asked if there were any considerations that they needed to know about that would impact my decision to take the position. I said "Well, my spouse is also a scientist and my long term happiness would be improved by a position for hu. Now, this shouldn't be too hard of a sell given that hu is an excellent candidate with X number of pubs in X impact journals. I understand that this type of accomodation takes time and resources but this issue is very important to me."
I also mentioned that I had another interview and that one of the deciding factors between which institution would be a better fit would be the institutional committment to accomodating my spouse.
It sounds like hardball, but I was very nice and I made sure to repeatedly emphasize that I appreciated the offer and was very excited to hear more…blah blah blah. They have been incredibly gracious. I will say that if you are expecting a completely equitable offer with a tenure track position for your spouse then you may be in for disappointment. It is tough to get those in the present market (ie lots of unemployed PhDs and not much money rolling around). So—we focused on trying to be firm on the things that we felt like the institution could accomodate and we def asked for things that they indicated they just couldn't do immediately. Ultimately, you need to decide what your bottom line is going to be and how much security you have in your current position. Be firm but be kind…they will let you know when you have asked for something that is completely out of bounds. You will also get a good idea of what your new colleagues and work environment will be like through your negotiations….their response is just as telling as yours.
Congratulations!!! don't forget to breathe deeply and remind yourself that "THIS is what this moment feels like". If you are like me, then it has been a long time coming and shouldn't be overshadowed by the anxiety that comes with negotiating.
my partner received an offer and in the same convo, he brought up the partner hire issue. they said they'd investgate (had to ask dean/provost/some higher up) and get back to him in a week (other negotiations were put on pause). they asked for my cv and letter of intent (they'd actually had a position in psych that i did not make the short list for)… ultimately, a dead end… we get the sense that the dean in the school of education didn't actually contact the psych department, but who's to say. they called my partner back and told him no dice — then negotiated other things like salary and startup. ultimately, we passed.
he's received more interview invites and has taken the UP FRONT APPROACH b/c there's no point in going unless they're able to make some kind of accomodation. one school was not turned off by his question prior to accepting an interview offer — the did inquire, but made no promises, just that they were "open".
i'm a finalist at one school (no firm offer yet) and i was upfront from they start. the SC chair has been as helpful as possible at this point — putting me in contact with the school of ed (since they also had a search going on)… unfortunately, my partner's app was DQ'd b/c he was missing some of the required experience. so we've hit another wall…
it's been a difficult year navigating this… i'm trying to keep my patience and hope that everything works out.
Does anyone have experience negotiating for help in finding a non-academic job at a University for a spouse/partner? My partner has great computer, database management, analysis and report-writing skills but has not worked at a University before, though it is an environment he would like much better than the corporate jobs he has had in the past. I'm not sure how common non-academic job requests are and how they are usually dealt with.
@Tired: These kind of requests are pretty common at my university (R1) because it's relatively rural and there aren't lots of other jobs, etc… So, the university does lots to facilitate internally and even a little advocacy in the community. This would be a good interview question to ask… HR websites and some job ads also have more info…
@Flip: Thanks — it is good to hear that this sort of request is not uncommon at more rural/remote places where there are fewer potential jobs available outside the University. As that is also the situation at this school, I'm hoping people there will also be used to having this conversation and can at least point us to resources (and hopefully more).
My major recommendation: express that the partner is willing to be flexible and patient. And, hopefully that is true. It is not always easy or even possible to get a spouse a faculty position in another or the same dept, even if the person is qualified. They might need to bide their time in a less desirable position such as an adjunct, a research associate or post-doc, an advisor, IT, library, admin, research/grant admin, who knows… Hopefully, though, the next time something relevant opens up, the spouse will be considered. Another strategy is that the hired spouse kicks major butt job wise, then goes on the market again in a few years, and can better make some demands about an accomodating position. Junior people usually don't have the power to demand such things, especially if the spouse is even less qualified and the job market is as competitive as it is now: there are likely other strong people in the pool who don't need the uni to hire their spouse, and they'll get the job just because you demanded the uni hire your spouse.
I am really curious how much this goes on in other industries? Academics like to ask for spousal hires (and even expect them to happen)… how common is this in other fields? If I got a job in business, would I turn around and ask the company to hire my spouse or partner?
If you and your spouse were both in industry, you could probably each get your own job in the same city (or there would be another city or two you could move to, where the probability of you both getting a job in the same location would be relatively high). Same if you were both doctors or both lawyers or both dentists or both mechanics etc. Academia is pretty unusual both because you need to pick up and move basically anywhere, and because once you get there, if you are both academics there are probably no options for your spouse to find a job (or if it's a very rural location where the university if the main employer, there may be limited opportunities even if they are not an academic). My impression is that the in other cases where this sort of thing is true (e.g. foreign service) they do actually try and do spousal accommodations.
I've known four people that had these similar negotiations… and the most that the universities were able to do was get the other partner hired as an adjunct. Of these four people, two of their partners were eventually brought on as faculty members, but it took a couple of years.
I just went through this situation with two schools. In both cases, I brought up my partner during the interview process, and I made it clear that I considered any job temporary until we both had TTs in the area, but that we were flexible in how long it would take. Although neither ended up being able to offer a TT for my partner, I ended up being able to get my partner the basic necessities for doing research at both institutions. One was closer to more universities, and so I ended up selecting that one. Hopefully my partner can get a TT in the area soon!