Job X Is Not Job Y (And Wishing Won’t Make It So)

This year I’ve encountered a handful of Negotiating clients who fall into the category of unreasonably entitled.

These negotiators are indignant about the terms of their offers, and feel they should be entitled to more and better.

In particular, these clients view the NTT job with a 4:4 load to which they, in full knowledge, applied, and decide that it doesn’t suit their needs, and that they wish to insist that it be made into a TT job with a 3:3 load.  Ie, to dictate to the department that the job it advertised is unacceptable, and should be altered to become an entirely different job, which better meets the desires of the person hired.

New hires: You are not so special that you get to make job X into job Y.

Of course nearly all jobs can be negotiated. Some a lot. Some a little.  Things like salary, startup funds, moving support, teaching releases, and so on are all possible points of negotiation. You can read about this in my many posts on negotiating (start here or go to the How to Negotiate category on the right). ———————–>

But, what CANNOT be negotiated are the fundamental terms of the job.  An NTT job cannot be made into a TT job because you wish it so.  A teaching-centric job cannot be made into an R1 job because you wish it so.  A 4:4 load cannot be made into a permanent 3:3 load because you wish it so.  Yes, you can ask for a course release in year one, and maybe another in year four.  But that’s it. You cannot, without other formal extenuating circumstances related to the position that arise over your conversation (ie, that you will also be editing the department’s academic journal, or will be directing a campus or departmental program, or will immediately take on an unexpected administrative role on campus) attempt to dictate that one teaching load is replaced permanently with another, easier teaching load, just because you’d “prefer” that.

Who wouldn’t prefer that?

Who wouldn’t prefer to get a TT job rather than an NTT job?

What department wouldn’t prefer to be hiring TT rather than something else?

Do you think they wouldn’t be doing that if they could?

This is just how it is.

And whatever you think about what makes you so special and your record so extraordinary…  you nevertheless applied for an advertised job that clearly stated, in the ad: NTT, 4:4 load.  So, it is operating in bad faith to apply for the job, interview for it, get it… and then try to dictate an entirely different job.

What will happen if you try this?  In the worst case, the job will be rescinded. In the best case, the department will patiently (or impatiently) remind you of the terms of the position, and sketch what they can and cannot move on. But even in this best case, the department will be annoyed, maybe alienated.  It’s no way to enter a new job.

About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.


Job X Is Not Job Y (And Wishing Won’t Make It So) — 2 Comments

  1. I would say that not everyone prefers a TT job. Some of us choose (and are proud) to be in NTT and teaching-centric. It should not be assumed that this is a second class choice for an individual or a department. A department may be hiring for a NTT position because that is what they need and want, not just what they have to do. I agree that someone should not take a job they don’t want, but reject the inference that every person and every department would rather have TT for every position.

    • Indeed. And those jobs should be left for the people who actually want them. That’s why I dislike seeing my clients attempting to finagle something different (which never works anyway).

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