Friday, October 19, 2007

Insulting Job Offers of less than $5 Million

This whole Joe Torre stuff reminds me of a job offer I got once. I had interviewed, and things had gone well. I really liked the department, and thought there would be a good fit. After waiting a few weeks, hoping to strike a balance between being an over eager pest and showing a lack of interest, I contacted the chair. He was being a bit coy saying I'd hear from the Dean quite soon. That wasn't encouraging. A week later and still no word, I called the Chair and he said I should have received a letter. That was strange because if they were rejecting me, why couldn't he just tell me at that point. And if they weren't rejecting me, then we needed start negotiating salary, teaching load, etc. Well, sure enough the next day an offer letter arrives. I don't recall if there was any startup, but I sure remember the salary, about 2/3 my then current salary...even though they had no idea what my salary was because we hadn't gotten to the point of discussing it. I found that whole episode very strange. Nothing I had read prepared me for it. Ultimately, I decided that the department wanted me, but the dean didn't. So he gives me an obviously low salary in a manner, if not outright insulting, then at the least quite out of the ordinary. Luckily, I was in a tenure-track job already and had the luxury of turning it down. I was tempted to stir things up a bit, complain to someone hire than the dean, or tell some of the less meek members of the department what the dean was doing, but I didn't. I suppose I should count myself lucky I avoided such a political place.


Anonymous said...

Did you consider the possibility that they had no idea what your then current salary was? Perhaps, if you'd told them an adjustment to the offer would have been made. OTH, they might have simply said they didn't have any more money. I've seen both of these cases more than once. Never was an insult intended. People don't make offers to people they don't want because any offer may be accepted.

Anonymous said...

It seems that there was too much reading into the situation. It would have been much better to play dumb, and ask follow up questions.

This is my default way of dealing with somewhat unclear cases - shift to the literal (dumb) mode, and pretend like you do not get the point until it is spelled out to you in full clarity.

The bonus point - watch them squirm as they are trying to spell out the answer if there is indeed a heavy political component there.

Angry said...

I'm sure they knew my salary was higher, though they may not have known how much higher. The thing here is that, in every case of faculty hiring I've ever heard of, a phone call is made, negotiations are made, and then an offer letter is sent out. That no such phone call took place is, in itself, strange. Furthermore, there was no followup phone call, and there was no *effort* on the Dean's part. It was all clearly pro forma. Sure, the offer could have been accepted, and I'm fairly confident the Dean wouldn't have been happy, but, in hindsight, I imagine he was somehow constrained by the vote of the department.

Not_too_political, I had played dumb quite enough with the department head, and was sufficiently dumbfounded by the time the letter came. The department head should have been quite embarassed but was on the way out and was long passed caring about such matters.

Enough time has passed that I've seen who eventually got the job. Sadly, some of the politics is a bit more clear, probably through no fault of the eventual faculty member. But clearly an indictment of the Dean (about whom I have had some occasion to hear some dirt to my great delight).

CarlBrannen said...

With a BS in math, I interviewed at Sperry (1979) and got an offer for, if I recall, $13,000 per year to help design flight systems. Now that was insulting.

The manager who wanted to hire me was quite apologetic and knew that I would not accept it. It was the job of the Human Resources people to define salaries for new hires, he said.

I went to grad school instead. I had a blast and things worked out well in the end. So maybe it was a good thing.