Your CV made the shortlist, the interview went well, and at some point will come a time when you are made an offer. Now is the time to think about a possible long term future with the new organisation and, just as important, in what way you can benefit on a personal as well a professional level.
Here are a few things to consider so that you don’t get a year or two into the job and realise, as many do, that there were important issues you should have broached prior to starting your new job.
Getting personal - What’s in it for me?
While no-one likes addressing sensitive topics such as asking about salary levels, and medical and other benefits, or what the overall job responsibilities would be, it’s imperative that these are tackled at the earliest possible time so that both parties know where they stand.
You might need to consider:
- Is your salary “performance related” which includes a yearly bonus?
- Is there a cost of living supplement?
- Is there any stipend money if you're working during the summer?
- Are there any additional hours that are not listed in the job specs (parents’ meeting, faculty meetings, tutorials, off-campus trips, pastoral responsibilities)?
- Will you be required to do PhD and/or MA supervision? If so, how many hours per week? Is there additional remuneration for any of these things?
Continuing Professional development (CPD)
Equally important is to discuss CPD opportunities. You might need to consider:
- Will you receive any mentoring from senior staff members?
- Conversely, will you have to give workshops or departmental presentations yourself, and if so, will money be made available for you to write one up as a paper to present at a conference?
- What specific resources will be available to you in addition to shared ones like photocopiers, for example, a dedicated laptop, use of projector to prepare presentations, or access to databases for research?
- Would any of these academic requirements be linked to promotion? Here it would be very useful to know exactly how you could climb up to another pay band and the specific requirements that need to be satisfied in order for this to happen.
Finding personal challenges
Just as important, you need to know if the opportunity exists to hone particular skills of interest/importance to you, and whether there is a departmental culture there that would not only allow you to do this, but also support you both financially and academically. Without such guaranteed support, you are unlikely to remain happy for long.
However, the main thing to remember is that, if you ask the right questions now, further down the line, you are far less likely to feel disenchanted and thus disenfranchised when what was expected doesn’t materialise.
Remember too that, once you’ve reached an agreement on the terms of your new position, no matter what happens, make sure everything in writing. Deans and Vice Deans change, department chairs change, and deals change too so, unless everything agreed is in writing, nothing is guaranteed.