2 Answers 2


I do not see any reason to show the offer letter. If the school you are negotiating with does not believe you, then that is not a good sign. As for mentioning the other university, it depends on if you can pitch it as a selling point that makes the other offer better. While you should always tell the truth, you can be somewhat selective and play both sides of the coin.

For example, if you get offers from both Stanford and Harvard and you grew up on in the Bay area, but are currently doing a post doc at MIT, you could tell Stanford that you have an offer from Harvard and that you are really happy in Boston, so they will have to beat Harvard's offer. Similarly, you can tell Harvard that you have an offer from Stanford and that your family is in the area so Harvard will have to beat Stanford's offer.

Alternatively, if you have offers from both Stanford and Bunker Hill Community College and you grew up, were educated, and are currently in the Bay area, you would not want to mention the name (bunker Hill) when talking to Stanford, unless you can explain to Stanford what benefits Bunker Hill uniquely provides. You probably want to specifically mention Stanford when talking to Bunker Hill.

If, however, you grew up, were educated, and are currently in the Boston area, then you are in a gray area and may want to mention Bunker Hill to Stanford. Given the difference in the ranking of the two universities, it might be a hard sell to convince Stanford that the Bunker Hill offer is really competitive to the Stanford offer.

  • If you get an offer from both Stanford and Harvard, you could just say to one that you got an offer from a school on the east coast and you could say to the other that you got an offer from a school on the west coast. Being too specific can be risky. In these circles, everyone knows each other. If you're too specific, then it means one could easily just pick up the phone and horse trade you without you having any input in the matter. May 26, 2015 at 3:46
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    @StephanBranczyk there is a big difference between an offer from Harvard and an offer from an East Coast school. Stanford knows they will have to up their game to match Harvard, but less so for Bunker Hill.
    – StrongBad
    May 26, 2015 at 5:26
  • @StrongBond, Yes, I got your point, but I'm not sure you're right. Assuming his CV is extraordinary already, it may be a given for Stanford that the other school could be Harvard. Also, it's difficult to control what's going to happen. What if Stanford upon hearing the news gives up because it thinks that you will accept Harvard's offer whatever it is going to be. After all, we're not talking about being accepted as a student, we're talking about the hiring of a faculty member. A potential faculty member who takes too long to reject an offer can cause the loss of other very good candidates. May 26, 2015 at 6:21
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    What if Stanford upon hearing the news gives up — Ha! You've never dealt with Stanford, have you?
    – JeffE
    May 27, 2015 at 14:54

I received several competitive PhD offers and would suggest that you do not reveal unless asked, you have a right to privacy and I believe its best to hold back information like that as you can make the point that you have another competitive offer without being specific,the name adds nothing to the discussion.

I believe the principle still applies with faculty offers because it again adds nothing to the conversation, there is no need to mention another offer unless it is required for leverage for a certain benefit or if they wanted to know later on why you turned them down.

Furthermore, including the name brings in the personal opinions of the people who made the offer, removing aspects of your control. All they need to know (and only when negotiating your offer) is that you are considering another offer and why, you are already being taken seriously by the fact you have an offer. Talking about other offers in too much detail (or when not necessary) brings in doubt and extra questions when they have already offered to hire you.

I employ the policy of keeping communication to the necessities in the rest of my life too. Its an efficiency and control thing.

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    I believe OP is seeking answers specifically for faculty job offers.
    – Mad Jack
    May 25, 2015 at 14:49
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    I entirely agree that you have the right not to reveal information about competing offers, but why do you believe it is best not to reveal information about competing offers?
    – JeffE
    May 27, 2015 at 14:52

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