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I am applying from Europe to the U.S. for tenure-track positions. One of the advice that I heard from my colleagues is that once one offer is received, one should contact the other universities that one has a preference for, and tell them about the offer. However, I do not understand how this act of telling another university about an offer could actually put any pressure. What does one say in such a communication? And what is one expecting from it? (For example, if all the interviews are already scheduled, one can hardly expect the university to "hurry along" and pick a candidate...) I am interested in hearing the answer for American institutions, but as long as the region is specified, I should like to hear the European versions as well.

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Simply say that you are writing to let them know that you have received an offer from institution X. If there is a deadline for you to answer the offer, tell them what it is. This may be helpful for the department chair to use in pressuring their administration or other involved parties to make a decision sooner than they would have otherwise - yes, people can often "hurry along" when the circumstances warrant it. It may also have a psychological effect of making you look more attractive and desirable, especially if institution X is a prestigious one. But let them be impressed by the news itself; keep the tone of the email neutral and informative and avoid coming across as smug or entitled-sounding.

As for what to expect, that seems beside the point. Just like you would update the places you've applied to if you had a paper accepted to Nature since that would make you a more attractive candidate, you want to let them know about a job offer from another institution. It may or may not have any positive effect, but it sure can't hurt.

If it matters (I don't think it does, but you asked), I'm in the US. Good luck!

  • Does this mean that if the second institution hasn't held its interviews yet (but say that they are already scheduled), there is no point in letting them know? I doubt very much that they would move the interview dates up and inconvenience the other candidates. – Anon Dec 15 '16 at 9:27
  • On the contrary, there is no point in not letting them know. Let them worry about their scheduling issues and worry instead about the things you can control. Letting them know about positive news is one thing you can control, and as such, it would be foolish not to do it. – Dan Romik Dec 15 '16 at 9:34
  • @DanRomik ... assuming that you're actually willing to take the offer you received. There's always a (small) chance the institution you're "hurrying" will jump at the chance to narrow the candidate pool by wishing you well at your new institution. That will probably only happen if they're on the fence about you in the first place (so unlikely to actually offer you the job anyway), but it's probably worth mentioning to caution people against "gaming the system" by mentioning offers they have no intention of possibly accepting. – R.M. Dec 15 '16 at 19:47
  • @R.M. That's not good advice I'm afraid. You have some misconceptions about ethics and about how departments approach hiring: 1. Informing a place (politely and professionally) that you have received an offer from another place cannot conceivably swing their position from "on the fence" to "reject", but may swing the decision in the opposite direction. 2. Such a communication would be completely ethical, and not even remotely a form of gaming the system, even if one does not intend to accept said offer (although arguably in that case it may have been unethical to apply for the position). – Dan Romik Dec 17 '16 at 18:42

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