Memo to Search Committee Members: The Academic Hiring Process isn’t about YOU! (PART ONE)

If you have long academic careers, you’ll see more than your share of searches from both sides of the academic process. In the first of two articles, search committees should consider the following “commandments”:
1. No matter who you are, your academic field, credentials or institution, the search process isn’t about you, never was and never will be.  It’s all about locating, interviewing and hiring the BEST-QUALIFIED candidate dedicated to enhancing your academic department’s image and expanding students’ intellectual horizons. Your job is to seek and hire a potential colleague who will give your department and institution pride.
2. Hiring the youngest, least-experienced, cheapest and least-threatening candidate is not the ultimate goal for filling faculty positions. Seek and hire a potential colleague who will raise the professional level of a department and institution, not be stifled by departmental and institutional egos or insecurities.
3. There’s no such thing as being unable to identify a qualified candidate from an applicant pool. If search committees can’t identify 1-3 top candidates from application piles, then they either: (a) don’t know how to evaluate potential colleagues, (b) don’t know what they’re looking for in a future colleague, (c) don’t have any genuine interest in filling academic positions, (d) don’t really have legitimately vacant academic positions, or (e) all of the above.
4. No matter how many administrative people oversee the search process for college positions and university positions, make sure YOU know that every detail in your protocol hasn’t been overlooked or compromised.  Make sure position ads are thoroughly and concisely worded so your applicant pool knows exactly what their academic careers will be like at your academic institution.
5.  Always be as transparent as possible during the search process, from posting advertisements to acknowledging receipt of applications, to short-listing, to interviews, to notification of final decisions.

Wheelchair Wisdom -- Insights about academic employment from a former chemistry and physics professor impacted by a spinal injury.

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