Monday, December 03, 2007

 

The Limits of Transparency

Search Committee Chair: The job starts next semester. Can you do that?

Candidate: No problem! Rarin' to go! Woo-hoo!

(skip ahead)

Department Chair: The job starts next semester. Are you okay with that?

Candidate: Great! Can't wait! Let's go!

(skip ahead)

Dean: The job starts next semester. Are you okay with that?

Candidate: You betcha! Ayup! All systems go!

(skip ahead)

VP: The job starts next semester. You're sure you're okay with that?

Candidate: Abso-freakin'-lutely! Bring it on!

(skip ahead)

VP: You're the one. Here are the details of the offer. Do you accept?

Candidate: I don't know. I can't start next semester.

Sigh...


Comments:
I am so glad you wrote this. I'm completely lost trying to figure out when to tell the department that's interviewing me there's a chance my husband will get into grad school and I couldn't take a job right away. I'm interviewing because I'm very interested in the position and I haven't told them about my husband because it's a big "what it" that may never materialize.

That said, no one has asked me "are you ready to start next semester". I gather from this that the first time this happens, I own up to the negative possibility....? because almost everyone else has told me to wait until I've got the offer.
 
Search Committee Chair: The job starts next semester. Can you do that?
Candidate: No problem! Rarin' to go! Woo-hoo! (skip ahead)

Department Chair: The job starts next semester. Are you okay with that?
Candidate: Great! Can't wait! Let's go! (skip ahead)

Dean: The job starts next semester. Are you okay with that?
Candidate: You betcha! Ayup! All systems go! (skip ahead)

VP: The job starts next semester. You're sure you're okay with that?
Candidate: Abso-freakin'-lutely! Bring it on! (skip ahead)

VP: You're the one. Here are the details of the offer. Do you accept?
Candidate: Yes! Yes! Yes!
VP: Sorry, we've cancelled the search.

Sigh.
 
I'm far more familiar with annonymous' scenario than Dean Dad's.

That said, every time I've been made an offer, I've reminded the institution making the offer that I will NOT take myself off of the job market UNTIL I sign the contract. I've been in a situation when I've received the offer, but the contract never comes because the search gets cancelled.

Fool me once and all of that...
 
A good post might be the contract. E.g., I got a Word document by email that offered the job and laid out terms (computer budget, etc), but was not a contract. The actual contract did not arrive for at least three months. And it didn't include any details about things like computer budget, just basic salary and term of appointment. So who is committed to what in that type of scenario?
 
My favorite, from back when I was a dean, was a guy to whom we made an offer (in writing), and who said yes (in writing) and then didn't show up. As you can imagine, we were somewhat upset.
 
I wonder that, Dance, because a friend of mine negotiated for an extra year towards tenure but then mentioned that to the dept. chair (not search committee chair) and he didn't know anything about it, hated the idea, and insisted it isn't going to happen.
 
My experience on search committees for faculty members is more like that of anonymous 5:54 and anonymous 8:34 than it is Dean Dad's.

My experience on search committees for administrators--especially higher-ups like VPs and Presidents--is similar to DD's.

I think that administrators sometimes use a job offer at another institution to negotiate a pay raise where they already are.

Most job announcements at my community college (and others in California, too) say something like "contingent on funding." I know several people who went through the entire search procedure and were finalists for the job, only to be told that the position would not be filled.

If I had a full-time job, I certainly would not give it up until I'd signed a formal offer for a new position. If I had two offers, even if I'd accepted one I wouldn't hesitate to renege on it and take another if it were more desirable.
 
the last "anonymous" writes:

"I think that administrators sometimes use a job offer at another institution to negotiate a pay raise where they already are."

Surely true. But so do faculty. Among my friends on the faculty at my current institution are five who received large ($20K+) pay increases when--and only because--they placed a competing offer on the table and said "I'd prefer to stay, but..." When I was dean, one of my faculty complained about being underpaid, and my response was, "Give me a competing offer to make a case with." Eventually (after I was no longer dean), that happened--poof, $25K pay increase.

Everyone who is surprised by this should stay after class to clean the erasers.
 
Did that candidate back out of a job in the English department? Because I'm available to start next semester.
 
doc:

If you had collective bargaining on your campus, then faculty members wouldn't be able to use another job offer to negotiate a higher salary for themselves.

And since we're talking about negotiating salaries from a position of power, here's a real-world example.

A colleague of mine with years of good, solid adjunct experience finally landed a full-time job at a CA CC. When she was in the VP's office to sign the paperwork, the conversation went something like this:

Friend: Wait a second. This job offer says you're putting me on step one [the lowest paying step] of the salary schedule.

VP: That's right.

F: But I've been an adjunct for years and years. I've got lots of teaching experience. I should be on a higher step, shouldn't I?

VP: Ed code section 1234.56789 says that we are required to give you step credit for your full-time teaching experience.

F: And?

VP: Your experience was as a part-time, adjunct teacher.

F: But isn't that why you hired me? I'm not a rookie right out of grad school. I've been teaching English at the community college level for years now, and apparently you think I'm good at it; otherwise, you wouldn't be offering me the job.

VP: But you don't have full-time teaching experience.

F: Full-time, part-time, what's the difference? Experience is experience, and that's why you hired me.

VP: But we're not gonna pay you for your part-time experience because we don't have to.
 
Late, but Anastasia, why is someone negotiating with a search committee chair? Shouldn't happen, I think. (Actually, that's relevant to Dean Dad's original post too). My dept turns the offer and all details over to the chair the minute we've selected a candidate.
 
anon @4:58 Why would I pay you more than I have to? I don't get it. If you'll take the job for 20$/hr why would I pay you more? If you won't take the job, say no and we'll negotiate. If the comments on this blog are any indication a Phd in the humanities aren't exactly fighting off offers with a stick.
 
How about this one?

Search Committee, during phone interviews, tells all candidates:
You should know we are in a VERY remote area, and there's no freelance work available outside the university anywhere in a two-hour radius. Would that be a problem?

Candidate: No, that wouldn't be a problem at all. I understand what rural areas are like.

At the interview:

Candidate: If you offer me this job, I will take it. I am committed to moving to a rural area. I am from a rural area, so I know what I'm getting into.

Search Committee: Let us repeat what we said on the phone: You do realize we are in a VERY remote area, and there's no freelance work available outside the university anywhere in a two-hour radius? We're isolated here. Is that ok with you?

Candidate: Yes, I understand that. But I want to put down roots somewhere and I would most definitely take this job if offered it.

Candidate, after being offered the job: Is there any work for my spouse? My spouse is very talented and we agreed not to hold each others' careers back.

Search Committee: We wish there was work for your spouse. Unfortunately, there is none. We're sorry. Your spouse sounds very talented. But no, there's no work here.

Candidate: What about freelancing?

Search Committee: As we said in your interview, there's no freelance work in a 2-hour radius. We're really sorry. But as you saw when you were here, this is a remote part of the country.

Candidate: Let me think about it.

A week later, candidate declines. Candidate then e-mails our students (!!!) to explain that we weren't willing to offer the spouse a job. The students get confused and angry with the search committee.

***

I agree that no candidate "owes" a university anything until the ink's been signed on a contract. But a little honesty would have been nice. We told the candidate on the phone what the situation was; there's no way the freelance work could have materialized for the spouse.

By the time we waited for our first choice to get back to us, our 2nd choice had taken another job, and we had to bring in a 3rd candidate (who, luckily, has turned out to be fantastic). But that 1st candidate? That person was obviously just going on a practice interview on the dime of a financially-strapped university in one of the poorest states in the nation.
 
joe:

My friend turned down the job, went back to graduate school, got a Ph.D and found a better position.

The point is that she was offered the job because she had experience, and lots of it. But management at this community college didn't have to pay for what they were getting because of a technicality in the California Education Code.

Other CC's give new full-time hires salary schedule credit for the time they've spent adjuncting--and the experience they've gained doing it--because it's the right thing to do.

My friend made a good decision when she turned down the job, and the folks at Cheapskate Community College lost a good teacher.
 
joe -- um, because it's worth a little extra money to keep your employees, especially those whom it is difficult to supervise well, happy and productive?

I mean, talk about mean-spirited, penny-wise, pound-foolish bulldada. I'm glad Anonymous's friend decided not to take the job; the signal that the CC was out to hose its workers was loud and clear. Never, ever take a job where your employer shows glee in paying you less. You're giving your employer 1/3 of your life; any transaction that big really needs to be win-win or you're going to be desperately unhappy very quickly.
 
kimmet and anon, u agree that they should have moved on in that circumstance. But I doubt that the CC was unable to find a replacement.
 
I think my friend less negotiated it than discussed it with someone, was told yeah sure..that sounds okay but got nothing in writing. the dept chair was on leave. I have no idea why he didn't discuss it with anyone else or get it on paper somewhere. foolishness.

"But that 1st candidate? That person was obviously just going on a practice interview on the dime of a financially-strapped university in one of the poorest states in the nation."

This is exactly what I am NOT doing and am really, really hoping the folks I'm interviewing with don't think I'm doing. Gah.
 
I know of a mid-level administrator that called (anonymously) on a posted job at another institution about five years ago, heard the salary, and said, "Good luck with all that" and hung up.

A year later the job was reposted at twice the originally quoted salary, the administrator applied, and got the position.

C1
 
I'm curious how much time "skip ahead" represents.

Because I've been in situations where I've wanted to take another position, but by the time I got an offer in hand I'd extended the contract at my current placement (on the principle that even a bad job was better than sleeping in the park).
 
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