Sunday, July 14, 2013
Why Searches Fail
Wise and worldly readers, have you found elegant, legal, sustainable ways around some of these issues?
I think we do a pretty good job of defining expectations with info that goes to all candidates, and repeat that during the interview process. However, it certainly would not hurt if you used your visibility to help spread the word on teaching loads (and no research load) and non-negotiable pay scales. We don't have a union contract, but we still have a fixed pay scale.
One of our big problems is one I think you also share: our salary grid does not allow for the difference between, say, nursing and history as regards supply/demand at a particular wage point.
The timing problem with a third candidate is a side effect of the supply problem.
We don't do it, but late changes of mind could be addressed by an early contract that is binding on both parties. That would also help the comfort level of future faculty worried about a job vanishing in July when a new budget gets adopted. You could even bring them in a month early for new-faculty orientation at part-time pay that would also help with relocation expenses.
At my former school, I looked at our failed searches and our successful ones and figured out a couple of things. We were never successful in recruiting people who came from the midwest or south. Our cost of living was too high compared to our salaries and housing sticker shock kicked in everytime. We also wanted people with a strong research background but were deluded about our own ability to offer those folks resources to continue their work. Many of the faculty hiring wanted strong research which they themselves had never done and had no idea how to fund. The solution was to get a grant that pulled postdocs from a local R1 into our campus for help with their teaching skills. Folks at that R1 had already gotten over the housing prices and liked living in our area. This also allowed us to test drive our candidates and give them the teaching experience they would need to have a real chance at getting hired at a school like ours. It also gave us access to a pool of postdocs beyond those at our partner R1 who had a stated interest in teaching at an institution like ours. It will be another year before we see the first "class" of postdocs graduate from our program but in the meantime, we have some wonderful people to recruit from other programs like ours.