Category Archives: Faculty Hiring


Name Game

I’ve encountered some unusual candidate-search problems involving names that are easily confused or that have baggage. Here are a few. I’ve changed the actual names and/or genders to avoid invasions of privacy.)

One search committee had reviewed all of the candidates, narrowing the field to two finalists: “Sue Shirley” and “Shirley Shue.” When the candidates arrived for their interviews, Dr. Shirley insisted on being called “Sue,” and Dr. Shue insisted on being called “Shirley.” When the committ…


Valuing My Time

“Exciting opportunity! I mapped out some dates for writing workshops this upcoming spring semester. Please let me know if you would like to volunteer as a presenter.” I don’t blame the writing-center coordinator who sent me this optimistic message. He’s just doing his job, trying to provide learning opportunities for the students who come his way. But reading his full email left me feeling as  if a Nigerian prince were offering me a chance to make big money.

Service is an important part of acad…


Is Love in the Stars?

In an academic world where jobs are fleeting and few and far between, the ideal job candidate is footloose and “family-free,” writes Katie Mack, an astrophysics postdoc at the University of Melbourne, who says she once overheard a couple of senior professors say as much while discussing a candidate for a senior lectureship. While no hiring-committee member would ever admit to such thinking, there’s little doubt that the “academic career structure is built around an assumption of mobility” that’s…


Changing My Mind About CVs

In my most recent “Two-Year Track” column, “How the Job Search Differs at Community Colleges,” I stated that candidates need to tailor their cover letter for each job but can probably use the same CV. I think I’d like to modify that statement.

I based my original advice on the fact that, as a serial community-college search-committee member, I’ve reviewed thousands of CVs. Although in some ways they’re as unique as fingerprints, in other ways they’re all very similar. Honestly, I’ve seen just a…


The Job Search: It’s So Not Personal

“Sarah” was a midcareer administrator who had landed an interview at a strong institution. She would be positioned to take advantage of her own strengths and could gain significant experiences toward further promotion. Her excitement was intense as she prepared for her visit.

The on-campus interview went well in the morning, but at lunch the senior administrator to whom she would report failed to appear. When the time came to meet with that administrator in the afternoon, a two-hour slot, she wa…


Applying While Adjunct

I enjoyed reading George David Clark’s recent piece about teaching statements. My whole focus, as a professor at a community college, is on what I do in the classroom. I still have the statement I wrote as part of my student-teaching application, oh so long ago. I won’t quote it here, as it waxes a bit philosophical and makes me cringe when I recall my naïveté.

There’s another part of the application process that I want to focus on here: letters of recommendation. As an adjunct and as someone wh…


Beyond the Teaching Statement

I recently traded application materials with a good friend who, like me, will re-enter the job market this fall. We read over each other’s standard cover letter, CV, etc., both to proofread and, at least in my case, to steal a glimpse at the competition. My friend is an articulate and passionate communicator, and I know her teaching to be engaging and effective. She’s the type of professor I always hoped for as a student and most respect as a colleague. I’d like to take one of her classes now.



Who Are You, Really?


Album cover of Who Are You, by The Who

Employment-related screening tools were the focus of conversation last week in the human-resources class I teach. As I expected, there were plenty of questions about how employers use Internet searches to make decisions about applicant suitability and a fair amount of outrage about how completely unfair employers are when it comes to using digital content to make hiring decisions.

While employers may deny they are using Google and other tools to evaluate yo…


Mugged by an Offer

“Bob” was on the market for an English position and had been looking forward to attending the MLA annual meeting in December, his first since completing his doctorate. By mid-October, he had already been tapped for several interviews and was honing his thoughts when out of the blue came a call from one institution.

“We are trying to get a jump on the MLA and would like to interview you the first of November. Can we calendar you?”

He agreed and gladly completed the on-campus interview process. To…


Lessons From a Search

Last time I discussed a key lesson I learned in my first department-chair job about the importance of seeing the whole institutional picture rather than merely advocating for one’s own department. This time I want to talk about hiring and the various roles the department chair and the academic vice president/dean may have. (I wrote about this  indirectly in an earlier entry.)

My first institution was characterized by that generational turnover in the faculty that everyone was talking about when …