Scouts, Boomerangs, and Protocol

In the past, I have written about “scouts,” applicants for jobs who show up on campus unannounced and start speaking with people about the position without the knowledge or invitation of the search committee. The scouts think they will have an advantage by generating a “face” for their application, and perhaps an incipient relationship with folks in the unit or department. This approach typically ends up creating ill will and spoils their candidacy.

Another version of this strategy occurs late in a search, when a candidate boomerangs from the interview and shows up unannounced some time after the interview but before the position has been offered. Boomerangs will offer explanations such as, “I wanted to see the typical working environment without the show of the interview day,” or “I wanted to be a fly on the wall for a day without being escorted.” The bottom line is that they end up seeming incredibly pushy and even manipulative, both of which are off-putting.
I have had many friends and former students ask me about these strategies and I always encourage them to follow protocol: let the search committee lead the process. They may be slow, but they are the ones setting the protocol. The process can be maddening for sure, but the reality is that following protocol is an important part of the search. 

Have you ever seen a scout or a boomerang find success with these tactics?

[Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user BruceTurner.]

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