Faculty job positions: Five reasons why a long delay between the campus visit and a job offer

This is an active time of year for the college faculty job process.

Search committees are contacting candidate references. Candidates are making campus visits. Faculty and college administrators are making offers.

A candidate may wonder, “If my campus visit was three weeks ago, should I be concerned if I haven’t heard anything from the search committee or the dean?”

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I can’t give a definite yes or no answer to that question, but I can provide some insights into what may be going on during the weeks since your campus visit.
photo © 2008 dion gillard | more info (via: Wylio)

Waiting for other candidates to visit campus
Most job searches include having at least two candidates visit the campus. Depending on the job, the candidates and the college’s budget, three or four candidates may be invited to campus. Arranging all those visits can be complicated. Several key individuals typically must be available for the candidate’s visit — including the department chair and the dean. So if they are out of town, the candidate visits may be delayed.

The candidates’ schedules can present challenges. Especially for entry-level faculty positions, the candidates interviewing typically are involved in interviewing for several possible positions. The search committee may have to delay the campus visit, waiting for the candidate’s visit to another campus.

You may have been the first candidate to make the campus visit. Now you are waiting as the other candidates to make their visits.

Awaiting word on funding for the position
Some searches are conducted even though the faculty position has not been totally finalized. The college may be awaiting final approval of funding by the university administration. A potential problem can be hiring freezes or budget cuts that may be announced by the university or state legislature during the hiring process. With most state legislatures meeting at this time of year, budget cuts to higher education can be announced even as deans are making job offers. This is a sad event for both the candidate who was going to be offered the position and for the college that has gone through the search process and was on the verge of hiring a new colleague.

Waiting as someone else is offered the position
Of course you’d like to be the college’s first choice. But ultimately, your real goal is to be hired. Sometimes that happens by being the second choice or  the third choice.

Choice #1 is offered the position by the dean. She asks for some time to consider the offer. She may delay making the decision as she has another campus visit to make or because she is waiting to hear if she has another job offer.

Perhaps Choice #1 would accept the offer but only if some conditions are met, such as the salary is increased or if the university helps her husband/partner find a job.

Negotiating these issues can take time.

For most faculty members, one of the few ways to receive a significant raise (other than being promoted or receiving a special award) is to be offered a position by another university. With that offer in hand, the faculty member can seek a counter offer from his/her current institution. Those negotiations can take time.

Meanwhile, you are still waiting and wondering.

Should you contact the search chair to ask how the process is going?

That may be necessary if you have other campus visits and offers yourself. You may be holding off making a decision on another university position as you wait to hear from your University Job Choice #1. But you don’t want Job Choice #2 to get away if you might be left without a job offer.

If you reach the point of having to let Job Choice #2 know, you should contact Job Choice #1 to let them know that you have another offer and have to make a decision. You can’t force Job Choice #1 to make you an offer, but you can help them realize they may lose you. That can sometimes help get the process moving.

Waiting as none of the initial candidates worked out
Perhaps you weren’t invited to campus and had marked the job off your list. Then you receive the phone call about scheduling a phone interview or campus visit. That may mean that none of the initial candidates worked out. Perhaps Canidate #1 didn’t accept the position because she received a counter offer from her current university. Candidate #2 accepted another position, and Candidate #3 wasn’t an acceptable choice for the faculty or dean. So the position re-opens.

Many job announcements include wording that says something like, “Applicantions will be reviewed beginning January 10 and will continue until the position is filled.” That wording establishes when the search committee will begin processing applications, but the committee can continue the search, rather than closing the search and having to begin a new search, if the first round of candidates don’t work out.

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