Chairing your first search process can feel an awful lot like job searching yourself. Searching for the right fit, honing your image, staying on top of emails, asking the right questions, managing pressure from colleagues and peers; the similarities are striking. As you prepare to lead your search team, it’s important to remember that you already have the skills and resources necessary to be successful in this process. This time you’re just on the other side of the table!
As someone who chaired my first search process just two years ago, I encourage you to keep the following things in mind as you begin to search for that perfect candidate:
Understand Your Role.
The role of “search chair” varies from institution to institution, therefore, it’s crucial for you to understand the expectations, responsibilities, and tasks associated with running a search in your department. Before selecting your search team, posting a position, or ordering the perfect swag item, sit down with your supervisor, director, or human resources representative to talk through the search process.
Learn about any recruitment policies at your institution, required timelines, budgetary considerations, and hopes for the position. Ask about what hiccups have occurred in the past, and how you can avoid these. By collecting this information up front, you will set both you and your team up for success.
Set the Charge. Set the Tone.
As the search chair, it’s your responsibility to define and outline the search process for your team. This includes not only sharing tentative timelines but also ensuring your team is on the same page about what you’re looking for in a successful candidate. The more up front you can be about what strengths, skillsets, past experiences, and qualities you’re searching for, the more successful your team will be when reviewing files, interacting with candidates, and marketing your department and institution.
Think Start To Finish.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when leading a search process is to plan as you go. Successful search processes are designed in a thoughtful, scaffolded manner ensuring candidates receive a cohesive experience during their interactions with you and your team. Each step of the process should build upon the previous step.
This requires planning, time, and effort. Reviewing postings, marketing materials, questions, and on-campus schedules early on ensures consistent messaging, reduces redundancy, and enhances the candidate experience. While time-intensive, thinking from start to finish pays off during your search and leaves you and your team free to focus on the candidates, and not the process.
Keep Things On the Front Burner. Delegate Often.
As the search chair, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the daily details and administrative tasks associated with running a search. As tempting as it can be to assume all the responsibility for these tasks; doing so will certainly come at the expense of both yourself and your candidates.
Search processes require intense attention to detail, and timeliness can make the difference between securing a candidate interview or missing an opportunity. Keeping things on the front burner, such as scheduling requests, candidate emails, and interview follow-up, is essential to your team’s success.
Avoid controlling all aspects of the search; instead, delegate when possible. Assign individuals to create candidate folders, order supplies, respond to questions, answer phone calls, or serve as a liaison to a candidate throughout the process. Doing so will increase your team’s investment in the search, and keep candidates from experiencing unnecessary delays in your process.
Trust the Process and Have Fun!
As you begin interacting with candidates, it’s important to remember that search processes are a two-way street. Candidates, much like you, are working hard to determine fit, potential, and joint interests. As the search chair, it’s important to remain flexible and adaptable as your candidate list shifts based on both your own interests and theirs.
Much like we tell candidates to trust the process, so too, must we as employers. The perfect candidate for your department is out there, so it’s best to enjoy the ride, have fun, and make the most of your seat on the other side of the table.
Best of luck this search season!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Adam Lambert on Clery Act/ Title IX