It is right about this time of year that job searches have finished up, the search committees have convened and decided, and professionals everywhere are starting on a new employment journey. I’m not sure if this is a trend around the country or only in our neck of the woods, but more and more alumni are applying for campus jobs. I don’t mean the phantom alum. I mean, the one who worked in or near your office, participated in campus life, the ones you placed in high regard. You step back upon his or her graduation and think, “Now, this … this IS the outcome we were looking for all along!”
Initially, I think to myself –
See, we make our daily jobs look so enticing by the laughter, love, and impact, how could you not want to join us?!
In terms of the job:
- Sometimes they are qualified.
- Sometimes they are over qualified.
- Sometimes they are under qualified.
Hiring the right professional for a job is tough enough, but throw into the mix a personally known and respected alum … Yowza! Setting aside the hard requirements of a job which may eliminate an alum as a candidate, what’s the best way to proceed?
I certainly don’t mean this in a pessimistic approach to alumni as candidates. Depending on your campus size, your office’s role, how many years post-degree, etc., it may not even be a factor.
However, here is the quagmire (using this word, simply because I never have!):
How do you incorporate the ‘on paper’ skills with the ‘in person’ experience? What do you provide as guidelines to your search committee related to the alumni question?
True, an interview provides the ‘in person’ for non-alumni candidates. But, in many cases, we have 4+ years of ‘in person’ experiences to consider!
I’d like to entertain that you weigh all candidates equally.
Look at the resumes. Consider interview rating sheets. Try not to go down the path of reliving his or her undergraduate years.
I also suggest that leaving out the personal relationship is similar to telling a jury to dismiss testimony they have just heard. You can’t un-know the known, right? This can all lead to an unfair advantage on either side of the coin.
More often than not, I find myself running down the slippery slope of still weighing what is in the best interest of the (former) student. Is it in the best interest of the individual to truly work here? Would it be best if he or she spreads their wings and has new experiences?
Worrying about the alum’s need to explore is similar to trying to predict the career path of a candidate and her plans to stay longer than two years. You really don’t know.
Or, you really have no business judging.
The really awesome part of this conundrum is that this is simply the tip of the iceberg. I’m tossing this question into the abyss of pros and cons of hiring the known versus the unknown. Bringing in staff familiar with your operation versus staff shedding light on new (potentially, gasp, better) ways of doing business.
Maybe I’ve led the cause to hire an alum. Maybe I’ve set the bird free.
(And if he or she was meant to be … you know what they say.)
Maybe I also dodged the hiring-decision bullet this year, too.
What’s your philosophy on using alumni status as a qualification for the job?