I have mentioned in the past that job hunting in higher education is a very long process. This time of year as the semester is drawing to a close, the process could take even longer. I am continually dealing with advisees who are suffering through the waiting-to-hear stage. So two issues I will try to address here are (1) Why DOES it take so long and (2) How should one handle themselves while waiting.
1) Recruiters are often called upon by management to provide a particular metric known as “time-to-fill”. This relates to the date from when a job was posted and when it was closed. The timespan can be anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the circumstances. A short time frame is far less common and is attributable either to a sense of urgency or to the position being a role where the requirements are extremely specific and the pool of candidates is very small and easy to target. The average duration of 3 months factors in the various stages of posting, advertising, reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, and gathering interview feedback to move to a final stage. Final scheduling and gathering final feedback then follow. Reference checks then need to be done as well as background checks depending on the type of role. If a hiring unit such as an academic department does not have an internal human resources person(s) then recruiting can take much longer---especially if committees are involved. There could also be the issue of internal/departmental politics that could potentially delay the process. At my institution we try to indicate at the end of a posting whether or not a possible candidate has been pre-identified so that any new applicant can choose to apply or not. I believe it cannot hurt to still apply This time of year with the combined pressures of the end of the semester looming ahead plus the upcoming holidays, you should realize that the process is very apt to drag on.
2) So if you are “in play”, I think it matters a great deal how you carry yourself. While internals ought to know firsthand how long filling a position may take, they sometimes have an even greater sense of frustration. I know of cases where internals choose to withdraw since they take the delay personally. But whether you are internal or external, there is a fine line between too frequent follow ups that could convey desperation or cause annoyance and sending periodic reminder expressions of interest. Recently someone said they wanted to fabricate another offer to provoke a decision on their status. I discouraged them from doing so since this could backfire. I am most sympathetic to candidates who are not currently working and for whom waiting time seems endless. It does not help for me to say “it is not about you” since if someone is unemployed, it is very hard to grasp the big picture. Carrying oneself with dignity and even empathy for a harassed hiring manager tells an employer a great deal about you and will work in your favor.
Contributed by By Paula Goodman, Director of Recruitment / HR Client Services-CUHR at Columbia University