Understanding the Dual Career Search from the Administrator’s Point of View

 Marketing Director   June 20, 2020  Dual Careers

The academic job search can be a daunting task. Add the need for two positions for a working couple and it can become all the more challenging.

In a recent HERC webinar, Navigating a Dual Career Search: The Administrator’s Perspective, we learn important aspects of the hiring process along with some fundamental differences between institutions. We’ve outlined the key talking points presented by our panelists as they gave us an inside look on how their universities handle the dual career search.

Understand that each institution has its own policies and procedures.

The dual career search is not a one-size-fits-all situation across universities. This becomes most evident when a candidate wants to know when it is appropriate to ask about dual career resources for their spouse or partner. While some universities welcome this question anytime during the interview process, others will defer this information until after an offer has been made. This is because many institutions will include dual career resources as part of a job offer package. Larger institutions have designated department chairs who will meet with your partner/spouse to discuss career goals. They will work with the departments and offices across the university on behalf of your partner/spouse. In some cases, depending on the type of employment your partner/spouse is seeking, the department chair may have the flexibility to create a new position altogether. 

Ask how long assistance will be available for your spouse or domestic partner.

Some institutions limit their resources to the start of a position, while others will offer their services throughout your duration at the university. Take note whether those resources will become available when needed if your spouse or domestic partner decides to take extended time off.

Your spouse or domestic partner must take initiative.

This cannot be stressed enough! In order to obtain a successful outcome, your spouse or partner must be actively searching for positions and submitting applications. Dual career resources should be used as a supportive tool during this process, however, administrators welcome the use of your own connections in order to look for opportunities. They urge you to be creative and use your social network. 

Know your constraints.

You will need to decide what your constraints are as a family and be realistic with those constraints. As Dr. Joan S. Girgus of Princeton University points out, for many academic hires, “We recruit families, not individuals.” It is important to take in consideration what other resources will be made available to you outside of a designated dual career program. Find out if the institution offers childcare subsidies, workload relief for new parents, or back-up child care programs. 

Don’t discount small, rural institutions during your job search.

While not all locations offer well established dual career programs, they may offer other resources that could prove to be valuable. With a city population of only 10,000, Gustavus Adolphus College is a perfect example. Dr. Brenda Kelly, Provost and Dean of the College, emphasizes that while they do not have their own department designated for dual career situations, they network with other institutions within the region to look for job opportunities. Because they are partnered with Upper Midwest HERC, they also utilize HERC’s dual career resources to help during the search process.  

As you and your partner search for new career opportunities, remember that flexibility is key, both on the part of your family and the university. While you may not be able to recreate your current situation, institutions value what dual career families have to offer. So don’t be afraid to ask questions! Remember to stay focused on your goals, be resourceful, and continue to work as a team.