Effective faculty recruitment ensures that institutions can attract and retain top talent. Recruiting high-quality faculty members contributes to institutional growth by driving revenue, rank, and prestige, attracting talented students and researchers who can bring new ideas and perspectives to the institution. Additionally, academic hiring is vital in ensuring that the university remains competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing academic landscape.
Understanding the Academic Landscape for Faculty Recruitment
The higher education landscape is constantly evolving, so institutions are always on the lookout for talented individuals who can teach and conduct research in a variety of academic fields to meet shifting needs. But it’s not just about finding candidates with the necessary qualifications and experience to succeed in academic roles—it’s crucial also to identify those who can contribute to the institution’s goals.
Hiring the best and brightest minds helps institutions maintain their reputation for excellence and stay ahead of the curve, and these efforts require a strong and thoughtful faculty recruitment strategy to attract top talent. To ensure a competitive edge, universities must keep up with the shifting needs in academia, such as the growing importance of interdisciplinary research and greater diversity among faculty members. The academic landscape is complex and dynamic, requiring institutions to be strategic, innovative, and adaptable in their faculty recruitment efforts.
Creating a Successful Faculty Recruitment Strategy
Define Your Institution’s Value Proposition
If your institution is looking to enhance faculty recruitment efforts, there are steps you can take to improve both efficiency and effectiveness. As you develop your faculty recruitment strategy with attracting top talent in mind, consider the value your institution brings to both faculty and students. What sets your institution apart? What are the institution’s mission, vision, and core values? This may include a commitment to DEI initiatives, delivering low faculty-to-student ratios, becoming a destination campus, or offering top-tier research opportunities.
Create In-Depth and Engaging Job Descriptions
Cultivating the relationship with potential faculty members begins with the job announcement, which may be potential candidates’ first exposure to your institution as an employer. Here, you should offer clear expectations for the role while highlighting details that will appeal to your ideal candidate, such as benefits provided by your institution, how the institution supports work/life balance for faculty members, and the academic opportunities they could see from your institution throughout their career.
When it comes to academic hiring, it’s important to note that some candidates may shy away from jobs if the description is not an exact match, so be careful and inclusive with the language used. While it’s vital to detail departmental needs and expectations for an open position, it’s also wise to leave room for flexibility in order to attract a wider pool of candidates representing diverse backgrounds. In essence, the job announcement is a sales pitch, so careful thought must go into attracting the best and brightest candidates on the job market.
Form a Search Committee
A core component of academic hiring is assembling the faculty search committee, which will be responsible for carrying out the search plan’s disciplined steps. Consisting of multiple faculty members—including tenured and untenured individuals—along with a committee chair to ensure the integrity of the search, the search committee will develop the evaluation criteria for candidates. Research demonstrates that groups of individuals with varying viewpoints arrive at sounder decisions, so the committee should include faculty with an array of sub-disciplinary knowledge, members from underrepresented groups, and individuals with relevant expertise from outside the department. This approach with divergent perspectives will be beneficial during the initial review of applications, the panel interview process, and when it comes time to select the ideal candidate for an offer.
Throughout each part of the process, committee members will need to be prepared to demonstrate how they have sought diverse, wide-ranging candidates, and they will need to record all activities. Using a faculty information system (FIS) for academic hiring enables the recording and retention of data, beginning with job advertisements and continuing to applications and dossier review through to interactions with candidates. Gathering this information allows you to compare the makeup of your candidate pools with national standards and helps support your DEI initiatives.
At University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), search committees evaluate the diversity of candidate pools using data gathered in Interfolio. UMBC then compares their data to national standards, helping spot potential problems before it’s too late. From there, they can check back in with committees about their approach and any signs of implicit bias, ensuring their recruitment processes are more inclusive. These efforts are modernizing faculty recruiting and hiring practices at UMCB, helping the institution prioritize faculty diversity.
Use Digital Channels to Boost Your Reach
Digital channels are an essential part of the recruitment process, helping search committees expand their reach when advertising job openings. Are you leveraging social media, job boards, and your institution’s website to connect with potential candidates from all over the world? These channels also allow for more targeted advertising, delivering your job ads directly to individuals with the appropriate skills and experience to fit your needs. Ultimately, utilizing these channels for job advertising can save your search committee valuable time while also increasing the likelihood of finding the right candidate, making this an important piece of your faculty recruitment strategy.
Build Relationships With Academic Networks
Your relationships within academic networks can be highly beneficial when searching for new faculty members. While attending conferences, job fairs, or even sparking engagement with peers in online communities, your opportunities for collaboration with like-minded individuals from other institutions become much more significant. These relationships can prove invaluable when it comes to academic hiring. Through your connections within the field, you may even learn about academics seeking new opportunities who are the perfect fit for your institution—before their resume hits the open market.
The Benefits of an Effective Faculty Recruitment Strategy
Faculty searches are among the most important tasks at higher education institutions because these decisions will impact both the near- and far-term future. But when faculty recruitment is approached more thoughtfully using best practices, the benefits extend across faculty, administration, and the institution as a whole. With an effective faculty recruitment strategy in place, search committees can access a more robust pool of qualified candidates, existing faculty gain more trust in the process, and institutional goals—including DEI initiatives—can be more easily attained.
Track Review, Promotion, and Tenure Processes Post-Hire
Once you’ve identified and hired the ideal candidate for your desired role, their journey at your institution is only just beginning. A faculty member is a major investment, and keeping them engaged—from hire to retire—should be a priority. It’s important to use tools that enable efficient, fair evaluations of faculty while also giving faculty members under review a positive experience and a seamless way to share their contributions. Digitizing this process can be beneficial for everyone involved, housing relevant details in one convenient location and delivering a consistent source of reliable information to all parties.
As faculty members move throughout their career journey at your institution, you should consider tools that help you seamlessly manage appointment, workload, and advancement processes. Interfolio offers a simple-to-navigate, searchable database of your entire faculty, helping you visualize career paths as well as anticipate and plan for upcoming milestones.
How Georgetown University Enhanced Its Faculty Recruitment Efforts
With different schools and departments each following their own individual approach to faculty hiring, Georgetown University faced issues with incomplete reporting. “When you have this kind of Wild West, it’s impossible to gather all the demographic data from all of the processes across the University to see how well you’re doing in attracting diverse faculty,” said Charlie Leonhardt, Georgetown University’s Director of Online Initiatives and Innovation.
By adopting Interfolio across the university, Georgetown was able to connect Workday to faculty recruitment through Interfolio’s API, creating greater consistency and making the faculty hiring process much easier for departments, candidates, and administrators alike. While the university previously had incomplete and isolated pools of new faculty demographic data across campus, the team now has one central and complete source of demographic data, gathered in Interfolio and then automatically sent to and stored in Workday.
Using Interfolio to Meet Your Academic Hiring Goals
Interfolio’s comprehensive FIS covers the whole academic recruitment process—including the job board and applications, confidential letters, fair committee review, and collection of diversity data. With Interfolio, your institution can save time for faculty hiring committees, enable efficient and fair recruitment decisions, recruit more strategically and effectively, and deliver on diversity and inclusion efforts. Reach out today to learn how Interfolio can help support faculty recruitment at your institution.