Recruiting a Diverse, Qualified Group of Applicants
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When considering the scope of their recruitment strategy, hiring authorities are guided by two factors. First, unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise, certain positions require a particular recruitment strategy, e.g., tenured faculty appointments must have a national focus. Second, when determining an appropriate recruitment strategy, hiring authorities must consider factors specific to their position and their unit. For example, a hiring authority may consider the following when determining how broadly to recruit and advertise:
- Is it likely that a more qualified and/or diverse applicant pool may be found by searching more broadly?
- Is it a faculty position that is likely to attract international candidates? (See "Special Advertising Requirements for Faculty Positions" within this appendix for advertising requirements.) What is the composition of the unit's current employee group?
- Are there well-qualified candidates for your position within your unit?
- Is internal experience especially critical to your unit's needs at this time?
- Have unit strategies for career development positioned employees within the unit for a possible promotional opportunity? Does management have a thorough understanding of the skills and abilities of current staff?
- Have communications with employees been clear about unit staffing strategies, career development, promotional opportunities and unit goals?
- Are there funding constraints that make adding an additional staff position in the unit inadvisable?
What is Active Recruiting?
You are actively recruiting if you have:
- Asked members of the department to call colleagues at other universities to see if they know of underrepresented individuals who might be qualified for and interested in this position.
- Called or sent the full position description to professional organizations focusing on underrepresented individuals.
- Engaged local networks of people in related fields at the University or Twin Cities area colleges, corporations, and businesses to see if they know of potential candidates.
- Surveyed departments at other universities to see which of them have strong records in awarding PhDs to underrepresented individuals and contact them for names of candidates.
- Contacted relevant professional organizations for any rosters of underrepresented individuals receiving PhDs in the field.
- Had a discussion in a department or search committee meeting to brainstorm other active recruiting strategies.
Examples of Successful Searches
An engineering department at the University has recently recruited two highly qualified professors. While those involved attribute some of their success to "luck," they feel they helped that "luck" grow in some specific ways. They felt that most important was presenting the University of Minnesota as a good place to work. It is always a good idea to keep in touch with candidates about whom you are enthusiastic. The dean, search chair, or department chair can call to express interest in the candidate's progress and a real desire to have them join the Minnesota faculty or staff. In this instance, a fortunate factor was that the department had been filling a number of open positions, providing an attractive setting for future growth.
Another department has a success story, too. A woman strongly recruited by a number of schools selected Minnesota. Reasons for her choice included the strong impression that Minnesota really wanted her. As with the engineering department, the director of this department called her and kept in touch with her, signaling a strong desire to have her as a faculty member. In addition, she felt they were sensitive to her personal growth. When she expressed a specific need regarding establishing a publication record, the director detailed for her, before she accepted the offer, exactly how that need would be addressed. The director anticipated her questions before she asked them, so he had answers ready-a signal to her that he had thought about her candidacy thoroughly and sincerely and his success would be reflected in part by her success.
National Recruitment Strategy
Unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise, national recruiting is required for tenured and tenure-track faculty, continuous and probationary academic professionals and senior administrators. Given the level of mutual commitment accompanying these positions, national recruiting is appropriate and consistent with search strategies of other higher education institutions.
While national recruiting is required for those positions listed above, other circumstances may suggest the appropriateness of a national search for positions not specifically requiring one. For example, many positions have such a narrow focus or unique set of education, skills and experience that there simply are not enough qualified applicants in a local or regional area to result in an adequate pool of highly qualified applicants. Given such factors, it may be necessary to recruit rigorously at the national level. At the same time, national recruiting may be significantly more expensive than local or regional recruiting.
Aside from those positions requiring national recruiting, the needs of the unit as well as the specific features of the positions should be considered when deciding the scope of the recruitment strategy.
There should be opportunities among the committee for discussion of effective recruitment strategies early in the search process.
While most academic positions are publicly advertised, the informal exchange of information among colleagues is still one of the most successful practices for identifying candidates in higher education, so long as underrepresented candidates are included.
Often, outstanding candidates do not apply for advertised positions; they may have to be approached by a member of the search committee or another faculty member. These "good faith" efforts should be documented.
In addition to seeking nominations, the search committee and the department are encouraged to use the following activities for current and future positions:
- Encourage faculty who will be attending professional conferences or visiting other universities to combine recruiting efforts with their visits. They should be encouraged to solicit curriculum vitae from promising candidates. Resources can be current lists of caucuses or subgroups within professional organizations. Or ask equal opportunity consultants for suggestions or presentations of success models at networking.
- Establish a working relationship with other departments where underrepresented individuals are already on board and with persons who might be willing to make calls to established networks.
- Survey relevant professional associations to solicit names of individuals who may present opportunities for broadening your applicant pool.
- Maintain ongoing contact with professional organizations, associations and agencies that have job referral services.
- Invite women and scholars who are persons of color from other institutions to participate in department-sponsored symposia and visiting appointments.
- Use a personal approach to contact potential candidates who have been identified or nominated. If an individual declines a nomination or does not respond to your letter, try to contact the person by phone to determine if the reason for declining can be addressed or resolved.
- After sending announcements to departments at other universities, follow up with a personal contact or phone call to inquire about potential candidates at those institutions.
Additional references: CIC Directory of Minority Ph.D. Candidates and Recipients lists individuals from the "Big 10" schools and the University of Chicago. Minority and Women Doctoral Directory (MWD) is a national directory of minority and women doctoral students who have recently received their degree from one of approximately 60 major research universities in the United States. The Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action and employment consultants in the Office of Human Resources have information on publications that reach targeted audiences.
Advertising Your Position
Advertising is crucial because the success or failure of identifying, attracting, and maintaining a pool of qualified candidates depends, in part, on the quality and variety of communication and media used to inform potential applicants and the coordination and timely placement of advertisements and other announcements.
The University of Minnesota maintains a Job Advertising Partnership with the Minnesota Minority Media Coalition (MMMC), and Bayard Advertising to provide hiring authorities with media consultants who can help with the placement of employment ads. The MMMC should be utilized to placed targeted diversity advertisements (e.g., Insight News, Minneapolis Spokesman, Native American Press, La Prensa, Asian American Press, radio, Internet) and Bayard Advertising, Inc. utilized to place mainstream advertisements (e.g., Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, suburban publications, Internet, radio, TV, billboards). Utilizing the services of both media consultants is FREE. In most cases, they receive their commission from the media, so the department is only charged the current line rate for each publication. You are encouraged to take advantage of this service to improve the quality, diversity and quantity of applicants for vacant positions.
Procedures for placing position advertisements are found at
The University has also partnered with INSIDE HIGHER ED (insidehighered.com), an online source for news, opinion, and jobs for all of higher education. Refer to the OHR website for information regarding posting of open positions.
When selecting journals, publications and other recruiting media, keep the position in mind. The nature of the position will help define the most appropriate advertising strategies. In addition, the widespread use of technology as a recruitment tool introduces low-cost alternatives to some of the more traditional advertising choices. Keep in mind the need for an open public search aimed at attracting a qualified, diverse applicant pool. NOTE: Your position will be posted automatically on the University of Minnesota's Job Center Web Site.
The following suggestions provide alternatives to consider.
- Provide written notice of the position to professional associations and appropriate committees concerned with the placement of women, people of color, disabled individuals and Vietnam era veterans.
- At minimum, place an advertisement in an appropriate national publication, one professional journal and one other national or regional publication targeted to recruit underrepresented individuals.
- In addition, announcements may be sent to:
- graduate institutions at which qualified underrepresented individuals may be found;
- organizations and professional caucuses representing underrepresented individuals in the discipline/profession, for inclusion of position announcement in their journals and newsletters;
- departments and colleges at other institutions, with a request to contact, nominate, or recommend underrepresented individuals ;
- professional meetings (caution is advised in distinguishing between informal discussions with potential candidates and formal interviews by the search committee).
Special Advertising Requirements for Faculty Positions
If an academic search is likely to attract international (namely non-U.S. citizen) applicants, employers in certain circumstances can use an electronic or web-based national professional journal, instead of the more expensive required print journal advertisement, to meet U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) labor certification standards. An electronic or web-based national professional journal advertisement can be used under these circumstances:
- The advertisement for the job opportunity for which certification is sought must be posted for at least 30 calendar days on the journal's website.
- Documentation of the placement of an advertisement in an electronic or web-based national professional journal must include evidence of the start and end dates of the advertisement placement and the text of the advertisement. in the form of printouts of the ad from the start date and from the 30th date of posting (or later), or a bill/invoice (with a printout of the ad or attached text of the ad) showing the ad was placed at least 30 days, and listing the start and end dates.
Because these circumstances are limited, departments should continue to place at least one advertisement in a national print journal unless they are confident that at least one web-based journal ad will meet these strict requirements. You can contact International Student and Scholar Services for more information on whether a particular advertisement or journal would qualify and other guidance on visa requirements for international scholars.
Remember, you may not limit eligibility for a position to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and may only ask candidates to demonstrate authorization to work in the United States at the University of Minnesota by the start date of their appointment (see Appendix H - Citizenship, Residency, and Visa Considerations for more information on international candidates).
Evaluating Pools with Diversity in Mind
At the outset, before evaluating any applicant's materials, establish explicit criteria for narrowing the pool of applicants.
Avoid disadvantaging people who have "stopped out" of degree programs or employment for a while; take into account things like raising children, getting particular kinds of training, etc.
If you encouraged the candidacy of people interested in women's studies and/or multicultural scholarship, give weight to these qualifications in the screening process for all candidates, not just women and minorities.
While screening keep in mind that institutions of education have histories too, and some eminently respected ones have only recently begun to actively serve women and minorities. Keep an open mind and do not allow an institution's reputation alone, however well earned, to blind you to the value of other solid, perhaps not as widely known, schools.
Actively work to minimize the effects of unconscious and conscious stereotypes in screening candidates.
Checking the Applicant Pool: Has Your Search Been Effective?
Throughout the search process, search committee members, hiring authorities, unit administrators, unit EOAA Liaison and Human Resource staff should be watching the composition of the pool of applicants as a way of assessing the effectiveness of the search. Consider the following:
- Does the department have a goal for hiring either minorities or women or both? Does the goal apply to this hire?
- Do the percentages of qualified minority and female candidates meet or exceed the availability for this particular job?
- Do the percentages of proposed minority and female interviewees meet or exceed the availability for this particular job?
If the applicant pool is not as large, as qualified or as diverse as was anticipated, ask:
- Were the announcements and ads timely?
- Did the search committee unanimously approve the pool of candidates to be interviewed? If not, what reservations were expressed?
- Did the committee have a written set of preferred qualifications?
- Which of those criteria were not met by people of color or females who will not be interviewed?
- Were nominees contacted and encouraged to apply?
- Did the search proceed fast enough so that candidates did not lose interest?
- Were candidates kept informed of the progress of the search?
- How interested in the position are the potential interviewees?
Did the committee members make individual contacts with potential nominators or candidates?
In addition to initiating strategies for recruiting applicants for the position, hiring authorities and search committees may invite nominees for their position.
Nominees may be given additional time beyond the deadline to complete their applications, as long as the committee has contacted them by the deadline and the nominee has agreed to be a candidate. In the case of searches with an open-ended date for receipt of applications, nominees who have agreed to be candidates must be informed of any time considerations involved with the submission of their application materials. For example, if it is likely the search committee may be concluding its review of applications within a short time frame, nominees should be advised that there is limited time for the submission of their application materials.
If the initial contact of the nominee by the search committee is informal (in person or by phone), the committee should document the response and forward a letter of acknowledgment, regardless of the initial response.
Nominations may not be accepted after the deadline for acceptance of applications unless the search is reopened, requiring approval to amend the search plan documentation.
Reopening or continuing a Search
A decision by the appointing authority to reopen or continue a search may be made when the size, quality, or composition of a pool is not satisfactory. Continuing or extending the recruiting period beyond the initial time frame, beyond the expected appointment date, requires amending the search plan.
The decision would normally occur:
- After the search committee's interim report to the appointing authority, or, when no search committee is used, after the appointing authority or designee has reviewed all of the applicant materials; or
- After conducting interviews; or
- After offers are declined by viable candidates; or
- After the appointment begin date has expired, including a search plan with "until the position is filled" language for receipt of application deadline.
Note: Substantive changes to the position (i.e., qualifications or duties), may require an entirely new search.