Thanks in advance to all who may share their insights...I'll make it as brief as I can while still getting across the essential facts -

I'm a junior executive at a mid size company who has been fortunate enough to enjoy a good pace of promotion, but who may be reaching a plataeu for a bit.  I came to this company from an Academic position, which I also enjoyed but changed for a combination of reasons including broadening my experience and personal issues.  There is a local "branch" unit of a large and very well respected University in my town that had recently requested that I apply for a position as the director of the unit, an increase in salary, responsibility, and challenge compared to my current position.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, I can't quite tell which), a combination of at least some factors led to me not being offered the position.  Primary was another candidate that was very highly qualified, so qualified in fact that she desired the position above the one open, and declined the University's offer.  Secondly, I believe that despite my best efforts, I did not alter my approach sufficiently from private sector back to academia in either my resume or interview, which may have caused some concern among the faculty.  Since I was happily employed, I came to terms with it and moved on. 

Mark has rarely been more right than when he states "Academics, they're...different."

Somewhat surprisingly, the current director of the unit, (who is *not* on the search committee, and who passionately supported my first application) has contacted me again to request my repeated application.  Here are  what I think are the minimum complicating factors...

1.  As mentioned above, I'm unclear about whether there would be any support from the remainder of the faculty after the first go-around, and do I even need to be concerned with their explicit support at this stage;

2.  In an unusual twist, my boss has been asked to participate on the search committee as an external member (there is no evidence available to me that he is aware of my previous application, and the committee has "pledged" to keep my application confidential)

3.  Its not clear to me the issue with the director - in my first interview, the University appeared to desire that the new director take a more active role in moving the unit forward, and the absence of the director on the search committee seems to indicate to me that his vision, and therefore his support of me, may not be all that relevant.

Theoretically, I could revise my resume back to a CV and still present as a qualified candidate, but my question seems to be - is there any winning under these circumstances?  is the process hopelessly tainted by the first round of interview?  Could I actually be harmed if I go through the process again and not be selected a second time?

Sincerest thanks again to all - hope I've provided enough information, and I can always give more if it helps.


tlhausmann's picture
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Are there a shortage of qualified candidates for the leadership slot at "Respected University"? Was the search reopened for new applications?

Do you believe you will be penalized by your current boss when your candidacy is discovered? Your candidacy may come up if there are no new applications under consideration.

Leaving the current person in the role off the search committee is not unusual.

The bigger question, in my mind, is why would you be considered for a position after already being rejected in the first go around? From what you write it appears that the first search failed. The search committee is now reorganized with new members. Do you believe your application is being considered by the new committee?


Davis Staedtler's picture

I have the same question. You stated you were not offered the position. Are you wanting to gain a more secure understanding as to why? If so, I may have an idea.

Kind regards,

Davis Staedtler

mcmahorj's picture

Thanks to both...

I agree that it has not been easy for the University to find applicants for this spot - while it is part of a top 15 Public University, the local branch is somewhat tougher to recruit for because its a much smaller town, and they report to prefer to have someone with some roots to the area so that the turnover in the position can be managed.  The current director has been there roughly 17 years.

The search was re-opened for new as TLHausman suggests, since in the previous round only the person who did not eventually accept the position was forwarded for consideration...I don't believe that it would have been legal to do otherwise.  I agree with the implication about my application since they did not feel moved to recommend an alternative such as myself if the most desired candidate did not work out.

I believe the search committee to be largely unchanged in the second go around.

To Davis's comment, I was invited to lunch by the director and as you might imagine I probed for the reasons behind my not being selected the first time in order to determine whether it made any sense for a second go.  The comments were around two areas - the first was the faculty being a bit put off by what they perceived was my "industry" approach despite my very qualified academic background, and the second was apparently around some polarization about my candidacy.  While some were apparently passionate about my qualifications, particularly in the areas of leadership, development, and management of a unit such as this, others may have been equally passionate that my approach was simply not consistent with an academic  institution.  Of course there may be all kinds of other political issues that I am either unaware of or poorly understand.

By the standards that the managers on this site might be accustomed to, it would probably be reasonable to argue that management of the unit has been rudimentary at best and dysfunctional at worst.  Many during the interview admitted as such (which was informative in of itself), and the unit may have hesitation about somebody that would drive development of a vision for the unit and the execution of a plan behind it.  There are several long tenured faculty there which have strong interests in status quo, and other younger faculty who are dying to make it a vibrant and active place to work and educate.

Sincerest thanks for your questions, please keep your thoughts coming.

mcmahorj's picture

 Apologies, I missed a comment from TLHausmann...

While I share what I consider to be a very good and supportive relationship with boss (a VP), I don't think there's anyway of getting around him being at least disappointed to discover of my pursuit of the position, although I also believe that I would have an ongoing and positive relationship afterward.

Mark's picture
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To me, it boils down to two things.

1.  Do you still want the job?  Who cares what the search committee thinks at THIS point?  If you want it, you want it.  Sure, go back to the CV (good call).  Modify your approach if you decide to go forward.  And if they say no, hey, lucky them, they get to decide.  (They're always wrong on hiring in Academia anyway ;-)  )

2. How much pain will your boss  feel and put you in?  You know him...maybe you could pre-brief him.  You could - COULD - tell him, "hey, they begged me to interview the first time, and I didn't get it*, and they're begging me do YOU feel about that?"  But that's dicey, I think.  YOUR CALL.


* - I think the university really blew this process, and the other candidate really threw them a curveball they couldn't hit (nor did they even SEE it).  So I'd be willing to bet a hundred bucks your stock has risen, frankly.

bug_girl's picture

University hiring committees do not run on logical or orderly rules or timelines. Often it's more about personalities on the committee or past hires than the actual candidates.

Don't take it personally--it could all just be some behind the scenes stuff that had nothing to do with you.

I love ya Academia, but you're nuttier than a squirrel in a peanut butter factory.

mcmahorj's picture

Mark and Bug_Girl, thanks so much for your thoughts (and humor, which is in far too short supply in these kinds of discussions...).  It's *hugely* valuable to be able to come to a group like this just to get some additional thoughts from folks not so close to the issue.

All the best.