Without knowing much about the average length of a job search in academia, I wonder if, as Todd Gilman claims, job searches for academic librarians do take an excessively long amount of time to complete. Gilman has authored a series of career-oriented articles (sharing his experiences as a Ph.D. migrating to a career in academic librarianship) for the Chronicle, and in his latest one he takes academic librarian search committees to task for failing to complete their work in a reasonable amount of time – which should be one semester according to Gilman. In his Chronicle piece Gilman provides a laundry list of offenses that search committees, personnel librarians and library directors need to avoid. When they don’t, says Gilman, top candidates are likely to reject the position in disgust.
One point I can’t argue with, and would encourage all search committees to do more of, is the need to maintain regular contact with job applicants. It should be relatively easy to create a distribution list (using BCC: to avoid anyone spotting e-mail addresses of others) for the candidates, and simply provide them with a status report on the progress of the search every few weeks or at least alert candidates to those times when the search is bogging down – for whatever reason. That would certainly alleviate some of the anguish of the “endless searche” problem Gilman describes.
Please share your “endless searche” stories here – as a comment – or provide your tips on how to avoid them from happening. Were you ever so disgusted by a search process you encountered that you decided to withdraw from the search? Let us know.