open thread – March 22-23, 2024 — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

I am going anon for this, but to my knowledge most universities don’t do personalized rejections. I have only ever done that with internal candidates where I will talk with them if they have questions. HR handles all the other rejections even for finalist candidates.

So, for my teams, I ask to see a list of everyone that applied before HR screens anyone. I have heard other people say they ask HR for a shortlist or have HR do screenings first, but I want to see everyone that applied. I can only say how I do things, but I have had some issues with HR in other organizations, so I like to look at everyone who applied.

I will say this if you apply for a role at a particular department, get rejected and a similar role comes up in that same department or school then switch up your resume a bit. Don’t send the same one. If it asks for a cover letter, write a good cover letter.

Also, I always tell people to apply before the first 30 days a post is up. Why? I automatically get the information for candidates when the description has been up 30 days. I start reading them and usually ask HR to do my short list screening between 30-40 days unless I am on vacation/super busy/ or HR is away. If a good candidate comes up after I can have them screened, but if HR has already screened them and we have a few solid candidates, sometimes I will only move forward with those first few.

That being said, one time we were so busy that something had been posted for 60 days before I could look at the candidates. By the time HR could contact them 2 had already taken other offers. This doesn’t mean the process is not slow. It is slow, but it is usually because so many people are involved.

Also, I will say diversify your applications. I had a role for Associate Director come up on one of my teams and also had a Senior Coordinator. People applied to the AD who had been coordinators or officers at different universities/ public sector roles. I would have much preferred and would have given them an interview if they applied for the Senior Coordinator role. I had to not go through with the HR screen because they applied for the AD role. I would definitely say diversify your applications including applying to roles at your current level and a step up. The learning curve was just too high and not to say they couldn’t be promoted to that level in the future, but was looking for someone with some experience.

When I was first hired I had been a Director ( I don’t want to give myself away) who over 100 direct reports, multi million dollar budgets, and large scale programs. When I started in higher ed, I came in as an Assistant Director. I wanted to switch careers as I was burned out. It bruised my ego a bit, but I was switching lanes and I soon became an Associate Director, Director, Dean, etc. That doesn’t always happen, but if I had just been applying to Director level or above roles in higher ed, I don’t think I would have ever had an interview.

As I write a book here I will also say make your resume easy to read. I actually take the time to read even dense resumes, but most people will only look at your resume for a couple seconds. It needs to stand out. I can’t read paragraphs or very long sentences. I need to remember something about your accomplishments after I put your resume away like Jane Doe increased applications by 25% last year.

Depends on the context, but I would not email the hiring manager (unless it says on the job description) or if is some research position with a professor. I had one person email me saying they had another offer and was wondering when the final interview would be. I would have preferred they email HR, but I got that final interview going because they were in the final 2. Other candidates find my email or phone # and call or email me saying they applied or how wonderful they are/ why they are perfect for the role and some instances write stuff that can be found about me online. Usually I just delete them, but sometimes I find them borderline aggressive/ creepy and even if I like that person’s resume I usually won’t move them forward. I am too busy.

One last thing, look into temporary roles. We have hired a few FT people from temps we had or they were pushed to another hiring manager because we liked them so much. Another way to get an “in”

Higher Ed takes a long time to hire a lot of the time, so a lot of it is about patience, but don’t send the same resume and cover letter and expect a different result. Quantify what you have accomplished and make your resume simple to read. Some roles we get a lot of great candidates who apply, so I think applying early is key.

Good luck and apologies for the book

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