Preparing for a Search
Each search begins with forming the search committee, defining the position, and cultivating a broad applicant pool through a thoughtful outreach and advertising strategy.
Form the Search Committee
The appropriate dean or the dean’s designee appoints a search committee generally comprising three or more faculty members (tenured and/or untenured). In addition, search committees are expected to designate an equity representative, a senior faculty member who is serving on the search committee but not as committee chair. The equity representative is responsible for ensuring that the search is active, affirmative, and equitable and follows best practices; see Appendix A.
The presearch documentation must include the composition of the search committee, including the designation of the equity representative.
Ways to Broaden the Search Committee
- Expand search committee composition in terms of academic perspectives, field expertise, and demographic makeup.
- Bring in members of other departments or schools, especially if the small number of department or school faculty from underrepresented groups precludes their inclusion on the search committee. Such arrangements also highlight Northwestern’s interdisciplinary strengths.
- Consider inviting graduate students to serve as contributing but nonvoting members.
- We recommend consulting Searching for Excellence & Diversity: A Guide for Search Committees at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/docs/SearchBook_Wisc.pdf), an excellent guide for faculty search committees that was produced by Wisconsin’s Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI).
Define the Position
In most cases, define the position in broad terms—listing several alternative topics and approaches and a range of courses to be taught—to increase the diversity and competitiveness of the applicant pool. In some areas, you may instead consider narrowing the field in ways that may diversify the faculty research focus in relation to your specific discipline.
In addition, you should think of your search as an opportunity to move in scholarly directions that reflect the future of the field rather than simply an exercise to replace a departing colleague.
The position announcement must include
- A brief statement of duties
- Minimum qualifications (e.g., degrees and experience requirements) and other desirable credentials
- Rank and/or title; if either of these is negotiable, this should be stated
- Information on whether the position is full- or part-time and whether it is ongoing or for a specified term
- Proposed starting date
- Closing date for receipt of applications
- Contact information, including where applicants should send their credentials
- The following EEO statement:
Northwestern University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and does not discriminate against qualified individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected class. Individuals from all diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. For more information, please see the University’s Policy on Institutional Equity. Job applicants who wish to request an accommodation in the application or hiring process should contact the Office of Equity. Additional information on the accommodations process is available at northwestern.edu/equal-opportunity-access/accommodation/disability.html.
Consider also adding the University's land acknowledgement statement:
The Northwestern campus sits on the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires, the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa as well as the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk nations. We acknowledge and honor the original people of the land upon which Northwestern University stands, and the Native people who remain on this land today.
Expanding Application Materials
- Consider requiring a diversity statement from all applicants. For example, “Applicants are invited to submit a statement addressing their past and/or potential contributions to enhancing diversity, equity, and/or inclusion through research, teaching, and/or service.” You can direct applicants to upload their statements to the faculty search system as a separate PDF.
- Consider asking for a letter of recommendation that specifically addresses classroom instruction.
- Consider requiring demonstrated experience in working with diverse communities of students and scholars.
Broaden the Pool
The creation of a broad and diverse pool of prospective candidates is an essential first step in the faculty recruitment process. Effective searches are proactive searches in which the committee energetically seeks out promising individuals. Some of the best practices listed below should be followed regularly, whether or not a department is currently carrying out a search.
Using Personal and Professional Networks
- At professional conferences, make efforts to establish relationships with promising graduate students and scholars from underrepresented groups. Compile a running list of promising individuals even though no position may be immediately available.
- Identify these students during their graduate study, rather than waiting until they are on the market, and invite them to Northwestern to attend conferences and other events.
- Use your networks of colleagues and scholars at other institutions, including graduates from your department now teaching elsewhere, to invite suggestions of candidates from groups that are underrepresented in the field.
- Establish relationships with colleagues at institutions with a strong record of graduating students from underrepresented groups.
- Use Northwestern colleagues and graduate students to publicize open positions. Ask them to take copies of the job announcement to academic conferences and meetings. Encourage them to seek out a diverse field of candidates.
- Solicit the assistance of committees, caucuses, or individuals in professional societies who are working to increase your field’s advancement of women and scholars from underrepresented groups.
- Invite women and scholars from underrepresented groups to deliver departmental seminars related to their work, to participate in department-sponsored symposia, or to serve as visiting professors.
- Consider targeting scholars at institutions that lack some of Northwestern’s advantages, such as our location in a major urban area, strong interdisciplinary programs, and access to graduate students.
- Consider graduate students and scholars from a broad range of institutions, beyond a limited set of peer institutions.
- Approach candidates from underrepresented groups even if they are believed to be currently unavailable. They may, in fact, be available, or they may choose to apply for a future position.
Exploring Candidate Databases
- Utilize the numerous online resources to search for doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented groups. See Appendix B for a sample of these resources.
- After all approvals for the search are received, the position announcement will automatically be posted publicly on the Northwestern Careers webpage (for a minimum of five days), the Greater Chicago Midwest Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (GCM HERC) job board, and preapproved external venues through myHR.
- Identify and advertise early and broadly in publications targeted to women and underrepresented groups, in addition to your discipline’s standard journals.
- Post job announcements through social media. Graduate students serving on your search committee can be expert sources of advice on using social media to strengthen your strategy for advertising the position.
- For a list of advertising venues for faculty recruitment, see Appendix C.
- Additional federal requirements apply to the hiring of candidates who are not US citizens or permanent residents. Consult the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for most recent requirements.
To ensure compliance with federal law, the Faculty Recruiting System will automatically solicit self-identification information from all position applicants. During the search’s application phase and prior to the review/selection phase, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a de-identified report pertaining to the race/ethnicity and gender composition of your applicant pool. The application deadline can be extended at this time. A de-identified report pertaining to the pool’s race/ethnicity and gender composition will only be shared for searches with more than 20 applicants.