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Part 1: Scouting



1.1 Reimagining Hiring as an Ongoing Activity

Rather than view faculty hiring as a rare or special occasion, develop the habit of regularly “scouting” for potential applicants who will advance the unit’s research, teaching, and diversity missions in specific ways.

Scouting activities are meant to identify and build relationships with potential job applicants, so that the unit is in a good position to attract diverse pools for approved searches. But scouting also can lead to the identification of “preferred” candidates the unit would like to hire immediately.

1.2 Important Questions and Cautions

Active scouting thus raises a potentially controversial but important set of questions:

  • Does the unit believe it is best to run relatively broad and fully open searches for every position?
  • Or does the unit believe it is good practice—and/or strategic necessity—to occasionally launch so-called target of opportunity hires that focus on one or more preferred candidates?

Thus, when thinking about scouting, units should consider several cautions:

  • Scouting activities are meant to help build diverse pools of potential applicants for the future; they cannot guarantee funded positions.
  • It is important to openly discuss how the unit and how the relevant college, school, or campus will approach preferred candidates and/or specialized searches in relation to long-range hiring plans.
  • Unit leaders and college, school, or campus leaders should be careful not to build unrealistic expectations for either potential applicants or current faculty.
  • The term “preferred” should never be considered as referring to, or including, a potential candidate’s race, sex, color, religion, or national origin. A natural outcome of the scouting process should be more diverse pools of applicants, but hiring should never be based on these protected categories.

1.3 Effective Habits for Scouting  

With the above questions and cautions in mind, the unit is ready to foster effective habits for scouting:

  • Develop, discuss, and regularly update long-range hiring plans, taking into consideration the unit’s current Affirmative Action Plan. (If the unit is unaware of its Affirmative Action Plan, check with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action). All members of the unit should be aware of current and anticipated needs, including those related to ancitipated retirements, as well as of the unit’s “wish list” for future hires. Where does the unit hope to see itself in five or ten years?
  • Encourage all members of the unit to view professional meetings as opportunities to scout for potential faculty applicants. Colleagues should be encouraged to attend presentations by advanced graduate students and post-docs who will soon be on the job market, and by early career faculty who may be movable from current positions.
  • Consider hosting a targeted reception or event at your discipline’s major conference or meeting. For example, an event might spotlight an established or emerging research area within your discipline that directly engages issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or it might spotlight opportunities for teaching, service, or outreach that directly engage issues of access and equal opportunity.
  • Encourage all members of the unit to use invitations to present lectures or seminars at other institutions as opportunities to tell advanced graduate students and post-docs about potential opportunities at UW. Faculty might include a standard slide in their presentations that describes the home unit and invites audience members to talk with them about UW. 
  • Consider using the unit’s own lecture or seminar series as an opportunity to invite potential future applicants to campus (whether in person or virtually). This is a “low stakes” way to introduce potential applicants to the unit and to campus allies, and to give potential applicants an opportunity to experience the UW firsthand.
  • Keep in mind that you may have local scouting opportunities as well: advanced students, post-docs, and non-tenure track faculty in adjacent units or on other campuses at UW.

A link to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EEOA) and additional resources for developing long-range hiring plans and strategies for scouting are available in the Toolkit.

Next section: Preparation