Book by Lauren Vicker and Harriette Royer
Review by Marc A. Kaplan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Any academic job candidate or search committee member who has ever felt badly served by a search process will be gratified by this book. Vicker and Royer have obviously been there, remembered what it felt like, and resolved to work to make sure that it never happens again. In this short, attractively laid out book, the authors lead both first-time and veteran search committee chairs through a step-by-step process to design, carry out, and conclude any search with a high likelihood that the needs of the hiring department, institution, and candidates will be met in a professional and sensitive manner.
After a much more than perfunctory introduction which grants readers permission to use and adapt the materials in the book, readers are taken through the entire search process. While recognizing that search committee chairs will often be appointed only after the preliminary work has been completed by someone else, the authors educate readers about analyzing the need for the position, writing the position description, creating a profile of the ideal candidate, wording the advertisement, and understanding the charge to the search committee. They continue past the point of typical search committee involvement to discuss the process of negotiation, making an offer, and helping the new hire to feel welcomed.
As every step of the search process is explained, attention is given to ways to recruit a diverse applicant pool, make candidates feel well treated by the process, ensure that hiring institution search participants feel valued and informed, and promote the likelihood of concluding the search successfully by hiring an appropriate person. Vicker and Royer provide sample forms that they have created and used supplemented by materials from other institutions. They use examples from The Chronicle of Higher Education to demonstrate how to convert a typical ad into one that will attract a diverse applicant pool. The use of checklists, charts, visual cues, and sample forms accommodates multiple learning styles. Research is cited appropriately, and each chapter ends with a list of references. Considerable attention is given to anticipating what could go wrong and designing a process capable of flexing to anticipate or accommodate such common problems as missed flights, missing interviewers, and weather surprises.
Academic advisors will find this book to be useful in many ways beyond informing themselves the first time they are asked to participate in a search. The book is infused with a deep understanding of how higher education institutions work, how academic hiring decisions are made, and how the academic job market functions. The strategies for using sensitivity and multicultural awareness when working with others and the planning model itself are easily transferable to any job setting.
Having participated in and led many searches myself, I found the most valuable aspect of this book to be that it deals with real situations in an upbeat, proactive, and informed manner while providing many resources new to me which I will use the next time I am called upon to chair a search committee. I can recommend this book without reservations to any one who participates in an academic search on any level. It will be my number one resource.
The Complete Academic Search Manual: A Systematic Approach to Successful and Inclusive Hiring. (2006). Book by Lauren Vicker and Harriette Royer. Review by Marc A. Kaplan. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 96 pp. Price $18.95. ISBN # 1-57922-139-4