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    Entries in Academics (2)

    Friday
    Jan082010

    Candidates are Talking

    A day or two ago  noticed this news item from Inside Higher Education - Johns Hopkins Shares Too Much Information in Faculty Search.

    Essentially, someone involved in the hiring process for a Faculty position in early modern European History at the school sent a 'Thanks for Applying' type of e-mail to 120 candidates for the position, but inadvertently failed to use the email program's 'blind copy' feature thus exposing the names and email addresses of ALL 120 candidates to the entire applicant pool.

    Needless to say many of the applicants were a little ticked off that what they had felt was a breach of privacy, particularly for those who are not 'open' or 'public' about their job search. 

    To me, much more interesting than the initial story about the e-mail gaffe, was one of the sources mentioned in the Inside Higher Ed piece, a 'history jobs wiki' where candidates for various Faculty positions post (anonymously) about institutions, openings, and the status of the various searches.

    Real candidates, in competition with each other for the same position, posting informative status updates on the search, the communication (or lack thereof) from the institution, and offering opinion and commentary about all aspects of the process.

    It is quite frankly, cool as hell.

    Here are just some of the best comments from the candidate's wiki:

    For a position in European History at Ball State University:

    That is bizarre. So obviously none of the applications received (and subsequent requested dossiers) were deemed worthy by the SC. I'm not wasting anymore time...

    And this gem from a search for a 'collateral' Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University:

    I don't blame you - it was one of the most poorly written job ads I've seen and it took me a long time to puzzle it out. I still don't know what they meant by "collateral" professor, either.

    And one more from Queen's College for a Professor of French History.  Apparently a phony 'search' was conducted, but there was already a wired internal person for the spot.  Numerous applicants weigh in and express thier frustration with the time and effort spent to apply for a position they had no chance of getting.  This quote sums it up nicely:

    I'm consoling myself with the fact that this is evidence Queens would be a crappy place to work.

    This particular thread about the Queen's College position has at least 50 individual entries and comments from various applicants expressing various forms of displeasure and outrage.

    Scanning through this wiki site it is impossible not to notice a couple of important things.

    Candidates can and will congregate online

    I know the candidate pool for these jobs is kind of small, many of the candidates know each other, they attend the same events, etc; but the ability for candidates to use wikis, forums, or social networks to talk about their application experience is incredibly easy. 

    These sites will effect your brand

    Look again at the candidate remark about Queen's College.  The way this particular search was handled did do damage to the brand and potentially to the individuals in charge of the search.  One posting in the comment stream actually calls out the professor in charge of the search by name, with the express hope that this negative comment would appear in a Google search result for the person's name.

    Employers can take advantage

    Every so often on this candidate's wiki, a rep from one of the colleges chimes in to give a status update on the search, or to try and address questions or concerns that were raised by candidates.  These updates are almost always seen as helpful and are welcomed by the candidates.  In this job market, with so many candidates actively discussing your specific organization and position it only makes sense to actively monitor and engage there. 

    If you as an HR or Recruiting pro saw these kinds of open and frank discussions happening about you organization and hiring processes wouldn't you feel compelled to jump in to clarify, correct, expound, and yes at times even apologize?

    If you know of any other similar 'candidate community' sites like this one for History professors let me know.

     

    Tuesday
    Dec222009

    Do you Read These?

    Earlier this year I co-presented at the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) annual conference in Washington, DC.  The AHRD is professional, research-driven organization made up of Human Resources academics and a few 'reflective practitioners'.

    At that time I also became a member of the AHRD and almost immediately began Some light readingreceiving a regular series of journals and publications from the academy.  Titles like:  Human Resource Development Quarterly, HRD Review, and Advances in Developing Human Resources.

    These are pretty heavy titles, full of some excellent research pieces written (mostly) by Professors of Human Resources from the USA and many other countries. Articles like 'Meaningfulness, Commitment, and Engagement: The Intersection of a Deeper Level of Intrinsic Motivation' have some great information and can be very valuable for academics and practitioners alike. They are not 500-word blog posts, but if you can wrestle your way though them, you can usually pull out some great insights.

    But some other pieces incredibly arcane and narrow in focus and quite honestly seems to exist to support University tenure requirements for publishing. An article like 'The trend of blended learning in Taiwan' fits pretty squarely in this category. By their nature they have limited use and a small potential audience.

    Currently, I am in the (long) process of writing an article for one of the aforementioned journals, and since this is the first (and likely only) time I will ever write for an academic journal I have some observations on the process and on the academic journals themselves.

    1. It takes an incedibly long time to write one of these articles

    You generally submit an abstract or basic idea for a piece to the editors, wait months to hear if your idea is accepted, then submit a 'expanded' abstract, wait for another few months for feedback, submit a revised expanded abstract, wait, submit a first draft, wait, submit a final draft, wait, and eventually (for me this will be over a year later), see the article published. Oh yeah, actually writing the content takes a really long time too, more details on why that is to follow.

    2. Style is (almost) as important as substance

    There are often incredibly detailed and precise requirements for the format and structure of each different submission.  Length, section titles, headings, and of course strict adherence to the citation formats are so stressed and emphasized that it actually is a bit frustrating and annoying. Does anyone really notice if an article uses APA citation format 5 or format 6?  Does anyone even care? This part of the 'writing' process often involves grad student (free) labor.  The idea seems to be to recruit a grad student that is good with research to help find references and compile the bibliography in exchange for a credit on the article's eventual byline.

    3. What other people have written is more important as what you write

    In this kind of writing for academic journals there is a heavy emphasis on citations.  It is not unusual to see a 12 page article with over 100 citations.  In some of these pieces, nary a paragraph goes by without some external source cited (almost always another academic journal article). I get this to some extent, my (or anyone's) opinions on a topic do carry more weight if it can be shown that other author's have agreed, or drawn similar conclusions; and certainly any statistics or factual statements should show the real source of the data. But many times reading one of these pieces, with so many citations, you wonder why the article was even needed at all.  The academic journal citation is probably the earliest form of the blog link or the retweet.  Too many of those, and you wonder if the author actually has anything useful to add to the discourse.

    4. I am pretty sure hardly anyone will read the article

    I keep up with at least 100 other HR blogs, have attended plenty of events, watched dozens of webcasts, and hosted and listened to scores of talk showson HR and recruiting this year.  I have never heard anyone, in any context, mention the AHRD, talk about any of the journals they publish, or cite any of the journal articles in a blog post, presentation, or in any other forum.  My unscientific observation is that the only people that will ever read my article are the editors of the journal, and a very small percentage of the folks that actually get the journal.  And perhaps once in a great while someone doing an academic database keyword search will stumble upon my article for possible use as a (gasp) citation for an article or assignment. This citation (if it ever does happen) will also hardly be seen by anyone outside of this tiny circle of journal editors and academics.

    Frankly, I am at the end of the post and I am not really sure what my conclustion is.

    Could it be the process, form, and ultimate outcome of the academic publishing process is kind of ridiculous and largely unappealing?

    Maybe it is a call for more 'mainsteam' HR practitioners and industry bloggers to take note of the excellent work (if you look hard enough) that can be found in these academic journals?

    Could it be that instead of working on my first draft that is due soon, I found it easier and more satisfying to bang out a 900+ word blog post on  the whole thing?

    I will end with this, does anyone reading this post actually read any Human Resources Academic journals?