Friday, July 13, 2007

This is just silly.

I got an email about an audio conference about faculty recruiting titled "How to Recruit Gen X Faculty Members". I shouldn't pre-judge, and I should be glad that anyone is trying to improve the faculty recruiting process, but it's sad that anyone needs to be told this stuff. The premise is this:
The era when colleges and universities could rely on prestige and a little cash to recruit top academic talent is gone. Increasingly, up-and-coming faculty talent is from Generation X, the much derided and little understood generation that is much more than the Gap-employee stereotype you heard about a decade ago. This generation has a different set of work priorities, and colleges that understand these priorities stand a better chance of landing the best candidates and keeping them.
Riiiggght. It must be because of their generational culture, not the fact that two income families are vastly more common now, and there are many more women faculty candidates then forty years ago, etc. The topics to be covered include:
  • Why prestige and tenure may not matter as much to this generation as previous generations, and what that means for recruiting.

  • The importance of being "family friendly" and how job candidates judge that now that all colleges are claiming that they are.

  • How Gen X professors view hierarchy and what that means in the context of departments.

  • The importance of transparency and collegiality.
  • So, basically we can sum this up in a few words that generalize beyond the university setting: People don't want to work at places where they will be treated poorly. People may want to actually have lives outside of their jobs, and like to work at places that understand that. Smart, educated people don't like being told what to do by people who are clueless just because the clueless have seniority. People don't like it when their employers are rude or have obscure, byzantine policies. My goodness, those Gen X slackers are totally unreasonable.


    2 comments:

    Incoherent Ponderer said...

    As someone who was born on the tail end of Gen X, almost like Gen Y, I agree with you completely.

    Dual-career couple are much more common nowadays, and this is why dual-career-friendly departments can snatch some good people away from more presitigious departments.

    Tenure and prestige is still as important as ever to younger people.

    But solving two-body problem is yet another variable. I know a couple where both husband and wife both interviewed at 4-5 top-40 departments and got each multiple offers, just not at the same place. In the end they went to a unranked small department, because this was the best place that made them both an offer.

    Having friendly environment and collegiate colleagues is important to me, but it's something that is nearly impossible to figure out during a short interview. One place I interviewed at rubbed me a bit the wrong way, but in retrospect it was due to head of department acting like a self-adsorbed, egotistic jerk, and another faculty member being a bit weird. I wouldn't be surprised if it's all within error bar as most science department have weird people.

    Two-body job opportunities, prestige/quality of department, quality of life (geography, lifestyle) are all important, in that order.

    Dan M said...

    Doug, I got that email too, and deleted it without reading it, along with all those damned Bird Flu Summit emails. Why do they think I care?