As hiring season begins in earnest, my university is bringing together search-committee members to discuss strategies for reaching prospective candidates and showing them why the University of Arizona might be a good choice. One topic keeps surfacing at these meetings. It has to do with how to let candidates know about our family-friendly benefits and our willingness to assist their partners in finding employment.
Everyone has been well schooled in the “Do not ask about children or marital status during the interview” rules, so there is sometimes hesitance to let candidates know that we might have resources they need. While search committees are often hesitant to talk about tenure delays for new parents or support for accompanying partners, candidates, for their part, are reluctant to ask about programs and services that might make the difference between accepting or not accepting our offer.
Some candidates worry that discussing a partner’s employment needs might make them less desirable candidates—”She poses a two-body problem, so let’s go with the single guy”—or that revealing the presence of small children might suggest distraction from academic pursuits.
Search-committee members often ask, “At what point should we let a candidate know about the resources we have available?” My advice is to tell people early in the process and ensure that the information goes to everyone, not just the candidates we expect might need it.
How do you handle conversations about family-friendly benefits? If you are on the job market, what kinds of information would you find helpful?