In my most recent post, I encouraged folks to review other ads to make sure that their job listings were as effective as possible. There is, however, another reason to review other listings.
Most institutions know they compete with other universities for students, but in reality we compete for faculty members too. Institutions are lumped into tiers or affinity groups by prospective faculty: by mission, by location, or even by benefits packages. Good institutions compete against each other for good faculty, even in a tight job market.
This means it is incumbent on search committees to know which other institutions are looking for the same specialties that they are seeking and to make sure that the administration knows as well. The strongest applicants will be likely to be considered by these peer institutions. Savvy institutions will actually alter typical timelines to speed up the pursuit of a good candidate. I know of one institution that interviewed a candidate in December and ended up offering a spring semester appointment because they were so concerned that they would lose the hire to competitors.
More frequently, though, I know of many searches that were about to press the button for an on-campus interview only to find that the No. 1 prospect had been snatched up by a peer. Prolapsed searches can end with disappointments and can extend searches into an extra year.
Have you ever lost a top candidate to a peer institution? How could your search have had a better chance to land the person?