Monday, November 07, 2005

Applying for a community college job: The general process

[This is post 2 of 9 in a series exploring how to apply for a full-time community college teaching position. See this page for links to all the posts in the series.]

Successfully applying for a full-time job at a community college typically entails a number of steps on the part of the applicant:
  1. Locate an open job posting – this can be done at the college, district, or state level, or through nationwide science and education publications (e.g., Science, Nature, Chronicle of Higher Education). The Chronicle of Higher Education often has ads from community colleges nationwide, and even has a customizable job search service.
  2. Complete the application packet and submit it to the proper office.
  3. Wait for a letter in the mail or a call to schedule an interview.
  4. Attend an in-person interview, which typically includes a short (~15 minute) teaching demonstration and lasts about an hour total.
  5. Wait for a call to schedule a second interview.
  6. Attend the second interview, which typically lasts about an hour and involves the upper levels of the administration on campus (president, vice president, dean).
  7. Wait for a call offering the position.
  8. Negotiate terms of the job (applicants usually have only limited abilities to do this, as many terms are set by the district or state).
  9. Accept the job and go out for a celebratory meal.
From the perspective of a member of the hiring committee, however, the steps look quite different:
  1. Receive a memo from the dean or department chair asking for volunteers to serve on the committee.
  2. Volunteer to be on the committee – departmental politics often play a large role in deciding who will be on the committee.
  3. Write the official job announcement. This may have already occurred (being completed by the dean or department chair), as hiring deadlines are often very short.
  4. Wait for the applications to arrive and be collated by human resources. During this time the committee often writes the interview questions.
  5. A subgroup of the committee reads over all the applications to determine if the applicants meet the minimum qualifications. Any applicants who don't demonstrate they've met the minimum qualifications are immediately rejected; this step is often called paper screening.
  6. Read over all the applications and rate them based on how well the applicants meet the minimum and desirable qualifications.
  7. Meet as a committee, compare rankings, and choose a subset of applicants to interview.
  8. Wait for interview day.
  9. Attend the interviews, typically asking the same questions to all interviewees; usually, rank the applicants' answers quantitatively.
  10. Meet again as a committee, again compare rankings, and submit the committee's favorites to the administration.
  11. Celebrate, because the hiring committee's duties are largely over.
  12. The administration holds the second interview, often involving at least one member of the original hiring committee.
  13. The administration decides who will be hired.
The community college full-time faculty application process is rather different from that of four-year research and teaching institutions. Research and teaching institutions' faculty interviews often last for days, and involve the institution paying for most of the costs of the applicant (meals, hotel, etc.). Research and teaching institution job interviews also typically involve extensive one-on-one discussions with department faculty members; nothing like that occurs at most community college job interviews. Community colleges rarely pay any of the applicant's expenses; all travel expenses are the responsibility of the applicant. For example, when I applied for my current job from out of state, I had to pay for my own travel (and lodging) for both the first and second interviews; this can be a significant impediment to doing a nationwide search for a community college job.

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