Ph.D.'s Gotta Ph.D.: 4 Ways Academic Staffing Differs from Traditional Staffing

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, March 3, 2015

As we head into spring, most colleges and universities are currently wrapping up or have already completed, their search for tenure-track faculty members.  Having served on five search committees for our department over the past four years, and as an outside member for several other searches, here are four ways academic staffing differs from traditional staffing.

1.  Faculty run the search, not HR.

From writing the job placement ads to corresponding with potential candidates who respond, it is the faculty members on the committee responsible for conducting and leading the search. They are the ones who travel to conferences to interview prospective candidates. They are the ones sifting through (often) hundreds of vitae to narrow the field (no ATS here).  They are the ones on the phone interviewing their top 10 candidates.  They are the ones who host the top 3-4 candidates on the on-campus interview and recommend their choice to the Dean for approval.  HR will review the placement ad, conduct background checks, and work with the Dean on salary recommendations, but, for the most part, it is the faculty's show.

Why faculty, and not HR?  Presumably only other faculty members are uniquely qualified to judge the merits of other faculty on topics such as quality of research.

2.  A.C.R.E.A.M. (Academic Calendars Rule Everything Around Me)

Unlike traditional recruiting, the academic calendar is the master that oversees the search.  There is only one date that most colleges and universities use to guide their decision - the start of the Fall quarter or semester.  One of our current searches is in its last throes.  Unless a miracle candidate suddenly falls in our lap, we will begin our search for a tenure-track management professor this summer for someone to start in August of 2016. Yes, August 2016.  

The job placement ad will be sent out in June of 2015.  The major academic conference (Academy of Management) takes place in August of 2015 (in Vancouver).  Not only is it the meeting place for sharing and discussion of the latest in academic research, but it is the largest job fair for academics (we interviewed 32 candidates during the conference several years ago).  Fall 2015 will be a review of additional vitae, and, if lucky, phone/skype interviews with the top 8-10 candidates.  If all goes well, top candidates will be invited to campus in November, with a recommendation (if any) to hire by December of 2015.  As the Fall schedule is being set in February/March, colleges and universities want someone in place to be able to offer the courses needed for students to graduate. Most want to be able to offer a name next to the course instead of "TBD" or "Staff" (though if your last name is "Staff," you'll be teaching A LOT of courses).  Which means....

3.  ....Your hire may not start for several months

A new academic hire usually will not start in two weeks after being selected.  For some positions, it may be 8-10 months before he or she steps foot on campus to begin the new role.  It is unusual for a new hire to start at the beginning of the spring semester/quarter.  There is certainly a "secondary" market that exists in the spring consisting of those not initially chosen in the Fall, as well as those colleges and universities dealing with the ripple effect of someone departing.  Colleges and universities also recognize that a faculty member may always leave, and its too disruptive to try to find a replacement in that short time for a specific set of courses.

4. A new hire is on board a minimum of two years

Colleges and universities not only hire slow, but fire even slower.  Most tenure-track hires are often given two or three years to show proficiency in the classroom.  Scholarship takes several years to come to fruition.  Unless the hire clearly demonstrates incompetency or does something so egregious to warrant termination, he or she will be with the organization for several years before potentially losing his or her job for poor performance.

So, HR folk, is academia doing it wrong?

The 2014 Season of the #8ManRotation is Here!

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Like the Replacements 2015 tour, the latest edition of the 8 Man Rotation is back by unpopular demand.  Hot takes from Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett and myself on all that happened in the world of sports in 2014 and how HR can learn from our favorite athletes.

What is the 8 Man Rotation?  From the 1st edition:

"The 8 Man Rotation. In basketball parlance, it refers to the five starters and three players off the bench who play the primary amount of minutes during a game. Given that most basketball rosters contain 12 or more players, the coach has decided that the combination of these 8 players provides the team with the best opportunity to win. Team chemistry and production are at its maximum. 

The keys to success with an 8 man rotation and sports is not much different than the keys to success in human resource management. As co-contributor SteveBoese writes, “Where else but in big-time sports can you see the effects of talent assessment, recruiting, leadership, and employee engagement played out, in public, under the spotlight, every day of the year? What players to draft, which ones to develop, which ones to cut loose, and how to build the right mix of personalities and talent to achieve team goals are the primary concern of all sports franchises.”

The 2014 edition brings 64 all new posts comprising 161 pages, with a special foreword from proud Ohio State alum Paul Hebert, and, as always, the great 8 Man Rotation logo from Lizzie and Isaiah Maldonado

Over the five seasons, we have now totaled 278 posts and 688 pages of sports and HR goodness.  Luckily, sports continue to entertain and amaze each year providing new fodder to contemplate. 

Check out the latest edition below or at our dedicated site,

#SHRM Chapter Advisors, the SHRM Case Competition & Career Summit #SHRMStudent

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, February 9, 2015

One of the underappreciated roles among SHRM volunteers is the SHRM student chapter advisor.  The success of a SHRM student chapter is typically dependent on a willing faculty member to step up and take responsibility for being the lead contact.  He or she advises and assists the students in running their chapter through guidance, not doing the work.  A chapter advisor truly lives by the St. Norbert College motto: “Docere verbo et exemplo (to teach by word and example).”
How does a SHRM student chapter advisor accomplish the above? 

First, the advisor acts as the official point of contact for the chapter.  The advisor is the liaison with SHRM ensuring the chapter maintains the appropriate chapter roster as well as collects all mailings.  The advisor them disseminates information and materials to the student officers and members.  Second, the advisor maintains the continuity of the chapter.  Since annual membership turnover is usually 40-50% due to graduating members, advisors play a critical role to provide continuity from year to year. Third, the advisor works with the professional chapter liaison to foster leadership and organizational skills in the student chapter executive board.  Fourth, the advisor often will take time out of their schedule to travel with students to state, regional, and national conferences.  Finally, the advisor acts as an advocate for the chapter in school affairs as needed.

Unfortunately, volunteering as a student chapter advisor is not often appreciated at many colleges and universities, as it  takes time away from research and scholarship.   Even an excellent advisor might not get much credit for promotion and tenure.  As a result, it takes a dedicated individual to take time out of their schedule to attend chapter meetings, or prepare the students for the HR Case Competition. 

However, advisors are not alone in making a student chapter a success.  The advisor leans on the many HR professionals, both locally and statewide.  These professionals often come speak at chapter meetings, serve as mentors for students, or even provide tours of their local companies or shadow them in their jobs.

With that in mind, the regional SHRM Case Competition and Career Summit is an opportunity to get professionals, chapter advisors, and students together.  According to SHRM, "the case scenarios reviewed during the competition can focus on any number of HR issues and requires strategic thinking, ethical decision-making, and strong leadership and presentation skills."  In addition, the Career Summit allows students to hear from keynote speakers and get 1-on-1 time with HR professionals to discuss career development.  As SHRM has cancelled the Student Conference at the 2015 Annual Conference after 15-plus years, the regional event may be the only event that many students will have that is student-focused.

The West Division takes place March 13-14 in Ontario, CA.   The early registration deadline is February 17.

The East Division takes place March 20-21 in Baltimore, MD.  The early registration  deadline is February 19.

The Central Division takes place April 24-25 in Covington, KY.  The early registration deadline is March 26.

If you are a HR professional near any one of these areas, take some time to volunteer and meet the dedicated advisors and the future HR leaders of tomorrow.

#HR Hero - Victorio Milian #TimSackettDay

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, January 23, 2015

Tim Sackett Day began three years ago as a way to recognize those hard working HR professionals grinding away doing the real influencing on a day-to-day basis. The 4th recipient of this day of recognition is the great Victorio Milian.

In 2009, as a professor, I was frustrated with the lack of timely information on 21st century HR.  Textbooks always felt too theoretical and, while grounding the student in some of the basic terminology, they didn't breathe the language HR professionals were talking about on a daily basis.  So, I entered the social online world of Twitter and blogging as a way to better prepare students for the world of work they were entering.

Early on, Victorio was one of the names that began to stand out.  His active participation in the HR Happy Hour caught my attention, and checking in on his Creative Chaos HR blog became a part of my daily routine.

Of particular note was a commitment to furthering the profession by focusing on those entering the field.  His HR101 e-book, featuring perspectives on basic HR topics from expert HR professionals, became a regular part of my students reading list each semester.  I had the opportunity to contribute to another e-book "We are the Future" in 2012 that addressed the fears HR students had as they made the transition from school to work.

As I've gotten to know Victorio over the past few years, his commitment to the HR profession is a reflection of Victorio as a person....devoted father and husband, music aficionado, and comic book fan.

Fortunately, for those who have been helped by and gotten to know Victorio, know he is worthy of being a HR Hero that rivals anything that Stan Lee or Marvel have ever dreamed up.

Congrats Victorio!

You can connect with Victorio on
Twitter: http://twitter.con/Victorio_M


Alternative HR Activities in Las Vegas For Students Prior to #SHRM15?

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I've been a SHRM student chapter advisor for nearly 20 years.  For most of that time, I have brought several dedicated students each year to  SHRM Annual, who want to advance their learning as they pursue a career in HR.

Dedicated students are giving up nearly a week of their summer break, sacrificing a few days of work where they earn tuition money, to attend SHRM Annual, often on their dime.  Students have raised money through the student chapter during the academic year to attend, or they are paying for hotel, airfare, food, discounted conference registration and other incidentals out of their pocket.

However, we are not unique. There are many student advisors as well as hundreds of student members across the country who do the same.  Some colleges, including my own, even offer course credit to students who attend the conference

One of the highlights of the conference for them (as well as me) was a stand alone student conference on Saturday and Sunday morning prior to the start of the SHRM Annual Conference.  Faculty members could meet and discuss the future of HR education.  Students get to share best practices and ideas with their peers across the country. SHRM also highlights quality student chapters as well as recognizes the advisor of the year award.

But, of particular note, was the quality of the programming that was geared directly to students.  HR leaders such as Laurie Ruettimann, Jennifer McClure, John Hudson, Matt Charney, Meredith Soleau, Jon Petz, Simon Bailey, Joe Gerstandt, Clint Swindall, Libby Sartain, Tim Sackett, and Ryan Estis have provided quality content to those attending.  Several have offered content multiple years.

Unfortunately, after 20+ years, SHRM will no longer be offering the student conference at this year's meeting in Las Vegas. Like everyone else, students would have to pay extra to attend the Saturday Pre-Conference One-Day Workshops.

So, I reach out to my dedicated readers for suggestions for alternative HR activities to students arriving early to the SHRM Annual Conference.  Unfortunately, a Zappos tour is not available as the last tour is on Friday, June 27 at 1:00 pm.

Are there other plant tours one might take?  Are their readers out there getting into Vegas early, who might be able to give 45 minutes to an hour of their time on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning to sit with a few students and discuss a HR topic of their choosing?  Starbucks is on me.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions to enhance the learning of the HR leaders of tomorrow.

What You Need To Know About MOOCs and Mobile Technology #talentadvisor

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, January 5, 2015

I'm up at the Talent Advisor Portal at CareerBuilder's Hiring Site talking about how Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and mobile technology are driving recruiting and retention.

Check out the post here

True Faith #HR Rewind: Best Employment Application Ever - Kris Kringle

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, December 25, 2014

Originally posted December 25, 2012
From "Miracle On 34th Street"

Merry Christmas everyone