Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adventures on the Job Market: Spousal Hires

I wasn't going to post about this at all, because it still makes me too upset to think about, but the tables have turned in an interesting way . . . To make a long story short, there was a job I really, really wanted. They did a full search, brought me to campus, and hired the spouse of another faculty member (who has been working there as a visiting lecturer). I'm sure he is a great guy, but not the right specialization for how they told me they wanted to expand. Also not done with his PhD as far as I can tell (I just defended).

This was sad enough in itself, but then Dream U kept getting my hopes up:

Two weeks after their decision, when I had a one-year offer:
--We've hired someone, but we're trying to get a second TT position for you--hold on! (they do have rather deep pockets)
--No, we were refused.

A month later:
--Okay, now we have a one-year position, are you interested?
--Um, yes, but only if the rest of my TT searches don't pan out.
--You're still in TT searches? Okay, we're going to ask again.

Two weeks later:
--I have a TT offer. What's up?
--They refused us again for a second TT, but we might be able to hire TT next year.
--No thanks.

So yes, in case seven months of job searching misery aren't enough, let's knock you down and then keep poking to see if you're still alive.

So now, a department at my new university it trying to make a hire, and wants the spouse of the hire employed in my new department, in the section I will be building. He meets what we will be looking for in a very basic way, and I'll be interviewing him in a surprising turn of events for the year. In contrast to Dream school, my new chair is adamant that if he is not satisfactory we won't hire him, no matter what his spouse's department wants. Now, having done long distance with my husband across oceans, I understand as well as anyone how nice it is to be with your spouse. I am also very lucky in that my spouse agreed to move with me to my new job. However, I have to say that these spousal hiring practices give me the creeps, and I just cannot figure out how it is ethical (maybe when two superstar spouse are poached as a team?) I don't know.


  1. I can see how it gives you the creeps; it gives an unfair advantage or privilege to those who are married or that kind of relationship (do they treat non-married but clearly committed couples in the same way?)

    It additionally feels unethical if the spouse doesn't fit into the goals or whatever qualifications there are. Not only from the point of people who are being hired but also for the students.

  2. Our uni gives an extra line for spousal hires and helps pay. So the receiving department wouldn't have to decide between a spouse and another candidate.

  3. I think I've more commonly seen what nicoleandmaggie's school has. I have seen two senior scholars often poached, but never someone who wasn't finished. That sucks that it was dream school that did this. Perhaps with the way they treated you it is no longer dream school and you dodged a bullet?