Losing the hiring battle

As I’ve written about, we’re in the midst of a hiring swing which has created a divide between faculty members that are arguing between two candidates: the good pedigree with a good post-doc but very generic research (and no intention to change it), and the okay pedigree with industry experience with definitely unique ideas.  Half of us love the unique ideas and half of us like the pedigree.  The typical candidate also has a very common academic lineage, which is helping their chances.

I was backing the unique ideas (and industry connections), but my side lost in all of this, as the other candidate won out.  So the department will just be a lot more of the same.  Yawn.  Super yawn.  Because we are hiring a little later in the cycle it turns out that The Candidate has other offers.  Now we’re having to bend over backward to basically get someone for which we already have a few of their type.  And the other profs here that work in the same field want to give The Candidate everything they want so they can all share the equipment and create a ‘super-group’ so to speak.  This is all so fucked up.

This is also really eating me up because most of the students I talked to also prefer the other candidate.  So we have more cronies buddying up, and the system becomes more generic.  My department is heavily biologists and engineers and my background is physics.  For this reason (along with other more outwardly observant reasons) I really didn’t want another person who’s part of the club, doing the same shit, and breeding more of the same.  For selfish reasons, I feel like I’ll be even more isolated, from a research and personal perspective, if The Candidate joins on.

So here’s where we’re at now: we’re waiting.  They have multiple offers, and we’re being pitted against the other schools.  The Candidate doesn’t seem like they want to be here, to collaborate with us, and contribute to the university so much as they just want the most money and equipment.  I want someone that really wants to be here.  Part of me hopes that The Candidate doesn’t pick us and the other one accepts another offer out of spite. I’d really like to break this cycle though.

I have nothing against career academics.  My favorite collaborators and mentors are career academics and the best scientists I’ve ever met, but right now for this position in my applied department, I have this attraction to nontraditional candidates (e.g., have spent time outside of academia).  If we were too applied, I would be swinging the other way and begging to get The Candidate on board.  I want more diversity of thought, and The Candidate is as generic as they come considering the current makeup of my department.

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