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Search Committee and Position Descriptions

Step 1: Search Committee and Position Descriptions

Form(s) Required: Request to Search Form 

Form A Search Committee

Search committees are advisory in nature. The purpose of the search committee is to recruit a qualified applicant pool, review their credentials, and recommend acceptable candidates to the hiring unit. The head of the hiring unit (Vice Chancellor, Dean, Department Head, Director, etc.) will recommend the names of persons to serve as members of the search committee. Although, OED does not require a specific number of members that will serve on a search committee, it is expected that every effort will be made to secure diversity in the composition of search committees. As a general rule:

  • Women and minorities should be included as members of the search committee.
  • Committee members from outside the hiring unit may be included on a search committee.
  • Departments may have “standing” search committees.
  • The Chair of any search committee for Dean and Academic Department Head should be appointed from outside the department.
  • Because of its unique nature, dispersed geographic locations, and special state requirements, the composition of search committees for Extension and Experiment Station positions may vary.
  • In situations where the hiring unit needs to fill more than one position at the same title, qualifications, and rank, the unit can use the same applicant pool to fill all pending positions.

Develop a Position Description

Normally, the Request to Search Form (RTS) is submitted prior to the convening of the search committee. However, departments should strongly consider convening the search committee prior to submitting the RTS Form and allow committee members to help develop the position description.

The position description will be used as the basis for the RTS form and must include all required and desired/preferred qualifications. The qualifications identified in the position description will be used for all advertising as well as the evaluation of applicants. As an example, if an advanced degree, specific field of expertise, professional certification or experience in a particular field is necessary to perform the job, the position description should so indicate. At the same time, narrowly focused requirements that are not critical for the performance of the job should be avoided, as they tend to unnecessarily exclude applicants who might otherwise be qualified for the position.

Position descriptions should generally include the following:

  • Name and type (faculty or staff) of the position
  • Job Classification Title
  • Duration of the appointment and anticipated starting date
  • Salary range or some notation such as “competitiveness”, “dependent on experience” or “negotiable”
  • Required and Desired Qualifications
  • Job duties or responsibilities
  • Preferred deadline for receipt of applications. It is strongly suggested that hiring units include the following statement: “Review of applications will begin on (DATE) and will continue until the position is filled.” This will allow the search committee to consider applications received throughout the process—to include after the preferred deadline.
  • Request for a cover letter, resume or vitae, and references (either names or written references).
  • Contact person along with name, address, and telephone number and/or e-mail address. Usually the Search Committee Chair is listed as the contact person.
  • Non-Discrimination Statement
  • Because the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus is committed to recruiting a qualified diverse workforce, all searches (upper level administrative, faculty, and professional exempt level positions) must include the following statement within the general description of the announcement and advertisement sections:The Knoxville campus of the University of Tennessee is seeking candidates who have the ability to contribute in meaningful ways to the diversity and intercultural goals of the University.

Applicants who do not meet the stated required qualifications of the RTS form cannot be considered as viable (Principal or Alternate) candidates. Stated rank, position title, and/or required qualifications cannot be waived without re-advertising the position and inviting all former applicants to reapply.

Common problems with Position Descriptions include:

  • A requirement for a designated number of years of experience (ex. 5 years of work experience). This requirement would mean that an applicant with 4 years and 11 months of experience would be disqualified under the terms of the description.
  • Extremely limited degree requirements. Although this may be appropriate, depending on the position, consider that the names of degrees granted at this university may have a different name at another university. In addition, consider whether the needed skill sets can be obtained from degrees from related fields.
  • Failure to indicate whether “experience” includes student or graduate-level work. In some professions, an internship and/or graduate-level practicum may provide the type of experience needed for many entry-level positions.

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