Preparing a Search Calendar: Moving in, Moving through, and Moving Out

  • Author
    Shelia Higgs Burkhalter
  • Categories
    Interview Tips

I serve at an institution that is currently experiencing tremendous change and transition. We are either about to begin a search, are in a search, or just completing a search. Yes, you are right. This does sound a lot like Schlossberg and Chickering’s transition framework--we are either “moving in, moving through or moving out” of a search at any given time of the year.

In order to effectively manage our search transitions, we find it is helpful to have an articulated plan. We can and do certainly make detours as necessary. However, rerouting is so much easier to do when we have a plan. If you will pardon the use of this often overly used adage… “Failing to plan and is planning to fail.”

So continuing with Schlossberg and Chickering’s transition framework, let’s explore how you can effectively plan for your upcoming search.


Understanding your institutional situation is paramount to the preparation process. What are the strategic directions of the institution and department? What positions vacancies are anticipated? Does your position need a rewrite and a salary upgrade to match new institutional direction? Who is staying? Who is going? There is a fairly substantial difference between running a solitary search, managing multiple searches and managing a search which involves hiring multiple people for similar opportunities (i.e. multiple hall director postings). See Strategies for other critical questions and areas to consider in your search.


Someone has to provide leadership to the search process. Is that you or your designee? Is the search a part of your current job responsibilities or is it an add-on? Is this your first foray into running a search or have you done this before? Regardless of how you came to own this search responsibility and your experience (or lack thereof), you will need to consider how you will manage the search. If you are a newbie, you might need to seek out colleagues who have had experience in this area for a bit of coaching. For the first time this year, The Placement Exchange Employer Services Team will offer limited coaching opportunities. Be on the lookout for our featured coaches and how to sign up.

Once you have a clue about where to start, you will also need to consider how you will keep your search on track in the context of your day–to-day work. Searches are time-consuming due to the detail-oriented nature of the work, thus it can be all consuming. If you— like many—have other equally demanding aspects to you job, you need to think through how to manage it all. Will you have designated time each day or weekly for search responsibilities? How much time is reasonable?


Searches are seldom a solo process, they typically involve a number of people. What will your support team look like for the search process? Who is posting the position? Who screens each résumé, communicates with candidates, and fields incoming questions? We hope as you cobble together your team, you will consider The Placement Exchange and the Employer Services Team as critical to your search process. We have tools, resources, and strategies which can take your search process from ordinary to extraordinary. Let us know how we can help.


There are a lot of elements to consider when devising the specific strategies of your plan. I could spend paragraphs providing the specifics of a sample plan. However, I think it’s more helpful to provide you with a bit of a sketch and provide questions to help you fill in the details. Because I think knowing where you want to go is so critical to determining how you will get there, I recommend considering the major elements of your search in reverse:

  • Anticipated position start date – When do you want the new hire to begin working?
  • Extending an offer – How much time will you allow your candidate of choice to accept your offer?
  • Approval to hire – Do you have to work with a system like Candidate Gateway—a fairly intensive job management system which won’t let you offer until you complete each step— to manage your hiring process? Do you need additional approvals from your supervisor or others to extend an offer?
  • Reference checks – How many are required? Are the folks you want to speak with readily available? At what in the process does your institution prefer that you do them?
  • Campus interviews – How many people will you bring to campus? How long will the interviews run? Who is involved in the schedule? Will the visits be overnight? Will you need to manage intensive travel arrangements? Will the process take weeks to complete?
  • TPE Onsite interviews, receptions – What team is traveling to TPE Onsite? How will you divide up responsibilities? Will you run multiple tables? Will there be designated time for first and second interviews? How long will interviews be? How will you enhance the image of your school with table decorations, candidate pick-up signage, and the uniqueness of your process? Will you bring swag to give away? Would hosting a reception enhance your visibility with candidates?
  • Pre-schedule for TPE Onsite- How many interviews will you pre-schedule? How many slots will you leave open for onsite scheduling? Who will be responsible for coordinating the pre-scheduling with onsite scheduling to ensure a seamless process?
  • Screen applicants – Which team members will manage candidate screening? What will the process look like? How will your process incorporate the daily addition of new applicants to the The Placement Exchange system? When will you cease the applicant screening process?
  • Post the position with – Who will be responsible for position management (posting, payment processing, communicating with The Placement Exchange, etc.)? Will that person also be a part of the onsite team? If not, how will your team members understand what has transpired with the posting?
  • Approval to search - Are there hiring exceptions that must be granted due to a hiring freeze?
  • Set your search budget - What budget do you have for marketing, TPE Onsite Travel, campus interviews?
  • Know your anticipated vacancies – What openings will you have? Is your current position salary on par with competitors? Does your position need a rewrite to match up with the new institutional direction?

You are likely a little overwhelmed after digesting all of this. That reaction is perfectly normally. Consider this; you now have a leg up on the folks who didn’t think reading this blog was important. Seriously, never fear, Chris MacDonald and I, Co-chairs of Employer Services for TPE Onsite 2015, together have almost 40 years of Higher Education and search experience. We are here and ready to assist you in any way we can so please be in touch.

Happy Searching!

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