Thorp LinkedIn blog offers advice to candidates in administrative searches

| Staff Reporter

Provost Holden Thorp decided to take on a different sort of project this summer—one that made use of his depth of experience working as an administrator in institutions of higher education.

Using his knowledge and experience regarding university administrative staff searches, Thorp wrote several blog posts on the professional social networking site LinkedIn, offering advice and giving potential candidates information on the process.

The six-part blog included explanations about search consultants, advice regarding references and how to deal with “baggage.” He also included a blog post in which he defined several terms used in the academic search process, such as “on” versus “off” list references as well as detailing the different rounds.

Thorp said he chose to write the series in order to make his experience in administrative searches accessible to a wider range of people.

“I decided…just because I like to see everybody do well in these searches that I would take all the coaching that I’ve given to people over the years and stick it on the Internet so that everybody in our searches has access to all the same information as the people who know me well, who would come in here and ask my advice,” Thorp added.

In the past several years, Thorp noticed many candidates with great potential for their desired position not succeed in the search process, which sparked the idea to pen the blog series.

“I think the biggest thing is to know when to be aggressive and say you want the job and when to hang back and let people pull you in,” Thorp said.

Unlike in the business world, where it’s more consistently the case–and encouraged–that you ask for and say you want the job, academic searches tend to be more discreet and can garner more suspicion, Thorp said. He said he’s seen candidates come on too strong at the beginning or hold back at the end—mistakes that can cost them a position.

Thorp chose LinkedIn as his platform due to the number of his followers who work in higher education. It also provided him the space to break his topics down into smaller entries.

“I got a lot of likes, and I got a lot of comments on my posts, and I’ve heard from people who said [they’re] sharing this with a lot of people,” Thorp said. “I think the idea that women and people of color don’t have equal access to this kind of coaching is something that’s resonated with people who said I’m sharing this with a lot of folks so that they can see the impact that this has had.”

Some of Thorp’s inspiration and content for the blogs came from his own experiences being a candidate in academic searches, as well as serving on academic search committees.

“I had access to a lot of people who gave me a lot of good advice, and a lot of that is incorporated in those articles,” Thorp said.

However, “it’s free advice, so mileage may vary,” Thorp noted.

Next on Thorp’s blogging agenda is a series on business books that are useful in higher education.

“I’ve been doing some articles about that, but they haven’t been getting nearly the number of views and everything that the searches ones got. I’m going to keep doing that for a while and then we’ll see what I come up with after that,” Thorp said.

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