3

So this seems quite common, for example this job was first advertised late in 2022, for start in summer 2023, and is now readvertised with the "review of applications will begin on 15th February 2023" phrase still there.

My guess, most likely this is now readvertised so the university can proceed with applying for an H1 for the preferred applicant. So someone applying for this position may be:

  1. wasting their time, especially if they don't have a green card;
  2. have a chance if they are outstanding (unsure how true that is) compared to the preferred candidate;
  3. with small likelihood the preferred candidate declined and this is a genuine re-advertisement.

Are any other scenarios likely? Or is it in fact common that positions cannot be filled and they genuinely look for a new candidate?

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  • 8
    Why would a second advertisement be needed to apply for a H1b? Shouldn’t the first one be sufficient?
    – Dawn
    Apr 25, 2023 at 14:16
  • 7
    Your assumption that they have a preferred candidate is hasty. I know that at a top program for a specific STEM position, pretty much the same ad has run for somewhere between 3 and 5 years. Part of the faculty is known to be a bit combative, and they never manage to agree on someone they consider good enough (to the chagrain of others who push for hires). Apr 25, 2023 at 14:45
  • 7
    If you don't apply you certainly have no chance to be hired. Convincing yourself that you have no chance is not a winning strategy.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 25, 2023 at 15:34
  • It may not apply here. But one theoretical possibility is there is a second position. Maybe not the expected answer but still...
    – Boba Fit
    Apr 25, 2023 at 22:27
  • Posting with a professional organization is expensive. AFAIK a formal H1 readvertisement can be more local (if the original search used a national advertisement). So I would consider a failed search far more likely than that is is a fake ad to satisfy visa rules.
    – ahulpke
    Apr 26, 2023 at 22:53

5 Answers 5

20

Generally a position is re-posted when it is not filled.

Reasons to not fill a job after a previous search would include not wanting to make an offer to any of the applicants in the first round, or making an offer to someone who didn't accept or accepted and later changed their plans, such that the job is still open.

Also possible that it's a separate position, and the previous one was filled, even if it's perfectly copied from a previous one. Most of the text is boilerplate and the specific requirements are quite vague and speak to strategic goals rather than a specific opening.

Ultimately, there's not really much value in speculating. Your H1B explanation doesn't make much sense to me, reposting a job is not part of the H1B process.

15

From the perspective of the search committee, it's called a failed search, and the ad is re-posted. It seems that you are trying to figure out if this is a true search, ie really open to outside candidates, and not just a pro-forma search where the committee is just going through the motions before hiring a candidate they had in mind from the beginning.

The good news is that, in my experience, pro-forma searches for faculty positions are very uncommon. This is not to say that pro-forma searches don't happen in academia. In fact, they happen a lot, usually as a result of a university policy requiring that all searches be publicly posted and at least 3 candidates interviewed, etc. But this is more common for say, technician positions in which a lab already has a part-time tech and the PI wants to make him/her full-time. It's a waste of time for everyone involved, especially the candidates who take the time to write applications, be interviewed, etc.

But again, this is rare for faculty positions. There's just too much at stake. It is even illegal in some public universities to give preferences to one candidate based on anything but what is on the application.

I know it's surprising for job seekers to hear this, especially with news of 400-500 candidates applying to a single position, but many searches fail because there are no good candidates, and the committee wants to give it another year. Sometimes the job is offered to a candidate, the candidate holds off the decision for months, then declines, and the committee realizes that they need to restart the process from scratch. I worked at a university with the idiotic rule that if the first candidate did not accept the offer, the committee must re-do the search, even if the candidate in the second spot was 99% of candidate 1. Because those #1 candidates usually had offers from other places, that meant searches that lasted years.

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    That is an idiotic rule, but at least you get more free dinners during the search! Apr 27, 2023 at 20:01
7

The theory that (a) there's a preferred candidate, (b) the preferred candidate needs an H1B visa, and (c) the re-advertising allows the H1B visa to be obtained, seems overwhelming unlikely. None of those points (a-c) seem likely, and point (c) doesn't seem logical at all. I've heard more negative stories of the need for academic candidates to get an H1B than positive.

In addition to other answers, an actual practical reason why this might occur is -- The higher institution has permitted hires, then retracted it, then re-allowed it, then put a freeze on it, then re-permitted it, etc.

For example, this has happened in my department. I think we've been trying to fill a particular CS position for about 5 years at this point. Frustratingly, the overall hiring process cycle (with many steps mandated by the higher university) takes longer than the institution's economic cycle. So we've been through multiple waves of budget cuts, financial retractions, expansions, COVID, etc., and it seems that we can't get the task done before the next hiring freeze is put in place.

4

In the context of that particular field—computer science and engineering—it is likely that simply no qualified applicants were found, or the ones that were found got better offers elsewhere. This is very common in computing right now—it is a very in-demand field and finding high quality candidates who could succeed in getting tenure at Clemson, an R1 university, is just difficult. There are simply not that many high-caliber candidates.

Note that the position is in a department of computer engineering, but the qualifications (emphasis on AI/ML) clearly are looking for computer science.

The Taulbee Survey is put out by the Computing Research Association, and is the gold-standard industry publication about computing in academia. Among many other things, they report on reasons for unsuccessful faculty searches. If you look at Table F2 and F2a on pages 33–34 of the current survey, you will find number of successful searches and reasons why searches failed.

First, for US Public universities, tenure-track searches failed 25% of the time. Of those searches that failed, 67% failed because someone couldn't be gotten. Either because no qualified applicants were found (14%), or applicants accepted a better offer somewhere else (53%).

To your specific question—are any of these positions being listed with no real intention to fill them, the survey lists as only 5%—"Technically vacant, not filled for admin reasons."

I might also speculate—and I caution that this is wild speculation—that Clemson in particular might have trouble hiring in CS due to their research trajectory. Clemson moved from R2 to R1 status in 2015, which means that they will probably have a difficult hiring climate in their department. They are probably seeking to hire top-quality R1 research candidates, but they probably don't have as many mature CS researchers, CS research opportunities, and CS research support as other, more mature R1 programs. This would make it very difficult for them to compete for those top candidates. Essentially, they're in the process of moving from being a big fish in the R2 pond, to being a small fish in the R1 pond. As someone in a CS department at a university in a similar place, I can say that it has been incredibly difficult to hire, and our ability hire has not kept pace with the growth in our teaching programs, to say nothing of our university's research ambitions.

3

It could genuinely just be on offer still, there's a professorship at my university that needed 3 rounds of advertising to fill, because the chosen candidates cancelled after they had accepted the offer.

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    We had foundation funding for a position in a relatively in-demand subfield of computing, and we listed a position three years consecutively because the first two years we got zero applicants. People grossly overestimate the ability to find high quality applicants.
    – David
    Apr 26, 2023 at 17:13

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