Bin the sour grapes and check the spec

May 30, 2013

István Aranyosi has left us in little doubt about his prowess as a budding researcher, and I certainly hope that he fulfils his promise (“No one should be hired on the basis of whether their face fits”, Opinion, 23 May). As one who has had the pleasure and ­respons­ibility of hiring several academics, I found it interesting that no mention of his other attributes was made in two pages of self-promotion.

I for one am glad that the recruitment panels that I have served upon have given due consideration to the many other aspects recorded on potential academic colleagues’ CVs before making offers. “REFability” is of course important, but the current world of higher education (for most of us, at least) requires a much broader “package” from the chosen few.

Before his next application, Aranyosi might wish to familiarise himself with the person specification for the role and spend a little time considering and demonstrating how his experiences and expertise might fit the essential criteria: teaching, administration, outreach and the ability (and willingness) to contribute to a department in many ways. This might just swing things in his favour.

Most of the ivory towers have gone, and many of us now inhabit a rather different world from the one that Aranyosi imagines should be proud to have him. He should ­realise though that to blame his failure to secure a position so far on “gossip, caprice and favouritism” sounds like sour grapes.

I wish him the best of luck in his job search.

Steve Allin
Nottingham Trent University


While I am doubtful about involving managers in things such as academic appointments, they do have useful roles to play. For example, they can make sure that equal standards are applied to selection processes.

I suspect that István Aranyosi’s account of being turned down for posts for which he is well suited delves too deeply into matters. Left to themselves, people tend to appoint people like themselves to posts, if not their friends. Unfortunately there is evidence that those with foreign-sounding names – even if they are in fact as British as the next person, as it were – suffer at least subconscious discrimination. The answer is to anonymise applications.

Keith Flett

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