Transparent Recruitment Charade

2009. University of Lund publishes the PhD thesis Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in Created Agricultural Wetlands, dealing with biological diversity and ecosystem services in ponds in the agricultural landscape (and commented on here).

2013: Same department advertises a post-doc in the field “Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services in Ponds in the Agricultural Landscape”.

Because in the Scandinavian countries’ public sectors, you always have to go through these elaborate charades to suggest that you’re really looking open-mindedly for the best candidate for a job, not simply for your buddy Herman.


7 thoughts on “Transparent Recruitment Charade

  1. It’s not unique to Scandinavia. Some US academic positions have a pro forma ad of this kind. If the job description is sufficiently narrow that only your preferred candidate matches the profile, then your search will find that–surprise, surprise!–only your preferred candidate is qualified for the job.

    There are other dodges. I have seen an ad for an astrophysics position in the classified ad section of my scientific society’s weekly newsletter (which does not focus on astrophysics). I have also heard of cases where the ad is placed in the newspaper for a different city (e.g., the New York Times for a position in California). The object is to comply with the technical requirement to advertise the position without actually advertising it.


  2. Interesting that they managed to skip the usual requirement that (in Sweden) you can only be employed as a postdoc within 3 years of finishing your PhD. Normally this is the first thing listed under “requirements” for postdoc positions. After 3 years you can be hired as “researcher” or something similarly vague.


  3. Also odd to do your post-doc at your grad-school desk.

    That’s very field- and institution-dependent. Some fields insist that you do your undergraduate degree at one institution, your Ph.D. at another, your postdoc at a third, and your faculty position (if you are so fortunate to get one) at a fourth. I’m told that chemistry operates thus. In physics, staying at one institution for consecutive steps is not so unusual, but not universal either. My undergraduate department allowed its bachelor degree students to apply to the graduate program, but my grad school department, being significantly smaller, did not allow its undergraduates to stay for a Ph.D. (joint bachelor/masters programs were sometimes allowed). It’s more common for people in my specialty to stay on as postdocs after earning the Ph.D.: sometimes a few months of bridge funding, in other cases a longer-term arrangement.

    (in Sweden) you can only be employed as a postdoc within 3 years of finishing your PhD

    In the US, at least in some fields, it is common to do multiple postdocs. But the US is also peculiar in other respects: there are no explicit maximum age or time-since-degree requirements (unlike some countries), and in most cases forcing someone to retire because he has reached a specific age is illegal (airline pilots are the only exception I know of to that rule).


  4. Things are very different in the humanities and the natural sciences. In my field, post-doc jobs are extremely rare. So attempts to give them to your buddy Herman are med with outrage. Still it happens.


  5. Jobs in university libraries in Sweden are similarly rare. When Herman gets appointed to the post, because he’s giving the chair of the interview panel a blowjob, I usually lodge an official complaint. Doesn’t get me the job, but I feel a whole lot better about it …


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