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Special Considerations for Dual-career Couples

According to the 2008 study, Dual-Career Academic Couples: What Universities Need to Know, over 70 percent of today’s faculty are in dual-career relationships, and more than a third are partnered with another academic.

Before You Apply

Searching for two jobs instead of one can magnify the stress and challenges of the job search process. Understanding each other’s priorities is very important, so start these discussions early. Some topics to consider:

  • Will you both apply at the same time?
  • Will you limit your searches to specific geographic locations?
  • Are you willing to live in different places for a short or long period of time?
  • What will you do if only one of you receives a job offer this year?
  • What are you not willing to compromise?

Resources for The Dual-Career Search

The National Higher Educational Recruitment Consortium (HERC) has options to search for two jobs with specific criteria in the same region. Additionally, HERC offers webinars and tools for jobseekers.

Many higher education institutions have created dual-career programs in order to enhance their ability to competitively recruit and retain faculty and staff. Research programs at institutions to which you are applying. HERC has compiled a list of some campuses with dual-career programs .

The Dual-Career Academic Couples information from the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University provides case studies, videos, and resources about navigating dual-career hiring in universities.

Discussing with Search Committee

Often the biggest question for candidates is, “When should I discuss a partner hire with the search committee?” Many candidates desire to wait until an offer has been extended. However, search committee chairs often want to know earlier so they have time to initiate processes for exploring options. There is no right answer—candidates will need to make case-by-case decisions.

Some items to consider while making these decisions:

  • Is there an institutional policy or procedure for dual-career hires? Are dual-careers part of the institutional culture?
  • Would you consider accepting this position without a job offer for your partner?

When you start the conversation with the hiring institution, you want to emphasize the qualifications of your partner. Have an updated CV to share and be able to suggest possible fits on campus. Think about an expanded range of options, including positions beyond the tenure-track, at nearby institutions and with other organizations in the community. Understanding your partner’s priorities is key.

Articles about Dual Career and Families

Alvord, Polly. "A Family Affair." Chronicle of Higher Education. November 24, 2003.

Heiberger, Mary Morris and Vick, Julie Miller. "Pregnant on the Job Market." Chronicle of Higher Education. October 23, 2003.

Kellerman, Laura. "Will We Make the Grade?" Chronicle of Higher Education. October 8, 2003.

Mason, Mary Ann and Goulden, Marc. "Do Babies Matter? The Effect of Family Formation on the Lifelong Careers of Academic Men and Women" Academe. 2002.

Rubley, Julie Nicklin. "Job Sharing on the Tenure Track," Chronicle of Higher Education, February 3, 2004.

Stone, Jason. "My Imperfect Search," Chronicle of Higher Education, Wednesday, November 12, 2003.

Willis, Tom and Helen Chapman. "Finding the Perfect Match," Chronicle of Higher Education, June 25, 2003.