on inside knowledge — what he calls “the gossip network” — to
figure out which departments may be amenable to dual-career
Resources that can help
Of course, there are more formal resources that can help, too. A
school’s dual-career office, if available, may be able to provide
assistance even before you have an offer. While staff there may
not go all out for a spouse or partner before an offer is made,
they may at least be able to give you some idea of options.
The Higher Education Dual Career Network maintains a list
of schools that offer dual-career services at www.sites.google.
com/site/dualcareer/programs. “We’re not a placement office
and don’t guarantee placement,” says Joan M. Murrin, director
of the University of Iowa’s Dual Career Network. “We’re a
Murrin’s office will interview spouses or partners to
learn about their job needs, flexibility, long-term plans and
“their Plan B, C and sometimes even Plan D in this horrible
economic environment.” The office’s two-person staff will
help job-seekers explore options within the university and
without, post candidates’ biosketches on its website for area
employers to peruse, review CVs and even videotape mock
The office can help spouses and partners even if both aren’t
academics. In fact, says Murrin, it’s easier to find a job for a
non-academic spouse because there are more options. And,
she adds, the office doesn’t just work with married couples;
unmarried partners and same-sex couples are welcome to use
the service. She has also helped place siblings and even an adult
child with disabilities.
Murrin also keeps an eye out for the emotional issues
that can derail dual-career relationships, such as living apart,
professional jealousy, depression over job prospects or the
stigma of being what was once called the “trailing spouse.” If she
sees troublesome behaviors, she refers people to counselors.
Institutions are also joining together to solve the dual-career problem. Five colleges in the Amherst, Mass., area, for
example, have come together as the Academic Career Network.
The network helps those schools and others accommodate
dual-career couples by listing New England-area job postings
and running a listserv on which deans and human resources
directors can share CVs.
Another resource for universities and couples is HERC,
which includes 557 schools in 22 states and the District of
Columbia, organized into a national office and a dozen regional
groups. HERC’s website, www.hercjobs.org, offers job listings
for dual-career couples seeking faculty, staff and executive
career opportunities. HERC also has a CV and resume database
that institutions can search for possible candidates. Couples
can link their profiles to receive job alerts matching both
HERC’s region-specific focus is a big plus, says Nancy
Aebersold, executive director of National HERC. “Often,
spouses and partners are searching from afar,” she says.
“Through HERC, which is the only website of its kind in higher
ed that really engages all of the campuses in a single region and
encourages them to post all their open positions, they find out
about opportunities they wouldn’t know about otherwise.” A
ZIP code search function allows users to hunt for jobs within 50
miles of their partner’s job.
Another advantage is that HERC allows its member
institutions to post all open positions. “On other sites, they
might only be able to afford to post one or two positions,” says
Aebersold. “As a HERC member, institutions are able to post
all of their open positions.” Last year, APA became a National
HERC partner, which gives HERC members discounts on
advertising job openings in APA’s publications, website and the
APA Annual Convention.
Addressing the needs of dual-career couples in academia
is critically important for colleges and universities that want
to recruit and retain the most talented and diverse faculty and
administrators, says Aebersold.
“HERC is the only organization that is engaging colleges and
universities on a nationwide scale in collaborating on assisting
dual-career couples,” she says. “Collectively, we have identified
several successful methods — our jobs websites, our collegial
network and our sharing of best practices — that are helping
faculty and their partners achieve a satisfying balance between
work and family life.” n
Rebecca A. Clay is a writer in Washington, D.C.
• Anonymous. (2011). “The A to Z of Dual-Career Couples.” Chronicle of Higher Education.
Available at www.chronicle.com/article/The-A-
• Schiebinger, L., Henderson, A.D., &
Gilmartin, S.K. (2008). Dual-Career Academic
Couples: What Universities Need to Know.
Stanford: Michelle R. Clayman Institute for
Gender Research. Available at http://gender.
• Vick, J.M., & Furlong, J.S. (2008).
“Questions for Dual-Career Couples.” Chronicle
of Higher Education. Available at www.
• Wolf-Wendel, L.E., Twombly, S., & Rice, S.
(2003). The Two-Body Problem: Dual-Career-Couple Hiring Policies in Higher Education.
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press.