Appendix B
Episode 012 -

Whoops! Campus leaders made the wrong hiring decision. Now what?

Appendix B Episode 12, text is present that reads, "Whoops! Campus leaders made the wrong hiring decision. Now what?"

Campus leadership doesn’t always know how to hire the right people for technical roles, but they need to figure it out. Understanding where knowledge gaps exist, and filling them with the right people and tools will be essential for staying competitive over time. 
The cost of hiring the wrong person is just too great. 
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From Bravery Media, this is Appendix B. On this week’s episode, what happens when leadership doesn’t really know who they want to hire? Here is Kristin Van Dorn and Joel Goodman.

Kristin Van Dorn:
Just talking in the last two episodes about unicorns. One of the things that comes up for me is how often times leadership doesn’t exactly know what they need, but I’ve got bad news for them, just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s unimportant.

It doesn’t mean that your competitor also doesn’t understand it. Right? In fact, that could be their comparative advantage.

Joel Goodman:
Yeah, I remember a couple of years ago, We came into a client project and found that they had just hired a webmaster in the 2020s. A webmaster had just been hired to run their web stuff, but the difficulty was that this person was non-technical, which is a very strange thing for a webmaster to be and they couldn’t really keep up with the things that we were recommending and really had their own ideas about what needed to happen.

And so as someone that seemed to like want to be a unicorn in a way, but, they were hired through processes that I think indicated the hiring manager, whoever was putting this together, really didn’t know what they needed internally.

It’s a hard job market out there. It’s hard to find the qualified people to work for an institution for as little of money as most institutions wanna pay them, but when it comes down to it, you know, when you get desperate, is that a good reason to just hire whoever maybe kind of fits the bill?

Because I think it just goes back to compounding this uncompetitive disadvantage or this competitive disadvantage, that you know that is there when you don’t know how to fill the role that you need.

Kristin Van Dorn:
Well, I think you’re talking about a couple of different issues there, but I think Harvard Business Review says it costs almost, almost 50% of the higher salary to hire the wrong person and replace them.

Because you’re looking at almost six months of assessing out that this person isn’t bringing the skills that you need them to bring in order for you to make progress. And then you’re hitting the pause button on maybe figuring out how to get them the skills that they need, right? So, in order to do that, how to train them up or how to get them out so that you can use that salary line on someone else and reboot the entire search.

And so those are resource exhaustive processes for making that mistake. But then on top of it, you have people that come in that sign up for these services like Moz, or SiteImprove, or like Hot Jar or something like that. And then you have leaders that say, I don’t know what this does, and I don’t know what the value is that we got out of this particular tool.

So rather than hiring someone or talking to people that do know what these tools do for them, they just get rid of them. And then they’re operating blind in the field with no data.

Joel Goodman:
And we’ve been talking about this a while internally at Bravery, and that’s spurred on the new services that we’re offering because that, it’s a huge gap, right?

There’s a hiring knowledge gap in Higher Ed I think there’s probably a knowledgeable worker drought a little bit in the Higher Ed space for a number of different factors. But there are people that you can talk to to figure out what is actually needed or people you can talk to just fill those gaps until you know what’s actually needed.

And I think a lot of times, especially for smaller institutions, they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know who they need to hire they don’t know how to fill those gaps, and a lot of that comes from not being set up properly from an organizational standpoint or a strategic standpoint to support that staff in the first place and figure those things out.

And so you need a little bit of time to allow that to be built up, or at least to be planned out. And a lot of times it helps to have a third party, whether that’s Bravery Media, whether that’s someone else that does this sort of work you know, I think that we’ve seen the need for that in Higher Ed.

We have been working pretty hard the last year or so to kind of put together a group of offerings, but also our own expertise, to come in and partner with institutions because it’s not enough to just have someone come in. It’s like, well, here’s what you need to do, see you later, and then you’ve figure it out with, you know, already the normal workload you already have at your institution.

Kristin Van Dorn:
Yeah. Well, that’s what I think responsible agencies today do is they not only give you a well redesigned website, but they give you the operational tools to manage it, and they don’t leave the engagement until they know that you’ve got it.

And I think one of the hard things is we’re transitioning out of a time period where people budgeted specifically for a new website, but haven’t budgeted for that change management process that happens after you have an optimized site. How do you take care of it before it dies or before it becomes out of date, it succumbs to entropy.

And then four years later you’re in the exact boat that you were in when you first had your redesign, right?

Joel Goodman:
And they go into a project, you know, if you’re looking at like a traditional website redesign in Higher Ed, you’re going into a project that’s going to leave you with hopefully a really good looking site and a site that has the potential to work.

But are you staffed for it? Do you have the expertise to maintain it? And I think the knowledge gap here is a lot of times the assumption that all we need is someone that can code a new page. Like that’s sort of a thing, right? But there’s, there’s maintenance costs, there’s AB testing, there’s constant accessibility checks and SEO and all of that stuff.

It’s way more complicated than just having someone that can write and upload photos and like build a new page in, you know, whatever page builder comes with whatever CMS and, and a lot of times, even when going with a proprietary commercial CMS backed by, by a company, you aren’t really getting much other than tech support and maintenance upgrades.

It’s gonna be all lot harder for developing new features. And who’s to say that those features are gonna be good in the end? And who’s telling you what features to build? Like do you have the staffing to look at that data and everything else? And it’s a difficult thing to work with an agency.

The way that I think this industry has, has worked the last 20 to 30 years where you’re handed a website and then that agency walks away and, do you hope for the best that that website’s gonna work? And when the reality is that websites are never done, like they’re, they’re not, you can’t put a website in place and expect it to perform at the same level for five years without putting actual work into it, without putting actual development time and, and intention into it.

And so, you know, it’s like if you did a view book in 1995, are you still expecting that view book to perform the same way as it did, you know, almost 25 years ago?

Kristin Van Dorn:
Well the faculty headshots are probably the same, LOL.

Joel Goodman:
Hah, yeah the faculty headshots probably are the same. Yeah. And that’s the problem.

It’s like, do you have all the same programs right now? You haven’t built any buildings on campus? Like, are people even reading view books? Like is it a PDF yet? You know, that sort of thing. And that’s, that’s the difficulty. It’s recognizing that if you don’t have the right support staff on campus to make this happen, where do you get that support?

And maybe that’s through an agency partner. Maybe that’s through figuring out how to hire, you know, the right number of people. But it’s also within all of that, being cognizant of how much it actually costs in real life. Not how much you want it to cost, but how much it actually costs in real life to become competitive again through staffing, through partnerships, through whatever. And, I think that’s where the hard truths kind of come out.

Thanks for listening to Appendix B. If you’ve got a second, we’d appreciate you telling someone you know about the show. If you’d like more Higher Ed Hot Takes, please subscribe to our newsletter at We’ll be back next week.