Search Report + Offer Letter Submissions: Instructions

Search Report Instructions 

Important Note:  The draft search report, three external referee letters, and the draft offer letter should be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs in one package.  

For new appointments to the faculty at Stanford, both the distinction of the candidate of choice and the search process itself will receive close scrutiny during review at the department, the School of Medicine, and the University levels.

The various review bodies involved will seek reassurance that a department or institute has:

  • made appropriate efforts to search broadly, such that the applicant pool includes the best possible candidates nationally for the position;
  • made appropriate efforts to solicit applications from qualified female and underrepresented minority candidates;
  • followed standard practices of the University, the School of Medicine, and department, including the management of any possible conflict-of-interest issues between members of the search committee and known candidates;  
  • included the solicitation of referee opinion before extension of an offer letter to the candidate;
  • selected an outstanding candidate who will not only meet criteria for the rank and line as specified in the Medical Faculty Handbook, but who will enrich the Stanford community and bring distinction to the School and University.

At the end of the search, you will submit for review a narrative description of history of the search process (the “search report”). If your search and candidate of choice are approved, the search report will eventually be incorporated into the relevant appointment long form document. It is therefore important to keep careful records during the search process.


Preparing the Search Report

  • The report should be in the form of a narrative, and ideally match the Outline of the Search Report guidelines found here.
  • The report should be in the form of a narrative.
  • Include the position/billet number(s) associated with the search.
  • Include a description of the position, along with programmatic need. For example, “We sought an UML faculty member at the Assistant or Associate Professor level, board certified or board eligible in __________, with established research focus in ____________. This candidate would play a critical clinical role as director of the new __________ clinic and support the ______ investigative initiative underway in the department”)
  • Include a listing of the names and faculty ranks of the search committee members. The chair of the committee should be identified.  An explanation should be provided if any non-faculty (e.g., residents and/or fellows, medical and/or graduate students, hospital management) served on the search committee.  If any search committee members were recused from the committee due to conflict-of-interest issues, this should be explained.
  • Include dates of significant meetings of the search committee.
  • Include dates of advertisements and the names of the journals in which they appeared.
  • Include dates that solicitation letters were mailed, and to whom. For example, “On [date], letters were sent to Chairs of [number] of departments of [specialty] throughout the U.S. “
  • Describe efforts to identify qualified underrepresented minority and female candidates (for example, advertisement in publications of underrepresented minority or female professional or academic organizations, or letters sent to leaders at schools with large numbers of underrepresented minority students).  If personal contacts were made either with potential candidates or with those who might be in a position to recommend candidates, the outcome of those conversations should be described. For example, “members of the search committee contacted 14 colleagues to encourage application or solicit recommendations for potential applicants.  These efforts yielded four additional applicants, two of whom were selected as finalists.”
  • Describe specific efforts that were made to increase the size of the applicant pool beyond advertising and sending solicitation letters to institutions and individuals as well as the outcome of those efforts.  Such efforts might include directly contacting potential candidates; communicating with colleagues at other institutions who may have special insight into the applicant pool, including those candidates in the pipeline; making personal contact with potential candidates at professional meetings and conferences and/or publicizing the job among meeting/conference attendees; direct outreach to discipline-based professional organizations, including phone calls to identify promising candidates. The outcome of personal contacts should be described as above.
  • Describe the process that was used to establish the definitive pool (i.e., the people who were interviewed or invited for an interview).  Include the date on which the definitive pool was determined.
  • Describe any unusual events (such as “starting over”, or redefining the position, or the identification of an additional candidate(s) from the search). Provide a clear explanation so that a reviewer with no prior knowledge of the search can easily understand what happened. One way to do this is to track the history of major events in chronological order; earlier waves of a multi-phase search may be summarized.  For example: “In 2011-2012, we conducted a national search for _______. This search yielded a pool of 23 applicants and three finalists. Negotiations were pursued for the top two candidates, both of whom elected to stay at their home institutions. In 2013, we received permission to re-advertise, broadening the position to include the rank of full Professor….”.


Definitive Pool

  • Include a list of the definitive pool (DP) candidates – the ones you invited for interview.
  • List the DP candidates in order of preference, top candidate first.
  • Following the name of each DP candidate, state the ethnicity and gender (if known) and the method by which the candidate was identified (Ad, Letter, other). For example, “Jane Doe, M.D. ([ethnicity], female, personal contact by search committee member).”
  • Describe each DP candidate’s background and qualifications in a summary paragraph. This description should be detailed for all candidates (typically 1/3 of a page or so),  Explicitly tie each entry back to all items listed as part of the search criteria which is reflective of the specific criteria in the ad. For the top candidate(s), this  description will eventually be used as the basis for the “Narrative Report” section of the long form.  For candidates lower in ranking in larger definitive pools, you may provide more concise descriptions and criteria discussion (a short paragraph is often acceptable, provided that the rationale for their inclusion in the DP is clearly explained. 


Affirmative Action Aspects of Faculty Search

  • In cases where the total applicant pool is over 20, the number of underrepresented minority or female candidates not selected for the definitive pool should be included along with a general statement (rather than a detailed individual explanation) as to why these candidates did not meet the criteria for further consideration.
  • Include the Faculty Applicant Self-Identification (FASI) grid.
  • Check the numbers to be sure that they reconcile with those in the listing of the definitive pool candidates, as well as the listing of underrepresented minority candidates not included in the definitive pool (in other words, the numbers on the grid should match the numbers in the narrative section).
  • Consider the proportion of women and underrepresented minority candidates in the definitive pool.  If this proportion is appreciably lower than that in the total applicant pool, include an appropriate analytical comment in the search narrative report.



Include a photocopy of a published journal page with your advertisement or a screenshot of your posted advertisment. Indicate the title and date of the journal and highlight the ad (for example, draw a box around it with a marker, or use a star in the margin). For a straightforward search, you need only include a copy of one ad. If different ads with changing content have been used during a lengthy or complex search, include one copy of each different ad, in chronological order.


Solicitation Letter

Include a dated copy of the solicitation letter to institutions and individuals (e.g., department chairs or program directors).  It is unnecessary to include a sample page of addresses; however, the distribution list should be maintained as part of the record for the search.


Curriculum Vitae and Bibliography

Attach the curriculum vitae and bibliography of the top candidate. This need not be in any particular format, but should be complete (an abbreviated CV, such as an NIH bio sketch, is not acceptable).

Ensure that the CV and bibliography are up to date.  It is important that all publications published or submitted, grants received or submitted, etc. are included. This should be verified with the candidate shortly before submitting the search report.

Evaluation Letters

To maximize efficiency, further inform and validate the final search deliberations, and avoid delays during negotiations with the candidate of choice, the search committee should solicit evaluation letters for each of its top one to three candidates either before or immediately after on-campus interviews, as detailed here. Note that referee solicitation letters should be signed by a senior faculty member who is not the department chair or division chief, or a mentor or collaborator of the candidate.  Referee letters must be submitted together with the search report and draft offer letter (see below for minimum requirements).

For assistant professor candidates in all lines, these letters may be solicited by the candidate, and it is not necessary to use the Stanford template letter.  At the department’s discretion, the letters may be from a mix of internal and external referees, including those who have served as a mentor to and/or collaborator with the candidate.  The letters that are gathered in connection with the search process will then be used to satisfy the evidentiary requirement for the appointment long form. A note of caution: supplemental letters may need to be solicited if the letters in hand do not discuss the candidate’s scholarship, teaching and clinical care (if applicable) in a substantive way.    

When multiple top candidates are under consideration for associate or full professor positions in any line and letters from external referees would be a determining factor in the outcome, it is recommended that departments solicit three letters for each candidate.  The relevant standard solicitation letter, including appropriate criteria, should be used, and the referee grid must be approved by OAA.

Once a single top candidate has been identified, it is recommended that departments solicit the full complement of external referee letters for the appointment long form review.  Letters should be solicited in compliance with standard procedure (including OAA approval of the list and solicitation letter) so that they are usable as evidence in the appointment long form.  

Occasionally, faculty members at other institutions do not want the early exposure generated by the solicitation of external referee letters.  In such cases, departments should have a discussion with OAA to determine the best course.


Number of Letters Required

Assistant Professor Appointments: Three letters must be submitted with the draft search report and draft offer letter.  (A referee grid is not required.) These three letters will then become part of the appointment long form. For internal candidates, at least two letters must be obtained from external referees.

Associate and Full Professor Appointments: The full complement of external letters for the appointment long form should normally be solicited as soon as the candidate of choice is identified.   The number of letters varies by type of action. For specific numbers, please consult the School of Medicine Long Form Evidence Table.

In cases where the school instructions specify a minimum and maximum number (e.g., 8-12 letters for new tenured appointments), OAA recommends soliciting the maximum number of referees to increase the likelihood that you will receive the minimum required number of letters in a timely fashion.  For the same reason, in cases where the table specifies a single number (e.g., 5 letters for UML associate professors), OAA recommends soliciting two more than the number.

Search reports (and requests for waiver of search) submitted to OAA should be accompanied by all evaluative information received at the time of submission, including all received referee letters (and, if they have already been solicited for the long form, any trainee letters or clinical/teaching evaluations) – essentially, if you have it in hand, you should submit it with the packet. OAA will generally expect that the department will receive responses from half or more of the external referees before proceeding to submission of the search report or waiver request. To this end, it is important that referees be given a reasonable amount of time to respond before the department presents the letter set for consideration by OAA.  Two to three weeks is a good general reference point. In special circumstances, with permission from the Vice Dean, smaller referee response proportions and/or faster solicitation time frames may be acceptable.

Composition of the Referee and Peer Set for Associate and Full Professor Appointments:

In the Toolbox you will find Guidelines for Referee, Trainee and Peer Selection, Sample Referee and Trainee Grids in word and excel format, as well as Sample Solicitation Letters.

Draft Offer Letter Package

General Considerations

Before releasing an offer letter to your candidate, the draft document will be reviewed by OAA staff to ensure correct use of the template document, inclusion of appropriate academic criteria and performance expectations, and appropriate discussion of the plan for review and appointment. It will also be reviewed by School of Medicine Finance staff to ensure the inclusion of appropriate language regarding salary and other resources to be provided to the candidate. Finally, the offer letter, along with letters of evaluation, will be reviewed by the Vice Dean before the offer is approved. Edits may be requested by OAA and/or Finance.

Before releasing the letter to the candidate, you are responsible for ensuring that all requested edits have been made to the document, and that explicit permission to release the letter has been received from both Finance and OAA.

Offer letters should be submitted with the corresponding search report. A draft offer letter will not generally be approved before the corresponding search report is approved (or before we receive notification that the Provost has approved a waiver of search). In most cases, a draft offer letter will not be approved before receipt of at least three letters of evaluation (see below).

Also, if the candidate is not a U.S. citizen, please ensure that the department has handled any relevant immigration issues.


General Process Overview

  • Department submits required items to OAA and Finance (via email – items listed below).
  • OAA issues academic approval.
  • Faculty Compensation communicates financial approval to department and provides department with combined edits from OAA and Finance.
  • Department makes edits and releases offer letter to candidate.
  • Department sends copy of offer letter, signed by candidate, to OAA and to Faculty Compensation.
  • Items to be Submitted (via email) to OAA:
    • Search Report
    • Current CV and Bibliography
    • Draft Offer Letter. Generate the letter using the appropriate template, downloaded from the OAA web site to ensure current language.
    • Referee Letters
  • Items to be Submitted (via email) to Finance:
    • Draft Offer Letter
    • Personnel Action Form (PAF)   
    • Support Memo  (if applicable) If the faculty candidate will have significant responsibilities at an outside institution and/or be paid by an outside institution, attach a brief memo from that institution acknowledging the faculty candidate’s planned role and funding as applicable. This most commonly applies to faculty members based at the VAPAHCS.
    • Current CV


Concurrently Preparing the Long Form

Please see Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion >> Professoriate for guidelines.

Once a candidate of choice has been identified, and as the draft offer letter, search report and external referee letters are being prepared for submission, the faculty lead for the appointment action and the faculty affairs administrator should immediately begin assembling elements of the long form.

See Sections of the Long Form with Guidelines, Fillable Forms, and Examples for a description of the long form sections.

Particularly important to the new appointment are the following sections:

  • Narrative Report: Please follow the Narrative Report Guidelines found in the Toolbox.
  • Clinical Evaluations

If a clinical care role is planned for the candidate, as is the norm for the UML, some assessment of clinical performance must be provided. If the candidate is currently at another institution or has very recently arrived at Stanford, this assessment might be provided in comments in external referees' letters and/or in clinical evaluation forms from the candidate’s home institution. If the candidate has been providing clinical care at Stanford or one of Stanford’s affiliates, Clinical Excellence Survey responses should be obtained from Stanford colleagues using the Qualtrics Online CES. A Detailed Instruction Manual for CES can be found in the Guidelines: Long Form section of the Toolbox.


Long Form Deadlines for New Appointments


Assistant Professors

The final version of the long form is due in OAA within four months after the candidate has been identified (that is, from the date on which the search report [or search waiver request] and offer letter are approved).  The clock begins running with approval of the search report and offer letter (and, if applicable, external referee letters), not with the candidate’s acceptance of the offer.


Associate and Full Professors

The final version of the long form is due in OAA within five months after the candidate has been identified (that is, from the date on which the search report [or search waiver request] and offer letter are approved).  The clock begins running with approval of the search report and offer letter (and, if applicable, external referee letters), not with the candidate’s acceptance of the offer.