APL Title: University of Maine System Administrative Practice Letter on Search Waivers
Organizational Area: Human Resources
Proposal Date: February 2024
Effective Date: April 1, 2024
Review Cycle: XXX (Typically 3-year cycle)
Revision and Review History: Implemented 2024
Corresponding BOT Policies: 

Section 1:  Purpose and Scope

A competitive search is typically required for all positions, including temporary positions,  lasting more than three (3) days.  UMS recognizes, however, that there are sometimes situations in which a search waiver might be necessary to meet the institution’s strategic goals. As such, this APL outlines the guidelines for making and considering such requests.

Section 2:  Definitions

Regular Position – An ongoing position expected to continue for more than seven months.  Such positions may be fixed-length or ongoing, soft-money or base budget funded.

Section 3:  Guidelines for Search Waivers


The criteria for evaluating search waiver requests include:

  • Qualifications of the individual proposed
  • Impact of the hire on the University’s Strategic Plan and institutional goals
  • An opportunity for the peers to weigh in in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and by-laws, if appropriate.  (For faculty positions only.)
  • Degree to which department/college funds support the position
  • Rationale for waiving the normal search requirement
  • Whether this appointment would have a negative impact on the goals outlined in the relevant Affirmative Action (AA) plan
  • Likelihood of future success (promotion and tenure, where applicable)

Exceptions to Search

There are some well-established exceptions to the requirement for a search. They are as follows:

  • Exigent Circumstances: Some vacancies that arise due to unforeseen circumstances must be filled immediately with a temporary, interim, or fixed-length appointment.  We must be able to demonstrate that the immediate needs of the unit cannot be met by shifting the position’s responsibilities for the short term and/or utilizing another temporary arrangement until a full search can be conducted. The term of the waiver may not be extended, and a search must be conducted before the expiration of the fixed-length position.
  • Interim Positions: An interim person may be appointed with the understanding of all those involved that a search will be conducted within a brief period. Interim positions are typically (but not always) filled by employees internal to the system.
    • The individual in an interim position may not be converted to a regular position without a search or a separate search waiver for a qualified exception.
  • Post-Docs: Postdoctoral fellows may be hired into or reappointed in a fixed-length position for a total of up to five years.[1]
  • Psychological Interns: This is a separate process from university searches conducted by Counseling Center(s). The information needs to be entered in the UMS Applicant Tracking System so that this is captured for Affirmative Action purposes.
  • Individuals being rehired into the same or a substantially similar short-term (less than 7 months) temporary or recurring position (e.g., returning seasonal employees).
  • Staff Associated with Program/Entity Absorbed by the University: The University may acquire, without a search, regular employees working for entities taken over by the University to continue in their positions (e.g., staffed summer camp taken over by Cooperative Extension).
  • Hiring a UMS retiree to work part-time for a fixed period in the general field or discipline in which previously employed.
  • Opportunity Hires (see below).
  • Movement within the University of Maine System (see below).
  • Athletic Coaches at the University of Maine (see below).

[1] Per an MOU outlining an exception to Article 31A in the 2019-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement with UMPSA executed on June 30, 2020.

Opportunity Hires

Through the Opportunity Hire Program, the University of Maine System employs and retains highly qualified individuals who make a unique contribution to the university and its strategic plan. The Opportunity Hire process is designed for ongoing appointments that meet institutional priorities and require rapid university action.

Such individuals include those with one or more of the following criteria:

  • National or international stature. 
  • A unique or distinct perspective because of their professional or personal backgrounds, interests, or expertise. 
  • Partners of current or prospective university faculty or staff who have expertise matching the organization’s needs. These appointments often represent opportunities that require rapid response to exceptional individuals with competing career options.

For Example

  • Named in Grant: If an individual is specifically identified by name in a grant application because of his or her unique skills, that person may be hired to work on the grant without a search. The hiring unit should be asked to produce the grant documentation (especially the budget sheets) in which the individual is named. The grant, however, does not need to cover 100% of the individual’s salary for a search waiver to be approved.  
  • Recently Graduated Student: A student who has been involved in research funded by a grant may be hired for up to one year following graduation without a search. During that one-year period, the supervisor must either name the individual in a grant (see above) or conduct a search. 
  • Unique Skills: If an individual brings unique skills (for example, a former employee who has worked in a very narrow research area and is being hired to continue that work), a waiver may be granted to hire this individual. During that time, the incumbent may be named in a grant and, if so, can be appointed to an ongoing, soft-money-funded position without a search (see above).

Movements within the University of Maine System  

Please note that prior to recommending movements within UMS, the hiring manager should contact their HR partner or a labor relations staff member to discuss any relevant collective bargaining agreement or handbook considerations.  Management has sole authority to approve or deny lateral movement requests. All such requests are considered extraordinary and require a waiver and UMS Human Resources approval prior to implementation.

  • Promotion: Staff may be promoted without a search if (1) the promotion is a natural progression in his or her responsibilities or skills and (2) there is no one else in the unit who is similarly situated.
  • Lateral Movement: An employee may be moved from one department to a similar vacant position in another department without a search. For example, this may be done to avert a layoff or as a disability accommodation. If more than one person is similarly situated (i.e., more than one Assistant Director vying for an associate Director position), then at least an internal search would need to be conducted.
  • Reorganization of a Program: Reorganizations usually impact many jobs within the unit. We need to consider whether there are individuals who are similarly situated to determine whether some type of search process, at least internal, would need to be conducted.
  • Faculty Positions:
    • Tenure-track Positions: The requirement to conduct a search may be waived for tenure-track positions only under very narrow circumstances. Specifically, search waivers for tenure-track positions are primarily only those granted under the Opportunity Hire policy. 
    • Non-Tenure-Track Positions: Colleges and departments are expected to conduct searches to fill non-tenure-track positions.
  • The requirement to conduct a faculty search may be waived under certain circumstances:
    • Self-Funded Research Faculty: Research faculty who bring their own funding from external sources are usually hired without a search.
    • Visiting Faculty.
    • Fixed-Length Term Faculty in Exigent Circumstances: The University also sometimes allows departments to fill non-tenure-track positions for a fixed-length term without a search if exigent circumstances exist. These include filling a position after a search has failed while a new search is being conducted and filling a position vacated temporarily by a faculty member on leave.
    • Opportunity Hire Policy as stated above.

Athletic Coaches at the University of Maine

These guidelines apply to the appointment of lecturers who are employed as assistant or associate coaches of major sports at the University of Maine. The sports designated as major are those identified in Appendix E of the AFUM contract.

Hiring coaching staff raises a number of considerations that are different from many other positions on campus: First, the terms of assistant or associate coaches’ employment are often tied to that of the head coach, either voluntarily or by contract. Therefore, a new head coach may be faced with the task of replacing the entire coaching staff immediately upon arrival. Second, coaching philosophies and styles are difficult to fully evaluate during the interview process. Often, the best possible evaluative tool for this factor is having prior direct interactions with the individual by working with the individual as a coach or a player. Third, because of the intense press coverage of college athletics and the community nature of interscholastic play, positions for coaches typically receive significantly more applications than do positions in other areas of the institution, even before they are posted.

Conditions under which a Search May Be Waived:

  1. New Head Coach: If a Head Coach in a major sport is hired and, at the time of their hiring, the program has vacant assistant or associate coaching positions, a search waiver may be granted for one or more of these positions; or
  2. Direct Prior Experience: If a Head Coach in a major sport wishes to hire as a coach an individual with whom they worked directly and significantly in the relevant sport either as a coach or a player, a search waiver may be granted.


Search waivers may not be granted, even if the above conditions are met, unless the candidate meets the standard job requirements for the position. In other words, the standard job requirements cannot be altered to make an individual eligible for the position. Further, the Office of Human Resources will consider the impact of the hire on the Department’s reaching its Affirmative Action goals.

Relevant Law

To comply with the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), Federal contractors are required to post “all employment openings” with the appropriate Employment Service Delivery Systems (ESDS) where the job opening occurs. In this context, “all employment openings” means all job openings with three exceptions:

  • Executive and senior management
  • Positions filled internally
  • Positions lasting three days or less

“Executive and senior management” is defined by OFCCP’s regulations as jobs meeting the executive exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Internally filled positions are exempt from the job listing requirement if your organization is ONLY looking internally to fill the position.

Other Considerations

In support of our Affirmative Action plan, a national search for most faculty and professional appointments is required (excluding promotions).[1] [2]  

All other requirements as outlined by Employee Handbooks and collective bargaining agreements must be met.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service usually insists that applicants for permanent residency (green card) status have participated in a national search before being appointed to an ongoing (such as tenure-eligible faculty) position. A search waiver process will not suffice in such cases. Contact the Office of Human Resources to initiate the process for candidates who are not currently eligible to work here, or to discuss whether a national search will be required to support an application for permanent residency.

The University of Maine System requires background checks for all positions and additional background checks and/or pre-employment physicals for individuals appointed to positions designated as financially sensitive, requiring driving as an essential duty, involving work with children, in public safety, etc.


  1. Requesting departments should contact their HR partner to discuss the feasibility of a search waiver prior to submitting their request.
  2. Search waivers should be documented via the position request process (Applicant Tracking System, hiring form, etc.) and communicated following requirements for all position vacancies  
  3. In addition to any currently required approvals for hiring, approvals must be secured from the senior campus/system leader of the requesting division/department (e.g., VP, Dean, President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor or designee) and the campus/system human resources officer.

Section 4: Revisions to this APL 

  1. This APL provides guidelines for the consistent consideration and granting of search waivers across the University of Maine System. Future modifications may be considered based on recommendations from the appropriate governing, academic or administrative area and supported by advice from the General Counsel to the UMS CHRO. The final authority for the approval of such modifications sits with the CHRO. Notification of changes to this APL should be distributed to all UMS employees. 
  2. The CHRO will determine if revisions to this APL are substantive or non-substantive. Substantive changes are required to follow the APL creation and revision process. Non- substantive changes to this APL do not require any review beyond the Responsible Official. Non-substantive changes are minor changes that do not affect the overall purpose and instructions outlined by the document. Non-substantive changes may take many forms, including, but not limited to: grammar or spelling corrections, inclusive language, technical revisions, updated names and contacts of pertinent offices or departments, or reorganized APL sections. 

Section 5: Contacts

For questions regarding this APL, please contact the Office of the CHRO or the designated Vice-Chancellor.

Section 6: Resources

For more information regarding UMS Search and Hiring practices and procedures, see: 

UMS APL XII. – B Search and Hiring 

Administrative Procedures for APL XII. B – Search and Hiring Manual