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Ch 7: Application, Recruitment, Hiring, and Background Checks

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Swarthmore's goal is to attract and retain a diverse staff of exceptional quality and commitment. We strive to recruit the best possible candidates for our vacant positions and are committed to ensuring that all qualified candidates receive equitable consideration of their applications. We do not discriminate on the basis of non position related factors.

Swarthmore also has a strong commitment to hiring from within, and internal applicants are encouraged to apply for positions that match their interests, qualifications, and experience.

Employment Opportunities at Swarthmore

An updated listing of staff position vacancies is continuously available on the Human Resources web site. The listing provides the title and a brief summary of the jobs currently available, as well as the minimum position requirements.

Applying for a Position

If an individual wishes to apply for employment, they should complete an electronic Swarthmore application. The electronic application form can be accessed at the bottom of each employment opportunity listing by clicking on the application box. Completed applications and resumes are submitted directly from the web site. For those individuals without access to the internet, a dedicated computer and individual assistance is available in the Human Resources office, 101 South Chester Road.

An individual becomes an applicant once they have submitted an application form (and resume as appropriate) for a specific, currently vacant position. Correspondence that does not indicate interest in a specific position is not acknowledged, retained, or considered as an application. You may apply for more than one vacant position at a time; however, you must complete a separate set of application materials for each position for which you wish to be considered.

If the individual meets both the general position requirements and the specific needs of the hiring department, the application is considered for referral to the hiring department.

The Office of Human Resources acknowledges applications upon receipt. Beyond that, candidates will be contacted only if the department wishes to request additional information or to schedule an interview.

If information is misrepresented on a resume, or misrepresented or omitted from an application form, or if misrepresentations are made by an applicant in interviews, Swarthmore reserves the right to revoke any offer of employment or to terminate employment whenever discovered.

In most cases vacancies are posted for 5 weekdays before a hiring offer is made. The 5 day period begins when the vacancy is posted by Human Resources.

Promotion Policy

Promotional opportunities are most common when an employee moves from one position to another in a different pay grade. Staff who are interested in a posted position are encouraged to apply through the Human Resources website. 

Occasionally, there are changes in the needs of the department, which provide an opportunity for an individual to assume higher level job responsibilities. Situations where a promotion may be warranted include:

  • An individual is assigned new responsibilities outside their current job description which require higher level skills and are more complex than the responsibilities in the original position.
  • A departmental reorganization occurs which results in a shift to higher-level responsibilities.
  • Departmental career ladders that allow promotions based on demonstrated proficiency over time leading to an expanded scope of responsibilities.

Promotions depend on significant changes in job duties, rather than changes in an employees' skill set or length of time in position. They reflect departmental needs, not the need to recognize or reward an employee. In those cases, Human Resources will work with supervisors to find an appropriate way to recognize the individual in question.

The promotional process begins with a conversation among the supervisor or department head, the appropriate VP/Dean and the Human Resources department. After agreement is reached that a change in job duties for an individual is warranted, a new position description will be developed and a pay grade will be determined. A move is considered a promotion only if the new responsibilities place the position in a higher pay grade.

Swarthmore Students

Swarthmore students may not hold staff positions at the College. Students may, however, be hired into designated student position classifications. There are guidelines for employing students, including limits that generally prohibit undergraduates from working more than 20 hours in any week when school is in session. For more information on hiring students, contact the Student Financial Aid Office or the Student Employment Office.

Qualified Applicants with Disabilities

Applicants are not required to identify themselves as having a disability; self identification is strictly voluntary. The job related skills and experience of all applicants should be evaluated without regard to disability or any accommodations that may be necessary. The ADA defines a person with a disability as "qualified" for a position if they are able to perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations.

Essential job functions are the fundamental tasks of a job, reasonably defined by the employer. Accommodations are changes in facilities or policies that enable an otherwise qualified person to perform the essential job functions. An accommodation is considered reasonable and is required if it effectively allows the person to perform the essential job tasks, while not placing an undue hardship on the employer.

Decisions about accommodations or undue hardship must be made on a case by case basis. Supervisors should contact Human Resources for assistance if questions arise about an applicant with a disability.

Employment of Family Members

Employment of immediate family members in situations where one family member has direct influence over the other's conditions of employment is not permitted. If you are a manager or supervisor, relatives may not be hired in any position within your span of control; i.e., in any department that reports to you, or in any position reporting to a supervisor who reports through to you. It is recommended that relatives not be hired in any department within the vice-presidential area in which you report.

Immediate family for this purpose is defined as spouse, domestic partner, daughter, son, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sister, brother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, aunt, uncle, nieces, and nephews, including step-relations.

In some cases, a concern over conflict of interest may arise involving other relatives such as relatives by marriage. In any case where you are unsure about a potential conflict, you should fully disclose the circumstances in writing to your supervisor.

Eligibility for Transfer while on Performance Improvement Counseling/Disciplinary Action

Generally, employees who are engaged in performance improvement counseling are not eligible to seek other positions within the College. This is especially true if the counseling is for misconduct or for skills that are critical to the position being considered.

If the performance problems the staff member is experiencing are due to a mis-match of job requirements and the skills of the employee, it may be to the staff member's and the College's advantage to attempt to identify other opportunities where an individual may be more successful. However, staff members who have demonstrated problems of performance or misconduct in the past must demonstrate they are capable of appropriately resolving the problem before transfer is appropriate. If you are interested in a position that is a better fit, please discuss the matter with the Human Resources office.


A volunteer is someone who performs a service for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without the promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered.

The definition and use of volunteers is covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA protects individuals from manipulation or abuse of minimum wage or overtime requirements that might pressure them to "volunteer" time that otherwise would have to be compensated. Swarthmore employees should never feel pressured to volunteer or work for free. Therefore, to be considered a volunteer, an individual must:

  • offer their services freely, and
  • not be employed by Swarthmore doing the same or similar work

Generally speaking, FLSA guidelines suggest a non-exempt employee should never be allowed to volunteer for other duties related to their position responsibilities at Swarthmore.

Departments that recruit and use volunteers should have a signed statement of understanding that documents the volunteer nature of the relationship and ascertains that the volunteer is providing the services freely. Contact Human Resources for assistance.

Volunteers by definition are not compensated. Departments that coordinate the use of volunteers should not enter into any agreements about reimbursement of volunteer's incidental expenses or other exchanges of resources that might be construed as compensation without first consulting with Human Resources.

Background Screening Policies and Procedures for Applicants and Employees

Swarthmore College strives to conduct its operations and maintain its facilities in a manner consistent with its purpose as a liberal arts institution of higher education, and is committed to the highest standards of responsible employment and hiring practices. The College has a responsibility to recruit individuals who are well qualified and have a strong potential to be productive in their respective positions. Furthermore, the College is committed to protecting the safety, health, andwell-being of its employees, students, and all others who come into contact with our college community.

In an effort to assure assignment of only qualified personnel and reduce the possibility of hiring individuals who may pose a danger to themselves or to our students, employees, visitors, and minors, Swarthmore College has adopted these policies and procedures. All staff members are covered under this policy, including full-time, part-time, temporary/limited term staff.

Additionally, consistent with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, (“CPSL” – see 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. 6301, et seq.), with limited exception, employees, volunteers, and independent contractors in post-secondary schools who have direct contact with minors are required to obtain certain background clearances. The College requires all new and existing employees who have direct contact with minors to receive the background clearances outlined below.

Consent and Policies

All existing and prospective employees seeking employment are required to complete background screenings relevant to the position responsibilities. Placement as a volunteer with direct contact with minors also requires background screening. Prospective employees and volunteers must complete notice and consent documents to obtain information in order to be considered for employment or assignment. Screening shall be performed by designated college personnel in partnership with our third party vendor. Failure to authorize background screening, or omission or misrepresentation of information on the notice and consent form, is grounds for immediate denial and/or termination of employment or assignment.

  • Background screening may include verification of information supplied on the applicant’s resume, application form, and during the interview process through verification of past employment, education, and other credentials as well as reference checking. Depending on the requirements of the position, the background screening may also include motor vehicle, criminal, credit, or child abuse histories.
  • The following background screening services shall be completed by Swarthmore College. These screenings may re-occur throughout the course of employment:

Basic Check for all employees _

  1. Past employment verification
  2. References
  3. Licensure/certification verification, if applicable
  4. Social security number trace report
  5. Sex offender registries
  6. PA statewide
  7. Criminal history search of federal courts
  8. Criminal history search of national database
  9. Criminal history of county of residences

Additional Searches that may be conducted based on job requirements

  • Motor Vehicle Report: For all employees who have driving responsibilities as a requirement of their position and/or employees who may drive a College vehicle during the course of their employment.
  • Credit History Report: For all employees who are hired into a position that can affect Swarthmore financially (i.e., working in the accounting department, handling cash, having a Swarthmore credit card, and/or have access to personal identifying information regarding employees or students).
  • Department of Public Welfare Child Abuse History Clearance: For all employees or volunteers, including coaches, who work in direct contact with children via camps, on-campus activities, and school visits.
  • Federal Criminal History check (FBI): For all employees who work in direct contact with children via camps, on-campus activities, and school visits. Additionally, an FBI check will be conducted for volunteers who work in direct contact with children and have not been Pennsylvania residents for 10 full years prior to the assignment.
  • Education verification: For all positions that require an advanced degree.

All offers of employment are “conditional” based upon the receipt of background screening information and satisfactory assessment of that information by designated College personnel.

Notification Procedures

A. If there are any discrepancies or findings that, if accurate, would potentially disqualify a prospective employee, the College will send a copy of the background check report and a copy of the Summary of Consumer Rights to the employee or prospective employee.

B. The College will inform individuals by letter that they have five (5) business days to dispute the findings of the background report by contacting the third party background check vendor directly. Anyone who disputes the report of the background check vendor must notify the College in writing; the College will place the individual’s file on hold until the vendor has completed its reinvestigation.

C. If the individual disputes any portion of the background report, the vendor will send a written report to the College, and to the employee or prospective employee detailing the results of the reinvestigation. This should be sent within thirty (30) days of receiving notice of the individual’s dispute.

D. If within five (5) business days the individual has not responded to the above notification and the vendor has not contacted the College regarding the information provided, a Notice of Adverse Action will be sent to the individual by Swarthmore on the sixth (6th) business day.

Negative Background History and Employee Disclosure Requirement

The presence of a negative background history is not an automatic determinant in deciding whether to hire or continue employment. Rather, it leads to an assessment by designated college personnel of whether the negative history is related to the job requirements and would present an unacceptable risk to the operation of the College. The following list contains some but not all of the types of negative background results that can lead to such an assessment.

  • An offense designated as a felony under “The Controlled Substance, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act.”
  • Criminal acts involving violence and/or use of a weapon
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Child pornography/Soliciting a minor
  • Driving under the influence or other major motor vehicle violations
  • Child Abuse/Endangering the welfare of children
  • Extortion
  • Hate crimes
  • Homicide/murder/manslaughter
  • Kidnapping/false imprisonment/unlawful restraint
  • Negative credit accounts
  • Rape/sexual assault/sexual offenses
  • Stalking

Consideration will be given to the nature and gravity of the offense, the relationship between a conviction and the responsibilities of the position that would be held, the time that has passed since conviction or completion of related sentence, and any legal restrictions on employment.

Falsification of applicant materials, including failure to disclose misdemeanor or felony convictions, is grounds for non-selection of applicant or disciplinary action for employees up to and including dismissal. Employees are required to notify Human Resources in writing within 72 hours of a criminal arrest, conviction, or notification that the employee has been listed as a perpetrator in a statewide database. Upon notification, Human Resources will conduct a new background screening and assessment of the employee’s history in light of job requirements.

Background Screening Records/Reports:

Due to the sensitive nature of information obtained in the background screening process, background screening reports shall be treated as highly confidential and stored in a secure location. Background Screening reports will be retained by Human Resources for a minimum period of 60 months and will not be shared with hiring managers/supervisors.

Relocation Assistance Policy

Swarthmore College recognizes that new staff selected as a result of a national, regional, or international search may have access to some reimbursement of normal moving expenses.


Employees hired to fill regular, benefits- eligible administrative positions at Director level or above may be eligible for relocation assistance, at the discretion of the respective Vice President. Vice Presidents may determine if other positions should be considered eligible for a relocation expense allowance, particularly in cases where the position requires specialized skills.

To be eligible for tax deductions or reimbursements for moving expenses, an employee must meet both the distance and time tests. Distance Test: The employee or new hire must be relocating to a new job site that is at least 50 miles farther away from their home than their current or most recent work location. Time Test: The employee is expected to work full time at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months after relocation. (see IRS Publication 521).

The new work location must be at least 50 miles farther from the new employee’s former home than the previous work location was from the former home. For example: If the previous work location was 3 miles from the former home, the new work location must be at least 53 miles from that former home. If an employee is accepting their first position or is returning to work after an absence, the place of work must be at least 50 miles from the former home. Moving expenses must be incurred within one year of the date of hire. Receipts should be submitted to the hiring manager, who should send them to Human Resources.

Moving Provisions and Exclusions

In general, the College reimburses only expenses that are considered deductible expenses by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as outlined in IRS Publication 521 with the following exclusions:

  • the College will pay for the movement of belongings from only one location
  • additional expenses charged for moving large or unusual items (such as, pianos, boats, works of art requiring extraordinary moving costs, etc.) will not be considered reimbursable expenses.
  • Expenses are capped based on the distance of the move as follows:
    • o If the new home is less than 500 miles from the former home, expenses are reimbursed up to $2,000.00
    • o If the new home is 500 to 1000 miles from the former home, expenses are reimbursed up to $4,000.00
    • o If the new home is greater than 1000 miles from the former home, expenses are reimbursed up to $6,000.00

The above-listed caps are maximum allowable expenses and do not represent an automatic allowance or eligibility. Determinations regarding amounts allowable up to the established caps are based on a number of factors, including the funds available for such expenses in the department budget. Reimbursements in excess of $6,000 must be approved by the President of the College.


The moving expense reimbursement amount will be indicated in the new employee’s offer letter. Receipts should be submitted to the hiring manager, who should send them to Human Resources. Moving expenses are the responsibility of the hiring department and will be charged to the hiring department’s budget.

If a new employee has questions regarding the eligibility of an expense for reimbursement, that person should contact the business office for clarification prior to incurring the expense. If the employee elects to voluntarily leave the College within 12 months of relocation, the employee is expected to reimburse the College for all moving expenses paid by the College.