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2008 Venting

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2008-12-18 This post is a vent against venters. I don't understand all the complaints. We all know that we have entered one of the most competitive career tracks out there. I can remember when I received my acceptance to graduate school. The letter started out by saying "Congratulations!" and then proceeded to lay out in stark terms why I should think seriously about NOT pursuing a career as a professional academic. I had no illusions about my choice. I knew that I either had to be one of the very best, or else I was condemned to a fate waiting tables. In my experience, the recipe for success is simple. First, write an interesting and important dissertation, one that is polished enough that it can be sent directly to the publishers when you're done. If you do this, your dissertation will garner some awards, and you'll get a contract within the first couple of years. Even if you don't get a contract, your dissertation will at least be easy and interesting to read for committees, which will help to secure interviews and offers. If you can't do this, the cards are stacked against you, and you may never succeed. Second, you need to love your students, and they need to love you. In my experience, there is one thing that distinguishes good teachers from bad ones: attitude. I go into all my classes asking one question, "How can I best serve my students?" I sincerely care about my students' welfare and want all of them to learn -- yes, even the guys with their baseball caps turned backwards in the last row. And you know what? My students can tell that I honestly care about them, and they'll give me the benefit of the doubt when I screw up (which we all do, especially early on). This doesn't mean that you have to pander to students -- I assign a ton of reading, I'm a tough grader, and the curve in my classes is always around a 78%. But I suspect that even the students who fail my classes, if asked, would say, "Yeah, Professor X was a good person and a good teacher." A 19 year-old can sniff out condescension faster than any living organism, and if you harbor even an iota of this, you're going down.I know this recipe works because I'm seeing the fruits of my labor. I have had nothing but good experiences this year. Lots of interest, lots of interviews. And, no, I don't have an Ivy League pedigree (even though I'm interviewing for those jobs); no, I'm not an inside candidate; and, no, I don't come from a priveleged background. It has been extremely difficult for me to get to this point, but the system works. For those out there who claim they're "doing all the right things" and are still having bad "luck," I would argue that you're clearly doing something wrong. Either you're not doing interesting work, or else you're not framing your research in a way that makes it relevant to the field. Or perhaps your students think you're a jerk, or maybe you come off this way in interviews. There isn't a massive conspiracy against you. When there are only 10 slots for 200 applicants, you have to be in that top ten, or you won't get a second look. Period. It's unfortunate this is the case, but we all knew this was the situation before we got into this business (and if you didn't know, you didn't do your due diligence). Finally, folks need to get over the frustration with not hearing back from search committees. While some committees are better than others in their communications, in most industries you send in your resume and never hear a peep from HR unless they're interested. There's really nothing different with academia. I never take offense if I don't hear back, even if I've interviewed with them. I figure they'll call me if they want me. If not, so be it.


  • Well, aren't you smug. I'm about to go up for Full at an R1, and have chaired 3 searches. True, nobody ever promised anyone a job. But I can say with absolute certainty that a) some wonderful people don't place for a variety of reasons, and b) it's about stamina, not brilliance. I can also say that most of us who got Ph.D.s after about 1994 get it and try to be as humane as we can during the process. I was on the market for 5 years; I know someone else who was on for 6 years before ending up at an Ivy. Both of us are at least "respected in our field," as they say -- well published, tenured and on the way to tenure, and doing just fine. But each of us could easily not have gotten our jobs (in my case, the 1st choice didn't want it). If you assume that your success proves that the "meritocracy" works, you are part of the problem. It doesn't, much of the time. So-so people get jobs, even great jobs, then don't get tenure (or do). Great people get bad jobs and can't claw their way out, or get no jobs or quit the market early for personal reasons. The best thing you can do is figure out what your own limits are for time on the market, money spent, kind of job, location, etc., and stick to them -- remembering that there are all kinds of excellent smart people outside of academe and that it is *not* a meritocracy in anyone's view except for the smug, lucky, and oblivious few who do well right off the bat.
  • Before venting against your anti-venting vent, let me first say that I have no doubt that you are every bit as qualified as you say. In response, I can only say this: literally everything you say about your qualifications is true about me, plus some, and I'm not having your success. My vita compares favorably with that of many *senior* candidates at a research search I sat in in; if "objective" research or teaching was the main criteria, I'd certainly make the top ten of most job searches. But you know what? Anything like "objective" evaluation of research did not take place in that senior-level search; several of the "best" researchers made the cut, and quite a few didn't. Some really smart people made the final cut and, bluntly, so did a couple nimrods with a great pedigrees but mediocre work. I don't doubt that you're very good, but you're also lucky (or charming, or have particularly great connections, or whatever). Good for you! But don't be under any illusions about "the fruits of your labor." You're not the only one who has performed those labors, and it's not working out so well for all of us. Enjoy your success, but you might show a little humility while you're at it. I enjoyed your condescending lecture about how the rest of us need to show less condescension, by the way. Seriously - reread that and think it over a little. FWIW, I'd probably be just as cocky as you if I was having a great year - but you ought to reflect a little on your good fortune as well your accomplishments.
  • We all know that searches -- any kind of evaluations, really -- are never entirely free of bias. Different teachers give different grades for the same work, etc. I've been on both sides of searches, and it goes without saying that we passed up many, many good people. But this claim that your dossier is "objectively" just as good as those who got interviews and offers just doesn't wash. It reminds me of the B student who comes in to your office, claiming that he or she "knows" their work is just as good as those who received As, but you just didn't "like" them (not as charming, not as well-connected). In other words, the student blames the teacher or the system, rather than herself. We've all seen this, and we all know why it's not right -- at least not nearly as right as the jilted student likes to think it is. We've all been passed over during the application process, and we all empathize when this happens. But if it happens on a consistent basis, where you are sending out 20 applications and getting no bites, then there is something "objectively" wrong with your dossier or demeanor. After all, what is objectivity? It's basically a situation when the majority of people in a group achieve consensus about something. But if you are doing "good" research that nobody in your discipline seems to thinks is good enough, then is it really that all that good? I just can't help feeling that the claim "my research and teaching is good enough to make the top ten in most searches" even though you've never made the top ten in most searches is, quite frankly, wrong. Objectively wrong. It reminds me of the Steely Dan lyrics: "You've been telling me you're a genius since you were seventeen. And all the time I've known you, I still don't know what you mean." I'll add one more comment. I looked for jobs last year and got a couple conference/phone interviews, one campus interview, but no offers. Basically, it was a bust. This year, I'm batting around 90% for applications/interviews. Why the difference in outcomes? It's not that my research or teaching is any different. I realize now that my problem last year was that I wasn't framing my research properly, in a way that others in the discipline could understand and appreciate. Since I've fixed this problem, all has been well. But this was entirely my fault, not somebody else's. And I guess that's my point.
  • Steely Dan? Are you kidding? Not only are you sanctimonious, but you have horrible, horrible taste. Go tell it to your adoring students, blow hard.
  • What you're doing, though, is disproving your ostensible point (assuming that you're the original poster). It's not about research or teaching; it's about a couple paragraphs in your letter. That strikes me, in fact, as something worth venting about. Maybe I'm not "objectively" in the top ten anywhere - and really, there is no such beast; every department has unique needs, which I can't fully understand from the outside. But I am tenurable (anywhere except maybe the top 10-20; I might have issues at some of them, depending) 2 years after getting my PhD; that much is objective fact. I also wish that good teachers (all of you suffering adjuncts out there) were rewarded instead of endlessly exploited. Very likely my problem is the same as yours, and if/when I frame my work correctly the interviews will flood in. But I don't need to pretend that I like that those few paragraphs (which everyone seems to think are good - it's not like I haven't tried!) count for more than my publications, to say nothing of my teaching evaluations (which none of my 3 interviews or 5 dossier requests wanted this year!).


  • (new poster) Isn't the whole reason we vent--about anything--is because we have no control over the situation? Otherwise, why vent? Thus, if venting is to express frustration over that which we have no control, then venting about SOME job search related items is valid (e.g., internal candidates; stupid search committees; rude faculty). On the other hand, venting about things we do have control over (e.g., statements of teaching philosophy; future direction of research; student evaluations [to a degree]) does appear to be whining. Admittedly there is a gray zone (e.g., are faculty stupid and therefore blind to your brilliance or did you not communicate your brilliance as effectively as you should have?), but venting has a place. So, to the original poster I say, there is a place for venting, but to the second poster I say, there are limits to venting as well. As with any human endeavor, hiring faculty is inherently error-prone, and that error falls on both sides of the equation--with applicants and search committees alike. Vent on against the uncontrollable errors and be vigilant against the controllable ones!
  • Dearest anti-venter: you might not enjoy the acumen you claim. A solid graduate education and the texts we study and teach involve serious engagement with the unfairness of our social system. In case you haven't noticed, the economy has tanked. Search committees have noticed, and have canceled searches left and right. Who gets the jobs that are left? Does the status quo somehow not dominate our market, alone of all markets in the US? Maybe. Probably not.


  • Okay. So if someone is really really good, they'll rise to the top eventually. I believe that's true (at least I hope it's true)! But here's my current problem: I've been told I'm a top student in my department, I've got well-received publications, I've won some fairly prestigious awards, I'm doing all the right things and so forth. But I'm not submitting till this spring, which means that right now, I'm on the job market competing with folks who not only have their Ph.Ds already, but who, in many cases, have spent the last few years doing prestigious postdocs, working as assistant professors, publishing their finished dissertations as books, etc. So it's one thing to say that if you just do everything "right," you'll be fine... But what can a current Ph.D. student, however "good," possibly do to compete with someone equally "good" who has already been out of graduate school for several years? How do you get your foot in the door for that first position? That's the question that's stressing me out right now...
  • To the ABD above: actually , it really depends on what kind of job/institution you apply to. Based on anecdotal evidence, I have noticed many ABDs getting many interviews and even offers, based on that vague notion- "potential." Phds who have been out for 5 years may(and it is "may") get overlooked because their output does not correlate to the years they have been post-Phd. I am telling you - of all the jobs advertised last year in my field, I have checked the hire and they are people who received the phd in spring 2008, meaning they were ABD when interviewing. Of course, some of them do have good articles to support the idea of "potential." To not generalize, I will say that I have also noticed some institituions (mostly ones that have a 4/4 teaching load, are non-traditional in some way etc.) hire someone who has been out a long while (sometimes longer than 5 years. In that way, you are correct, the market is saturated and forcing people to wait longer and longer for the "permanent" position.

Dear all:

the anti-venter's vent against venters is so wrongheaded, ignorant, and potentially misleading, I feel it's important that we all weigh in against this post. Let me start. And first, for the benefit of the original anti-venter, who seems to think that anyone on the venting page is an academic loser, and thus whiner, let me offer a brief preface: I already have a job - previously I taught at one of the most highly ranked liberal arts colleges, and just jumped to a top R1 university - and so my thoughts cannot be dismissed as some embittered academic failure. I use wikia to post any inside info I know about ongoing searches in my field, and also, just to see how people are doing on the market. Let me say I think the venting page is a great place to cultivate community and work against the dehumanization of the search process. And I think the anti-venter's comments are toxic to this. His/her comments are not actually constructive - they merely say, if you can't get any interviews, your work is "objectively" bad, and you should call it a day. His or her comments are more in the "bragging" category, but the reason we don't have a bragging page, and only a venting page is that ours is a quite tough profession, and success is "objectively" very rare.

Let me assume that the anti-venter works in the humanities. If this is so, anti-venter, you are truly out of your mind. It's well-known in the humanities that job searches are incredibly random, arbitrary, and not necessarily correlated to quality of work. Given the overwhelming number of applicants for jobs, it often comes down to (as one poster above calls it) 2 paragraphs on a JL that I find hard to believe can represent one's real quality of work. anti-venter, you seem to like a kind of pseudo-empiricism, so let me offer some examples that everyone in the academy can relate to. I graduated from a top Ivy R1 school: of our last five hires, four of them had been on the market for 5 years. for those five years, most of them received 2-3 and often 0 interviews or job talks. then, suddenly, a job offer from this school. how do you explain this? they "learned" how to better present their work in the JL and writing sample? no actually not. they used, more or less, the SAME materials for each job search year. anyone who has been in grad school has these kinds of stories. they indicate, sad to say, the market in the humanities is indeed often quite random and imprecise, and hardly representative of some "objective" ideal.

the anti-venter, in my view, seems to have some kind of deep, uncritical faith in our profession based on one good year on the market, which to me portrays a deep naivete. again, anyone who follows his or her field knows the various random and often silly tides of trends and intellectual fashions that shape our field and job markets. often these work directly against quality work as they are most based on JL soundbites and not substantive work. take a look at the best people in your field. in my case, often these best people started out at crappy jobs or couldn't get a job at all. it's precisely because they were doing actually pioneering work they suffered on the market, which rewards more often than not, conforming to academic trends rather than pushing a new program. my point is that scholarship and job market success do not always line up, and is a reason for those who struggle on the market to persevere even if you can't get a good job initially. this point to me is so obvious that again I am totally shocked and bewildered by the anti-venter's comments which strike me as profoundly foolish.

the anti-venter's favored analogy - the student getting a B and complaining about it - seems to give him or her away. good lord, we all know grades are stupid and arbitrary and no measurement of real intellectual ability, so why use this as a kind of metaphor to describe the market? my dear anti-venter, I am sorry, but I failed lit and history in high school and got C's in college in my current discipline, and am now teaching at one of the best universities in the country. indeed, I was not an "objectively" good student in my field in college, and yet somehow here I am. perhaps sometimes the various systems we work within and its so-called objective standards are not always the true measure of ability and quality of work. Is this really how you see academe and intellectual work? like trying to get an A in college and then congratulating yourself if you do (and then scolding those who don't and question whether grades are the best way to evaluate a student's work?)


my dear anti-venter, I actually worry for you. your above comments reek of a blind arrogance, condescension, and lack of humility, they show a real profound contempt for your colleagues, and all based on one lucky year on the market (and believe me, anyone who has studied the market or lived through it for more than 1 year knows there are lucky and unlucky years based on the field, your subfield, and so forth. I consider myself as one who has won the lottery). Truly, I worry about your performances during your interviews and job talks. I would strongly urge you to suppress all of your feelings of superiority and condescension because, while you seem to think there are "winners" and "losers" in the job market, (and you of course are a 'winner') the truth is there are no easy distinctions and the market is utterly random. You seem to think that those who will interview you will share your belief in how the market works, but the reality is that most, even those who have the best jobs, will identify with the genuine frustration and feelings of defeat most of us feel or have felt on the venting page. And so your current attitude will not fare you well on the interview side of things. To borrow your definition of "objectivity," I'd say I speak for everyone on this page by saying I think you are "objectively" a bit of jerk based on your above posts. And we are your colleagues, and so for your sake, I hope the hiring committees do not share our "objective" sense of disapproval and annoyance with your thoughts.

  • Thank you for this. I'd like you for a colleague!
  • The Anti-venter’s tone is condescending and my first reaction to his/her post was to think about how wrong it was, but after re-reading it, I think it is partly true but really unhelpful to anyone currently trying to get a TT job. S/he speaks to the things we have varying degrees of control over (dissertation topic, teaching effort), and gives some pretty lame advice about them (or explanations for failure) that basically translates into “play the game better than everybody else, and...you’ll win the game.” But the post is totally dishonest for ignoring all of what we have little or no control over: things we don’t/can’t know about our grad program, advisors, or peers before we matriculate; being scooped; weather (for people who do outdoor research); personal tragedies (deaths, divorces) that make it impossible to perform at our best at the most important times; the types of schools that have openings when we need one; the types of openings that those schools have; the research interests of the faculty at those places; the personalities of those faculty; inside applicants...the economy...Bernie Madoff (I’ve heard some universities were vested with him). And there are many more, of course. These are the kinds of things I think people mostly want to vent about here, and it helps a lot of people to read those vents because its relieving to know that the process of continually failing to win a tenure-track job is not entirely a personal one, because it often seems that way, and that becomes tiresome, if not maddening and dehumanizing. I made it through the gauntlet this year (my second year trying) and I have been offered a TT job at a place I really want to be. I didn’t do my best with the parts of my career I've had control over (pubs, grants), but I still looked OK on paper and I am qualified, but so were 30 or 40 of the other applicants, I’m sure. I looked up the other people that were interviewed—they were hot stuff and some of their CVs were better than mine. So I'm surprised I got the job and they didn't. But what is much, much more difficult for me to fathom is how many things that were out of my control that went my way at just the right time. This must be what it feels like to win the lottery. My experience has led me to think that much crueler than being judged as not good enough by a search committee (which I was many times before I got an offer) is the cruelty of having so little control over the outcome of the process. So to me, the Anti-venter is deluded for his/her focus on that which we control.
  • Original poster: "First, write an interesting and important dissertation, one that is polished enough that it can be sent directly to the publishers when you're done. If you do this, your dissertation will garner some awards, and you'll get a contract within the first couple of years." Come ON. Whose dissertation is so polished that you can send it directly to the publishers? Very, very few people in the humanities, I would think. I'm not sure what field you're in, but while many of my friends/colleagues have great diss. topics, and are now in T-T jobs, they are still going through the agonizing process of editing and revising their dissertations. I have just been offered a t-t job, much to my extreme surprise. And while I think my diss, which I finished in summer 2008, is interesting, there's no way in hell that I would want to send it to a publisher as is. Perhaps I'm in the minority. But let's not pile even more unrealistic expectations upon grad students struggling to finish their dissertations, ok? Sometimes the most important thing about a dissertation is that it's DONE!
  • 1/14/09--I wanted to respond to the above post--yes, getting it done is the most important thing. But, people shouldn't sell their dissertations short either. Sending a dissertation to a publisher can result in valuable (and free) feedback on what needs to be fixed--it's a totally different world from academia. And, you might get a contract. Five weeks after I defended my dissertation I had a signed contract with a really good, solid academic press. And I want to mention I did NOT come out of a great school or program, I had no "ins" with a publisher, nothing. I sent my proposal and then dissertation "cold."
  • While I agree that the original poster's views on this are absurdly simplistic, let me just point out a couple of things that ultimately lead me to agree with the anti-venter's basic approach to the market. I've been on both sides of the academic job search. I had one very successful year as a candidate with multiple campus interviews. And now I'm serving on a search committee to hire a new TT colleague. I guarantee you that the search process is not entirely random. Some things make a huge difference. You may think it’s silly, but a well crafted cover letter really makes a difference to a committee that has dozens, if not hundreds, of applications to look at. The poorly crafted ones stick out. And I’ve seen people who have been on the market unsuccessfully for years turning in cover letters that aren’t clear and succinct. Some people just don’t seem to get it. Furthermore, your ability to verbalize all of your ideas in a sharp, convincing way in the initial interviews is huge. And that takes LOTS of practice. Your letters of recommendation also make a huge difference. How can you be certain that the process is basically “random” if you can’t see what kind of letters your writers are turning in on your behalf? After this, your personality and demeanor are huge factors. These departments are potentially hiring you for 30 years. They don’t want to work with someone who is difficult or a jerk. I’ve seen candidates basically disqualified simply for being rude. You may think that’s unfair, but you’re not the person who has to work with the jerks. Jerks are really bad for departments in the long run. Now, that said, it is undeniable that the academic job market, particularly for the youngest TT candidates, is extremely inefficient. Candidates fresh from grad school simply cannot have enough of a track record for this to be an efficient, purely merit-based system (as if such a system could ever exist). I think it gets better for senior candidates, but the fact is that there are lots of things you can’t control because it’s expected that freshly minted PhDs can’t necessarily be expected to have a lot (or any, depending on the field) publications when they hit the market. This means that just because you have a lot of publications, doesn’t mean you’re automatically a better candidate in the minds of committee members, especially if there is another candidate (with fewer or no publications) whose work seems to be a better fit for the position. It’s EXPECTED (at least in my field) that some candidates will have few or no publications. So having them is a bonus, but it won’t make you a better “fit” necessarily for that job, especially when committee members know that a lack of publications at the beginning does not necessarily mean much in the long run. And that brings me to the last point—it’s almost impossible to predict what EXACTLY a search committee is looking for. Their criteria will be based on a host of factors related to the inner workings of their department that you most likely cannot be privy to. So while these factors aren’t completely “random” when they play out they appear to be “random” to candidates who believe they have the best CV or whatever it might be. So while I think the first poster has a naïve view of how this works, you might as well think about it the way s/he does because this will lead you to reconsider how you’ve written your cover letters, and reconsider how your present your work, and reconsider everything else about how you present yourself on the market. And by constantly working on those things, you’re in a much better position to come out on top in those areas that you can control. If you just assume it’s random and continue to present yourself in the same way, you might “win the lottery” at some point, but you might also be overlooking the fact that you aren’t presenting yourself in the best possible way.
2008-12-17 I am glad that I found this site. Not that anyone should be happy to be part of such a dysfuntional industry, but at least with your help I am getting a clearer view of the lousy prospects out there. All the work to get a PhD, only to struggle with the odd way the job search is conducted. What was I thinking?My personal favorite, regarding the cancelled searches: The University of Missouri cancelled all faculty hires, but the sports related searches continue. Of course there is no money for academics when you just gave football a raise!


  • I share your frustration, but athletic funds come from the revenues generated by sporting events and money contributed by donors. In other words, academic funding and athlectic funding come from separate pots. Unfortunately, football fans are willing to pay thousands to watch Chase Daniel throw touchdown passes, but they don't really care to watch you teach. That's life, as much as it seems unfair and irrational.
2008-17-11 I am sick of this whole ordeal. You know, I took a crummy advising job as a way to make money but once I got here I realized what a mistake I made. Now I am struggling with research, writing, teaching and a 40 hour a week staff position that I absolutely despise. Go to a conference? I have to take vacation days, that's IF I can get any money to go, which is seemingly no. I do not even get any student contact, which was the saving grace in my GA position. This week I had one appointment, which canceled. I am applying like mad but my Graduate institution screwed me in ways I cannot yet begin to explore, so I get no call backs, no letters, nothing. I am so absolutely frustrated it's unbelievable. My boss feels threatened by my PhD. She sat in with me on my advising appointments for three months. Never mind I had three years of experience doing this. I am 30, newly minted, bored out of my skull and feeling like a 10 year old. But, I suppose, I am getting free books at least due to a gig in March.
2008-12-11 If I knew someone who treated me the way this job search is treating me, I'd punch him in the face, walk away, and never see him again.
2008-12-12 Where did I go wrong? I'm great in the classroom: my students tell me so, my evaluations tell me so, even my colleagues tell me so. My research is very good: I'm a couple years out from my PhD, and I'd get tenure nearly anywhere short of the ivies with what I've published now -- I'd certainly get tenure at the sub-Ivy but good institution where I earned my doctorate. I don't think I'm a complete jerk. I know the market is impossibly tight, but I'm the sort of candidate who would have given me nightmares three years ago. So where are the interviews? There's something profound in here: all those years, wondering if I could make it as a teacher and a researcher. I can. I'm very, very good at both. And it doesn't seem to matter, for reasons that elude me. I think the saddest thing here is that I believed: I believed that if I excelled I'd be rewarded. Why on earth did I ever think that? I'm losing faith. Is academia really a country club, not a meritocracy? Why didn't I get that before?


  • It's totally a country club, in the humanities at least. The degree to which so much scholarship is based on Marxian expositions of unfairness is a joke. The children of the upper 1% educate the children of the upper 33%. Just look at the affirmative action cards schools request you to fill out. That there's no box to check for the degree of financial comfort or discomfort in which the candidate grew up couldn't be more ironic.
  • Of course there are exceptions. There always are. Power and its perpetuation wouldn't seem as plausible if there weren't exceptions.
2008-12-04 I hate it when I call an HR office and am told that "the position was filled." Courtesy rejection email? Letter? Anything? Are search committees so far removed from real life that they do not realize how much money, time, and anxiety is involved in applying for a job? Seriously, a rejection letter is better than friggin' NOTHING!!!
2008-12-04 Internal candidates suck.Period.Especially when they are less qualified. ARGGGGGH! -----------Speaking as an internal candidate who was, most definitely less qualified than at least some of the applicants (despite a solid teaching and publication record), I can say with a high degree of certainty that inside candidates don't always get the job. Not getting a job (or an interview) after working someplace for 6 months or more is rough, so, I suppose I agree with you. . .it either sucks because they do get the job or it sucks because they don't.
2008-11-25 If you are really depressed about the current job market, read this [1] blog. Copious amounts of sarcasm, acrimony, and jaded wit to help put The Revered Profession in perspective.
2008-11-16 We have to apply to so many jobs (on top of teaching and writing) that there's no way not to start getting sloppy. I thought I was so careful, but I've just caught three flagrant errors in applications I submitted last week.
2008-11-19 Not that it is the fault of the institutions in question, but it is very annoying (and time consuming) to prepare application materials for searches tat are then canceled. This is especially true when schools request a good deal of specific material beyond the usual cv, etc. I did have one school offer to return my packet if I desired, which I thought was a nice touch.


  • It's incredibly discouraging, too, to put so much effort into prepping materials in addition to teaching and writing, only to have multiple jobs, especially ones you feel you have a shot at getting your foot in the door, be canceled. It's like, how am I supposed to maintain focus on my work when even the job opportunities that are long shots are nixed and when, in short, I'm facing joblessness and student loan payments in the midst of a global economic crisis? Ugh.
  • can I add: cost of postage + cost of mailing dossiers + cost of transcripts = not an unsubstantial sum of money
  • I agree with these statements. I entered grad school in the time of a recession and now I'm entering the job market in even worse of a recession. I feel the 'Ugh' along with many expletives. I hate the anxiety that comes along with these job apps and not knowing where you stand in the application process when no feedback is given...bleepin' arrrgh!
  • What I hate are the ones that insist you send a writing sample and then send you a rejection letter before they could even have received it!
2008-10-15 A new website all about academic and other species of rejection: [2]
2008-05-07 I just got a rejection letter from UConn for a position I applied for in the fall. Not a big deal, because I wasn't overly excited about it, but what I do take issue with is the fact that the application deadline was in August... its May. That kind of timeline wouldn't be too bad if I had gone for an interview or made the short list, but the chair goes out of his way in the letter to let me know that I didn't even make the short list. So, it took 7 months to send out rejection letters to people that weren't even being considered after the first cut? WTF? Then to specifically point that out in the letter? I don't even care about the job, just the way search committees feel they can treat the cattle. I guess its just one more example...


  • Add them to the "schools to fear" wiki. Giving them a bad reputation the only weapon we have.

http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/Universities_to_fear

  • While it pisses me off that they took forever to get back to me, I don't think that the actions of this particular search committee should be used to represent the university, or even the department. Plus, if everyone put a department on that page just because they took a ridiculously long time to inform them about the results of a search, the page would be full within a couple of weeks. Just something to remember when I am in the position to be sending out the letters.
  • I meant to add them to the "fear" list because it sounds like they were rude, not because they took so long. Most schools take forever to get back to you, but they don't need to be nasty about it.
  • Even after accepting, these frustrations can happen: e.g. with getting a contract, to be sent after a background check I wasn't informed of, for which there was paperwork needed to be filled out that I wasn't aware of (never had one done before--how should I know what the place needs?) until I had to ask where the contract was. Maybe it's institutional inefficiency, but it's also not very welcoming.
2008-06-17 So many of us are singing the same song these days. I'm wondering what the dubious record is for silence after a campus interview. After two full days of meals and meetings I left on February 14. On March 4 I emailed the SC chair. Silence. Out of desperation on April 4 I emailed the provost. He replied telling me they were "looking at another candidate." It is now May 6 and I have not heard anything official from any quarter at that school. I know they don't want me but feel that a courteous letter would help repair the damage to my dignity and self-esteem. So, wikis, how much silence have you got?



I'm with ya! During my campus visit the SC went on about how great the competition was within the first 20 mins of meeting me. OK, thanks for wasting my time and making me feel LAME. They seemed to warm up to me during my visit, then silence. 2 months and counting. I'm cool with it because I landed my dream job! However, I think it is disrespectful not to inform the candidates about the search periodically. I suspect they are just protecting themselves if a candidate backs out. My take is that SILENCE=NO OFFER. My opinion of them is very low right now. And, you know, OUR opinion of THEM counts for something. Oh yeah, I bought my flight 3 months ago and not a penny.
  • I assume that they still don't have a contract signed for their new hire, so they're covering their butts. What I don't understand is why they think ignoring us and stringing us along like this is going to somehow keep us in reserve and not piss us off. The only reason not to tell candidates before the contract is signed is that they might need to go to their second choice should the deal fall through with first choice. But after three months of string-along, if a school came to me with an offer, I'd tell them to bite me.
  • I sent out 25 applications this year. To date, I've received five rejection letters or e-mails. Considering that I wasn't even interviewed for any of these jobs, and that almost all of the positions have been filled (according to the wiki), the 20% response rate goes beyond pathetic.
  • Howdy, venters. It's me again - the same person who started this thread. I'm just checking back in to report TWO MORE MONTHS OF SILENCE from the unnamed school. That's more than four months after my on-campus interview.
2008-04-24



Dear Search Committee:



for Christ's sake, call me already, would ya?



We had a wonderful time together: a terrific interview; I loved you and you loved me. But things have changed. Where my mind was once full with a calm and mildly smug certainty that you would hire me, it is now full of doubt and the products of a wild imagination. Indeed, while waiting for your call over the past five weeks, some unhealthy things have happened to our relationship. The fact of the matter is that I cannot stop imagining you all (as in the search committee)-- I can't stop imagining you all in loincloths, grunting and jumping around a fluorescent-lit undergraduate classroom with large cucumbers lodged in your rear ends. I imagine you like this constantly now, as if you were engaged in some sort of primal process to decide upon a candidate.



So, could give me a call? I believe it would do wonders for the unhealthy landscape of my imagination, and possibly even more for your long-term kharma.



Sincerely,
your loving candidate



P.S. if you do call tomorrow with an offer, please disregard the above.



  • Dear Candidate,

We did have a wonderful time and we have been thinking about you recently. However, we have been seeing a few people and are not ready just yet to settle down. I know its hard to know that we are not being faithful, but unfortunately, there is not much you can do about it. Even on a weekend night when you haven't made any plans hoping we'll call, we're going to leave you sitting by the phone, staring into the greying twilight. But you'll wait... we know. Its just that we have a lot of options and can't decide, so we draw the process out, disregarding your desire for closure. Even if we exclusively start dating one of the others, we still won't let you know until after they sign the marriage certificate - and that could take some time as we negotiate a prenuptial agreement. We're sorry for your degrading mental state, but its not you, its us. Sincerely, your indifferent committee

2008-04-16 I have twice been rejected on the grounds that I did not match the needs of a department. Now, I realize this is a nice, standard line and that the real reason could be something else. However, in both cases, I did have a great connection with the department and felt this rationale for the rejection was actually quite sincere. What irritates me is that it was clear from my letter and phone interviews that I did not match their particular needs in a narrow sense. It seemed, though, that neither committee bothered to meet to discuss their logistical needs in terms of courses they needed taught, administrative (chair) needs etc. If they had, and if they had honestly confronted their own needs before bringing candidates, then they could have saved some of us--me, at least--a trip out and all the agony of waiting to hear etc. So, although I realize that if I can't do what they need done, then I'm not the right person for them, and although I do accept the capricious needs of academia, I take issue with the fact that departments often don't honestly confront their own limitations before wasting a candidate's time and emotions by bringing him out...
2008-04-08 I am 29 and just returned from an on-campus visit from one of the top schools in my field. When I met for lunch with graduate students several of them seemed threatened by me and were quite hostile, while one of them went on and on about how much teaching experience she has at a local community college (implying that she is more qualified for the job). I feel that they view me as an equal because I am just finishing my PhD. However, I have more publications, more contacts, more grant money and more unique ideas than they do but it is difficult to distinguish myself from them in their eyes. How do you handle a meeting with a group of prime dona graduate students when you are the same age as them?!


  • Good question, and a fair one. I was 27 when I finished my PhD and started my first job. I have found that age is often an issue for other people, but the best thing I* can do is ignore it, not get defensive, and trust that my "authority" will come through my capability in my field. I find when I just act natural and don't make age an issue, then others don't either. So, although I know it's difficult, I suggest just rising above it, recognizing that other people's issues are just their issues, and just be yourself. THey're just working out/testing/wrestling with their own insecurities. Just be yourself. Don't be condescending, but don't give in to others' issues and needs to make your age (and really, their age) an issue.Does that make any sense?
  • While I don't doubt they were snarky, you sound pretty defensive/threatened yourself. If you weren't you wouldn't need to justify why you really are better than they are (down to having better ideas, which is just...ouch. I believe you have more publications, grants etc, but you really have no way of knowing whether your ideas are categorically more unique than theirs). So I agree with the previous commenter that you have to let everyone else's issues be what they are and it's probably best not to react to them. And I absolutely believe these grad students have issues--but it might also be good to get to the bottom of your own insecurities as well. There's no reason you can't concentrate on putting them at ease by taking an interest in their work and their ideas.
  • I think the prior comment/recommendation is solid.

Thanks. I agree with you guys... haha, even about ME being insecure to some degree. While I was with the grad students I acted naturally and talked to them like I would talk to other interviewers/colleagues. Later, I realized how awkward the situation really felt and stewed/fumed a little over some of their comments. I think I took the right approach with them, but I need to learn not to let this stuff bother me so much.

  • Refreshing for me to hear this (though no help for you). I'd completely forgotten about the problem of being a threat to the PhD cohort! I'm finishing my PhD in my mid-40s, and have been worried about the other kind of age problems: namely, considered "too old" for a tt position, for the salary & expected lifestyle sacrifices of a junior position. Etc. For all of these reasons, I'm also on the non-academic job market, where I have a work history, but would be open to an academic position. (Added 29 Dec 08. I couldn't tell from the editing comments if I was supposed to change the date of the original entry, which I suspect not. And it looks like you're mostly using an American date format, but I'm occasionally seeing Canadian. So please feel free to edit my entry if I've done it wrong).
2008-04-05 To the person who was about to "pull her hair out" - have you heard yet?


  • Gosh, thanks for asking. That's very kind of you. No, I haven't heard anything. As you can imagine, I am pretty unhappy about it and not feeling especially hopeful.
  • Yes, it is disheartening. I remembered b/c I am in same position. Have not yet heard and it's been 2 weeks; will start 3rd week this week. I assume I'll hear soon, but who knows. Fortunately, I have a new visit coming up so something to focus on. But I can commiserate.
  • Well, it's nice to commiserate, at the very least. There is something oddly comforting about coming to this page and seeing so many other similarly frustrated people. It does help to have other positions to focus energy on, so that's good news for you. Glad to hear it! I don't yet have anything else to distract me, but I already do have a tenure-track job, so it's not like I'll be unemployed after this year. I just want a new one. Good luck to you!!! Maybe we'll both hear good news this week. (One can hope...)
2008-04-04 Did anyone see the "name-posting" repartee on the art history page under University of Virginia (Medieval)?


  • Yep, and I find it a bit of a tempest in a teapot. The prevailing argument seems to be that only those who have received offers, and formally accepted them, are entitled to announce their identities to the world at large. In my field, however (history), departments commonly make this information known to the non-selected masses who applied for the job. So, wouldn't this be public record, and thus eminently postable on the wiki, even though it's not being disseminated by the concerned party? More generally, I'm not sure why there's so much fuss about post-search "disclosure" (although I certainly understand how revealing the identities of finalists, or interviewees, before they've accepted a position could jeopardize their employment, either current or prospective...)
  • Would you mind posting your comment on the discussion page on the art history page where this discussion unfolded, for the benefit of my art history colleagues?
  • Sounds like a good idea.
2008-03-31 Another new question: are on campus interviews where the interviewers are hostile a typical occurrence? where at least one or more members of committee pick apart writing sample or ask numerous skeptical questions of teaching and/or research? - curious


  • This seems to depend on the field. I have never seen this happen in Biology and I have been on three interviews and witnessed over a dozen other searches. What sometimes happens is that faculty will ask probing or leading questions (but not confrontational) to get a feel for comfort level with certain subjects, but this seems to be isolated to the seminar and the committee "exit interview", and is far from universal. The interviews I have been on have all been very friendly. Keep in mind that these people are interviewing a potential colleague. If they are rude during the interview, why would you respect them when you come into the department? Of course, other fields seem to do this differently and it seems, especially from lengthy posts such as some of the ones below, that historians like to piss on each other more than most. Maybe hostile interviews are just another hurdle for historians, I don't know. It would be unusual in most of the sciences, from my experience.
  • response: funny you should mention the discipline of "history"..[hint] :)
  • I've had 5 campus interviews and served on 2 search committees and never seen the kind of hostility you describe. I did once have a kind of intense group inquisition, but it was more just intense than hostile. And I have had someone confront me privately in a way that indicated s/he was threatened by me and wanted to break me down a bit, but even that was relatively mild (s/he asked aggressively something like, why would someone with your strong qualifications come to this unimpressive school?---as if doubting my intentions, which were absolutely sincere). Other than that, I don't think it is typical, though I agree with the other comment that they will ask probing comments to really test you on your claims, and this can FEEL hostile when you are the one in the hot-seat. Finally, I have one general comment about this topic, which is that I think it is inevitable that there will be at least one unpleasant/hostile person in your department wherever you get hired, so it's actually good (in my opinion) to find out who that person is BEFORE you get the job so that you can be careful once you are there. I didn't know and then found out two years into my job that someone was plotting against me; if I'd known sooner, I might have done a few things differently. For whatever that is worth...
  • The more I think about the exit interview, the angrier I get... I think it could have been done in a more collegial manner. Also wondering if i'll ever hear from them again and if I even want to.
  • Month later. Email to 'dear applicant' whereas all the courting emails were to me by name. Obviously a distancing strategy. Plus, what committee in their right mind invite a candidate and THEN request writing sample? Isn't that a*& backward? I'm lucky...
2008-03-29 What sorts of questions are search members NOT allowed to ask? So far I've been asked (directly or indirectly) about where I'm from/grew up, marital/relationship status and about other job offers I have. Those all seem kinda "borderline" to me.


  • some of those are off-limits - specifically, they are not supposed to ask about marital status and the job offers question is inappropriate. As for where you are from, I think that is innocent enough (i guess unless you are from outside the USA and/or you feel the question is aimed toward unearthing some "identity" issue that you feel is discriminatory).
  • I certainly agree that there are some contexts in which any of the above questions are inappropriate. That being said, I have been on a few SCs where the question of martial status arose simply because we wanted to know if we ought to include a tour of local schools, etc in our neighborhood tour (since real estate is rather over-priced, we tried to help people acquaint themselves with the possibilities). Generally, we let the candidate bring up such issues themselves, or asked indirectly. As for the question of other potential job offers, this seems to be further over the pale. Again, however, I can see a well-meaning dept. member attempting to make small talk with such a question. As hard as it is to believe from the job-seekers side, not everything that happens at a campus visit is a well-orchestrated attempt to advance / sabotage / explore your candidacy. This brings me to my final point--something that I have been thinking about writing here for a while. As someone who is on the market again this year, I know it is tough. I know that some SCs can be genuinely rude and careless. Many of the comments here--and on the Universities to Fear page-- seem to me to be results of candidates who have unrealistic expectations of what the search should / will look like. Searches are conducted by professors who have other full-time jobs. Professors are often not the most organized, thoughtful, or, dare I say, socially adept of folks. Mistakes will be made, feet will be stepped on, and hearts will be broken. This does not mean, however, that the university in question is plotting against you.

My apology to the poster whose question I just hi-jacked to go on my own little rant.

  • Excuse me, but I don't think it is too much to ask that SCs avoid asking about marital status! They can escort the candidate around the environs of campus and talk about potential places to live and important landmarks without querying the person about their specific details (unless the candidate brings it up, which I'm sure some do and I'm sure sometimes it is to their benefit). I was happy with the way it was done when I visited a campus. They hadn't even scheduled a ride around town, but I asked about it, and then they fit it in. The person who drove me around merely pointed out some of the important landmarks; showed me [her/his] house and then did point out a school and mentioned [her/his] kids went there, but I did not feel obligated to talk about my own status, which I think is fair. AND - note that "marital status" is NOT synonomous with having children! One can be a single mother / father or one can be partnered (gay) and have children.
  • You know, I was really uncertain about how to handle the issue of my partner, who is also an academic looking for a job. One of my recommenders told me to take my wedding band off before going to interview. I did it for the conference interviews, but it just did not feel right to me. On my last campus visit - the one I really want - I told everyone at the beginning of the interview that they could dispense with all the federal regulations about asking personal questions, because I have no problem talking about my personal life, and that in order to make sure the "fit" is right, they needed to know where I stood. My partner and I have always agreed that whomever received the tt job first, the other would come along and look for something. Since I was open and frank about this, I received extremely good advice from the committee about helping my partner find work if I were to be offered the job. Now maybe I shot myself in the foot doing this, but I believe in the value of candor in these matters. Time will tell. :-)
2008-03-26 I want to reply to the most recent comment about the chair not saying anything about reimbursement and today that I am generally disappointed with the degree of carelessness that I perceive in SC's. I do understand, having been on searches, that they are a ton of work and that you are always trying to fit them in with all your other work. So I realize that although I am itching to hear back about my interview, it isn't necessarily top on the SC's list---nor is thinking about reimbursement etc. But, honestly, I think it's downright mean, whether intentional or not, to treat your finalists so carelessly. Tell them how to get paid back. Tell them when and how they can expect to hear about the final decision, and if you do reject them, tell them (your 3 or so finalists) why they weren't a good fit. Maybe this last point is pushing it, but at the very least I do think saying "ok, you'll hear from us whether you get the job or not by X-Date" is just the fair thing to do, especially after you've asked someone to drop everything he is doing, hop a flight to wherever, and spend 2 full days trying to impress the hell out of you. Buyer's market or no, it's just not right to treat people this way.On this note, I am still waiting to hear back about a job. I think the last candidate would have just finished up last week. At what point should I start pulling my hair out? At what point is it acceptable to send a little email that asks, "have you made a decision yet?" Like most other people who post here, it's the uncertainty of it all that kills me. If I didn't get the job, that's fine. I'd just like to know so I can mourn and move on. I mean, it's not fine, but bad news would be better than no news at this point...


  • I recently received an offer and it took a week for the SC to send their candidate to the deans, then over a week for them to make the phone call. I know I was the first person they called, so two weeks or a little more is not unusual. Good luck and try not to think about it.
  • I agree. Give it another week. I also recently received an offer, and in my case it took about a week from their last candidate visiting before I got the call (and about a month after my campus interview). The waiting sucks, but don't pull your hair out yet. Good luck!
  • So, you all didn't hear a word from SC until the offer- and did you send an email or anything to thank them for visit? And did they respond. It seems some SC do not...
  • I did send e-mails to every faculty and staff member that I met during my visit. Some wrote back, some didn't. None of the replies (either for jobs I didn't get or for the one I did) gave any indication of the eventual outcome ... as it should be.
  • I am still struggling over this - I decided to send a thank you to the Chair only and tell her to thank Committee. But I did not email Dean, or Assoc Dean or others I met, and maybe I should have (it may be soon enough that I still could..). I just feel strange emailing everyone - it feels too coercive.
  • I always send hand-written thank-you cards (I know there is a school of thought that frowns on this, but my traditional upbringing and gender socialization require me to do this!) via snail mail and, of course, don't hear back from them. In the few cases where an email was sent after the interview (like a quick follow-up about something that came up during the campus visit), I found the email correspondence was short and sweet. And I agree with the above comment that neutrality is as it should be in these things. I actually prefer chairs who are really neutral, almost to the point of being cold, because I have had chairs be really warm and friendly and personable via email and then been surprised to not get the job.
2008-04-06 03-23: I'm frustrated. I just got back from a campus visit; not really sure how it went. But the thing I want to ask about is reimbursement. They paid for everything (which I'm grateful for given that I am really poor right now, something they don't seem to take into consideration), but I had to take a shuttle to the airport both there and back, and it was over 60.00 and I want it back. But there was no admin asst to ask me about receipts as I had been led to expect by other people in grad school. So, is it rude and unprofessional to ask the search committee chair if I can send the receipts and get reimbursed? I am really poor. I can wait to see if I'm offered the job and do it afterward... or???


  • E-mail the chair today and ask to whom you should send the receipt for reimbursement and what additional information they need to process it (e.g., mailing address, SS#). They should pay for the shuttle, but sometimes they forget to get receipts while you're there. Sometimes, they prefer you to mail them in afterwards. They should also cover any meals you had in the airport. It's not at all rude of you to ask this, just make sure your e-mail is polite. Oh, and make a photocopy before you send it, just in case it gets lost in the mail.
  • Thank you for your responses. It's so funny that you mention the meal at airport, b/c they rushed me to a plane at 5pm and I wasn't going to get home until after 1:30am, so, yes, I ended up eating at the airport on the way back and wondered if I should try to get that back as well. Of course, I'm not sure I saved the receipt b/c I was feeling futile as to whether I would get it back. But I'll check. Anyway, thanks for feedback. I think I'll know better what to do next time...[found my airport dinner receipt! :)]
  • So, did they end up reimbursing you?
  • You know what, I haven't sent the receipts (yet?), partly b/c I have not heard a peep from them and I feel uncomfortable. I emailed Chair to say thank you (did not mention receipts) - did not get a peep back and still have not. In addition, I had another campus visit to worry about so decided, in a way, to let it go - although now that I have more time, I may indeed mail the receipts with a diplomatic letter. If I get an offer from this new school, then I would love to put in for the reimbursement from the other one...
2008-03-19 The repeated rejections are really getting to me. I can't stand the uncertainty. This is really a shitty way to organize a profession. (And, believe me, I've worked in some universally acknowledged shitty professions.)


  • 03-20 I think academics is just a hierarchy of rejections... you get them for grants, manuscripts, jobs... everything. I have such a hard time dealing with the rejections too, but just remember your love for what you do and keep going. Eventually, something will work out.
2008-03-17 *isnt it odd that, shall we say, the less competitive schools seem least inspired and organized in the job interviewing process. I have a colleague who applied for this spot, really wanted to live in Houston, and is super-qualified for the spot. He didn't even get an acknowledgement of his application from them . . . its just bizarre behavior . . .


  • A lot of that has to do with the administration - at the school where I am VAP now, the provost did not approve the list of searches until the end of September, the job posting came out after CAA, and I never heard from them again, til on APRIL 30th I received a call for a campus visit. Sometimes the search committee members hands are tied - it's just as frustrating for them as for you!
  • Re: 3rd post......"Super-qualified" in your eyes does not mean "super-suited" to the institution; this is a unique finishing school with only juniors, seniors, and grads. I am amazed at the tone of this post - couldn't it be that the notification letter was misdirected in the mail? There is no need to aggressively judge the school's behavior. As someone who had a campus visit for this position and was offered the position, I can say the teaching style at UHCL is very collaborative, eclectic, and they are/were looking for someone who can establish connections with colleagues in other academic areas. Perhaps your friend was not suited to THIS dynamic. They are a WONDERFUL group of colleagues; I turned down the offer because it would have meant a serious pay cut for me to come there.... If the salary were higher and I wouldn't have to take a cut in pay to live in a city with a higher cost of living than where I am now, I would have accepted in a HEARTBEAT! Whoever does accept this position in the end will have AMAZING colleagues and a wonderful working environment...
  • the third poster again. i think you misunderstood the 'tone' of my email. It wasn't nearly as nasty as you seem to have though it to be. I was simply expressing frustration at the sometimes poor communication during the job process (that this wiki exists seems to serve as evidence that this is a common sentiment.) I was also pointing out that it seems strange that many highly qualified candidates are often not even long-listed for positions at places where, frankly, they would be overqualified. Yes, indeed, the academic job market is about 'fit.' But (and I dont mean Houston here, per se), often 'fit' seems to be a way of hiding the fact that some committees dont want the PhDs from top programs, with curatorial experience, the right teaching exp. etc. In some places a Stanford, Northwestern, or Harvard degree seems to function like a scarlet letter. . . the earlier posters comments with regard to administrative complexities is very interesting and informative, explaining a great deal why this process seems so irregular at times. Thanks for that.
  • (separate poster here) It's true that, at some places, having a degree from a top-tier school can count against you -- but only because a lot of schools have a kind of institutional inferiority complex, and don't think that someone from Northwestern or Stanford or Harvard will stay for the long haul. No department wants to hire someone they think is just regarding them as a stepping stone (because doing new searches is a giant hassle), and few departments are willing to take the risk of hiring someone who seems overqualified because the faculty members don't you to come in and outshine them. If you're from a big-name school and genuinely want a job at a smaller institution? You've got to make clear from the outset that you're ready to make that change.
  • The 2nd poster (admin comments) I would agree about the "Scarlet letter" syndrome - with an ivy PhD, I am constantly running into this with the smaller institutions. I will get as far as the preliminary interview, and then poof. I have started stressing the fact that I am tired of my peripatetic lifestyle, and that if I accept a job, I intend to integrate into both the academic community and the greater community outside the university, and that it will be for the long haul. You have to make people realize that you are looking for an academic home - not a job.
  • I was on a search committee last year, and I am on the market this year. I come from a university on a "lower tier" and we needed to be convinced that the potential hire would really relocate and want to stay at our uni. In addition, "lower tier" universities tend to have less money to bring people on campus. We had to beg from our administrator to bring 2 applicants. If we didn't think you would take the job if it was offered, we didn't invite you because we only had 2 shots to make sure we found the best fit. For those of you from out of the region or from ivy league schools, this is really important to address in your cover letters. We did have concerns if a New Yorker would be happy at our more rural area. Or if someone from Wisconsin could withstand our summers. If we ask directly we will likely get the interview-fabricated answer. It's really hard to know for sure.
  • Just a question to the previous poster-- how do you know if people are from, say, NYC or Wisconsin? Based on my cv, you might think I'm from NYC or the Northeast, but I'm actually from a really small, midwestern town (and there's no indication of Smalltown, USA, obviously anywhere on my college/graduate school record). And, as a job seeker, I've received so much conflicting advice on whether to state flat out that I'm looking to return to a place like my hometown!
  • Reading c.v.s (b/c in essence they are all the same) is about reading between the lines. We made judgments on regional areas based on c.v.s. If you really want a SLAC or to be in a small city, in my opinion, it seems worthwhile to include your background. Obviously, you have to be selective on which applications you choose to include this point. For example, 2 of the interviews that I had were located in very isolated parts of their state. The schools readily acknowledged this in the interview. Naturally, if I was in your position (where my roots weren't evident) I would have mentioned it in cover letters to those schools. Some schools, however, will take offense at a disclaimer. Though cities like Houston and Dallas might seem provincial or uncultured to those on the east coast, residents have a different view and are very proud of the cultural opportunities.
  • So, you have to prove that you "belong" as part of your credentials, by describing, basically, some key parts of your identity. Does this not strike you as, oh, just a bit ethically unsound? This notion that I (or any candidate) should advertise some aspect of my identity to advantage )or dis-advantage) myself with particular jobs strikes me as offensive. Really, I thought we knew better than this, by now. On what grounds should regional identity be treated as any different from ethicity, gender, class origins, etc? I know just as many urbanites who wish to "escape the city" and start a quieter life, as I do former rural folk come to the big city to "start over;" and I am quite sure this bi-directional exchange is a very common American state-of-affairs.
  • Besides that, if thinking more broadly, "lower-tier" schools should be thrilled to have highly qualified "top-tier" recent Ph.D.s on their faculty list, even if they only stay a few years. With the high turnover rate, would come a tremdous influx of fresh ideas and influences. Just think of what that would mean for undergraduates - exposed to some of the best-trained (if young) minds in the field. carpe diem!
  • The snobby tone of those discussing "top-tier" schools, aside.... Umm, how much studio art interaction do "Ivy," "top-tier" schools require of their grads? Very little. Many contemporary art history programs are in areas where there is an expectation of interaction with studio faculty and students. Many Ivy PhD's I have seen come off as a little arrogant, as well as unwilling to get in the trenches with studio practitioners. That, too, might be a reason why some search committees have no interest in that "breed" of PhD. It may be good for some programs, but the exclusively academic tone might not sit well with programs where the contemporary art historian needs to do crits and sit on MFA thesis committees.
  • By the way, the "thanks for that" comment was totally unnecessary.
  • That "snobby" comment was completely uncalled for, and shows exactly what we Ivies are talking about. I spent 15 years as a practicing artist before getting my ivy PhD in art history. And at least half of my cohorts in grad school at our prestigious, snobby Ivy institution were artists on the side as well. What do you say to that?
  • As a graduate student on a search committee, my loyalty was to the grad students. We want an advisor who will be there through our dissertation, not someone who will abandon ship when something better comes along.
  • "Regional-ism" if that is what you want to call it is no different than SLACS preferring applicants who taught at other SLACS or large state schools preferring applicants who already understand the rigors of the large survey classes.
  • At the same time, because I came from a "lower tiered" university why would that make me less competitive for an ivy? My advisor and committee members came from ivies. I have had rigorous training and I have an impressive c.v. My reading list is probably quite comparable to an ivy student. Yes, I am equally capable of providing fresh ideas. (So, I do take insult that a "lower tiered" should be grateful for 2 years with an ivy grad.) A "better" education does not guarantee that one has a stronger work ethic, more creativity, higher intelligence or will be a more successful teacher. However, I understand that my application will be quickly shuffled into the "no" pile at an ivy - such is the job application process. Understanding this, I choose not to waste my time applying to those schools that are considered by others as "out of my league." It's a very subjective and, at times, arcane process.
  • Was the snobby comment uncalled for? You speak of "you Ivies" like it's the chalice from which the rest of us should sip. Others speak about how "fortunate" institutions should feel to have them on their faculty. Lame. Could THAT be the reason that "poof" - no interview - happens? Many people I have met from Ivy institutions are solipsistic, egomaniacal know-it-alls; not everyone wants that kind of hyper-competitive presence on their faculty. I agree with the previous poster in many ways; it is the PERSON that constitutes the colleague, not the name on their diploma. Besides, I hear that "supervision" from Ivy League professors often consists of only the loosest affiliations (i.e. write the dissertation, don't bug me again for 5 years, and come back when you're ready). That is hardly an education.
  • And that is exactly what I, as an Ivy, am trying to say. We aren't all rich, and we don't all want to wind up in first tier schools after dumping the people who gave us our first real job. I stress once again that most of us want an academic home, not a prestigious job. I spent my first year convinced that the school had made some administrative mistake, and that I was going to be told any minute that I was to clear out my carrel and go home. And as a grad from a no-name, service department of a Southern state university, I am not going to tell you how much I had to put up with, not from my cohorts, but from the faculty who felt I didn't belong there. It was a miserable experience, but I DID get a great education, and I am NOT an egomaniacle snob. I am a PERSON, just like you, with feelings and ideas and desires to share them with others. Get rid of your bitterness towards us - we don't have it any better than you, believe me.
  • Why identify as an "Ivy?" WHAT exactly is that? THAT'S what I don't get. You also do an excellent job of illustrating how isolationist the thinking of programs there must be...Your last post is littered with the words "us" and "we," almost as if those with PhD's from "other" institutions are in the batallion across the way. WE are art historians--or at least strive to be given the myriad manifestations of the title and the discipline. If you get to the end of your doctorate and you're tired, that's one thing. But if you get to the end and reflect on it as miserable--a time spent in school that you felt like you needed to apologize for--I feel sorry for you. I am not bitter toward you, at all--just amazed at how many "Ivies" I have run into that seem to think that because they got an Ivy League "education" that (1) they are entitled to a job and (2) every institution in the nation/world would be blessed to have an Ivy graduate (i.e. them) on its faculty.
  • I suppose I said "I" and "we" so much because "I" and "we" are tired of being stereotyped by people who, given their liberal education, should know better. And that is the last comment "I" intend to make on this wiki.
  • whoh! someone threw a whole lot of fuel on the culture war fire, here. red art history v blue art history, it seems. What would Barrack Obama say?
  • It has nothing to do with Red or Blue. It has to do with someone who is angry and bitter about the fact that they couldn't get into a first tier institution and now they can't get a job. The intimation that you can only become a "real" art historian if you avoid the stigma of "Ivy" is preposterous. Get a life, please.
  • Think you had better get the life. I HAVE a job, I CHOSE not to go to an Ivy, and I am glad I didn't. Your idea about "first-tier" is completely uninformed, and there is a stigma about Ivies--precisely because of the sort of bravado you just injected into this thread.
  • Goodness gracious - do you have to customize shoulder pads to cover the chip on your shoulder? I HAVE a job, too. And I am more interested in education than research. And I don't feel that anyone is "due" a job just because of the coat of arms at the top of their diploma. It's what I've been saying all along - don't stereotype people - Ivies or others. I just came back froma campus vist at a small, state university with minimal funding and miserable facilities, and nearly everyone had degrees from Columbia or Harvard. And they are happy there, because they feel they are contributing to the betterment of society. This does not fit into your narrow-minded view of what "Ivies" are supposed to be. I feel sorry for you, not as a colleague or a fellow scholar, but as a person - you seem so miserable and angry.
2008-03-16 A rather minor complaint in the end, I know, but why can't search committees call the people they bring to campus to let them know that they have made other offers, offers have been accepted, searches have been cancelled, etc. I had 3 campus visits and received one email telling me an offer had been made to someone else (not very professional but expedient) and two letters, one saying the search had been cancelled and the other that the offer made to another candidate was accepted (more professional but slower, leaving me waiting for an extra week and a half by the time the letters made it through the campus mail system). It just seems like another small insult on top of all the rest.


  • I understand that committees don't always let everyone who applied know when the search is over. There can be 50-100 people that applied. However, I agree that if there were 3 people brought to campus for interviews, the committee chair could call the few people that actually traveled to campus.
2008-03-13 Why must we put together complete packages when committees dismiss applicants they don't want based on research subjects? It would be better for all if there was a simple summary set of materials first, then committees could request full packages from those whose research topics interest them. I'm sick of being told that there's nothing wrong with me, but my research just isn't what they want (the magic "fit"). This could be done with a 1-page summary. Then we could avoid asking for and writing recommendation leter after letter, customized cover letters, etc. etc. Or at least save everybody some time and stop asking for letters up front. Just ask the short list's references to supply letters after a short list has been made.


  • Because it's a buyer's market, unfortunately. When crappy schools in bodunk nowhere get 50 or more applicants, they get to set the rules. It's easier and faster for them to have everything up front. Otherwise, they have to take the extra step and extra time to request and wait for letters. I know this isn't what you wanted to hear, but that's what I've been told by search committee members.
2008-03-11 Anyone object to converting this to a table so the threads are easier to follow?


  • yes, please do convert it to a table! thanks!
  • Absolutely! It seems like some people add to the top, others to the bottom and there are comments on discussions in the middle of the page. Makes it all hard to follow - assuming people want to follow articulated frustration. A table like the discussion on the Ecology/Evolution wiki would be a lot easier.
  • I think it definately would be easier to follow the threads.
  • Thank you to whoever took the time to start the table formating!
  • I've got to say--this table is cumbersome and appears to have killed contributions to the page. I'm not a fan.
  • You're welcome to change it back if you like, although no one has updated the discussion on the Biology wiki since 3/6, and that's had table formatting for ages, so I'm not sure that's the reason. Perhaps a vote is in order?
2008-02-20 FYI: CHE article that's a perfect fit for this page. http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2008/02/2008022001c/careers.html
2008-02-13 I email the search committee chair (on 2/11)- "You requested that my letters be sent out a couple weeks ago, have you selected a list to interview yet?" His response "The list is being approved, I'll let you know". On 2/13 I get a rejection letter with a date of 2/4 on it. Nice work! Way to man up there and tell me the truth!


  • Hear, hear. I sent additional (solicited) materials, and was told by the SC chair that these would be "very helpful" as the SC came up with its interview list. I then discovered through back channels that the list had been determined the week before. Come on, folks--just say "sorry, Charlie" (or some semi-hedged, cover-your-ass equivalent), and let us get on with other things!
2008-00-00 Can't believe I have to go through this whole horrible process again next year -- all the time spent preparing letters, syllabi, teaching statements, future research statements, and all the time that preparation "stole" from me, both from my creative time and my fragile psyche. The prospect is unbearable.


  • It's easier the second time around. I promise. Now, you have an application packet to build on; you won't be working from scratch. Hang in there.
  • reply from previous disheartened poster: thanks so much for the reassurance that it's easier the second time around. I appreciate the encouragement!
2008-00-00 * my CV is better than the search committee chair's CV - I'm a 2nd year postdoc. Guess who he's bringing in for interviews... NOT ME...but people with WORSE CVs than him (gotta feel smart some way, ya know). My undergraduate mentee authored a paper in a journal at 2.0 impact factor... the search chair's impact is 1.0 level and so are the gag-me pathetic candidates. My advice... pad your CV with CRAP papers, because no one gives a crap about quality or impact anymore. Every day you wake, you can submit something to somewhere. Search comms also don't care about student mentoring that leads to quality papers (just tell some kids that you'll mentor them and give them tubes to wash - save yourself some educational hassle and make sure you list it as mentoring on your CV). More advice... rack up the funds ASAP because money talks and will get you on some short lists, even if your highest paper resulting from that wasted fed grant is in a foreign obscure "journal."


  • hey, maybe it is your attitude not your CV?
  • Not sure why you are so upset. Obviously you wouldn't have been a good fit in that department. Move on.
  • I’m allowed to be frustated, disappointed, and pissed off. The search chair has a dog in the race, so it makes sense to rig it such that his special buddy dog wins against slower dogs. I know it’s not a good fit for me, obviously, I’m not a slow dog. And my attitude is just fine – this is the VENTING page. I’m confident that with the patterns shown in this site (high application numbers, low success) that other people feel EXACTLY like I do. It sucks, it hurts, and I definitely learned a thing or two from this site, especially that I am not alone.
  • yes, you're entitled to be frustrated, but there's no need to SCREAM at your fellow wiki colleagues!
  • 3/10/08 regarding he CV padding. I think everyone does it, but I recently discovered that a peer listed 7 papers "in prep". Give me a break...it is highly unlikely that a grad student is going to have that many in prep. Oddly, this person got numerous interviews. So, I conclude that the previous poster is correct...pad away!!
  • "Padding" your CV is lying, and it is unethical. Seriously.
2008-00-00 I feel very disaffected from a community the majority of members of which value their collective "right" to choose a candidate (in a patently imperfect, limited way) to such a pathological extent, that they are willing to summarily dismiss a finalist who is also the spouse of a colleague, in favor of giving the job to some flashier candidate. If it is hard for people out there to find academic jobs, it is harder for academic couples--even those for whom, individually, it is somewhat easy to find job offers--to find a solution to the two-body problem.


  • I don't disagree that it's tough for academic couples (indeed, I am one half of an academic couple, so I know of what I write). But the truth is that it really IS the right of the department to choose the candidate they think is best for the position and the department in terms of teaching, research, and fit. So, is the outside candidate really merely "flashier," or might he/she actually be stronger, I wonder?
  • I will respond to the dubiously sympathetic response directly above. The point is not whether the flashier candidate is stronger, but whether if three candidates are roughly equally qualified for the job (as made evident by the fact that all three made the cut and are finalists), it is morally right for a search committee to throw away a host of considerations and go with the flashier candidate.
  • Reply from the "dubiously sympathetic" previous poster: I can certainly understand why you're upset, and the situation must be very disappointing (and truly suck) for the faculty spouse who was a finalist. But you're still referring to the outside candidate as "flashier" which seems quite derisive of his/her qualifications and of the search committee's assessment of them -- it suggests you don't think their chosen candidate is good or serious. Are you perhaps kicking the cat? THe situation is not the fault of the outside candidate you've dismissed as flashy.
  • The point of using the word flashier in my original post was to emphasize that the strength of the different candidates ought not to have been incredibly disparate, not to dismiss the person who, through no fault of his or her own, earned the top spot: I'm not even in the same department as my spouse and so I have no way of knowing--at this point--what the other candidates are like, let alone who earned the offer. Besides, I was the flashier (i.e. the one that showed, in the artifical environment of a campus visit, the more attractive attributes) candidate several times when on the job market and I don't subscribe to a silly theory of conservation of virtues according to which "if someone is flashier, then that someone must not be as substantively good," or "Obama gives better speeches, hence he lacks substance." Re: the merits of the search, certain annoying particularities set aside, I don't think I'm qualified to dismiss the search committee's assessment of relative strengths of the candidates, but that is not the point of my venting. I do believe I have a very legitimate grievance with the culture of academics, as I have laid out on this venting page. If I am skeptical of the ability of a search committee to assess the relative strength of candidates, this skepticism is quite generic, and nowhere have I said that it is directed particularly to this search committee. I do know that if I am ever in a search committee, however, I will bring with me a profoundly different moral outlook to the one that seems to have triumphed in our situation. (It is simply not the case that my spouse is an inviable candidate.) And good luck to other couples (especially those in different departments).
  • Some of the considerations that institutions should take into account: it is often the case that academic couples (including those of us unlucky enough to work in different departments) who wish to stay together (like us) end up turning down good offers in order to move to a place where they hope to maximize the probability of solving the two-body problem: my wife abandoned a tenure-track at an institution that had no opening for me and turned down an offer at a much more competitive school than the one I'm working for, and I turned down four offers from institutions one or two orders of magnitude more competitive than the one I'm working for. I turned down an unsolicited offer from a wonderful school just last year, out of loyalty to the institution I'm working for (and this is a known fact to the Dean). Also, when a couple works for an institution, it becomes a link to the local community, as it takes roots in the area. So there are some benefits from having a couple work at an institution, especially an institution that is searching to be better linked to the community surrounding it. Finally, unless an institution is an R1 institution, there really should be many ways in which a vast majority of the top twenty or so candidates for a position could all be beneficial to the institution. Are search committees so delusional to think that their grand-task is to find the one person who can get the job done? I suspect not. The thing is, most people in Academia have internalized this culture of free-market competition to a degree so surprising, given the supposed ideological biases of the community, that they react with instinctive suspicion whenever someone--in the venting page of the job search wiki, of all places--vents about a two-body problem and about the lack of conscientiousness of search committees. I could also vent about the way some departments treat adjuncts, but let's not go there.
  • On the other hand, there are lots of searches out there that are predetermined ... the school has to conduct an outside search, but there is an inside candidate who is a spouse or other departmental associate. My school is currently in the midst of such a search now. I feel terrible for the hopefuls coming through.
  • The fact that, in such a situation, the school has to conduct an outside search only highlights how institutionalized and inflexible the culture of conducting national searches is.
  • As sympathetic as I am to academic couples, there are very few other professions where married couples can even entertain the notion that both spouses will be hired by the same employer. And if you're a non-academic married to an academic, you too have to make big sacrifices. This is just a way of saying that having any kind of committed relationship in academia is very tough--a reality that some academic couples easily forget.
2008-00-00 I'm convinced search committees are on drugs.
2008-00-00 the interviews for the "ecology" job at Stanford have been posted. I can't spot any ecologists in there. What a waste of time applying for that job.


  • reply to the above post: the "winter seminar series" on the website is for the molecular/cell asst prof search. There's also an ecology & an evolution search, and none of those seminars are posted.
2008-00-00 Just found out a campus visit has been scheduled with a school I really liked and for a job I really wanted. Pissed. Also getting bitter. Grad school colleagues who somehow got tt jobs have been there for 2-3 years and no publications yet... seems rigged.
2008-00-00 I'm pissed; as you all know, it takes a heck of a long time to get materials together and what-all. The search committees can't even bother to write a form letter or email to say, "Sorry, we don't want you?" I'm finding out about stuff from Wiki and it makes my blood pressure rise to a-boiling!!
2008-00-00 What are we doing? So many years of "training" for no security, a crap-shoot for jobs, no money, lots of negative feedback. Academic freedom isn't free...Will definitely keep my kids away from academic career paths.
2008-00-00 Evil friend! I am sitting at home, my wife answers the phone- she hands it to me with a look of excitement... "It's Bob from University of (Fill in your dream school here)" I grab the phone with a lump in my throat. "Hello?" "Hey, it's Randall- just messing with you guys, you want to play ball tonight?" I nearly killed him.


  • Why only "nearly"?!? I'd have throttled him on the spot! Evil friend, indeed.
2008-00-00 Annoyed. I did a conference interview in November and found out that they scheduled on-campus interviews in early December but I have not even had a rejection letter from them (as of 1/11). That stinks. SCs really need to be more polite about this - a 2 line email (x 15) won't kill them.
2008-00-00 The silence is killing me! I need to know! Just reject me already!
2008-00-00 What a great idea! A place for me to say that I hate everyone, everything and everyplace! argh! I'm sick, I'm tired, i'm pissed.
2008-00-00 All those jerks should hire me, and offer me millions! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Ok, got that off my chest!
2008-00-00 Isn't it nice that we moved to this new and improved wiki page!
2008-00-00 This page is the worst idea in the world! We all need to be grown-ups about our serious deficiencies (both professional and personal). I mean, let's be honest, anyone that has to write something on this page obviously lacks good judgment and is an academic imposter. Oh. no. I guess that includes me. Damn. I knew it.
2008-00-00 I'm just depressed because I don't have a fallback school. Sigh. Everything sucks, including the Internet, which never calls me back.
2008-00-00 and if I get another darn email from 1800 flowers while I'm waiting to hear from the committee, I'm probably going to go crazy (er.)
2008-00-00 i don't have any interviews this year. granted, i'm abd, and only applied to about twenty or so places, but still. . .it hurts. and i'm ivy, pubs, really strong recs, etc. don't know how to make sense of it. anyone else in my position? and if so, how are you coping?


  • Reply: I had the same experience last year as the above poster when applying as an ABD to selective positions. But this year went on job market with a finished dissertation, which made all the difference. So don't be too discouraged!
  • Reply: Me too. I'm west coast ivy, multiple pubs (incl single author), but ABD. Don't know if I'm just not an attractive hire, if my advisor isn't writting strong letters, or if the ABD things just kills you. V. much appreciate the above reply. Trying to believe it's the ABD status (too many claiming they'll be finished and not actually finishing I guess), because that way I can believe it's not me. Hate that I have to wait a whole year to find out if it really is just me.
  • from ABD applicant: thanks. i find this comforting.
  • Hmm. I had at least a few interviews when I was a callow ABD with a book about to come out. Now I'm a grizzled Ph.D. with two books, and zippo. Sorry, but that's discouraging.
  • Exactly. my experience. ABD is all about potential. When you have actually finished and published you are old and grizzled and uninteresting. They want fresh meat.
  • Last year's AHA advice to a room of hundreds was that it was better to go on the market with a finished PhD. I had more interviews ABD than PhD (i.e since then none - except with my local community college and they said I was overqualified!)
  • The concerns over being ABD or PhD in hand are being lost in the fact that some fields are drastically changing the rules of the tt hiring game. Some fields are putting an emphasis on teaching skills rather than publications this year. I am ABD and I have been contacted by a bunch of schools for letters and/or more information. I have a few minor publications (i.e.: book reviews) but I think it is my teaching portfolio that gets the attention of potential employers. I have a lot of teaching experience through adjuncting, not just TA'ing. The reviews of my teaching skills from faculty and students have been quite favorable. In my field (anthropology) most tt job ads specifically state that they want to see evidence of effective teaching skills BEYOND TA'ing. The ads also rarely mention a publishing record unless the position is with a prominent school. In my field, the emphasis seems to have shifted to teaching skills and the assumption is that publications will come later. If other fields are doing the same thing, then ABDs with publications who have virtually no teaching experience are at a disadvantage and their departments and universities need to address these issues. With this shift in mind, somebody who has published two books and a bevy of articles might be viewed as over-qualified for a tt asst prof in terms of publishing yet under-qualified in terms of teaching, which might reduce overall interest in the candidate particularly is the school wants to hire a good teacher.
  • This is a good point. Of course, if you have a decade of teaching experience (and *not* TA'ing) AND publications, then it's pretty hard to figure out where you've gone wrong. Buyer's market = misery for the sellers.
2008-00-00 The wiki has informed me that the place where I interviewed on campus has given the job to somebody else. I can't even scream. Maybe I can be a consultant and make a shit-ton of money and be able to afford the intensive therapy and drugs to make me recover from grad school.


  • I wish you well with that, and though I don't want to come at you with (more) bad news: I'm already in "intensive therapy," and I'm only holding on to my sanity by my fingertips this job season. I suppose the upside is that if I had a shit-ton of money and didn't have to face the academic job market, I'd be able to kiss (most of) my problems goodbye. Enjoy the break, if you're able.
2008-00-00 I was just on the old wiki, that idiot deleted the start page again! I guess he/she hasn't realized no one is using it! Maybe can't read?
2008-12-29 Is anyone else tired of spending night after night working on manuscripts that just get scathing reviews and rejections? How the hell can you write a faculty application that says how great you are if all you ever get is negative feedback from reviewers? I have anxiety dreams about my "h-index", the rejections, and the goals that seem unattainable. Am I the only one who feels like this?


  • you're not the only one who feels that way. I don't know what else to say. I haven't submitted anything for publication recently because the last rejection was so mean-spirited I decided I couldn't take it anymore. Academics are assholes. Remind me why we want into their club so badly...?
  • Rejections from publishers can be a horrible experience, especially when they are nasty about it. I have recently been accepted for publication with revisions. However, the journal wants me to revise my paper to fall in line with the established conventions of the topic and I was criticized for raising more questions than I actually answer-- despite the fact that my abstract clearly states that I am seeking to challenge old ideas, point out the questions we should be asking, and propose ways to answer them. Additionally, one reviewer's feedback indicated that he read my paper incorrectly and he thinks I was arguing in favor of a point I was actually rejecting. This pointed out a lack of clarity in that section of the paper that I have rectified. But it also leads me to wonder how carefully reviewers read article submissions. When established scholars can publish 5 page blurbs that say nothing or they can publish articles that rehash their old ideas ad nauseum, why can't a new scholar try to pose new questions or alternative ways of approaching old problems? Isn't advancing knowledge supposed to be what academia is about? I think new ideas from fresh young minds make established scholars feel threatened and obsolete and their penchant for cruel criticism and refusing to publish new ideas is based on their own disdain for being challenged.
  • Reply to "rejections" (above post): I recently got reviews back from a journal where one reviewer, in the same paragraph, said "The data are poorly presented" then applauded the excellent writing and organization. So... were the data poorly presented or not? Make up your mind. I also got comments saying that I was challenging paradigms with too few data... the reviewer actually said that the paper, and probably the author, was "audacious". You can ALWAYS have more data, but you gotta get the ideas out there to stir the pot! In my view, if they are reacting badly to the ideas you are definitely on to something. Hell, if the letter has "accept" anywhere in there... it's a good thing.
  • Hey, maybe we should make a new page for rants about reviewers!
  • I've generally found reviewers to be fair, and most often much kinder, gentler, and more forgiving than I can be about my own work, even if it's ultimately rejected. Can't you be happy that someone took the time to write you a page of comments that often, if not always, can improve your work? I haven't done it, but reviewing seems to me to be a thankless, brutal task most of the time. If someone takes the time seriously and conscientiously to assess your work, dude, it's probably more than you do for your students. And these folks don't know you, and don't get paid to do it for you. Once you're away from your dissertation director, you have very little close mentorship after finishing. This is a rare chance to get some, even if it's unpalatable sometimes. Possibly my discipline/field is particularly collegial, though.
2008-00-00 I'm another historian-in-training that shares the concerns of my colleagues. Having earned a professional degree and worked for eight years in private and public sector consulting, I am disenchanted by the insensitivity of search committees. They are poor at communicating information in a timely manner. Their communications are often cryptic and mechanical, indicating no forethought. Many simply fail to recognize and treat individuals as sentient and feeling beings. In the strategic planning consulting world of state government, non-profit hospitals, and municipal government -- these are the organizational qualities that I was called in to help resolve because they prevented these organizations from progressing and improving themselves. For as smart as "we", academics, are supposed to be -- we sure are horrible and inhumane managers. (Boy, I never thought I'd see the day when I viewed the dysfunctional governments I used to serve as better than...well...any thing else.)


  • you know what, though? dealing with one really great school can change your mind about all of it. I'm interviewing with a place that is completely unlike my graduate institution. It's a beautiful thing and it gives me hope.
2008-00-00 Today I wished to choke my chair like a chicken. Insists we're not behind in scheduling on-campus interview, but we are. Like a chicken!


  • Welcome to my world. My department couldn't even get it together to post the ad before MLA. And yesterday the chair of the search committee circulated an e-mail pleading for us to contact people we might know who could apply. Response of a senior colleague to my fuming: "Don't worry, we'll get someone." Like a chicken!
2008-00-00 It really sucks that someone deleted the linguistics wiki. I'm trying to start it up again but can't put up all the positions. If you are on the job market in linguistics and have time to put up a few positions, that'd be great!


  • Reply to the last post. What? Someone deleted the entire Linguistics Wiki? What a colossal jerk.
  • religion is gone, too. except for biblical studies.
  • religion is gone, too. except for biblical studies That actually sounds somehow profound.
2008-00-00 Before accepting an on-campus interview, ask the search committee chair up-front if they have an in-house candidate. If they do, you're probably going to waste alot of time preparing for a bogus interview only to be disappointed in the end. Many searches are not as open as advertised. I went to one only to find out from two independent sources, one within an hour of getting off the plane from the interview, that the job was already filled. They turned out to be right.
2008-00-00 "We are not looking to hire a white male" The hypocracy of academia makes me want to puke.


  • Response to above post: I was adjuncting last year and the department wanted to fill a three year temp position. O the day they began reviewing applications, I watched 3 old white males rifle through the file of about 150 applicants and I heard them say they were specifically looking for minority women. One of them took an application for further review that was from a person whose name was neutral in terms of gender and ethnicity (think a name like Jordan Lee, which I just made up). 5 mins later, he came back into the office and told the other two "Nope. White male." The job eventually went to a woman of SE Asian background.
  • Aw, stop complaining. At least people don't assume because you're of SE Asian background you are some sort of obvious immigrant and "speak English REALLY well!!" despite the possibility you may have been BORN in the US and received a 99th percentile in the GRE verbal section. Furthermore, in my place of work, I'd like to see more Asian Americans. There is not one in the whole huge department. Then again, the Chronicle had an article today stating that Asian Americans lose out because of Affirmative Action. So go figure. The people who get tenure more than anyone else are white males. Why are you so scared that your "supremacy" is in trouble? HypocRISY.
2008-00-00 Waiting to hear the outcome of my AHA interviews is KILLING me! Enough already! If I don't have campus interviews just TELL me!!! I'll wind up in the loony bin if this goes on much longer. Why can't SC chairs keep candidates updated as to the status of the search? ARGH!
2008-00-00 So-called "inside" candidates aren't shoo-ins, by any means. In my experience, the non-tt "insider" is just as likely to get passed over as not--due not simply to the fact they've had a chance to piss people off, but also to the silly "grass is always greener" mentality that often possesses search committees.
2008-00-00 I agree with the above posting that inside candidates do not by any means have an automatic green flag. I'm not sure, however, that the odds are necessarily stacked against them either (in a "grass is always greener" manner, i.e.). What I have seen in my institution is that inside candidates (and also, for that matter, so-called "spousal hires" under consideration) are thrown under the same microscope as other candidates. What ultimately seems to rule the day is which candidate best fits the desired "niche" and best meets the department's needs. (Yes, i know this sounds overly roseate...


  • Your above points are well taken. However, I do know this, our department is currently advertising both nationally and locally for a tenure-track position in ... Reading the ads one would think there is truely an opening. But what is really taking place is that the funding source (e.g., soft vs. hard) for the person currently here is changing, which requires a new "search." It is very sad to see the mail come in each day with applications from persons who stand no chance of even the slightest consideration, as the position is filled. But you would never know this from reading the solicitation. Perhaps universities need to change the way they do business on these matters because it's wasting a lot peoples time.
  • Wow, that's certainly an edifying and rather depressing tale! As if it isn't already hard enough for candidates to compete for jobs that really exist... to go through all that for a mirage is really a shame.
  • I was at a CSU for a 1yr temp teaching position. The students loved me, I filled a major need in coursework, and when the dept. advertised for a position that I could have easily filled they completely passed me up and didn't even give me an interview. Talk about uncomfortable and hurting, try going to a welcome social for an interview candidate that is there for a job that you applied for as an "in house";. It all depends on what the search committee wants. Me, I was too much of an integrated biologist and not a "true" discipline.
  • I know how that goes. I was an "inside" candidate for a job (there as a visiting lecturer), and didn't make it to on-campus stage. The search committee then asked me if I'd attend the job talks, so that they could get my "input" on the quality of the candidates' research and presentations (none of the SC members, of course, had any expertise in the field). I conveniently managed to have other commitments (at three different times, no less!)
2008-00-00 Just found out that my recommender (who had been out of the country and ignoring my emails for the last 5 weeks) DIDN'T send the references he said he would before Christmas. So I will have been disqualified from three jobs. What an a******. I really hate him right now.


  • my diss director forgot at least one of mine--I know because the school contacted me about it. Who knows what became of the others....? I'm sure I've been rejected from those places by now. you would hope they would take their responsibility seriously.
2008-00-00 Be sure to sort your email by #, not date. I applied for a job and the HR monkey sent an email that was sent to page 47 of my email because it had no date. The first email said "please send us your transcripts by date x"... the second one said "you are no longer eligible because we didn't get your transcripts on date x". I got both emails on date x+ 25 days. Bummer. Don't we all have telephones? Why would a reputable agency rely ONLY on email?
2008-00-00 On other blogs, people think Ivy League PhDs have a hiring advantage. Don't be so sure about that. Being Ivy is a double-edged sword. I have applied for jobs with small colleges and state schools where I meet every one of the criteria listed in the ad and I hear nothing from them. Yet elitist schools I should never hear from because I don't fit their search criteria well at all contact me for more information. I wonder if non-Ivy SCs think twice before they consider an Ivy PhD or ABD for a job opening because they are afraid that the Ivy candidate won't consider them. A few times, I've encountered non-Ivy schools who try to intimidate me while they court me. I have received brusque emails from SC chairs that have a demeaning tone and they point out that I am merely one of a number of highly qualified candidates they are considering. It's like they assume that I think I'm the best candidate simply because I have an Ivy degree when I am well aware that lots of people are qualified for any job I apply for and some applicants are more qualified. My Ivy degree may open doors to a small set of elitist liberal arts colleges and universities and major research universities that a State U degree might not. But I honestly don't want to work with elitists among the student body or the faculty. I did my BA and MA in a state college system and I adjunct with state colleges and universities. I like people who are like me-- from a poor, working class, or middle class background who work hard and do the best they can because they want more out of life. I don't want to work with the spoiled rich kids I've TA'd for over the last 5 years for the rest of my life even for the huge money elite schools pay to tt new hires. SCs need to treat Ivy and non-Ivy candidates equally and set aside their stereotypical prejudices. Many Ivy league PhDs and ABDs are not rich and many are willing to work wherever they can. And many State U PhDs and ABDs are worthy hires for the elite schools as well.
  • I don't feel sorry for you. That said, I think you're right. Everyone faces their own set of issues.
2008-00-00 It's so hard not to get your heart set on one of these academic jobs... the freedom to study what you want and inspire young people. Then, in a moment, it all just evaporates. All the time, preparation, thought, emotional energy... gone.


  • Reply: very well put; you've captured my feelings perfectly.
2008-00-00 Anyone else sick of rejection letters claiming that this "shouldn't be taken as a negative evaluation of your qualifications" (or similar verbiage)?? Of course this is a negative evaluation! If it weren't, you'd have given me the job. Search committees: could we please dispense with the patronizing, "it'll be OK" crap? I'd much prefer a letter that told me, bluntly, why I was passed over: "your research interests didn't appeal to the department"; "you haven't taught enough"; "we need more diversity in our department"; "you've been around the block too many times, and we think you wouldn't be appropriately deferential to your senior colleagues". It's OK--I can take it. Plus, I'd actually have an honest sense of why I'm not being interviewed (or hired)...


  • "your research interests don't appeal to the department" is not a negative evaluation of your qualifications. I think that's the point. They're telling you it was something benign, something beyond your control--something you couldn't or shouldn't change. Something some other department might want. Some of the rest of it...they may not even be conscious of worry about how many times you've been around the block. rejection sucks but I think it would be difficult and unnecessary for them to tell you why you were rejected in blunt terms. Oh, also...I have friends who have gotten letters than told them "you were strong in x and y but we needed someone stronger in z." So if they're telling you it's not about your qualifications, maybe it isn't.
  • [different respondent] It might be asking too much for search committees to give specific reasons for every applicant. BUT the original point, I think, is right: I much prefer a simple rejection without any attempt to make me feel better. All I ask for is professionalism! Say you went another way, the end. I don't need consolation, especially since it tends to seem self-aggrandizing. I still remember one rejection I received, many years ago, that empathized about how disappointed I must be, and encouraged me to keep at it. (I wasn't that disappointed! Actually I got a better job than that one!) The rejections I *don't* remember are the simple ones. So I second the request -- Search Committees: Dispense with the patronizing!
  • I don't see why search committees are so busy that they can't write two sentences to candidates who have first-round interviews (so the 8-15 on the short list) why they didn't get to the next stage. We invest our time and money and put our egos on the line to go through this process. If there's not going to be a job at the end of it, I'd like, at least, to be ABLE TO LEARN SOMETHING FROM IT. Instead, one is left wondering what went wrong and then having to consider everything as a possibility, which just amounts to trying to see why some mystery people could find fault with ANY and EVERYTHING about one's research, personality, self-presentation, etc. And that's just a crappy position to be left in for a year.* Okay, okay...this is the same respondent from 4 responses ago. i think first round candidates deserve two sentences describing why they weren't pursued. meanwhile, I got a rejection today that addressed me as "Miss" and I'm inexplicably annoyed by this. I mean....wtf? Miss? That's Ms. Jackson if you're nasty.
  • I got one that actually called me "Dr." (thanks for noticing), and then proceeded to get my LAST NAME WRONG. Not just misspelled, wrong. Oddly enough, the name on the envelope was correct.
  • Thing is, sometimes it really is hard for search committees to give any productive feedback. How does it really help to know that one of the other candidates happens to be able to offer a course that the SC chair has been wishing someone would offer for ten years even though it's not listed anywhere in the ad/description? Or even that you mentioned a theory/author/whatever that happens to be the pet hate of one of the committee's most cantankerous members and hence that person got a bee in their bonnet about you and it was easier for the rest of the SC to give in and agree on another candidate? Those aren't things that are going to help you improve your application for another job - they're just circumstances beyond your control. You don't learn anything from them except that this whole thing is a crapshoot. That being said, I know people who write back to a SC after first-round interviews and (politely) ask for feedback on how they could improve their application. They've got answers, too. So it's always an option, if it's so infuriating.
  • Warning, warning....I'm a search committee member writing here. The reasons I visit this page (a) I give the address to every fresh-faced undergrad who comes asking me about what their possibilities are in grad school; and (b) I have grad students on the market this year, one of whom has found a job (hallelujah!) and one of whom is still looking. But here's the thing...if you have gotten to the point of having an AHA interview, it is because you ARE qualified for the job. Being rejected for the job is NOT a negative reflection on your qualifications. We interviewed twelve very impressive people at the AHA for one position, any one of whom could step into the job tomorrow and be a wonderful colleague for the next twenty years. At this point, we're not looking for a reason to hire you. You already gave us that. We're looking for a reason NOT to hire you and to hire someone else instead. And the truth is, the thing that would have gotten you tenure ten years ago is what's going to get you a job today. I don't remember when I was on the market, three months from getting my dissertation signed off, that anyone asked about the status of my book. These interviews, we were asking about both the status of revisions/publication of the monograph, and what the next project was going to be. It's brutal.
2008-00-00 It's four weeks now post-AHA. I'm still waiting to hear back from people who interviewed me. What the hell is taking so long??


  • The universities are at the point of bringing in candidates to campus, but they don't want to reject anyone outright yet who interviewed at the AHA in case they don't get their first choice, or their third choice. You are probably considered a "live" candidate up until the point when they have offered the job and had the job accepted and a returned contract signed.
2008-00-00 SOMETHING POINTLESS YET CHILDISHLY GRATIFYING TO DO WITH ALL THE ANXIETY, indignation, self-doubt.... you get the picture: Look up the members of the search committee on ratemyprofessor.com Do this by university so you can be sure to find someone on the committee whom the students dislike. Then you can take childish pleasure in reading about what an arrogant so-and-so they think Prof. X is, and how Prof. Y is always late to class, etc. You can learn that the students don't give them any points for hotness and that they are completely garbled and unclear and uninteresting. Of course Profs X and Y still control our lives, but it's fun to see them in the position of the person being evaluated--even granting that there's not a lot of real evaluative merit to ratemyprof. This is just a way to siphon off a little bit of the anger....
2008-00-00 Ok, so why are campus visits in January? The weather is horrible everywhere--snow in Chicago, New York, and in a freak act of nature, Altanta; heavy rain in Dallas and Los Angeles; ice storms in Pennsylvania; fog and rain in San Francisco. Would it be too much to ask for visits to be scheduled in December or February?
2008-00-00 I've had a hard time getting papers published. One paper took 3 rounds of revisions before they accepted it, and another was canned after 2 awesome reviews and 1 lousy review. I've been in my PhD program for 3.5 yrs and have had just one paper published (on ms research), one accepted, and one flat-out rejected. I am beginning to view this as a sign that I'm not going to make it in academics. What do you more experienced scientists/academics think? Is this normal? Or, should I accept my deficiencies and steer clear of an academic career?


  • totally normal.
  • Yep, totally normal. Over and above that, the fact that you've had one paper published and one accepted while still a graduate student is a GOOD sign -- most definitely NOT an indication of "deficiencies," and NOT a reason to "steer clear" of an academic career. On the contrary: congratulations on such a good batting average!
  • I got a job, turned it down, and now I'm thinking of dropping out. You do not have any deficiencies to speak of, my friend.
2008-00-00 Speaking of rejection letters, on about 1/3 to 1/2 of the jobs I apply for I don't even get a rejection letter or email of any kind. How F-ing rude and unprofessional is it to not even have the coutesy to send a letter with 2 lines saying I didn't get the job. Come on now.


  • I get job rejections addressed "Dear Dr." and I'm ABD. Either they can't read the part of my cover letter where I tell them I'm ABD or they assume somebody with my hefty teaching portfolio and my hefty CV must be a PhD. Either way, you can tell when a rejection letter is a form letter and when it's personalized. I agree that search committees could tell 8-10 candidates why they lost out on the job. It would take two lines at most. It's not a lot to ask since we have to sell out money to send the initial application, then the supporting materials, then go to the conference on our own dime for first round interviews. We spend about $1000 a year looking for jobs and all we get are patronizing rejection letters that address us improperly.
  • Don't you love it when you get a rejection letter that says "We decided to go with a candidate that more closely meets the needs of the department."-- when the job ad was so general you had no idea what their immediate needs were? Departments that can't bother to post specific job descriptions should be required to return application materials to the 900 applicants who applied who didn't "meet the specific needs of the department." If they had to return application materials, maybe they wouldn't post wide-open job descriptions.
  • Previous poster: my boss (at an R1) told me that often their dept has a very specific research area in mind, but they need to advertise a more broad job description to increase the number of applicants. According to him, they do this to convince the dean that they did an exhaustive search and indeed got the best candidate possible.
2008-00-00 I find this discussion utterly fascinating. I went on the market nearly a decade ago - in 20th C. US history. I got my Ph.D. from a decent state U. Had some publications, but nothing great. Did have ample teaching experience along with a teaching award. Went on the market as an ABD...actually thought I might be able to land something. 1st year - nothing. 2nd year - landed a 1-yr VAP at mid-level state U. 3rd year - got a tt job at a well-ranked liberal arts school. In the 8 years I've been there, I've chaired 2 searches and sat on others. My observations from the other side: (1) Running searches sucks. It is tiring and not that fun. Of course, my future is not at stake, but it can be equally frustrating. (2) Crafting rejection letters is difficult. If I identify the specific reason why a candidate is passed over - other than something as obvious as not having the required attributes - we are ripe for a possible lawsuit. (Trust me, it happened at my first school!) I have the same frustrations that many of you note. With that in mind, I sincerely feel bad when I have to reject those who don't make it. This year, I only had to tell 89 people they didn't get the job. Thus, I hope people don't see my efforts as patronizing. - maybe that was patronizing? (3) I've never been involved in a search where the SC only looks at candidates who are 'below' them. I'm sure it happens somewhere, but I've never seen it. (4) Job searching does suck. The whole entire enterprise sucks. Yet, if you can hang on, if you can get through the first, second, third... year and finally land that job, it is great. We all know that...that why so many of you are out there. Hope this helps and best of luck - I sincerely mean that!


  • many thanks to the previous SC poster for adding your perspective on the job-search saga. It helps to know that there is a rational and concerned agenda behind the travails of us lowly job-searchers! I would like to say, though, that despite the undoubtedly awful task of informing 89 people that they did not get the job, it really IS possible to do so in a dignified and respectful manner. I just had a rejection letter from an institution I interviewed with at the AHA; the SC chair personalized the letter and referred explicitly to my research topic and to the teaching agenda I discussed with the committee at the AHA. The SC chair then explained explicitly why I was not selected for a campus interview. It's true that this level of (very thoughtful) communication is surely time-consuming, yet clearly it really is "do-able" -- and certainly, there is no reason why SCs should simply ignore us when rejecting us -- which feels unnecessarily demeaning. So I do sympathize with your perspective and am truly appreciative that you took the time to share it, but at the same time, we job searchers really do deserve to have the benefit of clear and direct communication. There is no reason a SC chair cannot: ONE: send out emails to rejected applicant who did not get AHA interviews. I don't care if it is a list of 89 people. Write a f---ing batch email, for goodness sake. I'm not "yelling" at the above poster - it sounds as if you did indeed write an email. But I am yelling at all the many SC chairs who don't bother to do this. How disrespectful! TWO: Write individualized emails to AHA interviewees to whom the SC is not giving campus interviews, such that they know the search outcome and can plan their own futures/time/energy accordingly. Even (yet another) batch email to the 10-12 AHA interviewees who did not make the campus short list would be better than the disheartening - and again, disrespectful - silence. I am sure that the process is arduous for the SC members, too. The difference is that you - the SC - are in the happy position of professional "power" while we - the job seekers - are powerless. As the above poster correctly stated, "our [the SC's] future is not at stake." All the more reason, therefore, to make the effort to treat your potential future colleagues with respect.
2008-00-00 This is not so much a vent, but a response to all those out there who are really stressing out about jobs. I went grad school at the age of 40, lost my husband and kids to divorce, took 9 years to get my ivy PhD, and racked up a s---load of debts. Then couldn't find a tt job. I've been visiting for the last four years, and in the last two search years never even got one call for a phone interview. This is not supposed to happen to people from top-10 programs, but it does. This time last spring I was literally crying on the shoulder of a sympatheic associate dean. This year I dumped one recommender (found out from a colleague she was poison), totally revamped my letter (think about what it's like as a search member to read 135 letters that start with "I am interested in applying to your tt position in...), researched the h--- out of every university before I customized their letter, making sure I could point to specific courses, programs, or professors I could work with, and finally spend a load of money on discreet, expensive pale grey granite stock to print everything out on. I am up to nine interviews so far this year, two campus visits, waiting for calls for visits from six others, and five more applications in limbo. My advisor says it's the pale grey stock I used.


  • Thank you so much previous poster for your uplifting story, and best wishes for a productive job search this time around!
  • Could you say more about how you adressed the age issue? (Did you let them know how old you are?)
  • You know, its been funny this year. I have eliminated absolutely everything from my CV that points to a "mature" candidate - the Scholarship for Non-Traditional Women, my first degree in the 70's, etc. But at my age, you can't hide it for long. What I have discovered is that many departments actually appreciate the life experience. Since I was an artist of sorts in my previous life, I am able to relate to the studio element in the department, so I went ahead and mentioned it in my phone interviews. By the time we met face to face, they already knew that I was at least in my 40's. I am up to four campus interviews at this point, and I notice that the search committee members are all roughly my age or older - that might have something to do with it. One of my undergrad professors mentioned that sometimes there is an advantage to being older, because the university will not have to pay into your retirement plan as much and for as long - so there's that to consider as well.
  • I am also a "mature" candidate, and want to second the sentiment expressed above. I thought carefully about how to present my life experience on paper. My first career was in theater and I've now gone into history, but use theatrical sources in my work. For that reason, I decided to retain a section on my CV where I discussed, briefly, "other professional experience," replete with some dates that made my "maturity" evident. I not only did not find my age a disadvantage, but if anything I sensed in at least a few of my interviews that it was a decided advantage. And, in one of my interviews, the search committee members actually said as much. For the record: I had 8 AHA (i.e. first round) interviews, 2 campus interviews, was offered both jobs, and accepted one of them. I will be almost 48 when I start the job. In short, I didn't find age was something I had to deal with at all.
  • Yes, and if I have to go through this again next year, I am going to put my previous experience (which was also in theater) back into the CV. Invariably SC members have asked me why I did not in the first place, since it intersected so well with my current interests. Interdiscipinality rules these day - in history and in art history!
  • Hmmm. I want to believe that age is not a key factor, but this runs counter to much I've heard elsewhere. I wonder if it's less important in some fields than others? or does it vary with instituional culture? Perhaps people who have served on search committees would weigh in here with their experience? I don't expect that age comes up per se, but probably appears disguised as another concern (?).
  • I think that, in my case, the CV outweighed the age factor. I have been visiting for four years (I am the person who started this thread), but in those years I have put in a considerable amount of university service in addition to teaching and managing to squeak one article out (4/4 teaching load - eeek!). Every campus visit I had, they mentioned the fact that they felt I would be able to step into committee work (after my first year) without missing a beat. I have a sneaking suspicion that my interviewers were equating my "maturity" with my ability to serve the university well. I don't think our recommenders stress this part of our job description enough, and it really counts for something in the end.
  • Wow, I just read this thread for the first time and it is inspirational. I've been feeling so old in the face of these committees... and I am younger than thread author above... Well, I have an on-campus int. coming up with people who actually sounded like they valued my experience etc. so that's good.
  • to the person above who has the on-campus interview coming up. I'm the "mature" poster who will start my first tt job at age 48, and I just wanted to wish you good luck. I don't wish to be so Polyanna as to suggest that age never makes a difference -- but I do know that there really are committees out there for whom it's not a key factor. Also, i agree with the other "mature" poster (who began this thread) that service and life/community experience more generally can also count. So, break a leg!!
  • Thanks from the first poster. Today the search committee meets to make the decision at my first choice institution. The chair told me during my visit that an offer would be made immediately thereafter. I feel like I am about to throw up. I don't know which is worse - having no idea about the time frame (as in the case of my other two campus visits) or knowing exactly when they will call. This is when I truly feel that I am too old for this business. Sitting at home knitting sweaters for my grandchildren (hypothetical, I hope!) sounds really good right now.
  • To the above "campus interviewee": so, what happened? how did it go?
  • I am the "Wow" poster and campus interviewee (late 30s). It went pretty well, but don't know yet (it is still soon after my visit, and they had one more). In general, I think my life exp helped, altho who knows (I do also look young, which can help or hurt). Maybe I'll find out soon...
  • The last search committee I was on, our top three finalists were all mid 40s to mid 50s, frankly we welcomed maturity in our young department. The last thing we wanted was more youthful enthusiasm and grand plans not grounded in the reality of university life. Older applicants often seem more likely to settle down and stay, if they do stay and become deadwood then retirement is not thirty years away. Win, win, win.
  • Agreed. Older age can work for or against. Just depends on the department/school. Scout the website. Check the ages. Don't expect a faculty with a higher mean -- as in average, not temperament -- age to opt for another older colleague. My first job as assistant prof came a few years ago at age 54. Anything is possible (if you're lucky).
  • If you're older, the need to show energy and vitality is even more important. What SCs fear, for obvious reasons, is the older hire who immediately starts laying groundwork to defend why being old is a defense against criticism or,for that matter, lots of work. Wise old candidates need to exude energy. The biggest hurdle that older doctoral students (or assistant profs) confront is the comfortable preferences of longtime professors to mentor eager young, deferential types who will, ahem, study at their feet. It's not that new-older grad students/profs can't get along or accept hierarchical relationships with them, but they can feel uncomfortable mentoring someone nearly (or equal to) their ages. So watch for that dynamic when you seek interviews. Look for a spot where faculty aim for change, a place with a power structure more horizontal than vertical. Don't expect longtime full profs to be on your side. (Some may go against the current, of course, and do your best to sense that. But we're dealing with probability here.) Look for places where there aren't many traditionalists. Go where the young and the bright seek the experienced and -- let's dream for a minute -- the wise.
  • Well, here I am, the over 50 academic who started this thread. It is now July, 2009. I am unemployed. I have had multiple interviews, campus and otherwise, with no results. I am leaving America to go to Turkey, where an Ivy PhD is not regarded with fear and envy, and I can make just as much money (if not more) than I can as a humble Asst. prof. here. Three juried articles promote me to associate. The thread below me says that he/she is tired of being told to please fuck off. Well, I say to American academe the same thing. If you cannot recognize a passionate teacher whose students follow her from course to course (I had to tell one that she could not major in Dr. XYZ) , whose research may not be "trendy" but covers a period of art history completely ignored by American scholars, who is producing juried articles, and is on the way to a book, then fuck all of you search committee members. Sorry I can't hide the sagging skin or the inevitable bags under my eyes - I am what I am, an over-50, energetic, vibrant teacher/scholar, and you are missing out. I am sailing to Byzantium, and the gods help all the rest of you poor souls.
2008-00-00 I am just so sick of being told to please fuck off. Sigh.
  • It's a crap shoot. Don't take it personally. It will get a lot worse when you finally do get a job, and discover that all your colleagues are freaking backbiting maniacs who keep a set of sharpened knives behind their office doors to use on the first person to cross them.
2008-00-00 Another day, another rejection.

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