||For the first time since starting grad school... I hate the holiday break. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Everything is closed so there are no offers, no rejection letters, nothing. Big, empty silence from all the schools. Oh, wait... that's no different that the rest of the year! Nevermind...
- Yes, the whole process is like waiting for Godot. I emailed a dept secretary about my status, she answered "not yet, but very soon," then she took a long break till Jan. 4. No response. ugh. I need to know the result, so I can stop applying for other positions.
- I'd rather wait until Jan. 4 than have the barrage of rejection emails that went through from Dec 21-24. I'm sure the committees thought it was a good idea to tell the dept. staff: "now that we've decided on our conference interviews, you should send a rejection to the following people who were not selected." And I know that it's a good idea for staff to check things off the to-do list before the holidays, but UGH, it felt terrible to get those rejections while I was facing my family members over the holidays. My inbox was a constant stream of "Order Bluefly w/free overnight shipping before the holidays!" punctuated by the occasional "Dear Candidate, we hate you" letter during that stretch of time. Particularly poignant when my family's assistance consisted of "if you want to be a professor, you should just get a job at FIU; it's right down the street! Or maybe U of M!"
- Man, I would love to work at the college/university right down the street from my home. Too bad they aren't hiring, and won't be (barring any deaths or unexpected retirements) for a few more years. Oh, well. Substitute teaching at the local high school has kept me able to pay my student loans. But I hate living at home with my parents. I'm fricking in my 30s, already. Hopefully I can get some sort of full time job soon.
- Don't stop applying until you have a signed offer letter in your hand! Better yet - until you have a contract (though sometimes that can take until August...).
- Oh, man, I hate those family and friend comments! Last year everyone I talked to was asking me if I wanted to move back to my hometown when I finished. First off, there are no jobs in my field at the local university so it's not even an option, and second, NO! I don't want to move back here!
- I think that my alter-ego is the OP...
- Oh man, thank you for expressing my own frustrations with people (friends, family members) who just can't seem to grasp, no matter how many times I explain it, that I am not free to choose where I work. I've had the same comments: "why don't you look for a college that is near to where you live?" Hello! If they were hiring, I would, it's not that simple. It's amusing to hear sometimes, and totally frustrating other times. On a different level, I continue to be annoyed when people say things like "oh, you only teach 2-3 days a week? I want that schedule," or, "you have summers off, how lucky!" No one truly understands what happens in academia unless they've experienced it themselves. And like i said, no matter how many times I explain it, they just can't wrap their heads around the idea that we are not free to choose where we work. If only it were that simple... While I'm venting, it also annoys me to no end when people say, "oh, you're a teacher!" I just don't have the time, energy, or patience with these people to explain the amount of work involved in what we do. I am not putting teachers down by any means, but I really hate the oversimplifications involved.
- This is the 4th year my holidays have been ruined by academia. 3/4 of those years because of the job search, and the one year reprieve wes not really a reprieve because I was frantically designing courses for my non-tenure track position.
- Ugh. The "I want that schedule" and summers off comments are maddening. I had someone ask me if I was doing an internship. (Huh?) I said, "No, I'm finishing my dissertation and applying for jobs." Teaching jobs? "Yes, and doing research." But you'll be doing research about teaching, right? "Noooo..." People outside academia really don't understand what we do.
- My very old grandmother thinks I am going to be teaching penmanship, and thinks I should branch out into arts and crafts so that I have more skills to bring to the table. All things considered, I think she understands the process fairly well.
- I often feel alone in this vent-- because most of the people in my program are products of families that have PhDs, or at least MAs. It's nice to hear that others have this same frustration. I am the first person in my entire family to go to college-- never mind grad school, never mind get a PhD! So, really, my family does not understand much of what a "professor" IS, or what college is like, never mind a dissertation, or the job market! I know this is a HUGH success for my family-- but they don't really see it, entirely. They don't understand how I can be a "doctor" and not a medical doctor. I try to be patient-- but it was frustrating this year trying to explain to them why they wouldn't be seeing me for the holidays. At the same time, it was better than being asked a dozen times around the tables, "so, are you done with school yet?"
- I need to start being really succinct and straightforward about it. When asked what I'm going to do or if I'm applying for teaching jobs, I'm just going to say (politely), "I'm applying for jobs as an assistant professor. That involves about 40 percent of the time on teaching responsibilities, 40 percent doing research in my field, and about 20 percent on committee and administrative work." May be more info than they wanted and not entirely accurate, but it would at least open their minds into the way things work in academia. Still working on a response to the comments about summers off or the insinuation that my life will somehow be easier after I graduate and become a faculty member.
- I hear you. My family still hasn't figured out that applying for an academic job isn't like applying at Blockbuster so they're always trying to get me to come home and work at the local R1 University. When I explain that they aren't hiring, and even if they were it would be a major long-shot, they always say "well you can at least try can't you?" Ugh!
- I like that. Yup, you have to educate people in concrete terms. Who else is going to do it, if not you? If you don't like people having misconceptions about this pretty esoteric career, then it's up to you to set them straight, instead of getting exasperated when they don't understand. I like to tell people it's a job that requires me working 6-7 days a week, sometimes 10-12 hours a day, so they understand the job is more than 35 hours per week. I also tell them about grant-writing: that you have to put in a bid for money to do your research, and your success rate is about 1 in 10 tries.
- Even if we didn't have the need to explain that mysterious research that we do, I think there would still be this misguided assumption that professors and instructors have it easy because of the schedule and breaks. K-12 teachers even deal with this. I have friends who are teachers who get so annoyed with people who imply that their jobs are cakewalks because they get out of work at 3 and have summers off. Unless you have taught, it's impossible to explain how much work is involved in preparing lessons, grading papers and working with students.
- This. I think it's not so much that most people don't know what an academic does, it's that everyone assumes that they know exactly what "being a professor" means. As far as I can tell, their source for this info usually comes from having seen movies about college. But seriously, I don't know what the day-to-day job of being, say, an architect or an investment banker is like, but I assume it's more complicated than drawing pictures or playing with stacks of money all day. Why academics don't similarly get the benefit of the doubt is beyond me.
||I realized after my campus visit that the SC never asked for a writing sample. Might they have acquired pieces of my pubs (several books) independently? Maybe. But when I think back to the questions they asked -- or rather failed to ask -- during the visit, I get the sinking feeling that they never bothered to look at anything I've written, aside from my cover letter and syllabi. Crazy me! I thought that the quality of my scholarship might matter, for better or for worse.
I know the counter argument here: "They cared more about teaching than research." But they also didn't ask for any teaching evals. I did a teaching demo, but, in my mind, observing someone for 45 in a contrived/artificial environment provides only a limited amount of information. Do I provide meaningful written feedback to students on their papers? Are my exams fair? Do I ramble on incessantly about irrelevant topics? The SC never found out.
I guess I'm venting because I don't think the SC took a serious look at either my scholarship or my teaching. (Could those things have been lacking? Sure. I might not have been good enough. But I just don't think I got much of a hearing on some basic elements of my candidacy.)
- I am sorry to hear this-- it can't be a very good feeling. However, I imagine that they must have looked into some of these things, considering that you were invited to campus? Is it too late? Can you send along your student evaluation summary as a follow-up??? In any case, best of luck to you.
- I've had that happen. Twice. Look for an inside hire. The first time the girlfriend of one of the members of the search committee got hired.
- They might have gotten my work independently; I don't want to rule that out entirely as a possibility. But my experience is that SC members aren't going to sink extra time and money into sleuthing when they can just ask for the material directly from the candidate. (This has been my experience with other jobs: they ask for the book[s] so that they don't have to spend the money for them/track them down.) Rejection stings, but it's even worse when you don't feel that you've been given a full hearing on some fundamental aspects of your teaching/scholarship.
- I am sorry if this is the case, where you have been used as a cover for an internal candidate. I had a similar experience a few years ago. A department was doing an informal job search and contacted nearly 20 people over the span of 1-2 years, telling the candidates that it was a job search and demanded everyone to give a fabulous talk--with powerpoint, formal dressing, interviews, dinners, campus visit etc. By the end of that year the head of SC took a big job at another university and no one was selected. I heard that the department actually wanted to hire their own student when she graduates and the head SC simply wanted to "look busy" before she left for another school. The position is still empty, but reserved. I remember putting a month of effort for that show.
- wow. the more I read this year's wiki (didn't happen as much with last year's), I think less and less of people in our profession. Over on the jobs listing pages, there are a few (? or just one?) people giving unsolicited, condescending "advice" that only makes more clear how highly they think of themselves and how lowly they think of (most) others. The SC in your situation just used you, was only thinking of the promotion that she was trying to get. That is cruel and frightening and does nothing to make me feel like I will ever be so lucky as to be judged on my merits. So like the poor OP.
- They may actually have gotten your work independently - and don't worry, the SC doesn't do it: they underpay a student to to do the search.
- Sure, it's possible. But this was a small department with no student hourly support or grad assistants.
||If a SC isn't even going to send out affirmative action cards (much less first round notifications) before the new year, why have application deadlines in October and early November? This goes double for those that announce that they will be moving quickly and have the hire finished before the term.
- I once sent an application to a British academe and their affirmative action page was quite interesting. They asked if I was generally white, British white, or Irish. Or Caribbean black +white mixed or African black +white mixed or multiracial black heritage? Indian Asian +white or Pakistani Asian +white? Was I gay, lesbian, bi, straight, or transgendered? etc. etc. Their categorizations were so detailed, I left everything blank, knowing that the department I was applying was entirely homogeneous and almost homo-social that it wouldn't make much difference anyway. If I had all the colors in a rainbow, would they give me a second look? :) ...Anyway, this job search is heartbreaking. Every morning I wake up, feeling weak and empty. Hope your search goes well.
- I think the AA cards are sent out by a different agency--usually a university's HR department--in order to create a profile of what the applicant pool for any one particular job is, and how that compares to the eventual hire. I'm pretty sure it has almost zero bearing on the search committee's final decision, but as a nonwhite female, I make sure to fill them out and return them at once, even if they are sent out after the job or interviews have been determined. I want to make sure that *someone* knows that if there is a shortage of women of color on their faculty, it's not due to a lack of qualified applicants that fit that profile.
- On multiple occasions I received the AA forms after I knew, from the job wiki, that I was no longer in the running, including the time that the forms were sent out after the department had posted the names of the people who were supposed to be interviewing (and I wasn't one of them). Even better are those places that send you AA forms that have to be sent back by mail, at your expense. The one that took the cake was the place that sent the form as a scanned PDF form that they expected me to print out and mail back - the printout, the envelope, and the stamp paid by yours truly, and all this four months AFTER the deadline, and three months after the shortlist was made (thank you, wiki). I wasn't on said short list, of course. The clincher - the form stated that filling the form would have no effect on my application. Duh! Of course - there was no way I could get MORE rejected. All hail to the half-wits who run the HR departments!!!
- OP here. I really don't care about the AA card itself. I know it doesn't impact the hire and I don't care if it does even though I am in every privileged category imaginable. It's nice to know that the application has gotten in since most SCs don't bother acknowledging. What frustrates me is the schools that have super early application deadlines (e.g. early October) then don't contact anybody until the next calendar year. Even a quick e-mail saying "the search is taking longer than foreseen, expect to be updated on your status in mid January" would be much better than the silence.
- Just remember a few things - first, that the SC's have other obligations which, for them, have higher priority, such as grant proposals, grading, and other committees. Second, that they're academics, and thus not so good with social stuff, like remembering that there are a couple hundred applicants waiting for a response. Third, that for many SC's, once they have their short list, the rest of the applicants fade into the background - it's too much trouble to deal with people who, for the SC. are no longer relevant. While it's probably rare, there are also a number that revel in the fact that there is a buyer's market and that they can call the shots. finally - sometimes the notification is put into the hands of an underpaid, overworked, and often inefficient office worker who forgets to send out the notifications, either entirely, or until much later.
- is the previous comment supposed to provide information, or justification? I'm not sure it does either.
- Neither, really, just some things to think about while we stew in our juices, wondering why we haven't heard anything from the SC, or wondering why we just got an AA form after we've been rejected. It is also good to think about these things in the unlikely even that any of us get a job, and are in charge of a search.
||Several belated rejection letters rolled in yesterday. I already figured out that I hadn't made any short lists, based on the info here. A guy in my apartment building received one interview out of sixteen applications: this is with an ivy league PhD and a book i/p from a major academic publisher. Apparently, one criteria for these positions is merit. (But the pinnacle of the week seems to be constantly changing.) But surely there must be a whack of intangibles that are enabling these SCs to make rapid right/left sorting piles? Regardless, can't help it, I feel like one of the wannabes loitering in the lobby of an 'American Idol' tryout. Ever massed in the foyer, never so mNeuch as getting an audition. Obviously, some are getting the golden ticket. I'm not one of them. At sometime I have to accept that I'm not ever going to get signed. That I've fooled myself for too long with the competence of my shower singing. Not a single interview, two years running now. 겨울 문의에 가서 보았다. Anyway, good luck to everyone. Winter saw me at first notice. I drop out: I've lost. I curse the Charlie Buckets of this world.
- Thanks for this note. I don't want to complain but the process is extremely demoralizing, and I keep thinking that I must be a moron not to get an interview again this year (2 straight). Good to know I'm not alone. I've got the Ivy Ph.D., book published this year at a major academic press, multiple peer-reviewed articles. A colleague said that I wasn't "fresh." Why is fresh better than experienced? I don't get it. So, how does one get into administration? (12/22)
- In some cases, it is because the faculty that make up the SC's are living in the delusion that in this day and age, they can get a faculty member who will stay their entire career at their school, so the younger the hire, the longer they keep the faculty member. In other cases, it's because many senior faculty want newbies that are malleable, and can be formed into either disciplined little peons, or younger copies of themselves. The more experienced you are, the more difficult it is for them to overawe you. So the sort of place that prefers freshly-minter PhD's or ABD's is likely either out of touch, is oppressive, or suffers from a cult mentality. Would you have been happy there in any case?
||Anyone else amused by the email from the Interfolio guy? I guess I'm just looking for reasons to be amused right now...haha...ha...
- A: I thought it was funny too. Thinking of wearing an ugly Xmas sweater for my free Interfolio holiday portrait, perhaps replicating one of the scenes from awkwardfamilyphotos.com. Good stuff.
||*Is anyone besides me bothered by the article on ageism in hiring in the recent issue of Perspectives? The author argues a series of points that he backs up with anecdotal evidence, all the while making some slightly incendiary comments. As one of the revered young people on the job market that he points to as being teh hot picks in the academic search crop, let me assure anyone feeling discriminated against that my age works against me too. As a woman who sometimes looks younger than I am, colleagues don't always take me seriously. The Perspectives article defines junior scholar thusly: "It is assumed that it describes a scholar in his/her mid to late twenties or, in rare cases, early thirties; one who is just entering the field, having recently completed his/her education without significant interruption." First of all, who has a history phd at age 25? Doogie Howser was a medical doctor last time I checked. Secondly, going straight through has not been all it was cracked up to be in the beginning for me (see above comment re: being taken seriously). Towards the end the author writes, "Most people would agree that junior scholars of age have something to contribute to professional intellectual discourse, but that is not the bottom line, is it? No. It is all about money, cutting corners; that is, all about business." If hiring committees made their decisions based on "cost effective[ness]" then I should be getting multiple job interviews, no? AFter all, I was the "similarly qualified younger candidate" cited in the article who was instantly showered with money upon entering grad school while the "older student had to produce excellent work for two years before the department relented and bestowed a stipend." This sounds like personal griping, published for all to read in Perspectives. I could talk about the For all of the myriad issues present in the academic hiring process, ageism doesn't seem to be so pressing, and frankly i'm annoyed that Perspectives put forth such a loosely informed piece that just makes me sound like I was only given what little scraps of funding that i did get because I was young at the time, and that my time on teh job market after 9 years slaving away in grad school is a piece of cake.
- Most people like to think that "others" have it easy. I have seen a number of senior white male faculties emphasizing the age or gender or ethnicity of a new hire--to the effect of discrediting the latter's academic competence. Competition makes it rather ugly.
- Just because *you* as a younger scholar haven't been 'showered' with job offers (and who is, in this climate?) doesn't mean that there isn't ageism going on. It's well known in many circles that several of the top-tier universities have a definite (and inexplicable) preference for the 'new' and the 'fresh'. Seeing tenure track jobs given to people who have not even finished their doctorate, when one knows for a fact that amongst the hundreds of applicants were dozens of people with one (or more!) books - prize winning, excellent books - out on the shelves already, and years of experience teaching, sure can make people bitter, and understandably so! Publications and experience certainly don't seem to count as much in North America as they do in other academic systems...
- Re the age at which one can have a PhD: in systems outside the USA it's quite common to have a PhD in your early 20's. You start an undergrad degree at age 18, and it typically lasts 3, or in some cases 4, years; that takes you up to 21 or 22. Then you do a PhD that can (if you're quick) be over in less than 4 years, so you could in theory be 25 or, say, 26 and have a PhD.
- Although I know first hand from being on search committees that any kind of discrimination can occur, I would really like to know what school in the USA the poster immediately above my post is talking about. ~~new poster: [Uh - I'm not the poster above, but if you actually read their comment you'll see they've said "outside the USA", so your lecture about how long PhDs take in the states is irrelevant. We know! However, shockingly, in other countries they do things differently!]~~ The average US BS degree is designed to take 4 years, although I doubt that the average student graduates in 4, more like 4.5-5 years. In fact, in over 20 years in higher ed (student + prof), I recall only 1-2 students that finished their BS in fewer than 4 years, and virtually none in three. Furthermore, unless you go to a crackerjack diploma mill, PhD's typically take 5-6 years in the sciences and even longer. A very few students finish in 4 and virtually none graduate in 3. Those who graduate in 3 are typically lucky or extraordinarily gifted, the same might be said for the sciences. IN fact, most PhD students in the sciences previously spent at least 2 years in a MS. So, the average student will do a BS in no less than 4 years, an MS+PHD of 6-8 years. So, the average PHD graduate should be NO LESS than 28 years. I suspect that most are between 28-33 if they didn't work between BS/MS and PHD.
- Doogie Howser got his MD at 16.
- To the person who responded re: age of recent phds, I think that it is a pretty big leap to assume the Perspectives article was describing foreign degree-holders. It's the magazine of the American Historical Association, which by its very definition is an organization of history practitioners in the US, so people working under the US graduate school model, where the documented average is 7-8 years from a BA. So again, Doogie is the only person who in his television-show-reality could have earned a phd at 25 if he had only stayed in school.
- It's not impossible. I earned the PhD at 26 in the American system. But that doesn't seem to be helping me on the market!
- I earned my PhD at 26 but went on the market ABD and got two campus interviews when I was 25. One search committee rented me a car... at a place where you have to be 26 to rent a car. That was a fun conversation.
- In any case, "mid to late twenties" doesn't mean that the author has "25" in mind, does it?
||Dear Search Committee Members,
I have received and thoroughly reviewed the rejection letter that you sent regarding my application for your advertised position of Assistant Professor of Awesome Studies.
I have been impressed with the number and quality of rejection letters that I have received this year and the task of sifting through them has been quite humbling. Your letter was quite strong and I would like to accept all of the rejections that I receive. Unfortunately that is not possible and I have already filled my quota of rejection letters for this application cycle. Therefore it is with deep regret that I must accept the job of Assistant Professor of Awesome Studies that you have advertised.
Please have your department administrator contact me as soon as possible so that we can negotiate compensation, starting date, and course load for my first term.
This should not be taken as a reflection on the quality of your rejection letter or of your department in general. All of the rejections that I received were quite strong and I wish you the best of luck in rejecting future candidates and in all of your future endeavors.
If you submitted any publications or additional materials with your rejection letter that you would like returned, please contact me and I will get those back to you as soon as possible.
Thank you sincerely,
Department of Awesome Studies
- This is hilarious! Thanks for making me laugh. I don't know what I hate more: rejection letters that manage to sound so insincere and bullshitty, or not even receiving the courtesy of a rejection. I hate the waiting, the total randomness of the entire application process, ok yeah, I actually hate it all. But mockery soothes the pain!
- If only it were so easy. What a strange profession, that we have no real power to live in the part of the country where we want to live or to choose the type of school we end up at or to determine whether we end up at a school at all. It seems to make for a less than perfect fit. In how many departments are there faculty members clawing to get out--to get to where? And it doesn't have anything to do with the school or department--just with where they are at. There has to be some better way to find a better fit for departments than this ridiculous process of accepting 10,000 applications and winnowing them based on--well, really, what are these decisions based on? Who can really get a good feel for who I am by reading three recommendations, a cover letter, and a resume? In my field we are taught to consider many sources and to dig deeper. And yet when it comes to selecting someone who very well might shape the department for decades to come, we are willing to risk it all on 10 or 11 typed pages. All it is is a crapshoot, a raffle. Nothing more. They should teach that in graduate school--you'll have no free choice for the rest of your life. You'll live where the market dictates and your specialty will be whatever your department needs. You might get a job, but that doesn't depend as much upon your hard work or anything as on luck. Roll the dice, graduate student, roll the dice.
||Okay, I know it was unreasonable for me to assume that my undergraduate institution would consider hiring me because, well, they are fancy but not the fanciest, and thus they will inevitably want to bring people in from better places. And in two years on the job market, I have now been rejected by, oh, I don't know, somewhere approaching 100 places. But man does it hurt MORE when you are being rejected by the people who gave you that initial enthusiasm for the profession, and who told you you should go to graduate school and start on this fabulous career path, and who told you you were one of their best students, and who mentored you, and who you always looked up to. It sucks to be rejected by these people most of all. Really, I would have been happy with just the carrot of an initial interview.
- If it’s any consolation – my crowning rejection was worse, as it came from my very own advisor and mentor, whose scholarship grounds my dissertation and subsequent research. In one fell swoop, my intellectual pursuits were judged insufficient by the one person who gave them their bearings and meaning. How does one recover from that?
- I know it doesn't help - but your rejection may have nothing to do with your research or intellectual pursuits. Job search decisions often have less to do with the quality of your research and more to do with your ability to teach (and teach well) the precise classes they that need. Another candidate may have been able to offer a set of classes that filled a variety of gaps in the department. I think it is far harder to be hired when the classes you can teach fit too closely with the classes someone else may already teach.
- What the previous poster wrote - Most departments don't want more than a few, sometimes a single, individual/s in a subfield. The fact that your adviser is in the department is often a reason against hiring you. Remember, as well, that, other than the Ivies, most Universities do like hiring their own graduates, including undergraduates - academic inbreeding has the similar effects in a university as inbreeding does in animal husbandry. It sucks, I know, but it is not an indication that they don't think that you're good enough.
||To the poster below who compared the job search to dating - absolutely. What's more, like dating, when the market's tight, i.e., few people of the same gender, the normally "unattractive" individual becomes suddenly popular and starts acting as though this wasn't a temporary situation. Also, like in dating, universities/colleges will also be self-delusional, and hire people who will disappear the moment the job situation gets better, or waste their money bringing people for interviews, even though it's obvious that these people will not accept the job offer. Sort of: "I know that this hottie is going with me to the party just for the ride, and I know that he/she will dump my sorry ass the moment that they see anybody better looking at the party, and I know that it will end in a major humiliation for me. But I just can't help myself."On the topic - in my field we don't have conference interviews, but those sound uncannily like speed-dating. By social misfits.
- On my first MLA interview, four of us (the search committee and I) sat on a queen-sized hotel bed together (in suits, of course) during the course of a very long hour. I tried my best to act cooly professional, but I kept thinking that an onlooker might have read the scene as the beginning of a bad porn flick.
- Dear Penthouse, I never believed it would happen to me. I was at an MLA conference interview, in a hotel room, when I noticed that I was alone with three hot (insert your preferred gender here) on a king sized bed. The way that they asked their questions was, for some reason, making me feel aroused...
||I find it ironic that the person who is venting about a computer glitch in her/his rejection also screwed up, once again, the format of the wiki table. People - if you don't know how to deal with the code view - use the "rich text" editing page! That's what it's there for!
- I find it odd that you don't know what "ironic" is.
- Did I touch a nerve? In any case (according to Princeton's "Wordnet"), irony: incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs. We might expect that somebody who complains about computer glitches would be computer literate enough to be able to post on a wiki site without messing it up. What actually occurs is that they do mess it up. We also see a case of defensiveness: when called on this, rather than accept the criticism and go on with their life, they try and find some minor grammar mistake in the criticism, falsely believing that this would invalidate the argument. Along the lines of: "you accuse me of murdering your wife? Ha! It's a lie, because you misspelled murder!!!"
- Did I touch a nerve? Are you okay? Do you realize your criticism applies equally well to yourself? Does this game of "gotcha" make you a happy, more well fulfilled person. Well, this is the venting page. Enjoy!
- What is this, a game of "I know you are, but what am I?". I'm wondering: are you that bitter, bored faculty member that seems to get some sick enjoyment from trolling this page, attacking frustrated job searchers, or are you simply somebody who is very sensitive about their lack of computer skills?
- Can't you two just admit it? You are madly in love with each other, but it is tearing you apart! Let your love set your free.
- Am I that transparent? Here I thought that I hid it so well... Oh, sensitive poster, I'll meet you on the corner of Main and 5th. I'll be the one with a bow tie, holding a red rose. Please come, I've reserved a booth for two.
||The e-mail body says "The Search Committee read your materials with much care and interest. Unfortunately, your particular expertise does not match our Department’s specific needs and we are unable to continue your candidacy" Fair enough. Too bad the e-mail itself was addressed like this (this is a cut and paste from the e-mail):
Dr. Dr. Dr.
Dear Dr. Dr.:
I hope they spent more care and interest on the applications then they did on the replies. This makes it seem like they're mocking me.
- I got the same letter...twice. The second version actually put my name in, but that hardly matters.
- What school? A: U of Michigan
- You aren't tempted to reply with a "Thank you for your notification. Signed ____, Phd, Phd, Phd, etc...?"
- I got "Ms. Ms. Ms." Very thoughtful.
- I got "Ms. Ms. Ms." also. Apparently the Rejectomatic 3000 was having problems. And do you think they REALLY read all of the crap they had us send to them? I sent them 50 pages of stuff. *gripe* *wail* *gnash teeth*
- I got my "Dear Mr. Mr." email in conjunction with that Digital Environments job, which seems ironic, given that their computer program can't even reject me properly.
- Ooo, I am so glad I was a temp for all those years and learned MailMerge before getting an academic job! Saves loads of humiliation.
- Awesome! This just made my night. Thank you.
- Dr. Dr.! Gimme the news....
||I'm so sick to death of talking and writing about myself. Cover letters, phone interviews, campus interviews. I'm not complaining about having jobs to apply to or the fact that I've been fortunate enough to receive some calls. That's wonderful and I'm grateful. It's just that this whole process is about selling yourself and I'm not a salesman. It's very out of character for me to toot my own horn, but when applying for jobs, you have to or no one else will. Then there's the question of how much to you talk yourself up before you sound like an egotistical jackass? But you don't want to be self-deprecating or too modest because no one will hire someone who doesn't know their own worth. Ugh. I'm tired. This makes my head hurt.
- I don't want to burst your venting bubble, but selling yourself is the whole process in every industry--if you want a job. Academics are short-changed on professionalization during their training. They aren't taught that they have to market and promote themselves. They're been sold this fairy tale that their ideas and originality will sell themselves. Nonsense. You gotta work to get a job no matter what industry you're in, and you have to sell yourself with a sharp CV & cover letter, and good interview skills. (Admission: I love persuading an employer to take a look at me. It's a creative challenge. I definitely am a saleswoman, always have been.)
- I know that we have to market ourselves. My venting is about the fact that it simply does not come naturally to me. Some parts of it can be learned, but it is very, very difficult to act against one's basic personality type. Some people are energized by the challenge. I work to rise to it because I know I have to, but the process leaves me drained and demoralized.
- Thanks for adding this. I appreciate what you're saying about personality type. Since marketing oneself is such an integral part of finding a job and being successful in one's career (I think it never stops!), is there any way that you could draw on your sense of humour and playfulness to turn it into something more appealing and fun? Like making into a creative writing challenge? Or thinking about it in terms of "wooing" a blind date who might be hideous and totally unsuitable? Try to bring your humour into it. When I'm writing a cover letter, I imagine a range of personalities on the receiving end and play with ways that I could pique their curiosity. I love playing with hyperbole (I laugh out loud at some of the ridiculous & atrocious things I write, which I eventually delete). I teach students how to design their cover letters and CVs to make the most of their skills, and I enjoy coaching, so that's where a big part of my pleasure with the marketing comes from. It's great fun to be on the other side of the process.
- You're trying to tell an introvert to teach herself to be an extrovert. That's not possible. An introvert can learn to be a good interviewee or write a strong cover letter or even be a good salesperson, but they will likely never enjoy the process. For me, self-marketing is a necessary chore, like cleaning the bathroom - I like having a clean bathroom and I know that in order to have that, I have to do the cleaning, but if someone tried to convince me to make the process of scrubbing my toilet enjoyable, that would be silly. That said, I know there are people who enjoy interviewing and applying for jobs just like there are people who enjoy cleaning their homes. More power to you. It's just not me and I know myself well enough to know that it never will be.
||In the vein of venting, a few serious questions: Why are searches so terrible about communication? No doubt one of the reasons that these Wikis exist is because of the lack of openness and communication about the status searches and positions, but is there something that I am missing? Are there issues that prevent SCs from providing updates and information, particularly to candidates that they have interviewed? One does not have to be a Ph.D. to know that it is perfectly easy to notify candidates that the search has gone a different direction. It would be nice to have some real information from the people that are making the decisions. In a job market populated by decent academics, the rule should be that once a search has interviewed (much less, picked up from the airport, invited to their departments, taken to their backyard barbeques, etc) a candidate, updates on the search should be routine parts of the process.
- I think it comes down to the schools wanting to hold all the cards and keep options open. If they make an offer and their first choice turns them down, etc. Also, they forget how anxious the candidates are while they are making decisions. We're concerned about making major changes in our lives, while they are just filling a position.
||For all of you folks out there thinking that there is something wrong with YOU - let me tell you about the dysfunction of search committees . . . then you will realize why you are treated so poorly and why what happens behind the scenes has very little in fact to do with you, your file, your publications, etc.I'm a mid-level faculty member and am serving on my umpteenth search. It's amazing to see how threatened faculty are by strong candidates - I've seen candidates who met the search ad perfectly dismissed for trivial, unmeasureable reasons. Background story: too strong - would make the Chair, area coordinator, mid-level faculty members look like slackers. I've seen candidates who themselves have admitted mid-interview that they would like to come to our school to "learn" (hello?!!!!) more about the subject matter we want them to teach get offered jobs because they present as malleable (ick). I've seen searches get ugly because faculty in the department HATE one another and so candidates that one or the other click likes get decimated simply because one group thinks you're tops. If you don't receive a prompt, polite, respectful reply in response to your application, chances are there is a lot of *&^% going on behind the scenes that prevents the committee from functioning in this way - STEER CLEAR! You are truly better off waiting for a good fit because once you get mired down in a dysfunctional department, it's difficult to leave (for a variety of reasons). Stay true to yourself and to your passion. Keep applying and keep participating in your field - build relationships and bridges. Best of luck to you all!!!
- Thank you for posting this (x4)
- This doesn't surprise me, but it's nice to see someone write it. And it really reinforces that the process should be less about candidates "auditioning" for schools and being interrogated and more about trying to find a good fit. I think I'd rather piece together adjunct jobs for a year and do another go-around on the job hunt than go to work for some of the horror stories I've heard.
- I am currently on the market this year for the first time, and it is rough out there, but I take comfort in the hard truths I learned during my time as a graduate liason on a search committee in my department last year. The professors were all so bitter--yes, I'm in one of those divided departments--and they were ripping away at candidates left and right. I actually heard them say things like, "Whoa, my research is waaay better than this shit." They would read candidates' letters aloud and mock the things that they wrote. I heard those conversations about how a candidate might overshadow a current professor, and they also discussed ways to not hire people that other members of the department--their nemesis--might like. It was horrible, and I sincerely thought about leaving my program after that experience. It may seem naive, but I had no idea that professors (adults?) could be that cruel, catty, and lawless behind the scenes. I don't want to become those people five or ten years down the road. This posting reminded me that although rejection is never fun, and I am quite scared about the fact that I will likely have to go back out next year, I would rather not end up in a department like mine with cruel and bitter professors like those with which I served. To the original poster: thanks for sharing these selfless words of encouragement. (12/6)
- while I don't doubt many of these stories are true, and while I too am a struggling recent grad and job candidate, I frankly have a hard time flattering myself by believing that I--with several major publications and a prestigious doctorate--am over-qualified and thus intimidate senior faculty members, and hence don't get a bite. . . . but its pretty to think so. to clarify my point: I'm not gloating about my background, obviously (what's there to proud of when I'm still unemployed?)--but simply stating that I felt I had done everything that was expected of me to be a viable job candidate. So, back to the original comment, I have a hard time believing that my sustained lack of success is due simply to threatened and/or disorganized search committees. Moreover, it would be counterproductive, even dangerous, to delude myself bitterly into thinking so (ie, "every SC has a chip on her/his shoulder and that why I'm not getting anywhere!"). In other words, yes, it is about ME, and my lack of meeting any dept's needs). As to the below commenter, it is the height of hypocrisy to badmouth your "cruel, catty" department above, and then immediately insult someone else harshly without provocation. Looks like it didn't take "five or ten years" to become one of "those people." Sorry, but your hypocrisy really infuriates me, even more than your mean-spiritedness. And, by the way, maybe if you spent less time trolling the wiki, and a little more time reading Hemingway, you would have appreciated my "pretty" writing.
- Your writing isn't very "pretty," Dr. Prestigious. <--nor is your tact (or ad hominem attacks); the person obviously doesn't feel good about their profile. But go ahead, make unsuccessful candidates feel even worse about themselves.//Yes, really! Comments like these are quite indicative of the petty, antagonistic behavior that plagues the departments described in the original post.
- I would say that perhaps we could take the spirit in which the original comment was posted to heart and try our best to disengage our egos from this. It is just too hard when you put your ego on the line here to deal with the rejection. And, it is easy to start snarky anonymous battles. I am finding this process so emotionally difficult in every way, and I sincerely wish you all the best in dealing with this.
- I find it emotionally difficult, too. I try to think it doesnt matter, I can wait another year and keep writing, but negative feelings still creep into my mind. I feel resentful, tired, and hopeless.
- The irony of all of this (for me) is that I have just finished climbing a huge mountain--I defended a few months ago. Rather than basking in that accomplishment for a while, I moved right to feeling unworthy (thank you, job market). I try to remind myself that completing a doctorate is itself something to be proud of. That is a tiny source of sanity for me. Sometimes.
- To the above poster, completing your doctorate IS DEFINITELY something to be proud of. Congrats! Take time to celebrate that each week. Seriously! :)
- The main reason we have this thread is for job hunters to vent their frustrations. I think that anybody with the gall to attack people here is has something deeply messed up inside them. While they may be professionally successful (or at least already have a job), the fact that they have the time, and the will, to troll this website speaks volumes about their lives and personalities. Overall, if you have the need to attack job-seekers (especially if you have a job), it indicates that A, you have deep self-esteem issues (you're scared that other job seekers are better than you, and want to discourage them), B, you have sociopathic tendencies (why else take joy in attacking people who are already feeling bad), C, you have no friends (otherwise where do you find the time, what with a job and all), and finally, D, you are an unhappy person (of course you are, if you're scared, angry, and have no friends). Honestly, I'd rather be where I am now then to be you.
- Has anyone else found an uncanny resemblance between this process and dating? The conference interviews are like speed-dating or online dating, depending on how it is set up. Then there's the "I wonder if they'll call" suspense, along with trying to figure out when it is appropriate to contact them and when you should just wait. I've found that the jobs I really, really want, I assume aren't going to be interested in me while the ones I'm just lukewarm about or mark as a last resort job are the ones that call readily. I have a friend who had to turn down a good offer because of personal reasons and now he's left wondering if anything else will come along, not unlike breaking up with someone and wondering if you missed out on "the one." It's emotional and stomach-churning.
- I know what you mean! I keep thinking this must be what it's like to sit and wait by the phone for a date to the high school prom (never had an actual prom). My husband promises he'll take me to a thrift shop for something in pale pink chiffon if I get the MLA interview.
- My dissertation director said to me that he feels "the normally screwed-up job search for academics is screwed up more than usual this year." Hey, I have a great PhD from a top 12 university, a handful of small publications (nothing super prestigious, but nothing to be ashamed of) and tons of teaching experience at a wide variety of institutions. Yet I get nothing from search committees. Just keep plugging away, that's my motto. Heck, I'm enjoying substitute teaching and coaching jr. high sports right now, I may apply for private secondary schools if this higher academic stuff doesn't work out. I finished my PhD, and while I'm making poverty wages, I'm working. Can't complain too much in this economy. Of course, my wife is divorcing me because I didn't get a job when I graduated, but there's little I can do to change that either.
- Hey if she's divorcing you because of that, then she either has no idea how the academia works, or she married you because she thought that you'd make a ton of money as an academic. So, she's either a gold-digger, delusional, or, more likely, both. In any case, good riddance. You should also remember that if she's working, and you are not, you can demand alimony.
- I wish. Nope - we scraped by on my grad student salary and student loans. She insisted on staying home to take care of our kids (that's what her parents did, so it was how she wanted to do it). So, on top of student loans, I have to pay alimony and child support. She was rather explicit about it - since I'm not making any money, she's going to get the courts to force me to pay her all the money anyway. She's now living with her rich parents (my parents were poor - hence I got by on working, student loans, and scholarships whereas her parents paid for her schooling, gave her a generous stipend, and bought her a car) who didn't want her to marry me because I came from a working class background (I was one of THOSE people) and now they're paying for the best lawyer in town to screw me over for the alimony and child support. I've got a decent lawyer, but I have to pay the lawyer with a credit card. So far I've managed to squeak by on all my student loan and credit card statements, but I don't hold out any hope. Mostly, I miss the kids (my lawyer tells me in some states how she handled it could have been considered kidnapping, but her state gives much more leeway for mothers and wives in divorce) and I worry for them - but her parents are rich, so their physical needs will be met.
||I just got a rejection email from a school that interviewed me in December 2008. First word I've heard from them since the (generally congenial) interview. I am très unamused. Lousy etiquette, not to mention a remarkably demoralizing time to send that email out!
- Yes, just in time for the holidays--how nice! Though at least you received your rejection notification at long last...I have yet to hear back about an interview from last December.
- Oh, I really want to know what department made that classy move. I hope that you (at some point) take it to the Schools to Fear page.
- I just got a rejection email from last year too, from Florida Atlantic University. One of those classy generic "Dear Applicant" letters. Actually, given that I had applied more than a year ago and that the position started this past August, I had already kinda figured out that I didn't get the job! Nothing like a cold dose of rejection to get December started off right...
||So, my sub-field has just lost its third posting because of budget worries, a sad reminder of last year's market. Given the fact that none of these institutions seems to be letting in any fewer students, I wonder if we're to expect a longer list of VAP and contract positions this winter than we'd normally see as departments try to fill in with more than just adjuncts. Anyone heard anything along these lines or have an opinion to share? Without giving up on the positions remaining, it would be nice to hold out some optimism for the short-term positions . . .
||To Little tiny teaching colleges that pay nothing and require postdoc experience..Why? Fuck you.
- HA! I'm with you 100%. I had an interview last year at one of these places after 3 years of postdoc. When I met with the Dean he actually had the gall to look up from my CV and ask me why I had spent the past 3 years doing so much research if I wanted to end up at a school like his. I wanted to leap over his desk and tear his throat out.
||User Mhwolf, why did you delete the entire discussion about online applications (Oct 27) on November 17?
- Sorry, minor brain-fart while trying to iron out screwed up formatting. I've brought the discussion back. But why did you start an entire new table for this? In any case I have mostly fixed the god-awful mess that recent posters have made of this table.
||Is anyone else sick of the "this job has an inside candidate" postings? I feel like 90% of these posts are written by the alleged insider to boost his/her self-image on the wiki, or by some paranoid person who looks up the position on the internet, finds that there's an adjunct who teaches in the same field, and then freaks out. Just because there's someone teaching at the university already doesn't mean that that person will be hired. I've known people who were excellent "inside candidates" but who were not, for various reasons, hired.
- Agreed. Working as adjunct, I've seen "insiders" get much harder treatment from HC in attempt to not seem biased. In one case a very qualified candidate was not even offered the formality of an interview because of fears about unfair hiring. In other case, insider was only one in pool that was really qualified, but only hired after much navel-gazing. It's always good to know who the competition is, but don't ever let VAP slow you down.
- Gotta agree with the above. I cannot see any reason that a SC with a budget for a search would not want to get the best that they can afford. Furthermore, a lot of the success in the job search has to do with "wowing" the SC, both on paper and at the interview. This sort of BS'ing is not easy for somebody that the faculty are already familiar with, and would work against an internal hire. Finally, in those cases where a department really wants an internal candidate, such as a spousal hire, they can usually be hired through other programs (most universities have programs for "hires opportunity" etc..), and departments would not want to waste the regular line on these types of hire. Of course, in highly dysfunctional places, buddies of faculty or of highly placed administrators my be hired instead of more qualified candidates, but who would want to be work in those hell holes anyways? You'd be better off finding a job as an adjunct.
- I have to totally agree with the post just above. Two years ago I was an internal candidate at a school I had worked for nearly 6 years while finishing my Ph.D. My teaching evaluations were among the highest in the department, by the time I finished my dissertation it was already under contract with a very good university press, and I had several articles already published in my field. The Search Committee actually chose me for the position after a long and terrible search process--I was actually called and congratulated by the search committee on getting the tenure track job. But, in the end, I did not get the job. A week after I was "hired" the chair of the department gave the contract to a friend of a former provost who had not even been chosen for an interview by the search committee--the decision not to interview said person, I am told, was based on this person's poor evaluations, lack of publications (other than one encyclopedia article), and the stated unwillingness to consider relocating to the area. So, that person got the job and is "commuting" six hours each way. This particular job required that someone teach a 4-4 load and be on campus 5 days a week. Instead, the new hire drives into town on Tuesday, teaches, stays in a motel until Thursday morning and then drives home. He/She does not hold the required 10 office hours a week. But, no one in the department will go against the chair for fear of retaliation. Maybe it sounds like sour grapes--and maybe it is--but I would NEVER work for this place again. I quit my adjuncting gig and found another. These departments are out there and you don't want to be a part of them.
- Doesn't sound like sour grapes at all - it actually sounds more like you dodged a bullet there.
||Maybe not as important as the crappy job market, but those on-line applications are killing me. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Luddite. I love the idea and I generally prefer to do such things on line, BUT... Most of the applications that I've done this year require different materials to be uploaded than were asked for in the original postings. In one case, two items were requested in the posting, four were requested on the actual HR website, and the software could only handle a max of three files to be uploaded. In another case, after having gone through the process of uploading documents, swearing not to be a felon, manually entering reference information, and hitting the "confirm final submission" button, I was presented with a screen demanding that I come up with *more* documents and send them by snail mail. In that case and at least one other, the instructions included typos. I realize there is probably a lot of bureaucratic distance between hiring committees and the techies in HR who put these things together, but they need to figure out some way to be consistent or they just look unprofessional. Not to mention the problem of committees getting different materials from applicants who followed different directions
- What an awful experience. I've done some online applications this year, but nothing matches your tale. You made me laugh with your comment about typos and an unprofessional appearance. Something along those lines: a position posted by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs on bioethics.net, http://www.bioethics.net/bioethics_jobs.php?view=5278 that devotes an entire paragraph admonishing would-be applicants to be letter-perfect ("If you do not make it through this initial screening process, the Ethics Center staff will never even see your application!!") Makes you wonder what shrill admin person got their jollies screaming that out. (And who would still want to apply after reading that.)
- I prefer the online applications, but every third position seems to require me to manually enter all the information on my CV or irrelevant information. In some cases I wind up spending 45 minutes entering every job I've ever worked (please enter your complete job history, if you do not, this application will not be considered). Not as bad as above, but still bleh!
- (11/9/2009) I hate the online application thing, but I hate even more the schools that require everything but your bloodtype for the application. Do they really need a faculty application, a cover letter, a c.v., a writing sample, official transcripts, a sample syllabus, a form allowing them to check your credit, and the letters of recommendation for the first round? I have spent all day working on my sample syllabus--sure, if I get the job I would be teaching this class, but right now I am teaching 7 classes as an adjunct trying to keep my family from starving, finishing up revisions for a book that I have under contract, and trying to get applications done so I don't have to repeat this semester next fall! It would be nice to not have to put in quite so much effort on one application in a market as dismal as this.
- I too prefer the online application and I haven't had any trouble with them (knock on wood). The ones I've done have been pretty easy and hassle-free. I get annoyed with those who want things by snail mail because it involves printing things on nice resume paper, forcing the printer to print labels or envelopes so it looks professional, trusting the USPS to get it there or paying extra for FedEx to be certain it gets there on time, a trip to the post office, etc, etc. etc... But the bigger hassles are the ones who want both electronic and hard copy or different elements by mail and others electronically. And I"m with you on the 'everything but the blood type' thing. I see no reason to request all transcripts. If I got into a PhD program at a good university, I think they can be assured that I did ok in undergrad and my master's. These schools would save themselves and their applicants a lot of hassle if they just requested cover letter and CV and then noted in the ad that those considered for phone interviews will be asked to send additional information.
||In answer to the last poster's question, no, I haven't seen anything about this year's academic job market. I think the silence is more telling than the lack of jobs. Including the silence on these wikis. It's important to draw attention to the problem and make visible its many consequences. Rather than addressing the problem, schools are continuing to admit sizable cohorts while they have students at the other end circling until their fuel runs out. Why? Because the only labor cheaper than lecturers are grad students. Don't allow yourself to believe that the problem is you. In a good job market, it makes sense to think only of grooming yourself. But in a market such as this, the best strategy is collective action. There will always be a million reasons why one person didn't find a job. It gets harder and harder to explain as the numbers increase. If this many graduates are truly unqualified for the jobs to which they apply, then why continue to fund graduate programs? This is a labor problem, not a credential problem. But you can only make that argument as a group.
- The silence is indeed deafening. Aside from a few random blogs, the only thing that I have seen written about the state of the market was in the AHA's Perspectives. And that piece merely compared this market to that of the early 1980s (which was a completely unsatisfying comparison given the tremendous growth of the number PhDs in the past two decades). This does certainly seem to be a labor issue. Do take note, the professional academic associations are invested in the current state of the system. Tenured faculty as a group have, thus far, done little to advocate on behalf of adjucts and contingent faculty.
- 12/13: In may opinion, tenured faculty rely on this system of "slave labor" (adjuncts and VAPs) because it doesn't change anything regarding their own scheduled pay/merit raises. As long as the necessary "budget cuts" are met and they don't affect tenured faculty, everything seems just peachy for them. They a;ready have jobs, why would they care?
- 10/30. I agree completely. Why are so many students accepted into PhD programs when the market clearly doesn't warrant it? Call me totally cynical, but could it be that the universities WANT a bunch of unemployed PhDs out there to rely on for adjuncts? Seriously, where would your department be without adjuncts? If they unionized, would the school survive? I'm putting up with it this year, in hopes of landing a real job, but if nothing comes my way for next year I am leaving academia on principle.
- Related to the above comment, look at the following "opportunity" from the Cal State University system. This should be criminal : http://www.calstate.edu/hr/cdip/
||Has anyone seen anything about how horrifyingly bad the job market is this year? Not that given the general economic news it's surprising, but (at least in my subfield) it's really amazingly bad.
- I haven't seen anything addressing that specifically. But when I look at the listings for my field and areas of speciality, it doesn't look good right now.
- I posted something similar in the American Studies section of the Wiki; I'm amazed at how bad the job market is this year. I can't recall a September with fewer job postings. I have an appointment, but there's no guarantee how long that will last (I'm on a year-to-year contract). My wife teaches at an independent high school, and I have to tell you that is looking better and better all the time (9/11).
- Okay, it is now Sept. 30 and the job market shows no sign of improving. There is exactly one job announcement in my field that I am interested in, and I've learned that there is a VAP in that position now. So, why bother. I know this is the wrong attitude, but do I really want to chase down my recommenders, rewrite some BS about my teaching "philosophy", compose an enthusiastic cover letter, etc., etc., for the _ONE_ job of this type in America right now? This is especially demoralizing considering that I just received my PhD in May, and am adjuncting this year at great college with no hope of a permanent position there, no health insurance, and no living wage. Okay, I am whining, but this _IS_ the venting page!
- Fair enough. I am still betting that a lot of VAP positions, if not tenure track, will shake out over the next 3-4 months as institutions do their usual work of "finding" the money that they need. After all, no one is cutting enrollment. For my part, the scarcity of tenure-track positions means more effort put into fellowships, etc... Do they REALLY need to see another (or multiple!) custom-tailored course proposal before they hire you? I came into this with a folder full of courses I've designed and taught, but have spent the last two weeks creating enough content-filled, first-year writing and isn't-Western-Civilization-magnificent type courses to keep me busy for the next 10 years. Let's just assume that someone with an advanced degree could figure out how to design a one-semester course if that's what you're paying him/her for! (10/4)
- No kidding. One wonders why the PhD is even necessary, since it doesn't seem to be worth @#$%@% without piles of "evidence" of "superior" this and that. . . .
||Evil formatting row deleted. Go to town without fearing bolding or centering!
||Am I just petulant, or does everyone else out there get tired of fixed searches? I cannot count the number of campus visits I have made, knowing from my advanced research that there is a VAP on staff in my field, far less qualified than I, with fewer years of teaching experience and no publications, who winds up getting the job in the end because "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". God, when I think of the hours I spent completely rewriting my job talk for the last one, tracking down the best images, captioning each and every one of them, spending an hout talking with one of the committee members after the dinner about her passion for redressing antique dolls, wowing the curator of the local museum with the idea for a new exhibition that perfectly matched my field and their collection.... I could go on and on. And the person who got it - the inside candidate with one year's experience, not a single article, a field of study so mundane an undergraduate would die of boredom, and three small children. Yes. I guess I am petulant. But it is because this is the FIFTH time this has happened in the last three years! I am leaving America for a few years to go to a country where they actually appreciate a passionate teacher who also publishes - but doesn't have a trendy degree from Chicago or a double PhD in art history and comp Lit. (Ooooh! We get to play with Derrida and Deleuze!) I just want to finish this by saying that I was also the VAP applying for a wonderful job a few years ago, which I did not get. Why? The person hired had ten years' experience and multiple publications, not to mention curated exhibitions. It hurt, but it made sense. What I have been through since then does not.
- Okay. I hate that I cannot figure out how to post my reply without centering it and using bold font as you have done. I totally feel your pain. As I mentioned way, way, way down below, I was a VAP who was actually called by the search committee and congratulated on getting the job only to be unhired by the department chair a week later (after I had already turned down a tenure track position at another school because I did not wish to uproot my entire family and make them follow me around the country) when he decided that race and degree mattered more--in this case the degree was actually a degree from the school where the job was, not a better one. So, despite having a book contract with a good university press, some of the best teaching evaluations in the department (I had worked at this school for 6 years), several other peer-reviewed publications, and a degree from a far better school than the one that the person ultimately hired had, I did not get the job. Boy was I bitter. Really bitter. If I think about it too much, I still get mad. Actually my case was taken up by the AAUP which advised me I had a civil case if I wanted to go that route (I did not). So, I went on the job market again. And had other interviews. And didn't get anything. And wondered why. And, this is what I think might help you, what I realized was that that sting and bitterness had crept into who I was when I was interviewing (well, and into who I was as a person). I was too busy still being pissed off and jaded to be the person that I really am. And, I think that really came through in the early interviews. And, I did not particularly like that person--there was something fakey and off about that person--so, no matter how much interest I might have showed in a school or whatever or how perfectly it looked like I would fit, maybe no one wanted to work with that person. You are angry. (Angry enough to make yourself believe that a person with three kids and less of whatever might not be a better fit for a place than you). Until you get rid of some of that and come to the understanding that fitting at a place is more than a degree or life circumstance or book publication, that it is at heart being the right person (as opposed to scholar) for the job and let loose of some of that anger, you'll continue to be disappointed. Also, it's a crap shoot for everyone. Some searches are rigged, some aren't, but even those that aren't come down to really weird things. I mean, honestly, most of us are pretty much alike--we do this or that in the classroom, we publish this or that, we have a degree in this or that. At the end of the day what it really comes down to in a lot of departments is who people want to work with. Are you the person someone else wants to work with? In some places maybe they want a snooty academic (like themselves). Other places maybe they want a good family man/woman (like themselves). Maybe it's something else altogether. The trick is not in getting a position that you think you want but in finding a place where you really will fit in. Most of the time when I have gotten rejections and really thought about it, they weren't really places I wanted to be anyway. Just on a last note here, when I finished my Ph.D., I had two small boys--I wrote much of it during naptime or late at night. Less than a month after I graduated, my dissertation (with only minor revisions) was accepted for publication--the first dissertation ever accepted for publication by this particular press in the last 10 years. Having kids does slow one down a bit, but it does not affect one's ability to produce top quality work. The guy with three kids probably can't devote as much time to work as someone without those kids, but maybe he does a hell of a job when he's there. So, don't knock him or yourself too much on that one.
||Well, it's almost time for the application season to begin again. I am dreading adding the chore of writing letters and sending packets to everything else I have to get done. I have been looking at all the sites and see that some of last year's business is still being finished up. While I appreciate that places are inviting applications, I also think it's a little late to be asking for applications for tenure track jobs beginning in 5 or 6 weeks. Until recently I taught at a school like that--last minute on everything. It was a terrible place to work. But, hopefully there will soon be ads for 2010! Good luck everyone. :)
- I sympathize, but dude, learn how to press on the <Preview> button BEFORE you Save the page. One would think that a PhD would learn basics like that at one point in their career. And yes, you're welcome for fixing your mess. Sheesh!
- Dear Original Poster - I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming job cycle too as I'm putting the finishing touches on my dissertation. I've only just recovered from a last year's cycle and I can't believe I need to start drafting letters again. A bit of advice, which I am going to take this year...this page is toxic. Not the whole Academic job wiki, just the Venting page. Don't believe me? Just look to the above "helpful" poster. This venting page attracts the worst of academia and makes you think that everyone is cut throat, that everyone is out to screw someone else, that everyone is a jerk. We're not and I, for one, won't let it screw with my outlook on the process once again this year. Good luck to you too!
||What is it with SC chairs? Once they look at the applications, that's it for any response. It seems that they truly think that only their "Chosen Few" are worth any sort of consideration, and as they go through the applications, this group gets smaller and smaller, to the point that after the position is accepted, they won't even contact persons who interviewed to send a rejection! Are they really so moronic that they think that once they've rejected us we disappear? Are really so stupid that they forget that even those of us who didn't fufil their expectations/demands still review their articles, their conference submissions, their fvcking NSF grant proposals!! Are they so clueless as to think that we'll! Dudes, I do not hold my rejection against any SC member - many apply, and most end up being rejected. However, being treated as less than nothing once they've decided that we aren't worthy of their attention pisses me off and I WILL NOT FORGET IT. It will be a pleasure to reject THAT grant proposal/MS/conference talk/book. Of course it would be so much better if we could do it without any comment or response whatsoever, but you can't have everything.
- No doubt, I'm with you 100%. (I'm the first poster for 2009-03-27). I STILL haven't heard back from those knuckle-draggers at Steel Mill F*cktown U either. The lack of common civility in SCs has reached epidemic proportions, due in great part, I think, to the recession. Because SC are now getting reams of applications from Ivy Leaguers who probably would have snubbed some of them in the past, many of them now think they can ride roughshod over the lot of us. But the world doth turn, and with patience we may yet ensure that their commeupance be forthcoming! Well put.
- I relate completely to the anger over the treatment of applicants by a SC. What's scarier is when the basic lack of human decency continues once a person has a job. A friend has coined the term gotcha-ism as a behavior employed by many academics against other academics for a variety of reasons (displaced anger over low pay? demeaning treatment in graduate school? inhumanity of the SC? rejections by publishers?). As HARD as it is, I believe the best approach is to take the high road, dismiss the losers from your mind because it is _their loss_ not to have chosen you, and move on. It is not worth it to allow them to infiltrate your private or professional time. Or worse, to stoop to their level. I speak as one who spent almost three years ruminating over mis-treatment by a SC for a tenure track job when I was the inside VAP candidate. The only one who suffered as I imagined various gotchas was me. I allowed bitterness to impact my relationships and overall quality of life. And them? They are still there doing what they do. There are the types who will always succeed in a fashion because they bulldoze so easily over others. Hang on to your principles and you will be the Chosen ONE for the right reasons by the right people inside or outside of academe.
- I was on a recent SC. It was nowhere near what you describe - in fact, it was thorough, fair and professional. If indeed you plan to exact revenge in the manner you mention, you will come off as very "unprofessional," and the teeth on that beast are truly sharp.
- It is interesting to read these posts--it is interesting to see how someone who feels mistreated and is "venting" about that mistreatment vows to mistreat others when they get the chance. I suspect really what they are saying is that they are hurt and saddened and scared and bitter. Boy, in this hard year, who hasn't been there? Sometimes the search committees or school administrators really are evil and unethical. I posted way down below somewhere about my treatment in a search last spring--where the chair of the department ignored the Search Committee's recommendation to hire someone who was not even interviewed (after a member of the search committee called to congratulate me on getting the job). That was painful. I still feel bitter. But, I was a runner up in a search late this spring with a search committee that seemed not only affable, but fair to me. That experience did not necessarily lessen my bitterness over the other affair (especially since I was not offered the TT job, only a VAP position which my family circumstances made it impossible to take), but it did make feel like eventually there will be a fresh start for me somewhere and I would much rather wait a little while and end up at a place like this one than have gotten the job at the other hell hole last spring. Maybe it is just trying to make myself feel better, but I always sort of think when I don't get something that if the search committee or dean or whoever didn't like me enough to hire me, then it probably isn't a place I'd really want to be or where I would feel comfortable much less valued. It is much better to wait and end up somewhere where you'll be happy than to get something that never feels right. If the search committee really was so terrible, imagine working with them before you had tenure.
- OP here. What the previous poster writes is true, but the job search is, literally, soul-searing, and all I want, as a job applicant, is a modicum of respect. If time is an issue, the SC's can post on the Wiki (and some do, at least SC members). When I read that there were 800 applicants for a position, I wouldn't expect the SCC to have time to answer any e-mail. But when there are many fewer, a simple response, even two words, literally, something like "no time", is fine. Overall, the feeling that you get from most SC's is: "you are still an applicant and not worthy of respect from my tenured/tenure-track self". And what I wanted to say in my post above is that this lack of respect cuts both ways, and furthermore, I can do it anonymously. As for the poster who wrote earlier that he/she was on a SC, and that it was "thorough, fair and professional" he/she is so clueless as to be ludicrous. Thorough? How can any search be "thorough"? You have to choose a colleague based on a two days interview at best, a few pages of text at worst. No search is "fair" - that would be the epitome of stupidity. You want to pick and choose the best person for your department, not give everybody a fair shot. As for "professional"? What do you mean? What does that mean anyways? Besides, if you feel the need to haunt the venting page and rebut the vents, than either: a, you feel uncomfortable about your last search, b, you have too much time on your hands, or c, both a and b.
- I am the SC member of which you speak. Maybe in your field things are more feral. Sorry to hear about it. Good luck with the search. Our search was as I stated - fair, thorough and professional. I do not feel uncomfortable about our search - we found the best folks we could. I do not have too much time on my hands. And I have a TT job. Perhaps you can do more to be a better candidate and be less of a freaking whiner. It isn't about me. It's about you. If you think a job search is "soul searing" then you are indeed a special snowflake. It's a job interview. It's not an exorcism. You don't like it? Go get a job doing something else. Inexorable whining won't help you. If you think it will - good luck to ya! You can vent all you want, but will editing this page get you your TT job? You already know the answer to that. Bye bye, now!
- This post tells me all I need to know about his search. He claims to have been "fair, thorough, and professional", and yet, here he is being condescending, abusive, and arrogant. Why should I believe that he behaved any different to the applicants of that search? A former SC who spends time justifying his behavior as a member of a SC and abusing anonymous job searchers has some deep hostility issues aimed at job applicants, further supporting my opinion that he was "that SC member". You know, the one that asks irrelevant, but combative questions, answers the applicants question disdainfully and condescendingly, and then picks a fight with the candidate during the job talk about some obscure detail. Usually a little person who got his job through luck, contacts, or a desperate SC, and now he thinks that it was because he is so great.
- As I stated previously, good luck. All I wished to do was to try and convince the OP that a lack of professionalism will hurt him/her more than it will those whose work he/she reviews. The response told me all I wanted to know about the nature of the OP. Again, if the OP thinks the interview process is "soul searing," wait until a TT position is actually landed and the tenure review comes up. The OP might just burst into flames. As for my depiction of our search, I stand by it. Remember, sometimes it's not the world - it IS you.
- I agree that referring to the job search as "soul searching" is blowing it out of perspective and indicative of the way that we academics seem to think that what we do is so much more important and profound than what others do. Yes, the search sucks. I've been there. In two years I applied to 250+ positions in English and recieved a grand total of 50 rejection letters and emails, 10 interviews at MLA, 3 campus visits, and two job offers. I don't deny that the process is demoralizing and can feel dehumanizing but we're not alone. People all over this country in vastly different fields are going through this same process. It's a job search. It's a job hunt. It's not a spiritual crisis unless you let it become one. And certainly swamped SC who can't get back to you shouldn't spur you on to perpetuate the perceived hostility on those coming up behind you. You don't like the system? Change it from the inside. When you get the chance to be on a SC, you be the one to take the time and show a modicum of respect to the candidates.
- This thread is a perfect example of the incivility fostered by this heartless process. To the OP: to suggest that you might violate basic tenets of professional conduct in order to exact revenge for a perceived slight by a SC chair (even if that revenge is warranted) is completely unacceptable. If you can't keep personal animus in check when reviewing manuscripts and grant proposals, then I can only hope that editors and funding agencies have the wisdom to keep you FAR away from any positions of authority. And to the SC member: your own search may have been the very picture of propriety. But unless you were very lucky in your own job search and haven't been paying much attention to the posts here and elsewhere, you're fooling yourself if you think that yours serves as the model for searches everywhere. The abject failures of communication typical of searches is borderline criminal, and breeds the kind of resentment and anger exhibited by the OP. Why is it that a search receiving 200 applicants can't tell 180 or more of those applicants that they're out of the running as soon as the short list is made? Instead, SC chairs often fail to contact those 180 or simply refuse to provide any information regarding the search, even when politely asked. Whether this is due to laziness or administrative bullshit, it's unforgivable. The entire process has become so unfriendly that I've begun to wonder whether the academic community I've been hoping to join is just some fairy tale told to grad students to keep them plugging away at the research until they graduate. I truly hope that the nastiness you've both exhibited here is limited to anonymous crap spouted on the internet, and would never enter into real life relationships with colleagues. Otherwise, we're all well and truly fucked.
- See my response above. I don't purport that every search was like ours, no more than you can purport that every search is sloppy and as doomed to fail as you might think. My initial response was to convince the OP to remain professional. As you can see this was most unappreciated. I'm not arrogant - far from it - nor did my own landing of a TT job come easily. But I have not crapped on the work of those who have rejected me, and I advised the OP to refrain from doing that. In the end, professionalism is what it's about. There are numerous decisions concerning who gets and offer and who doesn't, and nothing is personal. I will admit a letter that simply says "the search is concluded" and nothing else is unacceptable if you are asking for feedback, but no university in their right (legal) mind will tell you why you were rejected. No, I'm not naive enough to believe that our search was the model that is followed. But perhaps it should be, no? In any event, good luck.
- I am a new poster. I would say that the SC member's line, ""sometimes it's not the world, it is you" misses the point--and is, yes, arrogant. Since you were on a SC, I am assuming that you had a job before the bottom fell out of the job market and were not applying and interviewing at a time in which institutions--even what most people might consider undesirable institutions to work for--had hundreds of candidates to consider. Maybe your job search was fair--I actually had an interview with a SC that seemed very fair and impartial this year--but that is definitely the exception in this climate. And, while you might not think it is soul searing or whatever to be going through this process, you might (given that you evidently have a TT job and do not have to sit on the rails worrying about how you will repay your student loans and perhaps support your family) show a bit more empathy rather than self-righteousness. In addition to the numerous financial worries that those job candidates who did not land anything to carry them through next year have to bear, there is also the anxiety that comes from the repeated rejection letters and/or crappy treatment by an SC. Who wouldn't doubt themselves after a SC acted snobby or did not even bother to send a proper rejection? It is only human nature that one might doubt him/herself in such a situation. Actually, SC person, you are the one missing the point here. Sometimes it is about YOU, but often it is about other things--such as the economy or the huge numbers of people applying or the simple lack of courtesy on the part of those who no longer have to worry about whether or not they need to "land" something just to stay afloat. And the fact that you try to guise your implication that somehow those who have suffered this year deserved it by saying that searches should run fairly does not make you any less insensitive. So, unless you have something useful to offer--perhaps tips on how to get a more positive response from a SC, for example--then why post here at all?
Hang in there new poster. The job market sucks. But it always has. When I was on the market in the 1990s, it was just as bad. I'm currently chairing an SC. And the numbers of apps for the position we are searching for now is pretty much identical to the number then. The job search is a soul-sucking experience, and most SC members know that because they went through that. I think it is really crappy the way many candidates are treated. Having said that, you can't expect super-efficient response times (though you deserve a response). Many of us are teaching 4-4 loads, serving on assorted committees, trying to get an article submitted, and managing a search which involves sometimes hundreds of applications with minimal secretarial support. I'm not complaining. I love my job and know many highly qualified candidates would love it, too. But the reality in non-elite schools is that professors do more than teach. And managing a search is a huge job.
- I have not been on a SC. I do have a job, it's not TT, it's contract based. To 90% of us in academia, a non-TT job is the equivalency of being an adjunct. Even though it's not. I'm not paying on student loans because my husband has been unemployed for about a year. The economy sucks. I think most of us have been trying to give perspective on the job search to some of the more distressed and upset. After all, we've all done it. There's never been a halcyon day when everyone automatically got a job, let alone their dream job. It's always a grind. People are always going to be rude. It's stressful and causes you to question what it is you're doing with your life. But where some have seemed to go so far off base is with their comments that they're going to behave as horrid as possible should they ever be on a SC or that they're going to hack into emails to figure out what's going on. What good can come of that behavior? I had a campus visit in 2007 and I NEVER heard back from them, even after several follow-up inquiries. Was I mad? Sure. But my plan going forward is to not perpetuate that behavior, but to make sure that when I am on a SC our candidates are treated better. That being said this year my department contacted their number one to offer the job to her and she never responded back to us. So the number two got the job. I guess what I'm saying is that it can go both ways. But I'll take my self-satisfied rich ass back to my ivory tower since that's where so many of you assume those of us with jobs live.
- What part of "venting" don't you understand? This page is for people to vent their feeling when the job search gets to them. It is not a job planner or somewhere that we post next years nefarious plans. If you are a job searcher you likely understand our state of mind, and our need to post empty threats and fantasies. If you're not a job searcher, that what the h3ll are you doing posting here? We have take your sh!t when we apply for these jobs, I don't want to see you here, as well.
- You don't get it, do you? We are always on the job market. You have to always keep an eye on trends and what positions are open. To be static is to be stagnant. Budgets get cut, departments fire people, and sometimes the environment changes. You always have to watch what's going on in academia. Venting is not equal to vitriol.
||Am I the only one that finds it strange that SC members are hanging around a website that is specifically for the vents of job-searchers? This site is expressly for job searchers to write that life sucks and that all SC's are blind/corrupt/stupid or anything else that comes to mind, and then, that being done, get back to their life and job search. I'm sorry, but I do not welcome members of SC's or anybody who is not looking for a job coming here and telling us that it's all our fault, etc... You want to do that, start your own fricken' Wiki page for SC member to vent about the job seekers, OK? Otherwise, get your self-satisfied, employed a$$ off of this Wiki page and do something productive, like research or teaching, or whatever else your University/College is paying you for.
||So, how long do I have to wait? After an on-campus visit a month ago, they have yet to tell me yay or nay. I'm about to graduate, and I have to make some plans for the summer, find housing, etc. etc. At the very least, I would appreciate an e-mail saying "we're still deliberating" - but all I get is silence. The job is suppossed to start in early August. What's going on?
- Contact the search committee chair via email and politely inquire as to whether or not a decision has been made and if not when you might know something. It's hard to say what is up with the SC. I had an on campus interview with a school last November and did not get a letter of rejection until March (after I noted my experience with them on the Schools to Fear page). Then I had an interview about three weeks ago and had an answer within a week (got the VAP offer but not the TT unfortunately). And then I interviewed in February for a job that was offered to me last week--their search process was really long and had to make its way up the administrative ladder. I think in some cases search committees are reluctant to send out any rejections until the whole thing is concluded, which, of course, leaves many people dangling and uncertain, but which makes the search committee feel (mistakenly) safe that they have options. Other times it just takes some time. But, you have the right to inquire.
- Did it. Oh, well. Guess it's better to know I wasn't being considered than to wait any longer in suspense. Altough, they did say the job had been offered but not yet accepted. I suppose there's still a chance if the top candidate doesn't accept. Unless they decide that now they've told me they've made the offer to someone else, they won't return to me if the offer isn't accepted. Oh, well.
- Second Poster again. A SC would not decide not to offer a job to you just because they already told you it was offered to someone else. Search committees will go in order of preference until they get an acceptance. Cut yourself some slack and accept the closure for now. You have nothing to lose by letting it go. If they return to you, then you deal with that then. I'm not sure of your field, but there are some options out there--even in the Humanities. If you are history or political science or something USA.jobs is a good place to start. They also have jobs for English people--editing and such. Anyway, you are new out. It takes time. Especially in this market. Don't get discouraged so soon. If you let it get to you, that unhappiness and bitterness will eat away at you and make you less likely to present yourself well. And, every interview is an opportunity to get better. You might even write the SC chair again and tell him/her that you are new on the market and could they make any suggestions which might help you in future interviews. In other words, could they point out some strengths and weaknesses? Sometimes SC chairs are not receptive, but sometimes they are very helpful. Good luck. :)
- Oh, don't worry about me becoming cynical or bitter; I'm more confused than anything. I'm sure I'll find some sort of job at some point. It's just annoying that the jobs my highly ranked department assured me would be there when I graduated aren't. Such is life, I guess.
||I had a late 2nd run phone interview (the wiki indicates they'd been interviewing several weeks earlier and had already made at least two offers) for a post doc. The more I think about how the phone interview went I really think it was 'courtesy' interview, if that makes sense. One of the members of my diss committee knew someone, and I did get an interview. But the SC seemed somewhat surprised that I could teach a class that is specifically in my area of expertise. I've taught the class a number of times and have worked professionally in the field, both of which I address in my cover letter and CV. Is it possible that they are just so overwhelmed with applicants that this slipped by...or did they not really look at my materials? And if so, why would they waste their time?
- The SC may have looked at your papers a long time ago and not reviewed them before your call. In a campus interview I had this year I was surprised at how much surprise people expressed at the same thing you're talking about. May we all understand why from the other side some day.
||I don't know about anyone else but I am growing very tired of myself. I have written so many application letters about how great I am and what a wonderful teacher and how important my research is that I just want to puke. I actually have an interview coming up--and I'm very excited about the place and job--but I am finding it hard to muster up the energy to present the best me possible. It has been a long season of applying and I feel completely worn out. And I don't want to talk about myself or my project anymore. I want to watch t.v. and cook something other than macaroni and cheese for dinner and smile a little more because I feel happy instead of because I don't want to appear too serious or staid. And I want to lay in bed and actually be able to sleep. And, I don't want to stress out anymore about what I could have/should have/would have done differently or better or whatever. And, I definitely don't want to get another single letter about how while I am eminently qualified another candidate best suited their interests.
- Friend, I know exactly how you feel, because I am in the same place (though I want to cook something other than ramen noodles and only wish I could afford macaroni). I have an interview coming up in May (god, I hope we're not going the same place....) and I can't get excited about it. It's not my dream job, all of those came with rejections, but all I've been begging for the last few months is a chance for an interview. I've been losing my sanity and losing any sense of confidence, and I feel like my application letters are sarcastic when I write them now. I hope both of our situations get better, I know that I feel I won't be able to hold on much longer, but I've surprised myself in that regard about 1,000 times this year already. Every time I think I won't survive the next rejection, I do.
||Just a little story... I applied for a TT position at Awesome University last year. I had what seemed like a great interview - SC chair telling me I had the job, negotiating salary with the dean, being solicited by grad students to be on their advisory committe wether I came to the school or not. At the time, I was confident, but I knew that a great interview and someone telling you you had the job is often just over-excitement, so I didn't take it too seriously. However, I was surprised when, after 6 weeks of silence, I received a form letter letting me know that Awesome U had received a number of excellent applications and they had extended an offer to someone (who clearly wasn't me). It was as if I had not even gone for the campus visit. Fast forward to spring of this year's cycle. Awesome U reposts the call for the same position (the text of the call this year was word-for-word the same as last year's). After asking for advice from all my references, I contact the SC chair and ask if the committee might be interested in reviewing my materials this year (wording it so they had ample opportunity to say it just isn't a good fit). They, enthusiastically, say yes! Excellent! I send off my materials. One week before the due date posted in the call, I get a form rejection letter (a number of excellent candidates, you aren't one of them). Fast forward one month. Awesome U has reposted their call again. I am still working out some balance between my desire to be part of academia and my intense hatred for it (fueled entirely by the job search process), as I am balancing my anger toward this SC and my bewilderment at their decision process. After the anger subsides, I am sure I will be very thankful I am not a part of this department.
- Wow, hope you registered Awesome University under its real name on the "Universities to fear" page. Sounds like amateur hour at this place. No SC that conducts itself professionally tells a candidate they have the job before the search is concluded. You should be thanking the gods that you're not working there right now. Them reposting the job listing so many times seems like just one sign among many of how they couldn't find their ass with both hands.
||Though this site is called a place for "venting" I think a lot of the experiences described here are much more than that. These entries are evidence of the almost complete break-down of the academic teaching market. It seems as though with most colleges and universities running at 50% adjunct (according to the new NEA report last month), these searches are almost like cattle calls for a once in a lifetime shot in a Broadway play. There is a line-up of highly qualified part-timers who may have been adjuncting at the school for years, perhaps a VAP hoping for the job, and then a crop of others culled from a "national search" in which, in one of my experiences, the college can bring in a person with one book and 4 yrs full-time experience, an ABD, and someone from a different discipline just "because they can." Receiving rejection letters stating 250 people applied for one full-time position (not even tt) is also daunting. I have had my Ph.D. for four years and had a range of contingent teaching positions (the word the MLA is using now) from VAP to adjunct, sometimes teaching 9 courses a yr w/out health insurance or benefits and with overall pay that does not cover the rent. I've managed to keep things together financially, publish, and attend conferences thanks to a wonderfully supportive father. But for me it is not enough. I find myself feeling bitter and then when a job is posted, the stress of applying is draining b/c of the knowledge of the contorted workings of the system. Previous poster mentions the real frustrations of trying to translate the "skills" of a doctorate in the Humanities to another realm. I finally spoke with someone who does career counseling at a local university for help thinking of skills I had that might be of interest to non-academic employers (or even for academic administration positions). I was surprised how helpful that was and left with a resume I never would have imagined. I have also been surprised that looking in other directions hasn't been as disappointing as I thought after all the work put into my Ph.D. I just don't hold much hope for change in the market and don't want to be in same place I am now in five years (professionally or emotionally).
- I'm not sure you can draw that inference based on what you read here. There's a huge selection bias at work. We just don't hear about the positive stories. For each negative story, I can think of great stories of colleagues who got a great job that pays well. But you won't see that reported on here. I'm not saying that the process doesn't need to be improved, but rather that this page is not evidence of anything other than people venting.
||Picture this in Liam Neeson's voice (from the commercial of Taken): "I do NOT have a particular set of skills." Just got back from a big job fair at a military base. I am reminded of the old adage, "those who can't do teach." It is kind of true when you think about it. I walked around from booth to booth being asked what technical/military/paramilitary/security force/computer skills I have. "Well, sir, none. But, I am really good at reading, writing, researching, and even teaching. And, I survived graduate school--not quite as brutal as Iraq or Afghanistan but I would say a close second." "Sorry, son, we don't seem to have any openings requiring those skills. But, there are some nice refreshments upstairs." And there were. But, the job fair was held at the "O" Club and I could smell the hamburgers people were eating downstairs. Actually, I did find a couple of things that maybe some of the other hapless historians still looking for work might be interested in--there is a historian position open at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Also, a friend passed along information that in Arlington, VA there are a couple of fairly high paying military positions open. Not a bad gig if you can relocate. Sadly, I'm stuck.
||I went on the market this year expecting nothing but experience--it seemed to have been a smart choice. I was able to keep a clear head throughout the process, knowing that I could always try again next year (I'm ABD). But now, my very last choice has become my first choice of jobs and I am desperate to hear some news. I really, really want this job. It became clear on the campus visit that the place is perfect for me. I received a kind email from the SC last week mentioning that they are delayed because it has been near impossible to get everyone in the same room at the same time...and to expect a wait. But how long? Does anyone have an idea of the time frame from SC decision to candidate offer? Ack! I feel like a fourteen year-old girl again, waiting by the phone.
- It can take quite a while, sorry to say. Depending on how your would-be university operates, the SC may need to meet, then report to the department for approval (and arranging impromptu dept meetings can be hard), then get Dean approval. So assume nothing within a timeframe of 2-3 weeks. After that, there's always the possibility that they offered it to someone else, who dithers around before finally saying no, and if they regard you as a fine second choice, you could be kept in the dark during that timespan.
||Basically, we academics are dumbshits. We spend 5-10 years going to graduate school, and many of us go into debt in the process. And then we go on the job market and only a small percentage of us find decent jobs. Most end up working poverty wages as adjuncts, and even those of us who get tenure-track positions end up working for crappy pay. I'm an assistant professor with a book, and I have a tenure-track position that pays in the low 40s. With my graduate work and experience, I could make 7K more teaching in the local school district. Most of the staff at my college gets paid significantly more than my colleagues and I do. WTF? And I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm am so ashamed that I allow myself to be screwed so mercilessly.
- I would love to earn as much as you do. I'm teaching at a community college now out of sheer desperation, my P/T gig at an R1 having dried up. I knew I was in for a treat straight out of Blackboard Jungle when I walked in the first evening and a few troglodytes in the back row never bothered to turn their desks around as they slobbered over their BK burgers. It's been that way since. See no evil, hear no evil. I look straight into the light of the overhead projector, go into a trance, and read my PowerPoint slides verbatim. Thank Jeebus for Jim Beam.
- I am very sorry for you. Two years ago I had a similar situation and had to accept work at a junior college--well, where I live they are technical colleges (so you have a mixture of college transfer kids and welders, electricians, etc. in your classes). It was a difficult adjustment. You are right--they are not the same students as you get at an R1. But, I was very lucky. When I looked a little closer at my students I began to see them (at least enough of them to make my time worthwhile) as very hard working (if disadvantaged and a little undereducated) people trying to carve out a better life for themselves after the textile mill closed or after their kids got old enough that the parents could get time for classes--and I liked them and in return they liked me back and we got along fine. I still have a high attrition rate in my classes (mostly the very young, immature students--I imagine your BK burger eaters--who can't hack my class--I'm pretty demanding by junior college standards), but I have also found a core of students who really want to better themselves and learn. And, this experience has made me a much, much better teacher--a skill that is perhaps not as valued at R1 institutions as it should be, but one pretty desirable one step down where many of us are going to end up in this market. I really think that as long as you look into the overhead projector light you are going to be miserable and you aren't going to get anything out of it at all--so it will continue to be a waste of your time. If it were me, I'd look a little closer, find a core in the class I could connect with and teach, find methods of getting the material across in a way they could understand (maybe reading your power point notes is not so effective--I'd be bored in such a class), and I'd take something away from the experience. If you don't find a way to get through it without disgust and bitterness, that will come through in every interview you have after. And, it doesn't do you any good to live that way, either. Look at the junior college as one more challenge--like jumping through the hoops in graduate school. This job, like any other, will only be what you make of it.
- The above conversation is fascinating, and I have nothing substantive to add to it. Let me affirm that we academics are dumbshits, though. I am profoundly thankful that I kept my skills for my backup plan semi-active, and was able to get a non academic job earning 227% what I was making as a lecturer. I still dream of a decent tenure-track job, but at least I have a decent salary as a palliative until then. The first thing I tell people thinking about grad school: DON'T. The second thing: IF YOU DO, DON'T TAKE OUT LOANS. The third: KEEP AN ACTIVE BACKUP PLAN. My other consolation, at not getting that R1 job this year? At least I don't need to exploit any grad students. The saddest thing about me personally? I do really believe that academia is basically a pyramid scheme - and I still want to be in on it. Am I just a little Madoff?
||Dear Podunk Midwestern Regional State University, Thank you so much for my campus visit. I greatly appreciated the five minute driving tour; it was great to see the entire town. Your Chili's is immaculate; the urinal cakes were near new. Most of your students did NOT seem feral. Thank you for booking me a flight that was three flights, when it could, very easily, and for the same price, have been two. But most of all, thank you for lying to my face about just how this job search played out, with one of your'n (you know that contraction, right, you inbred hicks?) saying that the job had been cancelled and another SC member saying a different candidate was chosen. Thank you. Your professionalism will not be forgotten. I am sorry that come autumn I will not be taking long strolls past the Wal-Mart and adjacent manufacturing plant. Perhaps you can send along some pictures, though a screen shot from Deliverance would do the trick, too. ***Kind of funny. But that college (and many others like it) are really glad they made the right decision and didn't hire you. Nothing worse than having to interact with a colleague each day who is absolutely miserable in the job and is sure they deserve better.***
- Dear Poster: Ok, the lying to you sucks. I'm sorry; no one deserves that. However, you attitude towards the Midwest, the students, and small towns, and your apparent unconcern to distinguish the Midwest, dialectally, from the South (yourn is Southern, not Midwestern) makes it pretty clear to me why you didn't get offered the position.If you show up to sneer, you're going to be sent back to whichever coast you came from. Love, Raised in the Midwest, Teaching in Appalachia, Love 'Em Both.
||I'm an ABD who had THREE on-campus interviews this year and got NO job offers. I finished #2 in all three searches, was told I'm totally hireable, but that the committee opted to make the offer to someone with a book. Should I concluded that there's something totally wrong with me that no one is willing to tell me? Or that my luck will change after some more experience? I felt confident--at least statistically speaking--that with three visits, at least one should come through. Anyone else have a similar experience?
- My sympathies, but you should consider yourself VERY lucky to have landed 3 interviews as an ABD. Most folks I know, who have been out with a PhD for years (with publications, teaching, etc.) got NO interviews. I know it's a bummer now, but you'll have much more experience for next year.
- The previous poster is dead-on. I don't mean to be (as Jon Stewart might say) dickish, but if an ABD is getting hired over a candidate with publications (particularly a book) and post-Ph.D. teaching, this strikes me as a far bigger problem with the market. Yes, I have a horse in this race, but as a general issue I find the fetishization of "promise" and "freshness" by search committees to be silly at best, and reflective of some serious insecurity and/or lack of imagination at worst.
- ^^^I understand the concern, if this is in fact a general problem, but it sounds like this poster just gave you three fairly clear examples in which freshness wasn't fetishized. And isn't it possible that, in individual cases, the ABD might actually be a better candidate than someone who happens to have a book? (Maybe I'm just reacting to the fetishization of monographs here, but I hope my point seems fair.)
- Well, it really depends upon the position. I mean, I think the "fetishization of monographs" doesn't come from job seekers, it comes from most tenure committees. If these are teaching universities that are rejecting the original poster, that's one story. If they're research based jobs (at all), then that's another story. I personally think that publications shouldn't be such a huge factor, but I'm not on a tenure committee, and schools want to hire somebody they think can succeed. Also, I think three interviews as an ABD is amazing. Work on getting publications out the door. As many as you can. Then you'll be an even stronger candidate.
- Three campus interviews! For my part, I had as many interviews this year as I had books published this year. Hint: the number was not zero in either case. Don't believe that publications will help you - search committees want what they want when they want it, and nothing else.
- I totally agree with the poster directly above. But, I'll add to it that this year there is a frenzy of let's get the best degreed candidate we can because the market allows us to interview people who in a normal year wouldn't even look at us. At one campus interview one of the SC members actually pulled me aside to tell me that while the SC was very impressed with me, their other candidates were from more impressive institutions and would look better on the books(my degree is from a state school--flagship, but nonetheless a state school) (I will mention that while I am a new graduate, I do have a book contract already with a good academic press). I have always found the "best degree" mentality very interesting. The best degree does not mean someone is a good fit for a department or school. The last couple of years I have been adjuncting at a teaching school (not a research institution) and have seen "the best degrees" pass through, canceling a third of their class meetings (or more) in a year so that they can travel around interviewing at other places in an effort to "get the hell out." That's not always the case, but often those of us with the best degrees feel entitled to a 2-2 load and a research budget at a school with students scoring above 22 or 23 on the ACT and located on one of the coasts. And that's just not the real world for most of the schools out there. I must admit that there is some bitterness this year in having my stellar teaching evaluations, book contract, six years of university teaching experience, and hard work overlooked simply because the economy makes it easier for departments to get a "better degree" than mine. But, I'll be really interested to see how many of those better degrees stay put at the University of "State" at "small, insignificant branch town/not main campus" once a few more jobs open up!
- Well, I have one of those "best degrees", I've published (with more in the pipeline), and I've taught at good places. All of this has produced, out of 60 applications over the last few years, one AHA interview, and it wasn't even in my subfield. So apparently publications don't help, teaching doesn't help, and having a "best degree" doesn't help. Of course, it's quite possible that my degree is only semi-best--hires in my subfield this year are going exclusively to the Ivy-covered, it seems...
- That's exactly what I was talking about. One of the jobs I interviewed for was first offered to an ABD from an Ivy school (who turned it down) and was ultimately accepted by another Ivy Leaguer (who, to his credit does have a book out and has a year of teaching experience at a rather elite little college on the East Coast). Maybe I'm wrong--I have never met the person who took the job, but I really have to wonder how he will like teaching four classes a semester and holding 6 office hours a week with no research budget in the middle of nowhere. But, maybe that is good because maybe he'll leave and the job will be open again and the search committee will be more interested in credentials other than Ivy League degree.
- If they're telling you that you're their second pick, then you don't need to worry that it's a personality issue. SCs are far more notorious for ignoring and casting aside those who they don't pick, so when they actually make an effort to keep your spirits up, you should feel good about how well you interview. It sucks to come #2, but don't let it get you down
||I'm so desperate and infuriated by the silence of a SC that, to my eternal shame, I've been [partial content deleted to avoid excrement hitting the proverbial fan]. It's at least given me something to go with. Before anyone rips me apart for my lack of ethics, let me state in my defense that this is my feeble revenge against not seeing a penny of the trip expenses I was promised ("immediately upon completion of trip") and that I was given every indication that I was the front-runner.Has anyone else sunk as low as I have? (*long, mournful sigh*)(new poster) Well, you can't let it drive you completely over the edge or into doing something that is illegal and can be traced back to you. I don't know your situation, but if you are free enough (don't have kids in school or a spouse's job to consider), apply for some of these VAP positions coming out now. The VAP jobs can be a great way to get teaching experience--real experience beyond TAing--and can even be good for networking sometimes. I totally understand how you feel. My husband and I are both on the market and were finalists for several TT positions that would have worked for us. In the end, we got nothing--the place we really wanted went with an Ivy League degree--one of the SC members emailed to say that the SC just couldn't resist getting a really good degree out of the recession. It is frustrating. Said individual undoubtedly will not wish to stay at this particular place--in fact, I am pretty sure they posted below about how awful the town is--and in two or three years they'll move on. But, there is absolutely nothing that any of the candidates can do about any of it. And, it might not even be the SC in your case. Last year a member of a SC called to congratulate me on getting a TT job and then the chair of the department chose a person that had not even been interviewed on campus or named as a finalist by the search committee--it was someone that one of the administrators knew and wanted to get a job for. Dwelling on it is unhealthy and it takes away time from what you need to do now--get a Plan B--figure out what you are going to do to ride out the year if you do not get this job. Good luck. I really do wish you well. Unless you were the Ivy League degree that got my dream job. Just kidding. Even then, good luck. :)
- (first poster) Thanks, new poster, for the sage advice and kind words. I wish you all the best as well. I can imagine how hard it must be for you and your spouse to be in the run-up to several TT positions only to see the dream fade. I've been having so-so days and bad days, but now I'm trying to just focus on publishing. My level of resentment for the job search process remains unabated though. Is this what we're all doomed to become eventually when we finally get to be in a position to crush underlings?
- Hang in there. Certainly some of the senior faculty have become jaded and evil and seek to crush underlings, but the majority of them are just academics (Let me define academics for you--People with poor manners and deep, riveting insecurities who have learned through dealing with corrupt university administrators to practice the CYA way of doing business and thus sit silently while injustices occur rather than risking themselves or their positions.). I think that too many academics simply get caught up in the profession--they put off getting married and having kids and enjoying the real pleasures of life (which are usually found outside of the university)and thus find joy only in besting a colleague or winning some award that no one will remember in a month's time. And, when you think about it, what real compensation does the profession offer? The pay is low, regular people think of professors as snooty and overeducated, and to get anywhere you really do often have to fight for it with your claws. So, if you don't want to be like that, don't. Have a life outside, something that makes you happy--the kind of happy that doesn't fade when your book is no longer used in someone's classroom or when you retire (which ultimately everyone has to). Grow something more important in your life that will serve to give you perspective when dealing with all the ninnies at work.
- I don't think my case is illegal, but I'm considering dropping two of the three members of my committee out of sheer hatred. I had a campus visit for a job at a rural school that I really really liked. I liked the faculty, I liked everything about it, and I felt I would be able to carve out a place for myself there. Then, right after their visits ended, at the time this school would be calling references in anticipation of deciding on an offer, my committee members started sending me these freakout e-mails, saying "there's no way I'd sign off on your dissertation this year, you only have chapters 1, 3, 4, and 5" and (I paraphrase) "you idiot, no one ever thought you were supposed to finish this year; you can't take a job." Yes, and why exactly were you congratulating me three weeks ago when I got the campus visit? Why did you write the f'ing rec letters in the first place? Would you be singing a different song if this was a 2/2 R1 school? It's basically a stonewall of "even if you get this job, we'll be assholes because we think it's beneath this department to place you there." And I can't stop wondering if they sold me out to the SC when they were checking references, saying "oh, this person won't finish the diss! probably just lying to you." thereby trashing my reputation. I hate this so much. Yeah, I know some people will call me lucky for getting a visit at all, but believe me, it sucks, having to continue to work with these people who think being stepped on by them as a grad student is preferable to being in a TT position in my field, with colleagues I like.
(new poster). I had to respond after reading this first poster's comment. I agree with the second poster that you can't be doing things like trying to hack into the search committee's e-mail accounts. This is illegal and could result in serious repercussions for you. Even worse, you shouldn't be admitting to it on this public wiki. It's not that hard to trace these Wiki postings, and your actions could be discovered. It's bad enough not to get one job that you wanted, but you wouldn't want to get the kind of reputation that would prevent you from getting any future jobs as well (believe me, I have been on both sides of the process, and there are a few of those kinds of candidates). A word to the wise.
- I'm the first poster. I should clarify that my irrational outburst was a short-lived and quite harmless affair. I'm no hacker, and as I said, I was very ashamed to have entertained this fantasy. The poster directly above me is quite right in pointing out the folly of the action and my naivety in admitting to it here. I supppose "venting" has its limits in a public wiki. To set the record straight, I strongly condemn any illegal activity of that sort. The sense of powerlessness and futility that the job search process brings on demands stamina and maturity, both of which I'm obviously still working on.
||Yes, I am pretty low and just witnessed my dreams of teaching young people go up in smoke. As an adjunct and internal candidate for "my" present temporary FT position, I didn't even make the short list for an interview. I had to grit my teeth as they paraded grinning "suits" through the halls for their interviews the past few weeks. So much for folks hating internal candidates! They said they couldn't consider any of my service time for them, student evaluations, peer reviews, etc at their school since it wouldn't be fair to the other 100 candidates! Fair? I stepped in at the last minute for them several times and even gave up another position in hopes of snagging a TT position there! Funny and very unethical that no one in that entire department told me that they could not count the service with them towards a position there. No favoratism shown! No fairness either. Used and abused - but so much wiser! Listen and learn!
- That sucks! I've heard many apocryphal stories of internal candidates having the handicap of "familiarity" to overcome. SC often act like junkies for novelty, at the expense of the loyal local helot slaving away in the gallows of the Department. I feel your pain, having been at the receiving end of stinging betrayal when a position that was OFFERED to me failed to materialize when I made the mistake of inquiring about job prospects for my spouse in the two-bit town (not even the university itself). I never knew until recently that academia is populated largely by foam-at-the-mouth troglodytes.
- I have more respect for a pig than I do for most SC. At least a pig will let you know whether or not it likes you.
- 4/3/09 My husband took a job (TT) in a small, Southern city 8 years ago. I was working on my Ph.D. then and the chair promised that as soon as I finished there would be a job for me. For six years I adjuncted (sometimes full time, sometimes part time), teaching some of the worst classes and at the worst places (this school has a campus at a military base some miles away where I taught weekend and evening classes as part of my load,which in itself was not so bad as soldiers are great students but which required me to go through checkpoints and have my car searched every time I went to class). My teaching evaluations were among the best in the department and my peer evaluations were also excellent. The year I finished my Ph.D., two tenure track positions opened up in my field in the department. Despite the new chair's obvious attempts to sabotage my candidacy (he would not allow me to use any of my teaching or faculty evaluations, two of my letters of recommendation came up missing after having been logged in--one of them was my advisor's letter and he was out of the country on a Fulbright, I was advised I had 24 hours to get the letters in the file, my "class lecture" was scheduled for the last day of regular classes before finals when many SC members could not attend, the Dean blew off my scheduled interview and the secretary called around to find "anyone" who could meet with me, the chair advised the SC that since my husband works at the school it would be nepotism if I were to be hired, etc.), the SC sent my name up for both positions. One of the SC members called to congratulate me on getting the job! But, I did not get the job. The chair gave one position to a person who had gotten their BA and MA at the school (and got the Ph.D. at the lowest ranked history department in the country) and the other to an outside person whom the committee had not named. I went through the channels as directed by HR and for my troubles got blacklisted by the chair who has not given me a single class since. Last year there were 2 one year fixed term positions--he gave one to a person with only an MA (who by his own admission can not get to class on time because it conflicts with his kids' school schedule) and the other to another adjunct in the department whose teaching evaluations are so low that the undergraduate coordinator told her she would never get hired anywhere until she brought them up. Academia is a bad, bad place.
- @last poster: whenever I think I've heard the worst story in academia someone manages to "best" it. Your story should be added to the annals of academic nightmares. I am truly sorry to hear about the underhanded way in which you've been treated. I can't think of any other upper-tier profession where collusion, duplicity, secrecy, betrayal and rabid competition are given so much free rein.
- Thank you for the kindness. I'm embarrassed because it was a year ago and I'm still struggling to get over it. But, it really is hard--especially when the job market has trapped us here.
||In an effort to re-direct my career, I thought I'd pursue the chance to teach in an independent secondary school--good students, nice sense of community, and the chance to be in the classroom and use my 10+ years of teaching and curriculum experience at SLACs. Not so fast, buddy! The biggest recruiting firm in the field curtly informed me (after a god-awfully long on-line application process) that they will not accept me as a client, due to my lack of secondary-school teaching work. Is teaching seminars and small classes to eighteen and nineteen year-olds at Emily Dickinson College, or serving as a dorm parent at Ivy-Crusted U., really that radically different than working at Abercrombie Prep? Is secondary school teaching really that difficult to master without extensive experience in secondary school teaching? If so, doesn't this beg the question of how one might gain this experience in the first place?
- This indeed sounds a bit odd, since I applied to one of the largest recruiting firms (I'll just say the one I applied to is in Boston - Carney Sandoe) and they accepted my candidacy right away. I had recently earned my Phd and only had adjunct and graduate school teaching experience, although I did a bit of substitute teaching (but just a few days). So, I would question why your candidacy was declined. They have been great to me, in the sense of sending me a lot of openings... But it is a tough market even there!
- As a former administrator at an independent middle school, I would suggest applying directly to the schools. Also, it's very easy to get a provisional state teaching license once you land a job. If you like teaching kids, you take the requisite education courses. If you don't, you have three years to decide.
||I am so depressed and demoralized by this job search. It is totally NOT what I expected nor is it what my advisor prepared me for. I applied for 14 jobs in the field of education. I'm in a hot field- science ed, and I thought I was a shoe-in at a half dozen schools. I'm down to two now. I expect to get a rejection from one any day, and am holding onto hope that the last one, University of "Upper South", will follow through on their promise that an offer is coming soon.... Everyone told me that with my experience and education that I could write my own ticket. After 5 years of grad school at the #2 public school in the nation, a successful defense of my dissertation, and promising on-campus interviews, I JUST DON'T GET IT!!!!!!! THIS SUCKS.
- Yep, it sucks for lots of us. I have a top-notch Ph.D., have taught at some great places, and have two books to my credit. I've applied now for over sixty jobs in field, and probably a dozen in academic advising, admin, and the like, over the past three years. I've never had a campus interview, not once. My mentors profess bafflement at this state of affairs, which leaves me wondering whether they're clueless, I'm a loser, or the universe is cruel. Likely a combination of all three. The difference, however, is that you'll almost certainly be hired next time around (if not this one), given your field (amply supported by private and public dollars) and your youth. Besides, if you can't find an academic job, you have a good chance to land something in the non-profit or for-profit sector. I'm over forty, with a wife and kids, in a less-than-hot subdiscipline of history--not a recipe for success, even when the recession o'death isn't upon us.
- Addendum: At 3:04 pm I got a job offer from U of "Upper South" with all the financial details, teaching details, perks, etc. So, three hours of crying ended with a celebration dinner at our local favorite restaurant. By the way, I'm not so young- 45- and wonder if that has hurt me. But, I got lucky. Very very lucky.
||Sigh. Got an offer from a place and from people I truly fell in love with when I had my campus visit. The job description and situation was also perfect. But the offer is financially so low, I'd have to live in my car to survive...sigh.
- I'm in the same position. I really loved the school and all the folks there, but I doubt if I'll be able to do many dinners and social things with them for my first year. The budget crisis strikes even after you get the offer! They tell me that things might get better next year. Good luck!
||My first campus visit anywhere; SC was pleasant but cold while I was there...I could tell they already had their pick. After getting the form-letter rejection, I sent an email thanking the SC chair for their consideration, and asked for any suggestions for improvement. No response for a couple weeks. Sent an email to the dept. chair, asking for the same...and I received back verbatim what was in the form letter ("...another candidate whose experience and qualifications appear to more closely meet the current needs..."). Perhaps they thought I was just asking "why didn't I get the job?", rather than "how could I have improved my interview performance?"...
- Sorry that it was such a bad experience. Could you email another professor from the school, maybe someone you made a connection with? At the very least, they can offer some feedback on your job talk/teaching presentation.
- I'm sorry you had such a cold reception during your campus visit -- that really stinks. Unfortunately, a lot of schools have policies that prevent them from giving you any more information about your candidacy, even after everything is done. University HR departments really fear being sued by an applicant who didn't get the job, and so they go overboard enforcing the Wall Of Silence. It seems as though that's the most likely situation you're in right now. If you're really worrying about your interviewing skills, you might consider setting up mock-interviews/job talks/etc. with faculty at your home institution, if you haven't already.
- If you could tell they already 'had their pick,' as you put it, when you got there, then it sounds like you can't really make any assumptions about your performance. And they can't really (legally) or otherwise give you any helpful feedback. I'd follow Poster #2's suggestions and do a mock interview, job talk, and teaching demo at your home institution (with faculty or your peers) if at all possible.
Update from orig. poster (2009-4-3): Snagged an offer from my first choice of the 5 I applied to ...great program, and I may actually have time to publish. Soooo glad now that I did NOT get an offer from that first place. I am SO very, very thankful, esp given all I've read here.
- Big Big Congrats on getting your first choice! (4/4)
||Spring Break! Spring Break!!! Which means...the two jobs I had phone interviews for last week aren't going to get back to me for an excruciating ten days! Actually, that's not true -- one of the jobs e-mailed me with a campus invitation within 24 hours of my interview. However, I NEVER GOT THE INVITATION because it got re-routed into my Spam E-mail box!!! A few days later, clearing out my spam, I found a very curt follow-up letter from the search chair asking me if I was still interested. Of course I replied immediately that I was and apologized for my aggressive spam filter (which blocks e-mails from major universities while allowing Viagra and Breast Enhancement specialists access for some reason). But now that they are on spring break, it's not very easy to get ahold of anyone in order to prepare. As for the second school, hopefully I'll hear next week....although I'm not sure how they will evaluate me. Of the five search committee members, only THREE were on the phone (and one of them is not at all in my area of specialty, clearly just a body to fill out the committee)....the other two were (you guessed it) already headed somewhere for Spring Break. LESSON LEARNED: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR SPAM E-MAIL!!!
- You're right. Every email scammer can find you, but this very important piece of correspondence can't. Best of luck with your campus visit!
||Okay. I interviewed with the school at MLA and was told I'd hear back the first week in January. I contacted the school in late Jan. just for a little closure, and was told I was still a "live candidate" and that the dept. would appreciate it if I could update them on my status. This I did. Since then...nothing. I heard that in mid-Feb. they offered the position to another candidate who accepted. Sheesh! It's March! At least extend the once-live candidate the courtesy of a rejection notification!
- I wonder why schools do this. I had a flyback in mid-February and have not heard anything since then even though I've emailed the department and the search committee chair. This process has been such a pain in the butt.
||Rejection Letter from Eastern Kentucky University: "The history faculty at Eastern Kentucky University appreciates your recent expression of interest in an advertised opening in our department. After carefully reviewing each application, a search committee conducted phone interviews and then invited several scholars to campus for visits. As a result, we were able to make an offer to a specialist in Post-1945 U.S. History and the offer was accepted." What this candidate would like to reply: "Screw you. I sent you my application four months ago and you never even bothered to acknowledge receipt. And, as a specialist in post-1945 US History myself (at least I would call myself that since that is in fact what my degree is in and what my soon to be published by a good university press book is on), I really appreciate how you phrased your letter in such a way as to imply that those of us who were not chosen for interviews are somehow not specialists in our field. Fuck off."
- Sorry to hear that you didn't get the news you wanted, and I love the way you broke down the rejection letter! I hope you've gotten a new offer.
||I know that given the current economic situation I shouldn't say this but what if there's no way I would accept the job, and that is, IF they offered it to me. Just back from a campus visit, and was really, really, really unimpressed with the school and the dept. Am I nuts?
- I don't think you're nuts at all. The job market is TERRIBLE, but what's the point in taking a job that makes you feel worse than being unemployed? We have it beaten into us that we are no good without an academic job, but we have a ton of marketable skills that we can transfer to all kinds of jobs. At any rate, you can always adjunct and try again. I had two friends who both landed job offers this year. One of these friends has been on the market for about five years and landed two offers from two of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. This person is brilliant but has also been incredibly patient and persistent. Ask yourself what you don't like about the school that you visited. Are there things about that situation you could possibly change if you were offered the job? What are you willing to live with to be a prof? I am teaching at this amazing school for non-traditional students; my colleagues are wonderful (to a person) and the students are often as good as any I have ever had. I never dreamed I would end up teaching at a school like this (we're in an office building, for god's sake) but I love it.
- You can't take a job that will make you miserable. I passed on a TT job last year in favor of a contract system job because the TT job would have made me absolutely miserable. Many of my former colleagues thought I was crazy to not go TT but I had to think about whether or not I could have spent 7 years at the job. And I couldn't. I just couldn't.
- I wonder if we just came back from the same interview, it was totally depressing and horrifying at the same time (and I REALLY want out of my current situtation). Despite this, I wouldn't take the job at Scary U even if they had offered it. I noticed on the wiki someone accepted an offer and all I could think was 'poor sucker, how desparate must they have been?" I don't care how 'crazy' it may seem to turn an offer down, I'm not moving from one bad situtation to a worse one.
||So I found out through various channels that I am the "third choice" for a certain school. The other two candidates were referred to as "hot candidates." So, jumping the gun a little, if those two don't work out or decline the offer and the school calls me, how many years will I need to get over that fact that they settled for me like a second cousin on prom night?
- a job is a job. Almost all of my advisors were 4th on an invite list of 3. And they got the job because the other 3 didnt work out. If you get it--be happy!
- Also remember, you are third out of probably 150 applicants! Not a bad place to be!
- One upside to being "low on the list" is that you may be in a better position to exceed expectations during the tenure track. In any case, I would wonder what it all means, like you are doing, but I think once you have tenure, you'll just think of it as a quirky part of your road to career success.
- My wife was called to campus after four previous candidates didn't pan out, or took other jobs. She's now a few months from receiving tenure. In the end, nobody remembers whether you were the "number one" candidate--if they offer you the job, they think you'll do just fine.
- It doesn't matter where you are on the list. Having witnessed several failed searches, I can tell you if they didn't want you, they would not have made an offer; rather, the search would have failed, and they would have started over.
||After all of this, even if I get something (which is growing less and less likely), is it going to be worth it? This whole job hunt process makes me feel as though I've signed up for waves of torture for an unknown privilege that could prove to be no privilege at all.
||Is it just me, or does waiting actually reduce overall productivity of everyone? I'm so tied to the outcome of crap jobs and/or the possibility of ANOTHER post-doc, that my actual research productivity goes out the window. Anyone else in the same boat?
- It's not just you. Or maybe it is, but in that case, it's just us because it's me too.
- I hear ya both. I'm at the point where I feel folks should just reject me faster after a campus visit so that I can get back to my writing.
- I barely read a line and I did not write a full sentence since my last campus visit, three weeks ago. Seriously.
- I really believed that I was a patient person, but I can't take much more of this. I'm waiting on a postdoc and a job decision this week, and I can't function. Yesterday, I went to see Confessions of a Shopaholic, and today I'm playing Lego Star Wars. ugh!
- Me too. I find it so hard to write right now! And the worst thing is that I am not even sure I would REALLY want the job! Ugh. This whole process has left me pretty confused.
- Another day checked off the calendar. Today I goofed off on Faceboook and played more Lego Star Wars. At least I didn't go to the movies. The search committees said that I would hear this week, so tomorrow should be decision day, right? This whole process should be outlawed.
||At what point does your brain explode from waiting?
- Maybe after the first week of intense dreams, generally restless sleep, and feeling tired because of the first two
||10 Things to do while waiting for word after a campus visit: 1. Muse upon the multiple possible meanings of phrases "Good luck," and "Keep in touch." 2. Facebook/email/work on dissertation/facebook/weather.com/email (repeat, repeat, repeat) 3. Create elaborate scenarios about reasons why the socially inept search chair generally neglected to facilitate conversation 4. Debate yourself over which answers were the worst, or only slightly sucky, during search committee interview 5. Eat chocolate chip cookies 6. Go to bodypump class to work off cookies 7. Consider viability of start up moped rental business in Greece, in the Cyclades, on Oia. 8. Get crush on member of search committee for no reason other than she/he referred to/seemed to like/didn't think an article you published in small unimportant journal sucked 9. Facebook some more 10. Make 3rd pot of coffee.
- Thank you! A) It's such a relief to read it's not just me and B) you made me laugh out so loudly that the dog woke up!
- You're welcome. At least -something- that I am writing is working for someone! (Seriously, I rec'd a (surprisingly generous) job offer a couple of days ago, and now I'm onto waiting for the official contract, negotiations, and their confidence that I can finish the diss by August (which I am now working on at a better clip)...it NEVER seems to end!)
||Isn't it horrible that I now HATE holidays (like President's Day today) because it means yet another day to wait for a response from a university?! I can't wait until this whole job search is OVER and I can actually relax on a day off!
||Having A Fit....Now that it’s used as a euphemism to justify all manner of reasons why a candidate isn’t hired, the “we found a better fit in someone else” justification fails to instill any kind of satisfaction in the unsuccessful candidate. It is now used so promiscuously that it has ceased to carry any explanatory force and effectively reads as “we didn’t choose you and we’re not going to tell you why.” It might mean anything from “We think you smell bad” to “We’re looking for a political historian and you’re too much of an intellectual historian.” Tell me something specific. Tell me that you didn’t like my book manuscript, that you thought my talk was underwhelming, or that you’re looking for someone with a more established publication record. Tell me that my answers in Q&A were unsatisfying, that I seemed too cocky or too reserved, or that my research methodology is too disconcertingly interdisciplinary. I can take it. It might even help me in next year's search process. But telling me that someone else was a better “fit” doesn’t actually tell me anything. I get the reasons why committees use this as an excuse for not hiring someone, I really do; but perhaps it’s time to move out of the comfort zone that the “fit” non-explanation creates and into a more honest and productive field of professional critique.
- You are so right in principle. Of course, you're assuming that the criteria used are both rational and explicable - which, doubtless, they sometimes are, but not always. Besides, there are lots of reasons which they can't tell you. Like, "we're pale, stale, and male and looking for likewise," or, "we're pale, stale, and male, and looking to diversify," or "you remind the Chair of his/her ex," or "you're intimidatingly smart, and we need someone a little dimmer to feel good about ourselves," or "neither faction got the candidate it wanted - instead, we settled on a compromise candidate." My point is that even if you were offered an explanation for your rejection, it would probably be a rationalization or even an outright deception more often than not. That does nothing to alleviate your frustration, but you're also treating the process with more respect than it deserves. You probably did a great job at your interview - sometimes, when someone says "it's not you, it's me," it's true.
- I am coming to think the biggest problem here is that there are so many candidates and academic jobs aren't exactly rocket science. Probably almost every one of a search committee's AHA interviewees could walk in to their school, do a good job teaching, publish their D down the road, and serve on a committee, and as a result by the time it gets to on-campus every one of the candidiates they invite could do the work well. Unless you wear Bermuda shorts or grope the chair or completely blow your job talk, how are they going to choose between two or three people who could all do the job just fine? "Fit" = "crapshoot," for that simple reason, and sometimes it's for reasons such as diversity etc., but I think it also can just be a fancy term for coin-flipping. If you are getting to the on-campus point there may not BE anything incredibly weak about your presentation that can be critiqued... in fact, if you're making on-campus out of 300 applicants, there may not be ANYTHING wrong with you that could be expressed in any kind of professional language. Maybe it's just that there's too many of us who can knock the ball out of the park in a TT job.
- To support the previous poster's point: a friend who served as an external SC member for a history search this year tried to comfort me (I didn't get an interview) with the observation that ALL of the 160+ appplications were really strong (unlike other years, where there were always some number of clearly substandard applicants). In his opinion, any one of the files he read would have justified an AHA interview. As a result, the SC had the luxury of selecting the crème de la crème long before the campus interview stage. That this might be true, of course, is beyond depressing. What's a person gotta do these days??
- OP, here. I totally agree with y'all, and thanks so much for posting. Even though I've witnessed the arbitrariness of these decisions by committees in my Dept (I'm junior faculty), it's easy to lose that perspective when you're the one in the hot seat. This is me taking a deep breath and not taking it personally...(even though I *do* want to hear about it if I screwed something up and the "fit" is just used as an euphemism...)
- I got a job offer this year and I learned who my on-campus interviewee competitors were, and based on the fairly hefty amount of info I got about them online, the only things that can explain why I was chosen instead of them are 1) they all have horrible interpersonal skills or bombed their talks, or 2) I was a better fit. (I'm pretty sure I was the first choice, too.) Based on credentials and achievement, etc., I could argue that most of them were more accomplished than me. I don't see how any of them would have the jobs they have now if they were jerks, so that possibility seems unlikely. And during my interview I started getting an idea that my study area (which is different from my competitors) was really interesting to the department because they had nobody doing what I do. So as unhelpful as it is to hear it, I really think that fit is a big deal. My current advisor says it is when they search where I am now.
- As someone above points out, it's dangerous to assume search committee rationality, but it's also dangerous to think that a department all agree with each other. One person in the dept might tell you why he didn't like you, but that might just be him, and if you think it's something you could change or address, maybe nobody else cares. Maybe you weren't "a good fit" since somebody who everyone else hates in the department liked you? Or because another candidate went to the same grad school as one of your would-be colleagues? If you really want a reason, study fraternities on one hand, and three year-olds playing on the other, and the average search committee resembles a mix of those two
||I know people have said that that after a school chooses its top 3 candidates for campus visits, it keeps some names as backups in case those three don't work out, but it still pisses me off that the school does not get in touch with the majority of the 15-20 they interviewed at the conference to let them know they have chosen the top 3. Why not just do that? I don't get it. It pisses me off. A month after the interview and I have not heard from any of the schools with whom I interviewed. Through wikia, I see that 2 of those 5 have supposedly made their calls to campus invitees. OK... so let me know!!!! I don't get it. The people around me don't get it either (and they are not in academia). The other 3 schools are silent ... All 15-20 candidates cannot be back up so just send a rejection email or letter.
- I'm in agreement on this one. It would only take ten minutes to send out a general "loved meeting you, we've decided to invite others to campus" e-mail to the non-finalists. If keeping options open is a concern, then the language could reflect this, i.e. "Loved meeting you, we are currently interviewing other individuals, but your candidacy remains active" (or some such). While campus interviewees do all wash out (or take other jobs) on occasion, it's a rare enough occurrence not to warrant a consistent policy of coy silence on the part of search committees.
- Here too. The lack of communication is infuriating. I can't believe the lack of basic civility in this process. We have all put great care into crafting letters for specific institutions, studied up on specific departments, sent out hundreds of pages of material, and traveled (at great financial expense) to the AHAs to meet with committees. The very least, and I do mean the absolute minimally decent thing, search chairs should communicate openly and honestly about the status of positions. I have spent hours (literally hours) talking on the phone and in person with search chairs who called to discuss positions. To not hear from these people is maddening. I am not bitter about campus invites (though it probably sounds like I am), I am disgusted with the lack of civility.
- I feel your pain! What is driving me absolutely loony is the uncertainty of it all. There is that little part of me that wants to believe that since I have not received word about not being chosen for campus visits, perhaps I will be...even though it is incredibly late in the game. I know for sure that one school with which I interviewed has already invited candidates thanks to the Wiki tracking system, but as for the others I prefer to have some hope coupled with uncertainty that is knawing my insides. Arghh... Best of luck to all of you! I would tell you that I hope you all get jobs, but since that's unrealistic, I simply wish that you will all be evaluated fairly throughout the process, which is also unrealistic for some of our candidacies but not for all of them, hopefully.
- OP here. 2/7 and still have heard nothing from any of the conference interviewers. I really can't believe it.
- This isn't confined to faculty searches, either. I was phone-interviewed for a mid-level administrative position at an R-1 in mid-January, and told that the committee would make decisions the next week. My references were contacted the following Monday. Since then, absolutely no contact of any kind. Since the job is supposed to start at the beginning of March, I'm assuming that they've hired someone. Nice of them to let me know.
||So, first off, I received and accepted a job offer for the upcoming school year so I know, particularly in the current economic climate, that I should feel lucky, but... Back in December, while on an on-campus interview, I received a call from a New England liberal arts college. They were interested in scheduling a phone interview and asked when I would be available. I was honest with them and told them that A) I was in the middle of an interview and B) that all of my notes concerning the job application and their school/job was back home. I would really need to be back in my office in order to do the interview. I asked if it could be done towards the end of the following week. I was told that the end of the week was too late. After some deliberation, I decided I would cut my trip short in order to rush home immediately following my interview in order to be in my office to do the interview.Let's forget for a moment that they were roughly 20 minutes late calling me, rather confusing in their interviewing techniques, and even borderline accusatory that I was unfamiliar with obscure particulars of their institution. Following the interview, they said they would be in touch with me in a matter of days regarding the setting up of an on-campus interview. Their timeline was, by their conveyance, extremely tight. Being only two weeks until their Winter Break, they wanted to bring their top candidates to campus in the following weeks. "Would I be available?" they asked. I told them it would be difficult, but I could make some adjustments and be there. Against my own comfort, intended to take a last-minute trip to New England. One of my references informed me that they contacted him and expressed their interest. I was pretty sure I was going to be asked to visit the campus. But I never heard from them again. Nothing. Not even a "thanks, but no thanks." Not a call, a letter, an e-mail. Nothing. So my question is: am I justified in being offended? I want to hold a grudge. Should I let it go or am I justified in harboring ill feelings and in my conclusion that the university, department, and committee are all untrustworthy? Shall i place them in the "Universities to Fear" category?
- They were pushy, you were honest and tried to accommodate them, they didn't treat you like the human being that you are. Sounds like their lack of respect for human dignity, time, and willingness to work with their inflexibility should land them on the "Fear Page" to me...
- I say tell your story. Not the biggest offense, but it sounds lame. Given that most searches are the ultimate responsibility of one and rarely two people, what I dislike about the "Fear Page" is that these kinds of search-related offenses are almost always one person's fault, but a whole department is usually indicted.
- Annoying, but you landed a job--why bother? Did you really want to work in that atmosphere anyway? Don't let it hang you up.
- While I agree with the "you landed a job--why bother" comment above, you seem to have deliberately laid yourself out there as a negative factor in this equation. Each time they asked something of you, however honest, you made it clear that they posed an inconvenience. In this job climate, they probably felt safer going for someone more enthusiastic/desperate/happy to hear from them and gave them a more you-are-my-number-one-school-choice performance. Would you have given the same responses if the call had come from your top tier school?
- I am very curious what school this was and if it was a social studies/history position. I had a campus interview--about 2 weeks before winter break, was told that I would know something in a matter of weeks, and never heard from them again. I sort of figure that the verbal offer has gone to one of the other two candidates, but the contract hasn't been signed and so they aren't officially notifying the other two. Or, maybe they are just jerks who will never bother to send out a rejection letter--or even a rejection email!
||A bit of humor, perhaps, during tough times. I was sitting in the TA office of my research university, working on another round of job applications, when a first year Masters student asked me how the job search was going. I shrugged, mumbled something about applying for anything and everything that I might be qualifed for, but not really expecting even a nibble this year as I'm still ABD...He laughed and said "Well, I certainly would NEVER apply for a job there (fill in "undesirable" portion of the country). Really, I only want to work at a top liberal arts college in a small town in the Northeast. I am not going to settle when I am on the job market." My turn to laugh. I wonder if he'll change his tune when reality sets in.
- I know I did--and not so long ago. I feel broken inside.
- Thank you for the humor! I was like him, even after I started applying. Boy did that naiveté disappear quickly. I'm surprised I can laugh at it so soon after the fact, especially since most of my interviews have not panned out. But it's like looking back at myself when I was young and realizing just how green and innocent I really was.
- Sounds right! Once doctoral program begins, the psychology goes like this: First year students dream of where they want to work, second year students dream about the better schools advertising openings, third-years dream of getting hired -- and ABD's are just thankful to get an interview -- anywhere. Call it the hierarchy of academic job expectations.
||ARGGG! What a silly path to have followed. Years of training for a lottery's chance at a job. Can't take one more "hang in there" speech. I'm tired of feeling like a I'm failing. It's exhausting.
- I hear you. I tired of the "hang in there" pep talks, too. It is exhausting. I can't even muster the little smile and weak thanks anymore. The pep talk literally brings me to tears every single time.
||It's a weird world. I have a humanities PhD, lots of publications, good teaching, few interviews, little prospect of an offer - then out of the clear blue sky I get a pretty stunning (and unsolicited) job offer from a corporation. Weirdly enough, they don't seem to be bothered by the fact that I don't have all the skills they need at the moment - in fact, they take my PhD and publications as evidence of my intelligence and ability. I didn't need to prove my ability to them - my academic accomplishments constitute proof enough, in their minds.While I would strongly prefer a mediocre TT job to an excellent corporate job, it's a good reminder of just how demented the academic job market is - all of us smart, dedicated people fighting like dogs for the privilege of making 50k a year, then having to fight like dogs again for tenure. Meanwhile, the corporations' initial offer is more than I'd made as an assistant professor anywhere short of Harvard. And I'd be working with a good group, using all sorts of interesting cutting-edge technology - lots of opportunity for learning.And I just had a friend who was denied tenure, too.
I love teaching and research, but there are days - more of them all the time - when I just *hate* this system.
- So, did you take the corporate job? :-)
- I sure did. See you folks in the funny pages. Fuck academia.
- You're so lucky! Congrats. I wish my fortune were to go this way. Well, back to the grind tomorrow.
||Perhaps if we all wrote letters as stellar as the anti-venter from 12-18 then we would all be teaching at fucking Stanford. And yes, I said fucking. Love, The Boffin.
||I received my PhD in May, and in the relatively short time (a few years) I've been following the market, I don't think I have seen a year that is as bad as this one. I am in an interim faculty position this year, applied to a couple of schools, and am thanking god that I have been offered a full-time position with the university where I teach (even though I am on contract and not on the tt) in Los Angeles. It's a bit scary out there, but do not despair fellow job seekers. The PhDs will inherit the earth!!!!!! (Hopefully there will be something to inherit when it's all said and done). The other job I'm waiting to hear back from is also on some kind of contract system. Doesn't anybody offer tt jobs anymore? To the poster from 2009-01-04, don't panic. Your ship will come in. And for the rest of you, I am sending out all my best energy. I hope everyone lands the job of his or her dreams. And yes, I am on my third single malt scotch tonight. Good luck and God Bless. Love and Luck, The Boffin.
||The post-MLA waiting to hear if I scored a campus interview is slowly devouring my brain, especially since multiple schools claimed they wanted to have mid-January campus visits. I'm trying not to panic and start applying to every other school whose application deadline has not passed.
||I am really worried about how the deteriorating economic situation is leading to all kinds of search freezes and cancellations. This has already happened to three positions I have applied for. Do others have experiences to add to this? Should I be as worried as I am? Thanks
- I feel your pain, I'm in the same boat. I too have lost three positions to the dreaded economy... Unfortunately, this is the type of thing that is completely out of our control; though frustrating as hell, nonetheless. All we can do is hang in and continue applying. Unfortunately I have no suggestions to ease your mind. Try to stay positive.