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2012 - 2014 Venting Edit

09-17-2014

Why is academicjobsonline.org such an astoundingly disastrous example of Web design and user-friendliness? More importantly, why do so many search committees at well funded institutions continue using academicjobsonline.org to collect applications? Beyond looking aesthetically like something out of 1994, the site requires users to read verbose blocks of text, rife with grammatical errors and typos, in order to perform basic tasks. Replacing generic application materials with tailored versions for a specific job is extremely confusing. And in order to have the site email your references so they can upload letters, you have to click on tiny green arrows whose vital function is in no way clear until you hover over them. It's as if the site's creators intentionally chose to defy every core principle of Web Design 101. I guess the one nice thing about the site is that it's free for job applicants. But it's not free for committees, and I don't understand why more of them don't opt for a vastly more professional and technically sound solution, like Interfolio (which has its own issues, but at least it was programmed by semi-competent people).

08-27-2014

I know I'm not the first (and probably won't be the last) to complain about this: but could institutions just agree upon a SET STANDARD of materials required from applicants? I don't understand why one position needs a letter, a CV, and writing sample, a teaching portfolio, transcripts and letters of rec from FIRST ROUND APPLICANTS. Meanwhile, another school is just asking for cover letter, CV, and teaching statement. I think the whole process would be easier (for both applicants and committees) if it was just a letter, a CV, and a statement of teaching/ research (depending on the focus of the institution)... because asking for more than that for the FIRST ROUND is ridiculous. After the preliminary cuts, request the additional materials. Geesh!

  • Not all search committees operate in the same way or to the same schedule. Some people definitely want to see rec letters straight away. Others do not. Just because something appears ridiculous to you does not necessarily mean that it is.
  • It really IS ridiculous. Can we just tell it like it is? I am speaking from someone who is on the TT now but still, from my own experience of being on the market for the last 4 years during my grad school and postdoc years, I can't tell you how many times I debate whether to apply for the schools that request "official" transcripts. I ended up just sending unofficial ones and if they don't shortlist me, so be it. If elite institutions want to screen whether you have worked with a famous advisor, well they can see that under "References," right? Request references info for the CV part and stick to that for the 1st round, can't we? I love being on the search committee or interviewing with interesting schools, but definitely NOT the initial part of sending letters of rec and PAYING for interfolio.
  • Seriously? Why not get all tech companies (or HR offices) to require a standard set of materials? Because each company/university/state is different, and has different standards and requirements. Odd that someone with an advanced degree can only see things from the perspective of "what would make things easiest for me".
8-1-2014

See the conversation about Michael Berube trolling Rebecca Schuman: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Michael_B%C3%A9rub%C3%A9&oldid=619479330

"It is indeed remarkable that Michael Bérubé, a full professor and former president of MLA, could be so immature. This page is surreal, like reading comments from a teenager. Take away the endowed full professor title and read these comments on Schuman and his tawdry attacks on others, he comes off not only as a troll but also a jerk and a bully. His patronizing and constant condescension toward others seems like a parody of a Full Professor mansplaining meme."

  • Berube was absolutely owned! Hilarious!
  • This is upsetting. Michael Bérubé should do us all a favor and retire. Imagine someone like this reading your application materials? Ugggg.... People who are so vain and petty and obviously insecure bring all of that to their judgments of dossiers. It's all quite ironic too as he has defended Salita, and yet he attacks people who post from anonymous IP addresses, calling them cowards! What a jerk. I guess that's why he stuck at Penn State? Reading the wikipedia discussion again, though, I get the feeling that Michael Bérubé is not the only "famous" full professor who is disrepectful to others (especially those who disagree with him) and generally a terrible example of professionalism.
5-7-2014

First off, I'm really thankful for having a job and being able to use my training, because, as most of you know, there are so many people who are overqualified for the jobs that they have, they're working in another industry just to survive, or they're struggling to get by on unemployment. That being said, it's frustrating to know that even after spending four years on the market and landing the coveted tenure track job, in many cases you will be struggling just to make ends meet and living like a college sophomore. No one goes into academia (at least not people in the liberal arts) expecting to make a corporate salary, but there's definitely a bit of a sticker shock when you realize that you'll need to live with a roommate and sell your car just to make rent every month. Maybe this is simply a case of supply and demand (universities and colleges know that they can always find someone willing to take your job) or a state of the post-post-Boomer economy, but as a young first generation working class kid, I was led to believe that a university professor was a highly esteemed middle class, white collar profession. I'm supposed to be the one who "made it" in my family, but I'm embarrassed to say that nearly every day I regret my decision to have pursued this career path.

03-06-14

Perhaps I am naive but in my field (in the arts) it seems a little easier to get a job than in many other, more academic or research oriented fields (this based on observations of friends/colleagues getting positions). I came so close last year only to watch one position go to a friend, another (for which I was told an offer letter was on its way) go to someone else, and a third never schedule the on-campus interview with me. I'm currently working professionally in my field and supporting myself with a day job. I watch traffic on my portfolio site every day and I can see that a lot of places are looking at me, some multiple times. I'm trying to be patient, I know the process takes a long time, but it's hard. One university in particular...the job was perfect for me, the description just seemed to have been written with my CV in mind. I hope every day that they will contact me but I know that the reality is that there are factors (like the expense of bringing me in as a candidate from across the country) beyond my control. I'm trying very hard to come to terms with the fact that it may not happen for me this year either. I might be facing another year of day jobbing. How can I stop the obsessive need to have THIS YEAR BE THE YEAR, and be ok if it eventually doesn't pan out for me?

  • - I'm an academic historian married to artist. Arts jobs, in our experience, are just as hard to get. The numbers are similar--my wife has been a finalist for jobs that had more than 700 applicants, and I don't think I ever faced such odds. The arts are also inherently more subjective (though, admittedly, not much more). Even in positions that advertise "Painting," whether you are classical, observational, post-modern, conceptual, and so on--according to someone else's definition, mind you, and depending on the preferences--will get you culled or advanced automatically at most jobs. Don't forget, also, that "MFA, Yale" trumps a whole lot of other factors. My wife has not landed a TT (in fact, I just landed my first ever TT position a few weeks ago), and she is probably leaving academia. She applied very selectively, but in the end it comes down to the fact that she would rather be making her art than teaching, anyway. I guess it comes down to this: did you get your MFA in order to become a Professor? Was that your career goal, or was your goal to make art? I'm not one of those annoying types who glorify the "starving artist" ideal--it's your job, not your "passion," or your "habit," or any of the other nonsense that leads the world to undervalue, at least monetarily, your work. Art jobs aren't easier to get; but what puts you in a position to "be okay" with it is that you can still make your art (and market it) without needing to be attached to a college or university in order to grant it the appearance of "legitimacy." I can't be an independent historian because I don't produce anything that anyone would be interested in outside of the academy. You do.
Neil Gaiman says it better than I do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI
03-03-14

[moved from front page of Academic Jobs Wiki] *Its time that all of the PHDs in all fields who are unemployed to start ragging on their state reps to do something about the employment picture for PHDs. NOT FEDERAL REPS, CONTACT YOUR STATE CONGRESSMAN. THEY CONTROL EDUCATION!!!! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US MUST CALL OUR REPS. THINK ABOUT HOW MANY CALLS THAT WOULD BE AND WHAT THE OUTCOME COULD BE? I just telephone interviewed for a vacancy for which their were over 600 applicants. IF there are that many of us out there unemployed or underemployed in the various fields, and I would suggest that in some fields its far more than in the ecology field, there is a problem. Maybe its time to put maximum quotas on graduates, or mandatory retirement ages, or mandatory productivity for deadwood, I don't know. But I'm watching on here and realize very clearly that 90% of the applicants will never get a job, and based on previous posts on there about productivity, 90% of the employed don't do anything to warrant a paycheck. What is wrong with this picture?

  • That penultimate sentence contains two claims, the first of which is hyperbole with an element of truth to it, and the second of which is patently ridiculous. You do yourself no favors with this sort of thing.
13-Jan-2014

Academics, forgive me! For as bad as you all have it, I have it much, much worse. I am the spouse of an academic. Is there anything worse on this planet to be?

My spouse has been on the market, in one form or another, for the past decade. She has applied for TT positions, and only gotten nibbles at non-research institutions (she's in the sciences). She tried one -- which involved a move of 2,000 miles -- only to find out that there were so many politics that she had no hope of surviving with her research intact. She fled and landed in a non-TT location with great research facilities but no TT prospects, and has spent the past six years working, publishing, and looking for work.

And now, now she gets the call from a university only 150 miles away. Hooray! Ha. So now we interview, and we interview again, and we interview a third time, and we follow up, and we send updated CVs with new publications, and we provide proof of grants, and we do just about every damn thing in the world....

And now we are down to two candidates, and so, every day, I get to come home, after working 12 hours to support this insane career of my spouse, and my spouse cries inconsolibly and informs me that there has been no news, which can only be bad news, and that her job will probably collapse.

And what have i gotten for the past decade? I've worked round the clock so that she can indulge in her career. Every vacation has been a working vacation to various research conferences, because Christ knows, if we don't go to those, she won't be considered serious. I've spent week-ends cleaning labs and fixing computers and taking care of research as an unpaid intern. Every three months there's a breakdown because no funding. Every adjuct position is a trap, every faculty member is somehow scheming, every review committee is insane, the overhead on her grants is misspent, and I get to hear about it.

Every. Fucking. Day.

Think about this: I've moved 2,000 miles twice for her job. I've given up a decade of my life to support her. There seems to be no endgame, no end, just do this until finally I collapse from exhaustion, and I can't work any more. Oh, and the best part? She's informed me that because I can't find work in the middle of nowhere, or because in the past I was unwilling to move so that she could take a temporary job outside of Buffalo, New York, her lack of career progress is my fault. Of course it is. I've only given up 90% of my free time and worked in a career to support her -- obviously, that wasn't enough. I should have given 100% of my free time, and chucked my own career completely so that she'd have a better theoretical shot.

I'm sorry. I'm too tired for this anymore. I hope she gets the job, if only because then I won't need to hear the constant complaints, and maybe, just fucking maybe, I can take a vacation and not have to be in a constant state of agitation. But jesus: would someone at the school in question please make a decision? Even if its no?

  • A decade? Really? There are other jobs in the world outside of universities. I love my spouse, but there are limits to how much I will support this crazy thing called 'academia.'
  • Yes, truly, a decade. First there was the 3 year post-doc, then the original TT position which was a year, then 5 years as a non-tenure track, that's 9 years, and now going into the tenth. A decade.
  • Oh I hear you. Tell her that moving for every little one year position would have been a mistake anyway; it won't advance your career and you lose what little security you may have had from a regularly employed spouse. I went in 100% for my spouse and now we are approaching 40 with nothing saved for retirement. I should have asked for a down payment on therapy sessions rather than an engagement ring.
  • The part that drives me crazy is that there is no end. We apply and wait and interview and wait and face rejection and wait and continue on. How much more shit do we need to sling? Why the fuck couldn't anyone have told us at the start of graduate school what this bullshit was going to be like?
  • Q: would you of really listened if they did?
  • Wow. I'm in a similar spot, six years post PhD. My husband has been amazingly supportive, but we put a time limit on it. This is the make or break year. I am interviewing, but if nothing hits from this job round, it's time to move on. I am surprised your wife is still trying so hard when the relationship she has with academics is clearly abusive. Ask her what is keeping her and at the end of her life will she be glad that she gave so much of herself to an untangible that in the end is rather meaningless. It sounds like it's time for some tough discussions and time limits.
  • Instead of working, you could try living on what she makes. My husband and I are living on my income in a non-TT lecturer job and it works fine. He likes vacations to my conferences, since they are always in different, interesting cities around the country and he just explores the area while I attend the conference. I don't find it necessary to have "security" from my employed spouse - I am fine if he is employed or not as long as he is happy. With a reasonable lifestyle, it is doable. I'm still in a non-TT job, pretty much supporting both of us, going on 12 years now, moved a number of times, to places in the middle of nowhere and to posh suburbs and to large cities with all available amenities, and yes we save a little each year for retirement and take at least one non-conference vacations in the beginning of summer. I will add, I do work year round, including summer when I take a second position to teach adjunct.
  • You know, a time limit is a good thing, and so is a bit of realism, even if it's hard to hear. At some point, you just have to think it is not going to happen and move on. It's great of you to be supportive, but it's clearly killing you, and it's clearly not going to happen. Do you NEED someone to tell you that (my grad school profs did, btw)? If you can't SEE things for yourself, that's a problem too.

16-Dec-2013

This merit hath the worst, --
It cannot be again.
When Fate hath taunted last
And thrown her furthest stone,

The maimed may pause and breathe,
And glance securely round.
The deer invites no longer
Than it eludes the hound.

12/6/13 Beware of Interfolio.

For anyone using Interfolio: please be aware that some of your materials might not reach their destination. I had this happen twice, and only found out because I called the school to make sure they had received my materials, which they hadn't. Interfolio claims that university's firewalls are keeping some materials from getting through and that they are waiting for the universities to fix the situation--claim they've alerted them. In the mean time, your materials may be absorbed into...whereever. Nothing gets bounced back, so you don't know they haven't been delivered. And they're not going into a spam box, so the school has no idea that you tried to send them. Interfolio should be warning users that this is a problem, but they're not. So, if you have materials sent through Interfolio, you need to check with the department to make sure they got them--extra work for everyone involved but necessary until Interfolio stops sending materials through this means. They can send materials from an actual email address, which will get through the firewalls, and will if you call to complain.

= Sorry this happened to you! I hope you could get your applications through, and thanks for letting everyone else know. Good luck!
  • I had the same EXACT experience last month. I warned several colleagues in my department, but posting here was a great idea! Be forewarned: Interfolio will NOT alert you to the problem and you'll only find if by contacting the school directly to confirm that your materials arrived.
  • Same here. I would suggest starting a list of schools with known firewall issues, but am always nervous about posting anything too specific. But it could be helpful to others--thoughts?
  • Do you mean when you use interfolio to send letters of rec to an HR website or a site like Academicjobsonline.org or do you mean when you use the direct link on Interfolio to directly (and for free) apply to a job? Or do you mean when they send something to an email address? I don't understand what you mean by "using" Interfolio. Can you clarify at all? Thanks!
  • In my case, I used Interfolio to send a dossier of materials (letters uploaded by my referrees and documents I uploaded) to a specific university email address. I received a delivery confirmation from Interfolio, but a week later was contacted by the search committee letting me know they hadn't received anything (I had originally sent a cover letter and CV directly myself; I used Interfolio to deliver the dossier when they requested additional documents.)
  • Ditto (I'm the poster with the "EXACT same experiece" above). I submitted my materials to a specific university e-mail address and received confirmation from Interfolio. I then contacted the school only to learn that they hadn't received my materials. I contacted Interfolio and an employee (who was very helpful) resubmitted my materials from her personal/work e-mail address and they went through.
  • Yes, this just happened to me, too. I made the first cut despite their never receiving my letters of rec. (which is a miracle, frankly, because they could have just tossed my application). They requested more materials and noted they never received the letters. I sent the letters and the additional materials from Interfolio yesterday, it showed it had shipped and everything was fine. I emailed the chair of the search, and explained that there had been talk of Interfolio not sending things correctly and to please let me know if they went through this time. Sure enough--nope. None of the materials were in his inbox. I just got off the phone with a person at Interfolio who sent them from her personal account (again citing the problem with other universities' firewalls). I don't know if they went through this time, but I'm hopeful.
  • This also happened to me, and I only found out becaues I emailed the university after reading these posts--so thanks, everyone!
  • If this problem is occuring so frequently this year, it sounds like a serious issue with Interfolio's delivery system. Perhaps complaints might be made to MLA since they have a "partnership" with Interfolio and an Interfolio link is included with every MLA JIL ad. It seems like Interfolio is not serving MLA members well at all (and the most vulnerable ones at that--grad students, adjuncts, etc. on the market). Just a thought. [12/16]
  • It is particularly galling that Interfolio isn't making mention of this ANYWHERE. They're hiding it and hoping people don't figure it out, as far as I can tell. When I called, I told her that I'd read of this happening on the Wiki and that people were complaining. She didn't respond at all to that. I think complaining to MLA is a good idea, but because it takes sheer luck and coincidence to figure out it has happened to you, it's going to be difficult to prove it's a widespread problem. It could have happened to everyone at least once, but no one knows it's happened.
  • If everyone who is an MLA member and who experiences this problem with Interfolio deliveries drops a line to Rosemary Feal, that might help them see a pattern: execdirector@mla.org, http://www.mla.org/feal. Maybe tweeting about it would be even better... not sure, more public, so more attention, but some might not be comfortable doing that? Regardless, if Interfolio is taking the approach described above, the issue probably won't be resolved unless complaints are loudly and frequently made (this page is a good start, but of course, more needs to be done). Anyway, just FYI, if anyone is looking for an alternative, the AWP (Assoc. of Writers and Writing Programs--kind of the MLA for creative writers) also offers a dossier service: https://www.awpwriter.org/careers/career_services_overview. They purport to be cheaper than Interfolio and I have not heard of similar delivery problems. I think you might need to be an AWP member, but could be worth checking into if you're fed up with Interfolio. [12/16]

12/4/13

I have been on the history job market since *2005* when I was a fresh-faced, confident ABD. Since then I've gotten a PhD, had something like twenty-seven conference interviews, five on-campus interviews, and precisely zero offers. I have a book in a well-regarded university press series and an edited volume forthcoming with another well-regarded press in 2014. I have stellar teaching credentials. I am supremely lucky that I have a permanent non-TT job at a great place with fabulous people, even though the teaching load might eventually kill me. But I think it's time to admit that my TT dreams are over. Three outstanding apps left - if those fail, I'm out for good. Best of luck to you all.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Mandela

12/1/13

Is the new thing now to offer only high-deductible health insurance to new hires? Twice now I've been told during the HR part of the on-campus interview that the college/university offers "excellent" high-deductible health insurance as the only insurance option for new hires "because that's what most of our faculty want" (and yet there's NOTHING about this on the HR websites, which still list regular insurance options). Older faculty get to keep their regular health insurance unless they want to switch.

I'm not so daft as to think this has anything to do with the Affordable Care Act, but, rather, is just another way we're getting screwed as untenured faculty. These are good places to work otherwise, but I can't and won't accept a job that offers (what is essentially) no insurance benefits. Moving my family halfway across the country to your cold little hamlet is difficult enough; my spouse's having to find a new job is difficult enough; leaving our extended family is difficult enough; finding school and housing and new doctors and new auto mechanics who won't fuck us over is difficult enough. But now you want us to do that without the security of insurance coverage? Screw that, administrators. Find another pissing post because this one won't be me. And the sad part is that there are plenty lined up behind me who are willing--desperate, even--to take such a crummy deal.

Hey, at least you have the OPTION of health insurance. I'm ABD and have been uninsured for 3 years. I thought my luck had changed when the ACA was enacted, but no. The governor of the crummy state I live in has chosen not to expand Medicaid and I'm too poor to qualify for any federal subsidies. So, I get to keep the Republican Health Care Plan aka Don't Get Sick indefinitely.
OP: The "option" of paying $10K out of pocket annually for health insurance that doesn't cover most services isn't really, you know, an actual option.
11/18/13

It's only Monday, and already having a week full of Dianne Wiest/Birdcage moments. "Somebody has to like me best!"

  • ^^ A perfect way to sum up the job hunt!
11/10/13

New rule: If you're a college senior who wants to apply to PhD programs in the Humanities, and I send you several articles about how difficult it is to find an academic job, and after two weeks you still don't know what the expression "adjunct" means, YOU DO NOT GET TO ASK ME FOR A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION.

  • My general rule is, if I don't remember the student enough, I won't write a letter of recommendation. But then again, if the student is really really nice gotten an A- at least in my course, I will go ahead and write one for them (with 4 weeks notice). Speaking as a contingent, visiting faculty and postdoc here. Yes, even postdoc gets to ask letters ALL THE TIME! So the myth of postdoc having tons of time to do work is really just a myth.
11/09/13

After a spectacular visit including a great teaching demo, talks about the future of the department where the faculty included ME in the department's plans, a lovely driving tour of the city by the Dean in which we discussed salary requirements and a hug - yes, an actual embrace - at the airport from the search com. chair, I NEVER HEARD FROM THEM AGAIN. Apparently the old real estate adage applies here: "Get them to sign on the line which is dotted"

  • Unless and until the Dean or Department Chair says "we would like to extend an offer of employment to you, and here is a letter with the details," you should assume nothing. It doesn't matter if they talk airily about your future role in the department. It doesn't matter if they give you friendly hugs. It doesn't matter if they want you to marry their son/daughter. It. Means. Nothing.
  • Fair enough on assuming anything before the offer is final (counless variables come into play from the Dean prefering someone else despite what the department wants to a spousal from some other line fitting the one you interviewed for perfectly to them saying that to all the gals), but not hearing from them again? Never again contacting someone brought to campus is pretty horrible. A simple email rejection was certainly called for.
10/28/13

Another academic job market is upon us and I've started my academic job market depression early this year. I've been on the market three times. The first year, I got two interviews--without even knowing what I was doing and without being anywhere close to finished on my dissertation. I skipped a year. Then I decided it was market time again last year, still without a completed dissertation. Again, I got two interviews even though I sent out terrible letters. After I completely bombed my interviews, I went through a soul-shattering existentialist crisis. I was so depressed that I actually considered suicide. I had a grand plan. I could kill myself (method undetermined) and then send out emails to all the committees who rejected me letting them know that my blood was on their hands because I killed myself after NOT being chosen for their job. I decided that was a little too histrionic. So, instead of death, I chose to seek professional help from a job service. (I should have gone into therapy, but alas, I'm a broke graduate student without health insurance). I worked on my CV, my cover letter, my teaching statement, and my research statement. They're actually really nice now. I've applied for three jobs already and have a list of several more to apply for during this current cycle. But, today, as I was working on job materials, I came to a realization. If I don't get a job this year or a postdoc or a VAP or a grant from a research institution, then I'm done. I'm packing it all in and I'm walking away. And that made me really really sad because I've wanted to be a professor since I was eight years old. It's the only thing I've ever truly wanted in my life. I even told my fiancé, now husband, that I would always put my career before him. He knows that and is okay with it. But I'm not anymore. This is it for me. The last market I'll endure. In a way, that's freeing. If the academy is meant for me---I already know I'm meant for the academy---then it needs to give me a sign by way of a TT-offer, a VAP offer, a Postdoc, a research grant, anything really because I'm sick and tired of being in a one-sided relationship with the Ivory Tower. I still have standards, though. I refuse to become an adjunct. I refuse to live in poverty any longer. I refuse to become treated as a second-class academic citizen because I did not land a TT position through no fault of my own. I don't know what I'll do, but I do know that I am so tired of pouring my heart and my soul into what I consider to be my one true purpose in life only to be rejected again and again and again. I am also frustrated. Do search committees know that they are ruining lives and destroying dreams? Do they understand the intense depression and suicidal thoughts they breed in those who get rejected? I doubt it. I doubt that they know that some of those they reject curl up in the fetal position and pray for death in darkened rooms. Or that those same desperate, rejected people will never truly be whole again because they've just lost everything that's defined them as a person. I just can't keep doing this to myself. And I won't.

  • First of all, I want to offer my support and encouragement both in your search this year and in your decision to try other options if it doesn't pan out. BUT, it sounds like you're still taking it personally when someone else gets a job you wanted (who, usually, will have gotten dozens of rejections over several years before getting that job too). By that, I don't meen to dismiss your feelings of despair--it's devastating not to get a job, especially when you feel like academia is your calling. But search committees don't reject you (or anyone) for the fun of it. They have the difficult task of choosing just one of 100 people who really, REALLY want that job, and then informing the rest that they weren't the one chosen. This is true not just in academia, but in hiring for any kind of position, so it's important to get a handle on these feelings even if you leave academia. It's rarely a simple yes/no on your application (as it would be for getting into college), but rather that a yes to one person means no for a lot of people who could've been yes-es if the one chosen hadn't applied. It's not personal. Rejection is unfortunately part of the process, and you just have to send out as many applications as you can, do what you need to do to be competitive and not let the rejections define you. And I really would second your suggestion to yourself to seek out some kind of emotional support; if professional therapy isn't an option, maybe a trusted friend, mentor, clergyperson, whatever, can help you talk through what your feeling and help you put things in perspective. Best of luck to you.
  • Yes, it's a miserable situation, and at least some of us have been on both sides -- both suffering years of rejection for jobs we wanted and would have been fine at and now turning down applicants who would no doubt have done as well as the person we hired. I don't think I've ever served with a committee member who wasn't aware of the situation.
  • Do job candidates know that when they accept an offer of employment they are ruining lives and destroying dreams? Do they understand the intense depression and suicidal thoughts they breed in those who get rejected to make way for them? I doubt it. I doubt that they know that some of those whose jobs they effectively stole curl up in the fetal position and pray for death in darkened rooms. Or that those same desperate, rejected people will never truly be whole again because they've just lost everything that's defined them as a person.
  • "Do job candidates know that when they accept an offer of employment they are ruining lives and destroying dreams?" What? These cannot be serious questions. I hate to rely on a less-than-comforting statement, but don't hate the player, hate the game.
  • How has the job market been for you this year (currently late April)? Remember that search committees are only humans--they were once where you are now--and they've been through it to. Good luck to you.
  • Any wise, decent search committee member knows exactly how much devastation he or she is causing by making the necessary decision and selecting a single person to hire. Most likely, they have all experienced exactly the same the darkness for themselves, at one point or another. This could explain why SCs are so often so grotesquely unprofessional (not sending rejection letters in a timely fashion, failing to get reimbursements out on time, "leading on" candidates who will not in the end be hired, and so on). It's a form of denial, a way to avoid facing the moral implications of the professional world we inhabit.
  • Do teachers know they are destroying dreams and ruining lives when they fail students? Clearly (which may be why so few do it). Hey, it's not a great feeling to either fail a student or reject a job candidate; but it is not the end of the world for either teacher or student, and it shouldn't be for you either. It's fantastic that you get interviews without a completed dissertation, and bodes well for the future. There will still be lots of rejection ahead in your life though--no matter what; you really do need to find a better way to deal with it though, and I would like to third, fourth, and fifth your suggestion to yourself about finding professional help. We all get rejected far more than we get accepted, be it academia or dating. Finding a way to deal with it and (best case scenario) learn from it and benefit from the rejection is essential. Please, please don't hate either player or game--there's no reason to--but look forward.
03/26/13

Odd question: Has anyone ever accepted an offer, then received a better/more attractive offer after? What would one do in such a situation? Is it totally awful/evil if you withdraw from a position that you've already accepted to take something different?

  • [some people do this; it will piss off the institution you've accepted at. Just be sure you are absolutely certain the job you are taking is absolutely the right one, one you are going to stay in for a while (because word gets around) and a lot better (like elite private R1 vs. underfunded public teaching college/sweatshop). You wouldn't want to do this simply if they were identical places but one offered you a slightely better salary or more research support. A compromise would be to work a year at the place who's contract you've signed then move; you could express willingness to do this, hopefully they would realize it is not in their interest (and hopefully they would have a short list intact) and release you willingly.]
  • --I agree, while it is tacky -- it is done. I think a verbal aceptance is different from a contract. Also the amount of time that has elapsed is a factor. If this is the within two weeks of your campus visit, there is a "window" --two weeks being the standard amount of time given to candidates to decide. Outside of two weeks, it is less liekly that their short list will be in tact. Ultimately, though, while it is rough on the search committeee and the school you are leaving, you do need to make the best choice for you. I'd say, go for the better offer, and craft a nice apology to the school you are not accepting. There will likely be hard feelings, but also consider the fact that soemone else will get that job --so at least one person will be thrilled.
  • It's an odd question to begin with, since the professional/proper thing to do immediately after definitively accepting a job offer and/or signing a contract is to withdraw your other applications. If you haven't signed on the dotted line, offer #2 is measurably better, and offer #1 is from an institution which you never intend to have serious professional contact with again, then it's not the worse thing in the world to do. But keep in mind that, depending opon how far along the 1st institution was with the hiring process, you can be really be screwing them over. Generally, most chairs are smart enough to realize that no one is "hired" until they've signed a contract. So if you are prior to that stage, it's probably just going to be inconvenient, annoying, and unprofessional, in their eyes. If you've signed a contract, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. They may have already lost their second (or even third) choice to other institutions, the admin. may suspend the process, etc. It's important to remember that, like your degree and advisor, your reputation as a professional is something you will be assessed by your entire career, and you don't want to be known around the shop as a d*ckhead.
03/2013 (mini-vent-inside-a-vent: why is it so complicated to add stuff to this wiki? And could the sample date be changed to make it more obvious which is the day and which is the month? Changing the sample day to "30" would make it clear that that can't be the day slot)

My mini-vent isn't really a vent so much as expressing sadness...which is what comes after anger when you've been on the market long enough (stages of grief, anyone?) I feel like I don't have the right to vent because I got a job. A job--any job--in this market is a boon. I am the only one in my graduating class who got a full-time job teaching. I know I am blessed because I'm not scrambling to get adjuncting, or scrambling to afford healthcare, or scrambling between adjuncting jobs, or defaulting on all my loans because I have no income.

But at the same time...I'm in a non-tenure track comp job when I've spent my entire life preparing to teach lit. And as each year passes, I worry that I will lose my chance at a lit job forever as I get locked into being a comp instructor. And there is nothing wrong with being a comp instructor, but it wasn't what I've been training for and it isn't what I love.

I love the people I work with. I love my department. I love the students. The job is very good despite the fact that it's non-tenure and low-paying (under $50k). But it will never be teaching lit. Do I settle for what I have and give up on the dream I've been training for? Or do I keep trying?

-- Both? You should never stop dreaming, but you have to be realistic as well. Is teaching lit absolutely the only job in the universe you want? Is there no way to pursue that other than a full-time, TT job? Will the department not offer you a chance, once in a while, during the summer, or something, if you ask? Are there not "open universities" nearby? And would teaching lit be enough to make up for a department you hated, or students you couldn't stand? Perhaps defining the dream is really the first step ... so many people (not just in academia) would KILL to have co-workers they liked (not even loved), a good working environment, etc. Why, one must ask, is teaching lit so different from teaching comp? Is teaching not teaching? So, again, both ... find ways to bring lit into your life again, even if it is only a book club, or attending graduate lit seminars, or lit conferences on your own ... both.

3/4/2013

"You gotta ac-cen-tuate the postitive and e-lim-anate the negative/ latch on to the affirmative/ don't mess with Mr. In Between..."

Well, I'm going to mess with Mr. In Between. I am in the doldrums, the dumps, filled with black bile and imbalances - this is my 2nd year on the job market (I'm defending a month from today, ABD humanities field) and, though I've had two job interviews this year (compared with zero last year), one of which was nada and the other I haven't heard from (though the SC said they'd get back to me and the other hapless candidates by now, but who am I to suggest expedience in academia?). I am continuing to apply for any job that I could feasibly fit into, my CV looks like the sample CVs in the back of "Surviving Your Humanities Ph.D. Job Hunt" book (sorry if I mucked up the title) and my cover letters have started to resemble argument essays as to why and how I am a good fit for whatever position it is instead of a the formal cover letter.

Of course, if I'm defending my dissertation that also means I'm graduating, which is (a) an expensive process (save up for 25% linen/cotton paper, your cap and gown, and your copyright!) and (b) one that I thought would be tinged with joy, yet all I have are the blues. I know I should celebrate this accomplishment, but I feel like a fraud. I am employed, as an adjunct (and have been throughout my doctoral studies) and hoped that I would, upon graduating, move on to *something* better - a job with health insurance, perhaps, or even a desk. I don't want much, just a step up. I did not expect offers from the TT jobs I applied to, all 48 of them. But the truth? I'm going nowehere. I am over-educated, in tons of debt, and have to talk myself out of bed every morning. Even while in the throes of depression (and yes, I knew that the job market wasn't very good and that ABDs have considerable disadvantages), I am angry. I am angry at the SCs that drag their feet, I am angry at professors encouraging me to invest in and take on grand projects that I thought would make me "stand out" (yet apparently haven't) and I am angry at myself for thinking that I had a chance at any new position - Instructor, Lecturer, VAP, whatever - when obviously there is something "wrong" with me and my work. (Or maybe now's not the time/there's not a good fit right now for me - just keep trying and perhaps next year a golden goose will appear! Keep the faith! Right.) I know that I can and will continue to move my research forward (2 book proposals in the works after intial abstract bites - maybe that'll help?) and will continue to publish/conference/network and to compete for a job this next go-round, and I promise to still give my students 100% for whatever shite pay they're offering me, the lowly adjunct, but I am so angry. There were some schools that I know didn't even give me a chance (cue the chorus of inside-hires, Ivy-snobs, etc.), and while we all know that's unfair, to emphasize that unfairness is our powerless position to fight the systems that perpetuate these fevered and heart-breaking job searches.

I knew what I was getting into, but I am most upset *with myself* for believing that I might be an exception and get a job this time - any job - I feel like a fool. What a dope. I have negative equity. I'm still on my parents' cell phone and car insurance plan as I cannot afford my own (but all those conference trips panned out, didn't they!). I don't even want to have family/friends come up for graduation; I just want to crawl into bed and not come out - why celebrate my pending unemployment and fiscal liability to everyone around me? I appreciate everyone letting me vent here; I've been putting on a happy face for everyone around me - partner, family, students, friends, dissertation committee - when all I feel like doing is walking directly into uncoming traffic. Tomorrow I see my therapist, so don't get too concerned - but does anyone else feel like a worthless idiot in the context of the job search? How do you fight it? How do you try to look forward to a career path that seems so hopeless? I hate myself for being so optimistic and naive this year - right now I'm getting about a rejection a day (many of which I already knew about through this wonderful wiki, but the letters/emails still twist the knife a little) lately, which is likely contributing to this persistent feeling of "Loser!" I've begun looking at non-academic jobs, which makes me sad (has the dream died?), and hope against hope that everything will all work out. It usually does. Right?

(Always look on the bright side of life, twee-doo, twee-dee-del-deedle-dee)

  • Woah! You still get actual, physical rejection letters? Like - in an envelope? Not BCC emails addressed to "Dear applicant", or just ignored with the other piles of applicants like in most searches? Your field must be doing great! Buck up! (The next line in your last song quote is "Life's a piece of shit / when you look at it...") Sorry - that was mean. You have absolutely hit what many of us are feeling - and written beautifully, by the way. Yes whole thing is stupid, and we are up shit creek. My entire graduating year is working construction and adjuncting. I'm two years without an interview, and am now not getting rejection letters from outside academia as well. Is there still a golden goose?
  • hence why I used the song:) And I get the BCCs, the envelopes, and the "you didn't get the position but congrats to this person who did" letters. All bases:) Construction and adjuncting? You must be exhausted. Ach, this dream.
  • Time out, tiger! It sounds like you're too new at this job hunt madness to be so pessimistic. After all, you haven't even finished your PhD yet! You're clearly a talented writer. That will help you make up lost ground if you play a long game. As a practical measure, I would suggest prioritizing your book deal pronto-like. Try to get a book contract before next year's job market. I spent a month during the summer three years ago laboring over a one-page, single-spaced, footnoted book proposal. Result of that sweat equity and careful wording -- offers from three of four publishers to whom I submitted. You're an entirely different candidate with a book contract in hand. When you get your book deal, hiring committees will know that you're less of a risk to miss tenure and make them look silly. Moreover, not everyone can generate a book deal; you can't rely solely on inside connections or Ivy pedigrees if you bite as a writer. I've met several Ivy alumns who've fallen off or never gotten on the tenure track. Please don't let class considerations deter you from your search; universities (and society in general) need upwardly mobile scholars in the classroom, library, and lab. I didn't land a tenure-track job until two years after graduation. Throughout graduate school I moonlit as a teaching assistant, reader-grader, carpet-cleaner, snow removal dude, lawn mower, and pizza delivery driver. You've already endured poverty and privation as a grad. student. You are hungry, and you can survive by channeling your humility into purpose. Don't indulge in self pity. Be a reflective practioner in your job search. Celebrate your graduation. In this market, you have to work your way into a tenure-track job by deliberate steps. Also, don't get so down in the dumps that you ignore late life in this year's job market. There are reputable, under-the-radar job postings out there this time of year.
  • In other words: 'shut-up, stop the self-loathing, and get to work...' I would take heed, young Skywalker.
2/2013

A vent about the perennial "inside hire" speculation that seems to infect most disciplinary pages on the wiki: I'm a VAP this year at a SLAC institution and made friends with two other VAPs in different departments at our fall orientation. These two had tenure line positions open up in their departments and both applied for these positions. At our orientation we had even met one "new" faculty who had been a VAP there for 4 years and had been hired so I think these two started believing the "hype" that they would have an advantage. The first one didn't even make it to first round interviews and the second one didn't make it past the first round phone interviews. Both said that the entire process was really awkward - mostly in how the search chairs/departmental colleagues handled the search process and their interactions with them (in the first case, the chair forgot to tell her and an admin assistant accidentally included her on an email inviting the department's faculty to events to welcome the campus invitees; in the second case, the chair basically forbode the VAP from attending any of the campus interviews, even though the VAP asked out of interest to see more examples in his field since he figured he was "out of the running"). I know others have articulated the pointless nature of the "inside hire rumor" (since we apply anyway right!?) but knowing these two over this year... it has been excruciating to see how it can be for the suspected "inside hire."

  • Truer words ... there is no set way in which this goes for the outsider or the insider.
2/2013

I believed my colleagues and professional advice that you "always negotiate - the worst they can do is say no and stick to the original offer." Well, they rescinded the offer completely, and now they won't even take my calls. This department was a match made in heaven for me - I'm just heartbroken that I won't be there in the fall, all over some bad advice.

  • Sorry to hear this. I guess this recession-fed talent-saturated job market means that provosts and deans get to be selective even at the post-offer stage?!? If I may ask, what were you asking for beyond the original offer?
  • It's not bad advice. Almost everyone asks for more money. Either they're not very nice people or your letter appeared to be an ultimatum to them. That's really strange and very unfortunate. Sorry to hear it.
    • Who wants to work for a capricious and cruel administration? Consider yourself lucky that you found out the place is vicious before you signed a contract. As for colleagues and mentors telling us to negotiate, I do think it’s bad advice. If you get a decent offer, and if you love the place, why haggle?
  • Never heard of this before, ever. A department has to go through all kinds of administrative hoops to make an offer to begin with, and they are always given a little flex in terms of final offer. In the rare cases they don't, they make that very clear to the candidate. I'm sorry to say that likely, there was some miscommunication on one end or the other (either they thought you were declining the job unless you got more money, or they were trying to tell you that this was the final offer and didn't make that clear). I've gone through about a half-dozen different offer negotiations from the candidate end (4 contract, two permanent), and been on the offering end almost as many times. Everyone asks for more money, and they should! 2nd poster was right, though, it sounds like you dodged a bullet--maybe a dream department, but it was in a nighmare U.
  • Some state institutions have fixed salaries that they can offer, but can also find money for start-up, course release, relocation funds, or other expenses that sweeten the deal. Not everyone has wiggle room with the inital salary offer. It could be that they are being honest by offering you the maximum they can. It could also bother a university if you are trying to negotiate too aggressively without having a competing offer. They may also have a very strong second candidate whom you beat by a hair. Sorry you went through this.
  • One question: how much more money did you ask for? Maybe if you asked for a big enough increase they thought, sheesh, who is this person. I know of this happening once before at a research 1--the candidate later found out that they thought she would be trouble for asking for 20K more than they offered, so they didn't both negotiating.
2/2013

So I swore this wouldn't happen anymore but I fell for it again and now I just feel like such an idiot. I mean sometimes you know going into a campus visit that you're not exactly their type, so you can protect yourself and not expect too much. But this time I really got duped by their sweet talk about how amazing I was and what an exciting future we’d have together. Everything seemed to go well and at dinner I really felt a spark, like a deep human connection that stays with you and at the end of the night it seemed like they couldn't wait to call me, too. But it's been days since they said they'd call and I haven't heard anything. I'm so confused. What we had felt special to me and I thought it meant something to them, too! I don't know what happened. Maybe they just feed everyone the same lines even if they’re not interested in getting serious. What hurts so much, of course, is that it felt serious to me. I thought that what we had was real. It’s been easy to move on when a department is clearly not into me, but it’s the mixed signals that I can’t get over. I guess they were just trying to keep their options open, but it felt so genuine that I let my guard down and now I feel like such a fool. I know that it’s dumb to want to be with a department that’s interested in someone else, but it’s hard to let go of what might have been. I thought my lonely, anxious days were over and that I was finally getting my happily-ever-after. What did I do wrong? Getting through the day is really hard. Every time I get an email I think it's them. I keep checking my phone to see if I’ve missed a call. When I see other people going about their business, happily doing their jobs, I just feel so alone, like I'll be unemployed forever. I don’t know what else I can do. I’ve really tried to put myself out there and do all the things you’re supposed to do to seem attractive. People tell me that I’m a catch, that any department would be lucky to have me. But after so many ups and downs, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine that anybody will ever choose me in the end. My friends have been so great, so patient even though I can’t help needing to talk about the visit with them over and over again. They say that there are other jobs in the sea, that I can’t let one setback get me down. It’s only a matter of time. There's a department out there for me. But honestly, everybody knows that there just isn’t much available these days. More and more departments aren’t interested in long-term commitment when so many fresh, young adjuncts are willing to meet their needs for next to nothing. They say that jobs are such a mystery. You just can’t predict how things play out and a department that appreciates me for who I am will come along when I least expect it.

  • This made my day! x3!!
  • Did you ever hear back?? I'm dying to know how this relationship played out! I'm in the same position, waiting to hear back from what I thought was a sure thing (stupid to assume, I know. I know.). The timeframe they gave me was 2 weeks. It's now into week 3. Still single. I thought we both adored each other. Now I feel scorned and used. I heard they felt torn between me and the other candidate. That made me feel worse. I was the last to interview and they gave me the impression (feeding me insider information, advising me on what to say in my interview with admin) that I was their one true candidate. In the end, I was just a play thing.
  • Get back to all the projects you discussed at your interviews: abstracts, submitting articles, revising your manuscripts... continue beefing up your CV. If you don't get this one, at least you'll be absolutely THE catch next year. If you are able to afford a mini-vacation, head south... you will get (hopeful) a fresh perspective on this waiting game. Don't give up (and thx for sharing your story).
  • A brilliant satire of our tendency to confuse business with romance. Replace the word “department” with “man” (and “jobs” with “men”) and you’ll see why the market, at the end of the day, is all about the market, not about friendship, intimacy, compatibility, or any of those personal things.
  • Why "man/men"? Is there a gender issue here I didn't catch?
  • You should send this to "The Onion"! It made me laugh until I cried. Then I just cried.
  • Absolutely brilliant. You hit the nail on the head. I recently had experience exactly like this and still feel like I am recovering. I wish I could stop taking this particular rejection so personally but (as you put is so well) I thought we shared that spark!
  1. 2/2013

I'm a student at a university that is hiring for two CW positions. I'm looking for a job, so I've been on this site. We're in the middle of candidate visits to campus and I am appalled that although the position specifically stated they wanted applications from women and minorities, we have SIX white men visiting campus. It is such crap.

  • --Please don't be racist as lots of other factors go into such a choice- (by the way, I say this a black man)
  • Consider: they might truly want them; they might not get them. They might truly want them, but those applications might not be from those who are best qualified. Both apply to my institution, I can tell you that; we really DO want those applications, but we can't give anyone a job solely on that basis.

2/2013

I spent years on the job market, so when I finally landed a TT job and was asked to serve on a hiring committee, I jumped at the chance. I really wanted to see what this process looked like from the inside. I read all the applications in detail, with interest, and I was really amazed by how many great people there are out there, and how many different (and interesting) approaches they took to their application materials. Everything seemed so interesting and cool until it was time for the committee to actually meet. Good God. Now I know. Candidate Z gets visciously cut from consideration for reason X, while same reason X is no reason at all to exclude another candidate who went to Commitee Member A's alma mater and/or studied with Committee Member B's best friend. The job ad criteria is followed to the letter if it means getting rid of a candidate with the unfortunate accent, but the same criteria are utterly discardable when it comes to keeping the candidate who studied at two Ivies. The whole experience has left me soured and suspicous. I just wish they'd be honest: "Ivy League pedigrees are more important than our search criteria" or "we're not willing to hire a professor with a communication impediment." Instead it's all just BS reason and private agendas. At least this search was. I guess I have to believe that other searches are not this dysfunctional, dishonest, and stupid. But I also wish I could contact every poor soul who applied for this job and tell them "it's not your fault -- and you're better off not working with these people anyway."

  • Although this is unsuprising, I think it's good that people are talking about it. Thanks. (x5)
  • In fact, this is surprising. I worked for what everyone I've talked to agreed was the most f*cked up department imaginable, a real horrorshow, but even they summoned up some vestiges of professionalism when it came to searches. They always chose finalists who had solid scholarship and looked like they'd be effective in the classroom. Is there any more to this tale? I mean, candidates get voted off the island for any number of reasons, but I've never seen finalists chosen (at least in all the dozens of searches I've participated in directly and indirectly) for purely personal and trivial reasons (Ivy League bias doesn't count--that's as common as dirt). Any department that did that would fill up so rapidly with nincompoops that they would become more or less inoperable . . . in which case they would run searches exactly as you described. Oh dear. If that is indeed the case, you have my profoundest sympathies, for you have truly landed at Hell's front doorstep (as far as academia goes), yikes!
  • Glad that some one actually has the courtesy to say this out loud. I've seen many a searches where the candidates chosen for interviews are either students of and current collaborators of senior SC members or just current collaborators or recent coauthors - all of which as per granting agencies would define Conflict of Interest and the concerned SC members should not have had any role in deciding. they should politely excuse themselves. But instead they use their position to favor them. I thought academics were objective - ha wishful thinking. They are the most nepotistic - whether it comes to manuscript reviews or search committees. I know I'll never land a TT job because I dont have a mentor in town and I dotn suck up to these "big"people at meetings
  • They hire their old debate buddies, the candidate who happens to have the same favorite T.V. show as the SC chair, the one who happens to have some connection to some attribute of the area (do you ski? spelunk?), is the type of minority that administration wants more of, prefers Marxist puppet shows over reality television, plays the stock market, believes in bigfoot, God,The Super Bowl, or soccer. They don't hire the candidate who ate meat/didn't eat meat at dinner, has kids/doesn't have kids, whose advisor is a rival of someone on the SC, made a comment about Paul Krugman that annoyed someone at breakfast, reminded someone on the SC of his ex-wife. "Fit" covers a LOT of things. Point is, don't obsess. It is NOT you. Human beings are capricious and arbitrary as it is, and in a job market where everyone is qualified/overqualified, this caprice is magnified tenfold. Anyone who talks about search committees being "professional" and "objectively" "evaluating" the "merits" of CVs is spreading BS. They choose the person who is most liked by the most people on the SC. The factors that go into this are completely random, and 98% outside of your control. The only element of this that you can control is how you design your C.V, who you choose as your advisor, and your presentation of self at interviews. If invited to campus, try your best to strike a delicate balance between being yourself and figuring out what they like, and being that person. The best that you can hope for is that the right combination of nepotism and sheer luck eventually rings these people's bells. Apply to every posting that you are remotely qualified for, and hope for the best.
  • There's much truth to this, but also (IMAO&E) much overstatement. I'd also like to contradict that last bit of advice. When invited to campus, BE YOURSELF. If you get the job, great; if you don't, yeah, there are a lot of factors. But the worst of all would be to get a job by pretending to be something you're not-- because then you have to keep acting at least until you get tenure, and if you're acting ... you're not getting tenure.
  • Speaking of Ivies: my Ivy Leagy PhD, along with quite a long list of publications and a few years of adjuncting have not helped me get a single campus visit.

12/07/2012

Not a vent, but a question: If there's been silence from the search committee after the request for additional materials and its been two weeks since the date that interview decisions were to be made (according to the request email), is it appropriate to contact the committee to know the status of the search? Or should I wait?

  • Wait
  • Same as above, wait. Eventually you will see update on the wiki (if you get a request you can update the wiki of course). If you are in the MLA field, you will get email request for interview up to 2 weeks before the conference. (Third time on the market)







I am tired of waiting. Why is there a blackout of info?

  • Not to discount your fatigue at all, but I suspect (and have heard offhand from some Search Committees at my institution who are in MLA fields) the blackout is this: many committees schedule their discussion of who to invite for inteviews immediately after the semester schedule has wrapped for them (it simply is the easiest time for them to all get in a room and feel sane about it). For many schools that is this week and even into early next week if finals extend through the end of this week. As much as the interview invites timing seems to pick up right after the Thanksgiving break, I wonder if one were to look back at previous pages dates to see if there is a final spike right around Dec 16-20 date range.
  • There are many possible reasons, but it's also quite possible that you won't hear from the school or know what happened other than MLA comes and goes without a word. From personal experience I can tell you that not all schools that request additional materials notify candidates when they've selected a shorter list to interview. They may have selected candidates to interview, but there has been no update to the wiki because many people are lurkers or simply don't know about it. I don't mean to be discouraging, but it's good to be prepared for the possibility that you won't hear from that school again until they send formal rejections in the spring.







If other people have recently been contacted for interviews, and I have not, can I assume that means I am not being considered? Or do they ever space out their calls for interviews?

  • I had an on-campus interview three weeks ago, and I still haven't heard anything, either way. I want to contact them, but I know I shouldn't. I forgot to ask for a timeline while there.
  • You could try to sweeten the pot with an inquiry (by phone!) to the departmental secretary. You wouldn't even have to give your name, just that you recently sent materials and was curious as to the status of the search. Be real nice.
11/16/12

This is less of a vent and more of a question - if you're going out on the job market and have an interdisciplinary degree, should you go to all the job fairs - erm, I mean "conferences" - that the job postings say they will be conducting interviews? For example, I have applications out to colleges that are conducting interviews at AHA and MLA - do I scrounge up the cash and go to both? I've already gone to one such conference, and as MLA and AHA loom, I wonder if I should try to go to those as well. Do the search committees let you know ahead of time if they'd like to interview you at these conferences, or do you show up and hope (my strategy at the last one - no interview requests prior to my going to the conference, though I found out through this wiki that the schools I was hoping to get interviews with had scheduled them at the conference, so... well, I got to mark them off my list of possibilities, at least)? As we all know, graduate students are a bit cash strapped, and while I could easily borrow money from a family member to get to go to both AHA and MLA, I'm hesitant to do so in case they pan out like the conference I already attended. It's not a waste of my time and money, per se, to go to these things, but I'm not sure how they work at all. Should I email the search committees? Should I just try my luck and rack up some more frequent flier miles? Advice? Expereince? How do these things work? I've heard that some folks get a 24 hour heads-up on interviews at these conferences, and I did not explicitly say that I would be attending either conference in my cover letters... I'm ABD, set to graduate in May, so I'm quite antsy about this stiutation; I suppose my "vent" would be that this sort of stuff is impossibly frustrating to navigate. Thanks!

  • Hi there polite venter :) I'm in a field where MLA is my conference and this is my second year on the job market so I can speak from direct experience about what happens at MLA in terms of the job search component. MLA interviews are all scheduled beforehand and I believe even their "official job space" (in distinction to the hotel rooms scattered across the city where interviews will take place) might have a no job solicitation rule (or at least de facto practice). Unlike an NCA or an NWSA, departments interviewing at MLA do not (or it's so rare I've never heard of it) hold open calls or cocktail hours where they recruit for positions at all (some do host cocktail hours, but these definitely seem to work differently than the ones departments of communications at NCA who seem to advertise the purpose of these events to explicitly invite candidates to put a face to an anonymous application, even if they have already conducted preconference interviews). I have not had anyone I know personally get 24 hour notice (not saying it doesn't happen) for an MLA interview but I have heard of about a week (say now that our conference starts Jan 4, receiving an interview Dec 27 or 28, my anecdotal evidence tells me this is rare, but that Dec 20/21 could actually be common). I don't know if this is because of conference timing (NCA and NWSA are so much earlier in the year, perhaps candidates fall through, some committees are not ready yet for the interview stage based on job approval timing, etc) and I don't know if this might have happened more at a pre-2008 MLA conference. My gut feeling at MLA is that although everyone knows the job market is restricted and that so many of us are "hungry" for a position - to actually do something pro-active about it at the conference (such as seek out an exchange with a search committee that has not been scheduled) might come off less favorably. That said, if there are a handful of jobs that you are really focused on and you can tell on the wiki you didn't make the interview list, there is a part of me that still might be brash enough to send an email to the search chair (if that info is available) to express continued interest and mention you will be at MLA if anything falls through. Again, that may be totally offputting to some, but what if they did have an interview spot that opened up because soomeone canceled on them? If I had already received a rejection I would not do this, but last year there were at least two schools where I made the "request for more materials stage" but not the final interview list stage where I felt tempted to email something to the like.
  • I too am applying for jobs in multiple fields with multiple conferences --and have been doing so for many years. Over that time I have been contacted months ahead of time by some schools and the day before the conference by others. I have sene phone ring at the conference and watched friends be invited to interview with a school whose top choices didn't pan out. If you search through these pages you will find coutnelss stories of candidates who lost out on a job propsect by not attending the confrence --or by asking for an alternative interview strategy. The assumption is that you will be there (regardless of how many "theres" there might be). There are often institutional guidlines that forbid committeees from deviating from their interview policies. I have also found that being at the conference can often be helpful in terms of meeting committee members who will be performing phone interviews later in the search season. I have had several of these poeple seek me out to discuss the job (sometimes with no warning --sometimes with an email).
  • I agree to everything said above; it is just the nature of our academic world that probably is true across many disciplines. You never know if the professor and scholar you are having dinner with last month maybe on the search committee for a job later in your career. Yes, the multiple conference interviews thing must be hard for those who do interdisciplinary work. Maybe try (as hard you it is) to stick to one major field in one job market season...I applied for jobs in 3 disciplines in the humanities, but this year only my major field and one subfield within my field. But my work really actually is doing two major fields >_<
  • One thing to follow up, some jobs, like one that I am doing interview with, actually realizes that because the job is very interdisciplinary so they will only do Skype. I think some search committees are becoming more flexible and realizing that most people know how to use Skype now. I hope this helps.
  • I'm in the same boat as the OP, but this isnt' my first year on the job market. Two years ago I had one interview at MLA and one at AHA, which meant flying from LA to Boston in the same weekend. Last year I had an MLA interview and a Skype interview replacing MLA (by the university's choice--I thanked them for this). I had no AHA interviews and didn't attend that conference. I can tell you based on my experience and those of my friends that you will be contacted ahead of time for interviews and there is no use attending the conference if you don't have any. Given the size of the conferences, particularly MLA which includes many different disciplines, it's hard to network. I attended MLA before going on the market, as recommended by my grad dept to" get the feel of the conference", and it was a huge waste of time and money. Don't be afraid to accept a Skype interview if offered. Each interview request that I've received has been accompanied by asking whether I planned to attend AHA/MLA. Last year I flew to Seattle from the East Coast for one 30-minute interview (over $500 in airfare alone) and l later found out that the university decided not to hire anyone! Even the LA interview was for a university located one hour from my house. If I had it to do over I would have saved my money.
  • (OP) Thanks everybody - one of my advisors scoffed "Never go unless you are there to interview!" and another encouraged it, so I got popped the $50+ on the reg/badge and... lo an behold: an interview request. So now I have a reason as well as a chance to see what the chaos is about; thanks everybody:) Happy 2013!
07/2012

It has been five years since my husband is trying to find his dream TT job. In the meantime he first was a graduate student, then a postdoc at a prestigious university for four years, and now he is moving to a "Visiting Assistant Professor" position, which is a non-TT. Also in the meantime I have had my own TT position in a city 2000 miles away from my husband. We have sacrificed time that would be spent together, money that would otherwise go to a great mortgage or a retirment account, and many peaceful nights because of deep thinking about how our lives are slipping away from us. But we have not given up. He has been persistently trying and working day and night to improve his applications. I was working very hard to maybe find a job that would be willing to give my husband a spousal hire. Even though it has been hard, we have been persistent and following our dreams, which I am very proud of. And then what happens? The other postdoc who is sitting in the next door office for the past three years and spending her days drinking coffee at the coffee-shop on campus and going to happy hours, who published only one decent articles in the past three years compared to my husband's five, and who presented her work with my husband for the job talk, gets my husband's dream job. Now tell me: is this fair? How can I continue encouraging my husband to pursue our dreams when he sees this? How cannot the SCs see the passion and hardwork here? What are we missing?

  • Guess who was also at happy hour and sipping lattes at the coffee shop? It's not fair, but stick with it because someone will see the passion and hardwork and be happy to have you both!
  • OP, I sympathize greatly (and can directly relate) with your husband's plight. I've seen many excellent scholars vanish from the scene entirely, I've seen less-qualified candidates regularly succeed where more-qualified candidates failed, and (though thankfully only rarely) seen outright nepotism and politics triumph over intellectual merit. All that having been said, "fairness" is entirely in the eye of the beholder, and has no objective relevance in academia or any other professional field. I'd like to think we are somewhat of a meritocracy, but if we are, it is one that evaluates "merit" on a very subjective basis. Hard work and passion will produce copious amounts of publication and well-thought out courses, and that itself is of great value. But will the students respond with unwavering enthusiasm? Will the scholarship be influential and original? And--this being of greatest relevance to job searches--will one candidate's field, production, and qualifications seem to fit better with the culture and goals of the specific committee, department, and university? As someone who spent many years on the market before finally landing someplace where I am happy, the two things I can say with absolute certainty are that fairness had nothing to do with it, and that the wisdom or folly of any specific hire is only apparent in hindsight. Again, I hope I don't sound unsympathetic, but I've seen too many people in academia (both hired and unhired) gnash their teeth, rend their flesh, and grow horribly unhappy and bitter because of their perception that they have been treated "unfairly," when their energy would have been better spent on positive work and (whenever possible) appreciating what they do have (on that note, a VAP, while not ideal, is still miles better than grinding away as an adjunct year after year!).
  • Well, I guess you've got to have faith in something. I'm strating to see what generations of non-elites have always known: that hard work and passion and general excellence doesn't mean much. Too many excellent, truly deserving people wind up with shitty jobs, while too many schlubs wind up at the top of the heap for me to buy the "keep-your-nose-to-the-grindstone-American-Dream" sort of rehetoric. There's a deep structrual failing in academia, "the knowledge economy" that wishful thinking won't fix. That said, best of luck to the OP and the OP's hubbie. At least you have each other.

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