It’s been a long while since I’ve posted here, and that’s mostly because I’ve been in over my head with teaching three classes and applying for jobs — over thirty positions this year, plus a handful of postdocs. With the semester (but not grading!) done and my applications long since released into the wild, I thought I’d come up for air and offer some unsolicited reflections:
- I’m trying something novel this year: being myself. Rather than dumping a lot of time into carefully individualizing my letter, CV, and teaching/philosophy statements for every single job, I’m presenting myself for what I am and what I do, and then letting the schools decide if they are interesting in me and my work. This decision came partly from lack of time — who can afford eight hours each on thirty applications? — but mostly out of a realization that I can’t bend myself and my work into all that many different shapes. I study a particular time and a particular place in a particular way, and no amount of contortion is going to change that or fool anyone otherwise. So I change the addresses and add a few lines here and there about “thrilled to teach at a liberal arts/R-1/hell-hole school,” but that’s pretty much it.
- That said, I dumped a crapload of time into two particular jobs that I really, really, really want — and which, I should note, I have a fair chance of getting, as long as there’s not an inside candidate. And I’ve been torturing myself over those jobs, even though I won’t even know if I made the first cut until January.
- To the schools that inform candidates promptly about receipt of applications: Hooray! To the schools that inform candidates promptly that they will not be interviewed: Hip-hip, hooray! To the schools that do neither: fuck you, too.
- The AHA interview system is busted-ass broken. Half the schools are doing phone or Skype interviews, and I think it’s a great thing. End the AHA cattle-call job system. Given the opportunity, I sure as hell will.
- Employers, you really all ought to stick to the same schedule and timeline. Early and late application due dates and hiring decisions are just plain mean: making candidates decide on their future — long term future — without knowing about other options is so transparently manipulative that it calls into question the integrity of your department.
- Allow me to suggest a timeline. Applications due November 1st. First-round decisions December 1st. Phone/internet interviews December 15th. Second-round decisions December 20th. Campus interviews late-January. Offers beginning of February. Is this really all that hard?
- It’s a continual struggle to believe that I’m good enough and smart enough for any of these jobs. I’ve had three interviews so far, and each time, I am painfully aware of the limits of my expertise and talents. I tried a long walk before an interview, doing some Jack Handy-style self-affirmation, but it didn’t really help. It’s a Catch-22: I need to convey confidence in order to get a job, but I need to get a job to build my confidence.
- At the end of the day, applying and interviewing for an academic job is just like applying and interviewing for a real job: it sucks. No one likes it. So I should quit my whining and get on with it.