Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Deep Thought

I miss the days when I would mail 75 applications on one day.

--Mr. Zero


Anonymous said...

oh yeah? i miss last year when i had 20+ to prepare. this year's ~10 seem like so few i may not even bother with them at all :P

Anonymous said...

Well luckily there are only half the amount of people looking for jobs this year, right? ... No? Oh...

Anonymous said...

Who paid for the postage? If it was your Ph.D. granting school or the school you were VAPing for, then all the power to you. But sending out 75 applications and having to pay for it yourself, the postage would have to break the bank!

Ben said...

Is this a reference to how few jobs you have to apply to in total or to the fact that (as a recent commenter noted) so many are online these days that you have fewer to mail even if you have more to apply to?

Xenophon said...

And a personalized cover letter for each . . .

Anonymous said...

Quick comment for folks applying to jobs where electronic submission is discouraged: don't tell us that your materials are available on-line. By the time we're ready to sort through these things, we won't have time to download and print them OR to write you back and request the materials in hard copy. You'd think it'd go without saying, but hard copy means our department's evaluation procedure is built to work with hard copies.

zombie said...

I've never had that many applications to send, but I got my degree the same year that the economy went into its death spiral.

This year's 44 is the most yet for me. And I'm glad (as I've already said), that most of them are online, given the postage costs.

However, all things considered, I guess I'd rather have to do 44 applications than 75, especially if the results are the same. 44 is a more efficient path to rejection than 75, no?

Apparently I haven't been at this long enough to not be stupidly optimistic, yet again, that this year I shall triumph.


zombie said...

Hey Anon 5:25AM (what the hell time zone is this blog in anyway?):

Is there some reason why, if I have sent all the requested material for the dossier (and probably slightly more than requested in my teaching portfolio), I should not point out that my website has additional materials on it (such as links to ALL my publications, etc.)? The reason I have a website is so that I can have realtime updates to my CV, and provide additional stuffs should anyone want them. Seems silly to pretend it doesn't exist for the SCs that want hard copies. It would be quicker for them to download additional stuff they want than to have photocopied stuff they didn't want.

I guess my question is, why would it bother you to be informed of the existence of my website, and its bounteous riches, in my cover letter?

Hank said...

zombie, I think Anon 5:25 was saying that it is a bad idea to point SC members to websites for the "requested" application materials, instead of providing hardcopies. You, in contrast, are saying that it would be ok to point SC members to your website for "additional" materials, and I wouldn't think that Anon 5:25 would have a problem with that. Personally, I think that's great.

The problem with pointing SC people to websites for the requested materials instead of providing hardcopies is that it is not as immediate. That takes one more step to find out your information, and that is really one step too many when we have so many applications to view. Put another way, it's an inconvenience that doesn't bode in your favor - not that that means outright rejection (b/c that would be silly), but you want to be as pleasing as possible. I reiterate from a previous thread that you need to be quite conscious of what kind of impression you could be giving to the SC.

Anonymous said...

I would guess from my SLAC it is the case that we want equal documentation from all final applications we are looking at. Some members of the SC may download the material some may not and it becomes a mess if some members have some things and others do not. We ask for a set number of documents and judge the candidates on these documents.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon 7:13am - in that case, then is it bad to sometimes send things that aren't explicitly asked for? For example, for teaching-intensive schools, I've been sending student evaluations, even if all that is asked for is a teaching statement. I think my evals give me a huge leg up because they've all been rather stellar. Certainly, some departments might simply throw these materials out, but I'd hate to think that it counts against me if I'm sending materials they haven't explicitly asked for.

zombie said...

Well, I would be shocked if applicants did not send the requested materials and pointed the SC to a website instead. That would be stupid. So certainly I can see the objection to that.

But really? Have applicants done that?

Anonymous said...

Once again I wonder why philosophy departments insist on being in the dark ages when it comes to using technology. Why is it so hard to get the application process online? Get applications downloaded to a central server/database. Allow the hiring committee access to the documents. Provide the committee with a group space for initial evaluations. Print out only those documents necessary for hard-copy review.

Getting an academic gig in philosophy is an insanely overcomplicated and expensive process for those hiring and those applying.

Hire a freaking student work study with computer skills to bring you out of the dark ages. Or, better yet, give a poor graduate student a Research Assistantship to upgrade, maintain, train, or otherwise provide technological support to a profession that brags that it's members only need pencil and paper to work.

Xenophon said...

I find Anon 5:25's comment, and the ensuing discussion, a little odd. First, I'm surprised that anyone would send a letter saying "all the materials you ask for are available on my website, so I'm not bothering to actually send it, even though you SPECIFICALLY say you want hard copies." Are people really that stupid/lazy?

Second, I'm surprised that people in universities think they need to print out everything of interest on a website, or even download it. The whole idea of posting something on a website is so that it's always available to anyone with an internet connection and a computer / tablet / smartphone / Wi / refrigerator with a computer chip that orders milk when you run out. Most universities have pretty solid wireless, and most faculty have 1+ computers. If I'm in a committee meeting and someone mentions something online that I missed, I can call it up on my laptop or look at his copy. Are there still faculty who have difficulty using the internet? I mean, it's been around since 1969.

Also, I guess I should mention that any department that can't figure out how to get on the internet is going to lose a lot of points in my book if I end up interviewing with them. Sure, they'll have 600 other candidates (more if they're not in Idaho) to choose from, but I'll bet some of the better candidates feel the same way I do.

Word verification: culade. As in, if you want a job at our university, you have to be willing to drink the culade.

Anonymous said...

I read applications almost every year, and for some of the jobs they are online, and here's what I hate about it: At my school, each part of the application (CV, cover letter, each rec letter) has to be clicked on separately. If it's a pdf, it'll show up in my browser, but if it's a .doc, it'll get *downloaded* to my computer (with a file name that is a seemingly random string of numbers) and then I have to open it in word. There are _man_ ways that this is inconvenient: it takes time for each document to open or download, I can easily get confused about where the other documents for this particular candidate are on my computer, and it is much more difficult to _skim_ a whole application.
If there were a way for the whole application to be offered to me, by my school's software, as one *single* pdf file, that would be fine. But until my school can do that, I'm really grateful that some of the searches I participate in are still in the dark ages, with hard copies.

Those of you who think that readers who prefer hard copies "can't use the internet" have no idea how annoying the online process can be for readers. And the upshot of it is that I don't even look at parts of the application I would otherwise glance at.

Anonymous said...

You'll love this one: Not only are we annoyingly asking for paper copies, but then we have to scan your complete dossier into a PDF and send it to the EEO office in order to comply with state requirements. Why don't we ask for electronic versions in the first place? You'll understand when you actually work with baby boomer philosophers. tl:dr inter-generational warfare trolling.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon 5:25 writing back.

>>Is there some reason why, if I have sent all the requested material for the dossier (and probably slightly more than requested in my teaching portfolio), I should not point out that my website has additional materials on it (such as links to ALL my publications, etc.)?<<

As others have suggested, that's fine. I won't look at your website unless I'm thinking of interviewing you on the basis of materials submitted in hard copy, but that's OK.

And yup, I wrote in because there are applicants who decline to submit hard copies of primary materials (CV, writing sample, etc.) though we request them expressly.

Xenophon said...

Anon 11:55,

I ragged on tech-illiterate faculty in my last posting, so let me rag on candidates a bit now. There's no reason not to submit all electronic files in pdf. For one thing, it keeps people from accidentally deleting things when they read (hey, it happens).

BTW, Word documents are being "downloaded" any differently than pdf files. They're just not opening in your browser, but rather with a separate program.

Oh, an application that asks for a lot of components can run 20-30 pages. Are you sure you'd rather one pdf? That would require a lot of leafing through. Here's a suggestion: if you collected paper copies, you need to have an AA collate and copy the materials anyway. Why not have one person download, save, and rename all the files, then put them on a CD for each committee member. It's the same amount of time for the AA, and then you get a CD with a file for each candidate, with individual files labeled "cover letter", "CV", etc. That'll save some trees and make it much easier to lug your files around.

zombie said...

I have Adobe Pro, so I can put all the pieces of my dossier in a single pdf file. And I tried doing that for a couple of applications that asked for email submission. What happened? The emails ALL got bounced because the file size was too large. For one job, I had to email three separate times to get my whole dossier to them. That's a waste of everybody's time, not to mention a logistical nightmare.

Online applications? Sheesh, don't get me started. I spent about 45 minutes uploading a gajillion separate files for U Chicago last night. Not to mention rescanning all my evaluations at a lower rez so the pdf wouldn't exceed their chintzy file size limit. Lame.

The online applications cost candidates a lot of wasted time too. The benefit is that they save us money, and hey, fewer dead trees. Time's not free, but a little more invested upfront in creating a more efficient process will save a lot in the back end.

Or let's skip the whole flooferah and have a lottery. My odds would be about the same, I'm guessing.

BunnyHugger said...

Approximate number of things I applied for, to the best of my memory:

2003-2004: 100+
APA interviews: 0
Phone interviews: 0
Campus visits: 0
Comments: I was an idiot back then. I went on the market without a Ph.D. in hand and a date set in May. Plus, as the number indicates, I applied for everything in my area (which I defined more broadly back then) regardless of whether it was clearly out of my league.

2004-2005: 75
APA interviews: 5 (4 Eastern, 1 Central)
Phone interviews: 3
Campus visits: 1 (with a school that didn't APA or phone interview me but just picked three finalists and flew them out)
Comments: With Ph.D. in hand, I tried again and felt very happy with my 4 Eastern interviews, more than any of the other grads from my program had, yet none of those led to a campus visit. I also did not get a job from the one that did fly me there, and ended up landing my current yearly-contract position based on a phone interview late in the game, which was probably my luckiest break ever.

2006-2007: 30
APA interviews: 0 Eastern, 1 Central
Phone interviews: 0
Campus visits: 0
Comments: Starting this year I only applied for tenure-track positions henceforth since I had my current position as backup. The lower number was due to that and also to being choosier in general and applying only to things that seemed more promising.

2008-2009: 70
APA interviews: 2 Eastern, 0 Central
Phone interviews: 2
Campus visits: 3
Comments: One of the APA interviews and both of the phone interviews led to campus visits. I really really really really wanted one of those jobs, and had been told I was one of only two finalists. Didn't get any offers. I told myself that the number of flybacks I'd had this time surely suggested I was "getting close" and perhaps my number would come up next year. Ha ha ha.

2010-2011: 25
Interviews: None whatsoever.
Comments: Applied for everything in sight as in the previous year. Started coming to terms with the likelihood that I will never be on the tenure track, and wondering whether I should be upset or not.

2011-2012: 15 so far
Comments: I'm not holding out a lot of hope, but at least I've learned to apply only for schools that might have some interest in hiring me (i.e. teaching-oriented schools).

Anonymous said...

Our department is required to follow the application procedures dictated by our (state) university's office of academic personnel, which they develop in consultation with our EEO office. So far, they are insisting on hard copies of everything. Please don't blame the philosophy department. We hope the university will eventually move to all-electronic submissions. We have been told there are technical and legal problems with that, but let's all hope they can be resolved eventually.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:13 again.
The central issue with my point is when we establish a set number of documents for the first round of SC meetings WE established what we want by thinking about it. If someone brings in additional information via any format (Paper, digital...) the SC grinds to a halt so we can all read it, think about it, consider it, then search for similer matieral from others to make the process fair. It makes the SC process unmanagable, that is why we establish parameters at the first meeting. When we are down to three the gloves come off and most data is fair game, including searching out friends that may know the top 3.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly, there are laws which prohibit the asking of certain questions in job interviews. Are those laws state, federal, or both? Can anyone recommend a good resource on this issue?

Anonymous said...

To 12.43 if you're hiring your eeo office will have good guidelines. They are eager to avoid legal problems for your institutions. Philosophy departments are notorious for not properly consulting with EEO during searches.

If you're a candidate, this is a good short summary:

Anonymous said...

This is off topic, but--

Has anybody else fallen into the trap of looking at the descriptions of job candidates coming out of other departments? Can anyone offer advice (apart from not having done this in the first place) for what to do when you find someone who is almost identical to you, but slightly better, on paper?