Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Scarcity, Gettability, and Resentment

From an anonymous SC member, on the difficulties they also face:
As I read through the comment threads of various posts, I notice an occasional topic that comes up is interviewers at lower ranked school being resentful toward highly qualified candidates. I have on occasion seen this given as an explanation for why some exceptionally well qualified person did not get an interview, on-campus or offer. There is a dimension to this which seems to never be fully appreciated: on-campus interview resources are quite scarce. We cannot bring out more than four people. If we make an offer to someone, and they turn us down, then we have only the remaining three to choose from, then two, then one, then none. And if we do not hire anyone, it means we will probably lose the line, and have a reduced chance of obtaining or retaining lines in the future. This means that we simply cannot afford to fill the short list with the people we want the most; we must have fallbacks that we can be fairly confident will accept an offer. Despite our efforts to rule out people who are utterly impossible for us to get, every search I've participated in since my hire has led to an offer that was refused. Every. Single. One. In each case, we had eliminated even better people on the assumption that they could not be had, and still we overreached. In every case the candidate we made the first offer to made a great show of how excited they were by our job, until they had another offer in hand (or, in one case, used our offer to negotiate for better pay from the place they preferred).

We want excellent people. We want this very much. But we also don't want to lose the line and thereby initiate a slow death-spiral for our department. I don't want to deny that there are occasionally tinges of resentment that some committee members express toward some specific candidates, but my impression is that this is far less the case than one might think. The market will segment itself in any case, and so we make that process more efficient by not wasting people's time on interaction that won't go anywhere in any case, on candidates who do not *need* any help from us.

This year, I tried an experiment. Instead of simply viewing the candidates from the perspective of my own judgments of desirability, I made a mechanical ranking of them according to the Leiter number of their pedigree, and then tried to come up with a comparable ranking for jobs, using Leiter ranking, and when that gives out, US News ranking. All very imprecise of course, but I was merely trying to measure a collective fantasy anyway. Then I paired off candidates to jobs, working from the top down. We had 70 applicants for our position. Once I eliminated both people whose AOS/AOC didn't match what we were looking for anyway, and people who would take better offers elsewhere, the list reduced to six candidates. Since it seemed silly to go to the APA for only six interviews, we added three to the list, but these were therefore people I had already judged to be "ungettable." I should clarify that this procedure did not control our list, but the other members of the committee ended up with almost exactly the same list using non-mechanical criteria. While at the APA, one of these three indicated that she already had stellar on-campus interviews lined up and wasn't really interested in us anymore; another one has already appeared in an online announcement as giving a talk at one of the stellar hiring departments. We knew that interviewing them was a waste of time, and indeed it was. However, I'm sure that some stars we didn't even interview at the APA will conclude that we "resent" them or feel "threatened" by them. Honestly, we don't. We just can't afford to waste the resources on recruiting them. If we have done anything wrong over the years, it is overreach, because hope springs eternal.
Yes. Hope does spring eternal.

-- JD

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fun story:

Last spring I interviewed for a VAP position at a relatively prestigious lib arts school on the West Coast. The position is basically a glorified adjunct job, but it's frequently open and senior grad students from where I got my PhD routinely get it (It’s not advertised and we are the only PhD department in 500 miles, so...).

Anyway, one of us had the position last year and the faculty loved her so she put in a good word for me and I drove up to interview. As far as I knew, I was the only one interviewing so I had my hopes up.

So the initial interview goes well, very informal, lots of chit-chat about this and that…then they ask me about my dissertation. Now I'm not exactly a perfect match for a teaching school as I have a very active research agenda and my dissertation is rather involved—specifically across several somewhat obscure periods of the history of philosophy. I start explaining it, trying to downplay some of the more obscure stuff and focus on the general theme; but alas...their eyes glaze over and they start exchanging nervous glances. It was one of these moments where I could basically read their minds: If we hire this kid, he is going to make us look stupid.'

I knew at that point I had blown it, but once I stopped talking about my work, the interview returned to friendly chit-chat and ended quite well (I threw a ball with the chair and his dog), so I thought things might be ok. That evening I called up my peer who had recommended me and told her about the interview. She said that I shouldn't have said anything about my dissertation because the faculty don’t publish anything. She also told me that during her interview they spent the whole time talking about yoga (she teaches a yoga class on the side).

The next day I got the PFO email.

So yes, this prejudice does exist and it does have effects on certain candidates. I can understand SLA schools not wishing to be used as career springboards by people like me (which is honestly what I intend, so fair is fair); but this was a VAP position, so that concern really doesn't hold water. The fact of the matter is, academia is packed with resentful fragile egos, and the lower down the totem pole you go, the worse it gets.

Even worse, unlike in a business, there is not even the minor incentive to hire the best person you can get in order to benefit the company’s bottom line. As a result, many academic departments end up functioning more like high school cliques and interest clubs. I saw this quite blatantly where I got my PhD. We had four hires while I was there and every single one turned into a fiasco where every SC member wanted to hire someone who did work in the same area that they did. Then, when the final candidates came to give on campus talks, every question from our faculty was basically: “How does your work relate-to/support what I do?”

Utterly pathetic…but this is what we have to deal with. And the fact that this is basically the ultimate buyer’s market just empowers such people.

Zarathustra said...

The SC member's experience does indicate a real problem. And yet, highly qualified people still fail to get jobs, whether at Leiteriffic departments or elsewhere. Sounds like a market inefficiency.

There are ways to handle this problem that most SCs don't avail themselves of. For instance:

1) Don't do first-round interviews at the APA. It'll save candidates money and save the SC money that it can use to bring at least one -- maybe two -- additional people to campus.

2) Hire off-schedule, i.e., before or after most other offers are made.

3) Don't do campus visits. That would save a lot of money. Princeton follows this policy, and it seems to serve them pretty well.

These probably won't solve the market inefficiency, but they'd help.

zombie said...

This got my attention: "Once I eliminated both people whose AOS/AOC didn't match what we were looking for anyway, and people who would take better offers elsewhere, the list reduced to six candidates."

Was this an especially rare AOS/AOC? (Perhaps so, if they got only 70 applications.) When there are so many job-seekers on the market, how can this be? There are far more non-top departments than top departments, so, one would think there are a lot of us proles on the market.

The other thing I find interesting is the number of times this dept has made offers to candidates who got multiple offers, and better offers, and turned them down. How is it that the offers so often multiply for a few candidates, and leave so many in the dust? (The same seems to be true of interviews. Some candidates get a lot of them, a few get a sprinkling, many get none.) This suggests to me that there is something even odder than we know going on in hiring. One explanation is that only the toppity-topmost PhDs are getting a look, but that doesn't explain why I ever got interviews or fly-outs. And as this writer says, they don't bother going after the prom kings and queens, for fear of being shot down. Neither, I would guess, are they going for the knuckle-draggers. But that middle must be vast. Six candidates?

Anonymous said...

I just want to echo Zarathustra's point that in this market many strong candidates even from top-5 schools struggle to find jobs.

If a Search Committee is worried that a candidate they find super-desirable will turn them down, one thing they could do is make this person a (time-limited) offer immediately, and then just have fly-outs for the "backup" candidates they're less sure about.

Anonymous said...

"another one has already appeared in an online announcement as giving a talk at one of the stellar hiring departments. We knew that interviewing them was a waste of time, and indeed it was."

How exactly would one know this already? You know already that had you offered them a job, they would have declined? That's quite a lot to infer from the fact that this person has one fly-out. I'm not saying that this is a terrible inference to draw; but I do wonder whether the SC's apparent high level of confidence in their prediction is warranted.

Given the gulf now between the number of job seekers and number of jobs, I really wonder how fine-tuned SC's judgments are as to whom they're capable of hiring. I would ask those on SCs who claim to know such things whether or not they go back and assess their judgments about this after the fact. Do you follow up to see whether your predictions about what sorts of interviews/fly-outs/offers you expect a candidate to receive are accurate? I hope that you do, if you're using these predictions to eliminate candidates you might like to have as future colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:06 doesn't seem to realize that making an offer isn't something a department does. It is something a Provost does. So, there are typically three levels of administrative crap to go through. Department, Dean, and then Provost.

Most Deans and Provosts want to meet candidates before they make them offers. Of course if you are Princeton, you can do things differently, but most places I have worked and gotten offers from, make it hard to do as you suggest.

Anonymous said...

So yes, this prejudice does exist and it does have effects on certain candidates. I can understand SLA schools not wishing to be used as career springboards...

In your example, the prejudice is exerted by an SC whose members generally don't publish. But that doesn't hold of all faculty at all SLACs, so I would refrain from generalizing.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how many of the 70 didn't match the AOS/AOC and how many were expected to end up elsewhere. I have the sneaking suspicion that the problem really lies with having too precise a set of requirements for AOS/AOC match without enough wiggle room to offer a job to someone who is close enough and who will actually stay. I'd hate to think that the reason I'm not getting any interviews this time around is because of a kind of Kantian absolutism about desires for AOS and AOC and that it's leading to search committees being as frustrated as I am, when I may end up doing most of what they want and would stay there happily.

Anonymous said...

As a search committee member this year, I was appalled at the number of incomplete and sloppy applications we received. On several occasions the cover letters that gushed how they couldn't wait to teach grad students when we are an undergraduate institution. Letters of recommendation often don't help either. One letter writer said the candidate couldn't wait to teach grad students again and was sick of undergrad teaching.

Mumble said...

@ Zarathustra

"1) Don't do first-round interviews at the APA. It'll save candidates money and save the SC money that it can use to bring at least one -- maybe two -- additional people to campus."

It's worth mentioning that money to interview at the APA often doesn't come from a department's budget, but from a dean or other administrator. If it isn't used to go to the APA it doesn't become available to bring more people to campus.

@ 11:06

"If a Search Committee is worried that a candidate they find super-desirable will turn them down, one thing they could do is make this person a (time-limited) offer immediately, and then just have fly-outs for the "backup" candidates they're less sure about."

I'm not sure if I understand your proposal, but I once had an APA interview for a very desirable job where the search committee chose to fly out only the top ranked person on their shortlist. They told me that they would decide whether to have further flyouts after that candidate's visit. They made the offer to the candidate and s/he accepted. So only one person got a flyout. I'm not sure if job seekers would be happy if this became the practice, but maybe that isn't what you were picturing either.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to hear a compelling story about a SC declining to interview or offer a candidate a job due to "jealousy" or a worry about such a person making them look dumb. The story at the top of this thread doesn't strike me as such a story at all, given that typically people's eyes don't glaze over when they are intimidated by a superior intelligence--they glaze over when they are bored or distracted. I think the "they won't seriously consider me because I'm too smart" might be a good way to rationalize rejection but that it probably doesn't conform very well to reality.

A part of the solution (not sure how how significant a part)to this problem would be for star candidates to inform SCs as early as possible that they are not interested in the job, have a better offer, etc. I've seen job candidates come to my department (where I'm a graduate student) for their on-campus visits with better offers in hand. If they hadn't done so, another candidate might have been brought in. Again, this may not be a big piece of the puzzle as I have no idea how common this is, but if it is common it might partially explain the anxiety some SCs have about aiming too high.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous SC member:

I don't know if I applied for your job. But I am one of those which you might be inclined to judge as 'ungettable,' and so you didn't interview me: I'm from a Leiter top-5 dept, have articles in the best journals, etc.

I've had only 2 interviews (at public schools with no grad program), one of which has already declined to fly me out; I'm still waiting to hear from the other.

So if you judged that I am 'ungettable', you are surely wrong... For all you know, I would've preferred your job to the one prospect I may (or may not) have left.

Anonymous said...

"If a Search Committee is worried that a candidate they find super-desirable will turn them down, one thing they could do is make this person a (time-limited) offer immediately, and then just have fly-outs for the "backup" candidates they're less sure about."

Such things are done. And when they are done, there are always those who complain about how unfair they are. Even those candidates who are made the offers complain, because they don't want to have to commit to a job before getting what they assume are better offers down the road.

Anonymous said...

I can't be the only one who finds 928's assumption that it was his detailed and brilliant dissertation summary that caused the poor dolts interviewing him for a job to reject him because of some kind of jealousy over his (or her) brilliance...

I mean...the gall to assume that...only in philosophy!

Anonymous said...

@928: Unless you are the next fully-formed and mature Quine, Heidegger, or David Lewis,* they were probably bored by your dissertation topic, which you decribe yourself as having a lot of obscure content.


*Hint: you aren't.

Cincinnatus C. said...

Why doesn't philosophy have an amateur draft like all the other major sports? I'm willing to sign WAY below slot.

Anonymous said...

To the anon SC member from the original post, I understand your worries. But in the hopes of re-aligning your assignment of subjective probabilities, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am from a highly Leiter-ranked department, which has an even higher specialty ranking in my AOS, and is at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. My letter writers are, in my opinion, stellar. Who knows if they like me as much, but they always said so to my face. Anyway, I think I might be one of the people you would be worried about (not for this year, I don't think any job I applied for would have only 70 applicants). I just want a job. I want to have a home of my own (renting or buying, just not living with in-laws). I want health insurance for my daughter. I want my wife to get to stop uprooting her life every time I have to move to find academic work. I want an office I can unpack in for good. I want to have a stake in departmental meetings about curriculum and advising. I want to make attachments to people in town that will last for more than a year. I want to be able to tell my parents that this will be my address for a long time. These are all things I have either never had or will lose in the next few months if my bad luck continues.

I went to a great school, but I am a normal person. Most of us are. I have the normal set of desires. Would a job in a large department with lots of opportunities for research be nice? Sure. It would also be nice to know how to play the electric guitar. Lots of things are nice. What I need is a good job for my family. What I really want is for that job to involve reading and talking about philosophy.

Grad students are almost always more than just graduate students. We are people engaged in the normal range of activities and endeavours in life. For many of us, certainly for me, our research goals are not our primary goals in life.

Its a buyers market, and we are normal people who just want to have a life we can plan around begin. That we were lucky enough, 5-7 years ago, to get into a great school, doesn't change the basic facts about us.

Of course there are people like 9:28 out there too, so I don't think harshly of you for your worry.

9:28
I would be worried that by giving this information "we are the only PhD department in 500 miles" people are going to figure out where you did your grad work, and given this information "my dissertation is rather involved—specifically across several somewhat obscure periods of the history of philosophy" they are going to figure out who you are. If you are going to make a complete ass out of yourself like this, you need to protect your identity better, man. Here is hoping you either stop being an asshole or start being more careful.

Anonymous said...

In 9:28's defense, it is a Known Fact that the best work being done in philosophy is often buried in unread dissertations. Add that to the fact that with each passing year, professionals in the field get increasingly dumber, and you start to understand the complaint. Every year a person spend outside of graduate school, that person loses precious Philosophy Points.

Anonymous said...

Despite our efforts to rule out people who are utterly impossible for us to get, every search I've participated in since my hire has led to an offer that was refused. Every. Single. One. In each case, we had eliminated even better people on the assumption that they could not be had, and still we overreached.

This seems to add to the market inefficiency. Just think how many other search committees at similar institutions think this way. What you get in the end is that some people who are judged to be good but not gettable actually end up getting quite few looks. Moreover, you also get that the people who are judged to be good and gettable end up getting multiple offers -- leading the committee to think they have overreached yet again when they really haven't.

Dr. Killjoy said...

I'd just like to note that while 9:28's super smarts precluded his/her being hired, those smarts obviously weren't so great as to warrant rejection at the initial stages--only the truly beautiful minds get the bin right out the gate. So, a hearty congrats to all you mouth-breathing troglodytes dumb enough to get yourselves hired.

Anonymous said...

Alternative explanation for 9:28: the presentation of the dissertation spiel indicated that you might not be good at presenting your obscure and technical area to undergraduates. At a SLAC the ability to convey your area to newcomers might matter more, and students are not sensitive to the status of faculty. In other words, if you're bad at teaching, it's likely that they won't think "VAP is bad but doesn't represent the department" but "ugh, philosophy sucks!" That can be very bad for the program, even if you're only there for a year.

Perhaps they were threatened by you, but I suspect that even given your friend's comments, the fact that they asked you about the dissertation meant you probably weren't going to get by talking about your hypothetical yoga hobby. Should it come up again, it might help to think not that they'll be intimidated, but that you need to excel at explaining it to non-specialists.

Anonymous said...

2:38, I thought about that "500 miles" thing (not that I want to out 9:28, I just couldn't help it, curiosity...). I think it's not true. I don't believe there is any spot on the west coast that doesn't have at least two PhD philosophy programs within 500 miles of it, nor any PhD program on the west coast that isn't quite a bit closer than 500 miles from at least one other program.
That is to say, I think 9:28 is being more careful about anonymity than it might appear.

squid pro quo said...

Question for the original SC member (or any other SC members): can a job candidate who appears to be "ungettable" counteract that perception with a cover letter that indicates his/her sincere interest in the position? How seriously does a SC worried about over-reaching take cover letters when deciding on short-lists and fly-outs?

Anonymous said...

3:58 -- yes, it does matter sometimes. I'm on a SC member at a shit undergraduate only university. I always read the cover letters of those who appear "ungettable". Those candidates at top programs that show an interest in our little department in the cover letter almost always get first-round interviews.
Also I think 3:12 nailed it in the second paragraph. In our department we need someone in our department who can communicate philosophy to non-specialists whether it be to undergraduates or the Dean.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the perception that, as one poster puts it, the offers multiply for several candidates while others get none. This is anecdotally true for me; but it is also not surprising. I wouldn't expect the job offers to be equally "sprinkled" across candidates of the same excellence. Some will be more attractive than others for a variety of possible reasons.

So what is the driving factor behind why some people seem to get, say 8-10 APA interviews, while others get 2 or none? Is it what has been implied on this thread, i.e. that the top candidates are deemed "ungettable," so it's the candidates just below them that are getting the glut of offers? Could it be that certain people just have catchy dissertation topics or other features that attract others en masse?

To expand the possibilities: it has been suggested to me on more than one occasion that certain candidates' success is due to their female or minority status. How widespread is this perception? I don't buy it for a minute, but I am very curious if others hold or have heard of this "theory."

Anonymous said...

As someone who has taught at several liberal arts colleges (including a "relatively prestigious" one on the west coast), let me echo what others have already suggested: 9:28 blew the interview because he or she could not explain the dissertation project in a way accessible to non-specialists.

That's a standard part of any interview at a liberal arts college: can you explain complex philosophy in a way that gets non-specialists interested in it? Being able to do that is, for obvious reasons, an important part of the job, and many good philosophers lack the ability.

Though I've moved on to a research university, my lib-arts colleagues and I used to see attitudes like 9:28's regularly among job candidates. Nothing quite charms like the presumption that those invested in teaching, as the saying has it, can't do. Even more charming -- hilarious, actually -- is the idea that the candidate is going to make his or her colleagues (you know: "such people") "look stupid."

In front of whom, exactly?

Anonymous said...

To anon 4:52

I think we are all aware that most of the explanation of why we don't do as well as we like is that there are people with stronger dossiers than us. We focus on those reasons that strike us as unfair. That I am not the best researcher or the best teacher on the market this year does not infuriate me. That people might not be interviewing me because they assume I don't want to work at their school, when in fact I do, drives me occasionally into a rage.

As for affirmative action interviews, I am surprised you don't think this is happening. I know for a fact it happened at one job this year. I was told it happened by the SC members (and I also know that the same thing happened for on campus interviews). And I don't think there is anything to complain about there. I assume it happens elsewhere, because the practice is morally defensible and likely to help the hiring department out. A lot of departments have to justify themselves to administration on the basis of number of majors and students enrolled in courses. If the fact that you have an all 60+male department is leading to few female majors and a sharp gender imbalance among non-majors in your courses, you need to do something. It seems to me that hiring a female philosopher is going to help enrollment. As long as there are qualified female philosophers out there (and in a year like this there are plenty of them), there is nothing wrong with having a point system in figuring out who to interview and fly out that takes sex (and race for that matter) into account.

There are plenty of smaller departments in financially strapped schools that would be stupid to not show a preference for women.

Anonymous said...

I know that this has been addressed in other comments on other posts, but it bears repeating.

A few pointers to all those who really do want to work at schools that, like mine, may pass on them because they cannot afford to fly out candidates who may pass on the job:

1. Your cover letter is a great place to show a SC how interested you are in that job. Spend a few minutes on our webpage to review our college and department mission statements, or any other information available online. The more you can tie you work into how we define ourselves, the better of a fit you seem.
2. Your CV is a great place to emphasize teaching. If your teaching is at the bottom of your CV, buried beneath your research, service, and awards, we reserve the right to assume teaching is your last concern, and treat your application accordingly.
3. Practice talking about your research, and pay attention to how you would explain it to non-specialists. You *will* need this skill. It will come in handy when you: interview for a job, teach students, explain your research to administration (those who will help decide your tenure, promotion, sabbatical, and grant requests).
4. Don't assume that we must be ignorant just because we don't publish as often as those at schools with lower teaching loads, more time and money for research, and graduate student research assistants. We may not publish often, but we do still read and stay current. And even if we don't (and there are those who don't), give us the benefit of the doubt.
5. Please keep this in mind, because this one's important: every time you decide that individualizing a cover letter, or reorganizing your CV, or preparing for non-specialists is too much work...remember that someone else *is* doing that work, and we *will* notice. Is it fair? Well, yeah. Because we are going to hire the person we think is the best fit for our department, our college, and our students. And I can assure you that there are applicants who *are* doing there best to convince us of their fit.

Anonymous said...

Here's a proposal: job wikis in philosophy (e.g. phylo) should allow people to submit the number of interviews they received. Wouldn't everyone *love* to see the curve that came out? Especially the frequency of zeros versus >5 interviews? Actually, here's something productive the APA could do for job seekers -- collect survey statistics from job seekers on a voluntary basis and help make it clearer just how the odds fall.

Anonymous said...

Yah 6:53. I must add that the few dossiers that really stood out to us did so because they had honestly done their best to show how they could fit in and contribute to our department and university.

Anonymous said...

Here's a proposal: job wikis in philosophy (e.g. phylo) should allow people to submit the number of interviews they received. Wouldn't everyone *love* to see the curve that came out? Especially the frequency of zeros versus >5 interviews? Actually, here's something productive the APA could do for job seekers -- collect survey statistics from job seekers on a voluntary basis and help make it clearer just how the odds fall.

++++++.
I'm sure this is impractical, will never happen, etc., etc., but still. ++++++.

Anonymous said...

Here's an honest question/suggestion:

Several people have pointed out that the dean and/or provost wants to meet candidates and that they make the offers.

Why not cut the campus visit altogether?

Make your dean or provost come to the APA for 2-3 days, and make your hiring decisions there.

I know SCs come up with all sorts of bullshit about how they want to observe the candidate and how they're hiring him or her for life and how they don't want to hire an asshole for the next 30 years, but this is all bullshit. People move jobs all the time (i.e. you might not even be there for that long, let alone the candidate), and if you can't notice that someone is batshit crazy from an APA interview, there's a good chance you are batshit crazy yourself.

Could you imagine how pleasant things would be for everyone if we had a shorter process, and say offers were made on the 3rd day of the APA, with candidates accepting/rejecting them within 2 weeks? (You know sort of like jobs outside of academia).

I dare say that most of the inefficiency would be gone. Indeed, by my lights, all such inefficiencies are essentially created by the process, not the market (and no this isn't some free market defense or apology, just an observation).

Anonymous said...

I try my best to think I fail because in a reasonable process of competition I came up short on account of the fact that I am not as good for the job as others. Then I see this and it gets hard to tell myself this story:

"Your CV is a great place to emphasize teaching. If your teaching is at the bottom of your CV, buried beneath your research, service, and awards, we reserve the right to assume teaching is your last concern, and treat your application accordingly."

This is stupid. It suggests either low intelligence on the part of the author or a near complete failure to use whatever intelligence the author has. That 'teaching' comes after 'publications' in one's CV might be a result of the person simply alphabetizing the categories. It might come about because the person knew exactly what to put down in the publications section, but was not sure whether to include the courses they TA-ed, and so wrote the publication section first. It might be that they originally had teaching experience above publication history, but that organizing the CV that way let to one of the subsections being broken in two by the page break in a way the candidate found aesthetically unnaccetpable. Or it might just be that people put together their CVs with the thought that in making a serious decision like hiring for TT line, the members of the search committee would focus on the content of the CV, not the formatting. Assuming it means that the person doesn't care about teaching as much as publications is stupid.

I will ask you the same question I always wanted to ask of Bush and Cheney. How is it that you people come to have this power over me?

Anonymous said...

6:52 Do you know what a provost does? Don't you know how management works.

Provosts (sometimes deans) pay for searches out of their budgets. Deans run colleges, and provost is the chief executive officer at the university.

Usually the dean and provost okay the choice a department makes, but on occasion they don't. I know for a fact, that the position I have was a direct result of the dean choosing me, breaking a tie in the department.

Deans and Provosts are busy people they aren't going to the APA unless they happen to be philosophers who need to go.

When I was a graduate student, I used to get mad at my dissertation director when he would say how dumb the grad students were. It wasn't philosophically dumb, but dumb in the ways of the university.

The more I read this blog, the more I understand his comments. Being a faculty member, on the tenure track, not VAPs or lecturers, really does cause one to have a different understanding of the entire function of the university.

It's just hard to get that across to some of you in a way that you will understand.

Anonymous said...

Another proposal for avoiding the guessing game of figuring out which candidates will be likely to take an offer is to do something like this:

Invite candidates to campus with the following conditions: (1) If the department doesn't make a candidate an offer, then the dept will pay for the fly-out, (2) If the dept does make a candidate an offer and the candidate accepts, then the dept will pay for the fly-out, (3) If the dept makes the candidate an offer, but the candidate declines it, then the candidate will pay the cost of the fly-out.

Departments could then do fly-outs somewhat serially: Invite out the top 2-3, then if everyone they make offers to turns them down, invite out 2 more, without extra cost to them. (Given the state of the job market, there are basically guaranteed to be people still on the market who would be highly qualified for the job, even if they have to go through a few series of this. And there's a good shot they'd get one of their top 2 choices.)

I don't know whether this is actually workable given hiring bureaucracy, but it seems in principle to get around the problem.

Anonymous said...

If your teaching is at the bottom of your CV, buried beneath your research, service, and awards, we reserve the right to assume teaching is your last concern, and treat your application accordingly.

I don't know what you mean by "reserve the right to assume", but I reserve the right to criticize your assumption here as ridiculous and unwarranted.

What exactly would this SC member advise applicants to do? Are we to judge ahead of time that some schools are "research" schools, and that other schools are "teaching" schools, and then adjust the ordering of our CV accordingly? (Which CV should we put up on our websites, by the way?) For those schools that I judge to be interested in both research and teaching, should I put research and teaching side by side on my CV? (But does putting research on the *left* indicate that I care more about research?) Should I list one publication, then one course taught, then another publication, then another course?

It seems to me that if I judge ahead of time whether your school is a "research" school or a "teaching" school is of a kind with the sort of unhelpful presumptuous behavior that is the theme of this thread. The reality seems to me to be that the vast majority of departments care about both your teaching and your research. Candidates are not in a position ahead of time to determine what your particular department attitude and climate is regarding research and teaching. We can make educated guesses, but they're only guesses.

So since both my research and teaching are important to me, and important to your job, I will keep listing them both. But I have to list one first, and so I'll continue following what I take to be the professional norm of listing research first. To do otherwise is to be presumptuous about your department (and require me to be judging ahead of time whether you're a "teaching" school, which strikes me as a potentially condescending-and ultimately pointless-thing to do.)

If you want to know about my commitment to teaching, just look right at my CV. There it is, right after the research! And look at my teaching portfolio, where I go into more detail.

At the end of the day, you do have the right to judge my dossier on arbitrary grounds. I hope you don't exercise it.

Anonymous said...

Considering that hires don't happen every year, and when they do, they would take up at most 2-3 days of a provost or dean's time, there is absolutely no reason that either one is too busy to go.

At most it's an inconvenience on the dean/provost...but I think the considerable advantages to candidates outweigh the detriment to these individuals.

Anonymous said...

@7:04: "I will ask you the same question I always wanted to ask of Bush and Cheney. How is it that you people come to have this power over me?"

Because you're not as smart as you think you are.

The ordering of information on a CV is partly dictated by convention; and convention at teaching schools is to list the important stuff first. In this case: teaching. If you don't know this, then you don't know much about teaching schools.

Anonymous said...

12:38 writes: "...I once had an APA interview for a very desirable job where the search committee chose to fly out only the top ranked person on their shortlist. They told me that they would decide whether to have further flyouts after that candidate's visit. They made the offer to the candidate and s/he accepted. So only one person got a flyout. I'm not sure if job seekers would be happy if this became the practice, but maybe that isn't what you were picturing either."


I have to ask: really? Can anyone else speak to this practice and its commonality?

Anonymous said...

About your proposal, Anon 8:24: I did a fly out last year for a job, got an offer, and turned it down. But I turned it down in large part because of how the visit went- i.e., how the visit was managed, how I was treated, etc. I went into it with good faith, and it would have been bogus if then had to pay because of their failings.

For your proposal to work, it'd also have to be the case that candidates were given as much info as possible beforehand, and yet departments never want to do that. It's not until the on-campus that you learn about salary, benefits, sabbaticals, tenure, etc. Now, maybe this stuff could be relayed in advance. But unless you could somehow assure that visits don't involve departments messing up or being jerks, it can't be good policy to make candidates pay for visits they make in good faith. Especially because if a visit is bad enough (as it was in my case), you might turn it down even without another offer on the table- I don't want to take a massive financial penalty for other people being awful.

Anonymous said...

7:04 and 8:27, of course it is faintly ridiculous and arbitrary to for SCs to care about the formatting of your CV, but that does not mean it is irrational. Putting your teaching section up top is a signal, and if you do not care enough to give this signal then that tells SCs something.

Of course, this is inefficient and gives extra work to job-seekers, but inefficiency nearly always arises when there are asymmetries of information.

When SCs require these things, they are not being stupid.

Anonymous said...

Considering that hires don't happen every year, and when they do, they would take up at most 2-3 days of a provost or dean's time, there is absolutely no reason that either one is too busy to go.

At most it's an inconvenience on the dean/provost...but I think the considerable advantages to candidates outweigh the detriment to these individuals.


Troll, right? I mean, nobody is this clueless.

Anonymous said...

Putting your teaching section up top is a signal, and if you do not care enough to give this signal then that tells SCs something.

What is the signal that doing this sends? Here are two possibilities:

(1) That I value teaching more than research.

(2) That I've judged you to be a school that values teaching more than research.

Those of you on SCs who want to see teaching up top are advising us to do so, and so if I were you I would think that seeing teaching up top indicates (2) as being more likely than (1). What I tried to express in my comment earlier (I'm 8:27) is that there are independent reasons for candidates not to play the game of guessing whether you're a SC who identifies as a "teaching" school.

If I don't put teaching on top, you definitely shouldn't infer that I don't "care enough" about your job. As a job candidate, I am in a very low information state about the peculiarities of your SC and the idiosyncrasies of your department climate. In many cases it would be presumptuous of me to assume that you're a SC that "requires" the teaching to be listed first. If I list teaching first, I please you and your individual SC, but I also risk offending a different SC that doesn't share your peculiarities.

When SCs require these things, they are not being stupid.

In the hundreds of job ads I have read, I have never seen a SC require that you format your CV a particular way. The point I wanted to communicate is that it's presumptuous of candidates to guess ahead of time whether or not a particular SC has this hidden and unstated requirement, and that SCs should give little thought as to whether or not we correctly guessed.

If you want to know about my commitment to teaching, why not:

(a) Look at what I say in my cover letter.
(b) Look at my teaching portfolio, where I have the opportunity to explain my approach to teaching, teaching experience, offer student evaluations, and sample syllabi (of past, present, and future courses).
(c) Look at letters in support of my teaching from those who have observed and evaluated my teaching.

By all means, use these measures to evaluate my commitment to teaching. If they're in place, then I think they completely swamp any information you might get from the mere ordering of things on my CV (and cover letter for that matter).

imprecise said...

Anon 7:04,

This is not stupid. 8:38 is absolutely right, there are conventions about these things, and by not following the conventions, you send a message whether you intend to or not. The message is either 1) you don't know about the conventions, or 2) you don't care. Let me say a it more about (1).

(1) is bad because it makes you look green and ill-informed. There are plenty of well-informed candidates who have teaching evaluations as you do, I assure you. So why would I, as a member of a SC, choose you?

Furthermore, I want a colleague who does not make extra work for me. If you are strange enough to alphabetize your CV, you are probably strange enough to suggest, in a committee meeting on developing a new evaluation form for the philosophy department, that we order the questions alphabetically. I don't want to have to combat that kind of incompetence in committee meetings. (I already have bureaucratically incompetent colleagues, and I don't want more.) And if you are careless enough to put the research section first _just_ because you wrote it first, well, I don't think much more needs to be said about that.

8:27, your question raises an important issue, but also sidesteps the main point. The important issue -- it _is_ sometimes hard to judge whether a school is a research school or a teaching school. A VERY rough rule of thumb might be: 3-3 load and higher = teaching. When in doubt, put research first. As for the missed point: if it is a judgment call, you still don't put teaching at the end, you put it right after your research section (pubs, and maybe conferences).

One last thing -- I will not trash a dossier b/c of a poorly constructed CV if there is other evidence of excellent teaching (letters of rec or portfolio). But in my experience, a poorly constructed CV goes hand in hand with other problems in the dossier, problems that at their worst suggest a lack of understanding of what a teaching position entails.

Anonymous said...

As a SC member many times at a non-prestigious, non-doctoral program, we have the same attitude as the original poster. It's pretty clear from the stature of the school, references, and research program that certain candidates will be getting lot of interviews and offers at far more prestigious schools. Our hunches have been confirmed so many times that we are confident acting on them in the future. It would be a complete waste of a fly-out for us to bring them in. And even if they accepted an offer, they'd likely leave after a year or two, which is almost as bad for us. We'd have to go back to square one to get permission to hire.

But, as several have noted, you can make a difference by telling us why you specifically would be happy in our department, based on doing your homework on our campus web site. That might mean pointing out interdisciplinary opportunities or centers/institutes where you would like to contribute. Some applicants tell us about a family situation that explains why they want to be in our city (something we can't ask you ourselves).

And make sure your references know where you are applying. My favorite, for a candidate from a prestigious program: "He's too good to just teach."

Asstro said...

"Considering that hires don't happen every year, and when they do, they would take up at most 2-3 days of a provost or dean's time, there is absolutely no reason that either one is too busy to go.

At most it's an inconvenience on the dean/provost...but I think the considerable advantages to candidates outweigh the detriment to these individuals."


Okay. I'll bite.

Just did a search of the job openings in the School of Arts and Sciences at my University. There are 20 openings at the moment, spanning an untold number of departments. This does not include, for instance, the many more openings for senior instructors and such, and it may well not be a comprehensive list of openings this year.

It would be well beyond a mere "inconvenience" for the dean to spend 2-3 days at the professional conferences of the various faculties.

In a way I'm amazed that our dean has the time to schedule 30 minutes to meet with each candidate, but he does. That's a lot of people to meet and interview. This, on top of the various other things he does during any given day, including comprehensive, tenure, and promotion reviews of all faculty in the School.

BunnyHugger said...

Anon 8:45:

I don't know how common it is, but I know someone who had an interview like that, at a prestigious liberal arts college. They flew out a single candidate (him) pass/fail and... actually didn't give him the job. This was many years ago now, however (15 or so).

Anonymous said...

Are people really suggesting that candidates be asked to accept jobs without ever visiting a university? And that somehow a candidate should be financially responsible for visiting a campus if they decide not to take the job? I agree that it could be wrong for a candidate to knowingly take a fly out for a job she has no intention of taking. But isn't it at least possible that a candidate gets two equally desirable offers and selects one other than yours? I could envision this happening even when the two schools are not entirely equal on the basis of other life concerns. No one wants a failed search, but having a candidate turn down an offer does not strike me as an obvious indication that the candidate was ungettable or that it was wrong to bring them to campus. This whole conversation seems to have taken a strong tone of desperation that cuts against candidate interests.

Anonymous said...

Just in case 8:36 AM is not a troll and really is this clueless, let me point out that at my very small school, where there are only about 3,000 students total, the university as a whole makes about 10 or 11 hires a year, because, remember, the philosophy department is not the only department in the university. There is no possible way a Provost or Dean could attend the APA or any other professional conference. Please put that out of your head for good. (This is precisely one respect in which, as 7:32 put it, graduate students are "dumb" -- I would prefer "very uneducated," even "clueless" -- in the ways of the university.)

zombie said...

Someone told me (I don't remember who anymore), that I should reorder research and teaching on my CV for different kinds of jobs. I always did it. It's not a big deal. You create two versions of your CV. Unless you are typing the damn thing on a typewriter, this is NOT HARD TO DO. Then you send the teaching-on-top version to the jobs that, as you can best ascertain, are teaching-oriented (it says so in the ad, or on the dept website, or it's a SLAC or CC). You send the research-on-top version to the more research-oriented jobs.

Some SCs will care about this. Some will not. But you can't know which ones are which with absolute certainty. So why would you not do it?

As has been mentioned, there are conventions about how the CV is ordered. You put your name at the top, for example. You put your education and degrees next. Your AOS/AOC. Then EITHER your research or your teaching. Can't decide which one is more important to you? Then make an informed guess as to which one is more important to the SC. You should be doing the research on the school and dept before you send your app anyway, so why would you not tailor your CV to the job?

machine for brains said...

Although 7:32 is correct that graduate students are very unsophisticated about the way universities and colleges work, the problem is deeper than that, or so I believe. Graduate students usually acquire their footing in the world of academia from the faculty at their home institutions. Not only are these academics working under several serious misconceptions about their own profession, most academics are. These misconceptions lead to some very strange and bewildering generalizations and attitudes about how things work at institutions of higher education, and of particular relevance here, about how the job market works.

It's helpful to begin by thinking about the background taxonomy of institutions of higher education that most of us are working with. In its most crude form, we divide schools into research institutions and teaching institutions. A bit more nuanced taxonomy recognizes that R1 institutions should be distinguished from other research schools and that there are some elite "small liberal arts colleges" (SLACs). In general though, there are the jobs everyone wants -- a position at an R1 (and maybe a really elite SLAC if, you know, you're one of those weirdos who like teaching) -- and then the rest: the "lower-level" jobs. This is an incredibly screwy taxonomy. Inane really. It just doesn't fit with the facts.

There are approximately 2000+ colleges and universities in the United States. (4000+ if you include community colleges.) About 100 of those, maybe, grant PhDs in philosophy and it's possible that most viable job seekers received their PhDs from about 50 of those schools. And I'm not just talking about Leiter-ranked schools -- clearly schools like Duquesne, Vanderbilt, and Penn State, for instance, do very well; much better than many schools in the 30-50 range of the PGR. (In case it matters to anyone, I was trained at a top-20 PGR-ranked school.)

What we have, then, is the following scenario. There is fairly significant mismatch between the academic culture most of find ourselves in and the academic culture that played a significant role in fixing our attitudes and values concerning what academia is supposed to be like. The constellation of ideas about what sort of life one should want and hope for as one leaves graduate school and enters the job market are primarily fixed by the faculty at top-PhD-granted institutions. And yet, these individuals (god love them) function in an environment existing at only a tiny fraction of institutions of higher education. In short, we do a terrible job of preparing future professors for the sort of job that about 95% of them will end up getting, assuming they are even fortunate enough to get a job.

And on a related note, most SCs are not sad little insecure troglodytes concerned about being shown up by the brilliant newly-minted PhD on the market. We are not wholly out of touch with the state of the art in philosophical scholarship (although, for the reasons 6:53 points out, many of us cannot help being a little behind the curve). It behooves you to appreciate that we are you (or at least 95% of you) in 10 years. But we are future versions of you working with a lot more information about academic environments to which your graduate education gives you almost no exposure. For example, teaching matters a lot at most colleges and universities. (And, for better or for worse, it doesn't matter at all at many PhD programs.) So SCs are looking for evidence, from job candidates, that they at least appreciate this fact. Like others, I disagree with 6:53 that information about teaching should come before the other sections on the CV. But too many of those commenting on this thread were unnecessarily distracted by this one misstep and as a result neglected the fact that most of what 6:53 said was spot on.

3:12 again said...

I'm at a teaching school, t-t, and I can say that I did not re-order my CV for the job. And were I on a search committee, while I'd want to see evidence that the person liked to teach and was good at it, I would not read anything into the order of presentation. I'd think odds were at least as good that the person was organizing it alphabetically, or had mimicked a CV she saw online.

Maybe if you put your teaching experience under a heading that says "I Hate This Nonsense But Here Goes Anyway."

I'm inclined to think throwing out a file based on an attempt to divine the secret desires of the candidate based on the order of his or her CV is a proxy more likely to result in throwing away good candidates, and since the alternative method of divining the candidate's intentions and qualifications is reading the CV to see if the person has experience and qualifications, and you have the CV conveniently right there, I'm not really seeing the benefit. It's only a signal if it actually conveys information, and that's an awful lot to read into the order of a cv.

(Don't list your previous jobs and education first! They might think you think that's more important than research and teaching!)

Desiring the information isn't irrational, but choosing a method that seems unlikely to get you that information seems like it fits the definition pretty well. More to the point, I remain skeptical of advice that suggests to candidates that their research agenda is a liability at a teaching school, because even here at this job, being an active researcher is a bonus. I also am skeptical of advice that says you should try to read the search committee's mind.

If this is a widespread proxy, then candidates should probably do it (just like wearing suits and practicing a dissertation spiel), but I've been around a bit and had plenty of interviews at teaching-oriented places and a fair amount of success and this is honestly the first I've heard of it and I'd certainly discourage it as a proxy internally, were we to conduct a search.

William said...

I agree with 2:15 -- there is no such convention as a couple of commenters have insisted there is.

I just looked at a couple of CVs of professors of philosophy at Carleton College (because they are readily available). One of them lists all the usual research stuff before his teaching stuff. The other one doesn't, because he doesn't have a teaching section on his CV at all.

If there's a convention that you put your teaching section first if you're more interested in teaching, someone forgot to tell Carleton College.

Anonymous said...

6:53 here again. And just because many seemed to miss my point, l'll state it again:

"2. Your CV is a great place to emphasize teaching. If your teaching is at the bottom of your CV, buried beneath your research, service, and awards..."

Notice that I explicitly noted that if teaching comes after Everything Else (which I have seen), then yes, it's fair to assume that your teaching isn't very important to you. If it's not true, then you need to fix your CV. You want to put research first because that's the convention, then do so. No beef here. But if President of GSA, Department Graduate Award, etc., are listed above your teaching (which I have seen), then you don't know how to apply to a "teaching college." As a member of a SC at a "teaching college" with a 4-4 teaching load, I can assure you that your teaching experience is far more important than the fact that you won a department award for some graduate seminar paper (which, if it's really good enough to highlight on the CV, is good enough to be published somewhere).

William said...

No beef here. But if President of GSA, Department Graduate Award, etc., are listed above your teaching (which I have seen), then you don't know how to apply to a "teaching college."

Daniel Groll, at Carleton, lists all his awards and honors before his teaching. Sorry, Prof. Groll, you don't know how to apply to a "teaching college". Into the dust bin!

(I hope this doesn't violate the No Names policy here -- if it does, I apologize to Mr. Zero and will repost this comment without the name.)

Anonymous said...

if teaching comes after Everything Else (which I have seen), then yes, it's fair to assume that your teaching isn't very important to you.

Fair because... you have the relevant empirical data to back this up? Have you been following up with candidates and independently measuring how important teaching is to them, such that you can go back and correlate it with their ordering of their CV?

your teaching experience is far more important than the fact that you won a department award for some graduate seminar paper

I should hope so. Do you really think anyone disagrees with you about this? I would also think that your teaching experience is far more important than the fact that you placed it on page 3 instead of page 2. What those who are "missing your point" are challenging you on is your putting a lot of weight on there being some sort of precise correlation between the order of things listed on CV and the order of things of value to the candidate.

Anonymous said...

William at 4:52, you're not looking at the CV the people at Carleton used on the job market. It may well be the case that once no potential employer needs to know about your teaching that a teaching section would get removed. And don't forget that Carleton really isn't a "teaching college" in the sense people mean in this thread- prestigious SLACs often function more like research schools. Finally, Zombie is right... it's easy to make a 2nd CV for schools with high teaching loads. You stress teaching and service, and often schools expect or at least appreciate that.

machine for brains said...

I confess 6:53 is doing nothing to help his or her case. Above (@2:04) I tried to point out that everything else 6:53 said in their original post (@6:53) seemed extremely sensible and correct. I still think that's true. But since this person is insisting on defending the claim about the CV, I will say that the detractors seem exactly right. In my experience, it is a matter of convention to put education, publications, awards, conference experience, administrative experience, referee work -- pretty much everything else -- before your teaching information on a CV. I am also at a "teaching" institution and although we look carefully for evidence of teaching experience and enthusiasm for teaching in those candidates applying for positions in our department, the order of sections on their CV is not one of these indicators. To 6:53: Is this really the battle you want to be fighting? To the rest of you: Isn't there anything else worth talking about? Clearly 6:53 is an outlier on this particular issue.

Anonymous said...

William:

CVs of those with jobs need not look like CVs of those looking for jobs. Further, CVs of those with jobs who are up for tenure revue, look different from CVs of those whom already have tenure (or have a few years before they go up for tenure). In other words, the CV is always tailored for specific reasons.

I really cannot believe the push-back on the suggestion that one should do their best to tailor their dossier (and especially their CV since this is the first thing most SCs look at) to the specific job(s) one is applying to. Seems like some programs are in need of better placement directors...

Anonymous said...

Affirmative action for whites has gone on for centuries. Thus, a SC could desire on a minority, a woman, or a good ol' boy. All of these are equally plausible possibilities.

Anonymous said...

I really cannot believe the push-back on the suggestion that one should do their best to tailor their dossier (and especially their CV since this is the first thing most SCs look at) to the specific job(s) one is applying to. Seems like some programs are in need of better placement directors...

What is the push-back you're talking about? The criticisms leveled here are at Search Committees and their dubious practices, assumptions, and inferences. No one is resisting the advice that, given SC irrationality, the rest of us should watch out for it and plan accordingly.

But thanks for the snooty comment. It's really helpful to know just how resistant you are to accepting constructive criticism from those who are affected by your actions.

Anonymous said...

8:03:

7:11 here-

I am sorry if you took my comment to be snooty. it wasn't meant in that spirit.

On my reading of this particular topic in the comment trail, 6:53 and 7:47 offer suggestions that seem quite rational to me (and were things that I was told by my placement directors).

Then 7:04, 8:27, 10:37, and William question this wisdom in various ways that I find short sided and uniformed- not because I cannot take constructive criticism, but because it never occurred to me to question the idea that one should put some effort into tailoring applications for specific jobs.

That is the only spirit in which my comment was made. Getting a job in academia is really no different than getting a job anywhere else (except that it is likely much harder, especially in philosophy) it seems rational to suggest that one should always be very careful about fine tuning the ways one presents themselves in particular contexts.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how long the conversation about CV presentation has gone on.

The "affirmative action" question is far more interesting. I think we have no evidence that women or minorities have a better chance of being one of those candidates who get multiple interviews (or even hired), in virtue of that status. I mean, look at the state of our profession. It is vastly white male dominated. The current composition of faculties simply does not support this assumption, unless this sort of selective hiring has started happening, at any frequency worth noting, only in the past two years. Sure, it may happen in isolated incidences. But what bothers me is that (and I've seen this!) any time a woman or minority gets several interviews, it is implied (by her white male colleagues) that this is due to minority status. If this were probable enough to note, then we should see far more women/minorities in our faculty.

Anonymous said...

Dear Smokers,

I wonder if there is any chance of getting a thread on advice for fly-outs?

To kick things off, here's a question: is there any circumstance in which it's appropriate to give your job talk on the paper you gave as a writing sample? I work in a somewhat technical and obscure area, and am interviewing for an open job. And I sent my most accessible paper as a writing sample. And while I'm pretty good at explaining my technical stuff to a non-tech audience, I know the writing sample talk goes down a storm with varied audiences. But I'm a few years post-doc, and I don't want them to think I only have one paper!

Anyway, that's a very personal question, but I do think picking the right job talk is essential (I've gotten it wrong before)... I wonder if there's anything that can be said as general advice?

Anonymous said...

Then 7:04, 8:27, 10:37, and William question this wisdom in various ways that I find short sided and uniformed- not because I cannot take constructive criticism, but because it never occurred to me to question the idea that one should put some effort into tailoring applications for specific jobs.

Sorry to be a pain, but do you think you could point out where I questioned the idea that one should put some effort into tailoring applications for specific jobs?

Thanks!

doris said...

As Zombie points out, it is very easy to flip the order of teaching and research on your CV.

Given the sentiments expressed by some SC members here, the lesson for job candidates may be that you should flip them as the job (apparently) dictates.

But the lesson for SCs is more clear: given how easy it is to do, putting teaching first should be understood as providing *negligible* evidence of the candidate's commitment to teaching, and slight evidence of the candidate's willingness to job the dossier game. Failure to lead with teaching, given how easy it is to do, might be taken as evidence of disdain for teaching, or it might be taken as evidence of disdain for jobbing the dossier game. It might also be taken to reflect an understanding of a convention.

I'm not sure there is a robust "research first" convention for CVs, since I've seen it both ways. But I think there's a good reason for research to come first: it typically does a much better job of individuating candidates, particularly regards fit with AOS/AOS. Even as a senior person, I fairly infrequently teach my research, and teach a lot of courses like Bioethics and Intro that lots of folks teach. This is even more likely to be true for early career people: in grad school, I taught an endless stream of Intro and Practical Reasoning, which makes a record that doesn't individuate at all. So if the SC wants to save time and determine right away whether someone is eliminated on area grounds (I'm always amazed at how many applications of this kind I see, even for focussed AOSs like ancient), they are better served by the research being up front. If area doesn't matter, this is of course not an important consideration, but in in very many caees, area does matter.

I humbly propose that SCs not treat ordering of items on the CV as diagnostic. It might be easiest for everyone if there was a more robust convention on for ordering, but I fear that won't be solved here.

Anonymous said...

I second 4:12's request for a fly-out thread. Like her or him, I am wondering what makes for an appropriate and successful job talk. How, if at all, does a job talk differ from a conference paper? Must the talk be squarely within the advertised AoS, or may it be on the borderline (e.g., by including content that fits within one of the AoCs)? What are the pros and cons of PowerPoint in this context? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

...here's a question: is there any circumstance in which it's appropriate to give your job talk on the paper you gave as a writing sample?

From the hiring department's perspective, the issue is whether you have more (good) work ready to show beyond your writing sample. If there's a reason to think that your best presentation would be the writing sample (and I agree that technicality could be such a reason), then make absolutely sure that the department has your other work in hand. It's fine to strategize with the SC chair about which paper would be best to present, and to raise the concern explicitly that you don't want the department (the decision-making goes beyond the SC at this point) to think that you only have that one paper.

Anonymous said...

4:12 - I would give the accessible talk. Particularly if not everyone in the department is on the search committee, and won't have seen the paper - you want the others to be buzzing rather than snoozing about your talk afterwards, as surely that will have some effect on the actual SC. You could also ask the SC if presenting the same paper is ok, and at the same time indicate that you would be happy to send them other work. I went the route of not presenting my more accessible paper for one job, thinking I wanted to let the SC know that I had more than one paper in this AOS (not my main AOS) and I don't think this actually helped as much as I thought it would. (I'm absolutely sure there were many other reasons I didn't get that job, but I don't think I helped my case with this decision).

Jamie Dreier said...

I hereby second Doris's plea to search committees. Do remember that job candidates may have had advice about CV conventions that doesn't square with what seems natural to you. (And many will have got no advice about that sort of thing at all.)

To 4:12: I think you should ask. Either scenario is quite possible: (1) a bunch of the faculty at the place you're visiting have read your writing sample and want to see you show some range now; (2) they've read your sample, found it very interesting, and would like to have a chance to ask you some questions about it and see how you handle them. I don't see how it can hurt to ask. (I really hope nobody would take your question to be fraught with untoward symbolism.)

Anonymous said...

Seriously - please give us a thread on fly-outs. Enough of this ridiculous CV-teaching-research baloney.

I would be curious to hear from experienced smokers about how to approach giving a job talk at an R1 vs. how to approach giving a job talk at a SLAC at which you would be the sole person in your AOS.

Anonymous said...

I did the standard research, awards, presentations, teaching, service, references presentation on my CV. However, for teaching jobs I reordered my cover letter, and I think that helped convey my belief that teaching is important, along with my teaching dossier (I would actually rather have a teaching job than a research job, and I only applied to research jobs because I'm from a Leiterific school and I was afraid that I might be ruled out of teaching jobs). I ended up with a mix of interviews and offers (one research, one teaching, one SLAC), although most of my interviews were at SLACs (I'm at a SLAC now).

I would hesitate however to put teaching way ahead of research on the CV. Many people at teaching schools are excellent researchers and want someone who is good at both things. I certainly wouldn't put your TAing experience ahead of your research. However, perhaps this is a suggestion: AOS/AOC, employment, research publications, teaching, talks, awards, service, references. I think the first page of the CV should be "at a glance this is what the candidate offers", so if you *really* want to highlight teaching, your lecturing could go in with the employment (perhaps just a list of classes, and then have a longer teaching section later which has any other information you want to give - I've seen people's CVs where they give course descriptions, and I wouldn't put *this* on the first page, burying your research).

I guess my suggestion might boil down to: treat your CV like you treat your job spiel, frontloading it with the highlights. Unless you have caught the attention of the SC member in the first few pages, they may not actually read any further.

I also want to say to the search committees at teaching schools: I can understand the financial and time pressures you face that might lead you to rule out certain candidates. However, there were at least 5 people from my school on the market in my year (out of maybe 10) that really value teaching, and all of them (I'm not including myself here) are absolutely excellent teachers. If you judge someone ungettable, how about calling their references? I know that several schools that I interviewed with called my grad program to find out if I really was interested in their position.

Daniel Groll said...

I was wondering why my website was getting so much attention these past two days. Mystery solved.

Anonymous said...

It should be obvious, though perhaps it isn't, that insecure ignoramuses probably don't think of themselves as insecure ignoramuses.

Having seen such people mistreat candidates in truly appalling ways, I can confirm that they exist, though of course I can't say how prevalent they are based only on my personal experience.

WC: unmagi, n., synonym of 'muggle'.

Anonymous said...

I think we have probably beat up Anon. 9:28 enough at this point, but I just can't help myself.

He/She writes: "It was one of these moments where I could basically read their minds: If we hire this kid, he is going to make us look stupid.'"

Holy fucking shit. What kind of a giant asshole would actually think that??? And think it long enough to then go and post it on a blog comment??

Who knows what the actual reasons are for why the SC didn't go with Anon. 9:28? But I think it's quite plausible that the main reason may have been simply that they realized somewhere in the interview process that he/she is an arrogant prick.

I'm mean...to actually think: "They think I'll make them look stupid."

GOOD LORD! What is wrong with this person??

Anonymous said...

@January 12, 2012 3:34 PM

A massive sense of entitlement and giant, but empty ego produced such as is often produced by our finest philospohy departments.

Anonymous said...

I followed William`s (2:58) example and looked at some of the CVs from the Carleton guys. I noticed some chose to put a "comments" section in. Not being from the US, I can only guess what that`s supposed to mean.
So.. here's me guessing: you're a visitor at a talk and stand up and... give a comment? And you put that in your CV??
Also, most of the CVs look quite spartan. Is this en vogue in philosophy? Is a professional-looking but "pretty" CV frowned upon?

Sorry to derail the thread, I was just wondering.

Anonymous said...

So.. here's me guessing: you're a visitor at a talk and stand up and... give a comment? And you put that in your CV??
Also, most of the CVs look quite spartan. Is this en vogue in philosophy? Is a professional-looking but "pretty" CV frowned upon?

Sorry to derail the thread, I was just wondering.


This thread is pretty much dead, so there isn't much to derail.

It is pretty standard to list conference comments on one's CV. That doesn't seem weird at all, as your excessive use of the question mark suggests.

Some CVs are spartan, some less so. I have no idea what you mean by "pretty."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for enlightening me. Another puzzle solved. The thought to include that would have never crossed my mind.

I'm not sure what I mean by "pretty", tbh. Anything you couldn't write in MS Editor, I would say. Not that it's that important.

William said...

There might be a misunderstanding here.
You list an appearance under "comments" when you were the official, invited commenter at a formal talk. Not when you rose from the audience during question period and fired off a particularly probing question.
Everybody in the US includes these on their CV. I'm curious: do German philosophers not include them, or do French colloquium talks simply not have commenters, or do you Portuguese philosophers have them and list them but call them something else?

Anonymous said...

Not that I have been to many conferences (two in Italy, one in Germany so far), but this is the first time I hear from such a practice.
There are moderators who introduce the speaker and manage the discussion afterwards, sure. But an official, invited commenter? The concept is utterly unknown to me. What does such a person do?

William said...

"What does such a person do?"

Comments on the paper.
At APA meetings, there are dozens of colloquium sessions consisting of one person giving a 25 minute paper and another person commenting for 15 minutes. There are also some symposia consisting of one person giving a paper for about an hour and one or two other people providing comments about half an hour each. In each case there is then a question period so the audience can raise issues.

It's pretty common at large conferences in the US.

9:00 said...

I did misunderstand your confusion, as William points out. I apologize.

At an ordinary APA (American Philosophical Association) conference talk, the speaker will talk for about 30 minutes, then the "commentator" will stand up and take about 10 minutes (although they usually go longer) to give "comments" on the talk. This person has been invited and is also on the program. The point of their comments is typically to provide a quick overview of the speaker's talk and offer some critical remarks. Usually, the commentator offers an objection or two. Occasionally, the commentator is mostly in agreement with the speaker and instead of criticism will offer suggestions for further inquiry or make some further point related to the content of the main talk. After this, the speak sometimes will give a 5 or 10 minute reply to these comments.

Then the session moves to question-answer. In my experience, almost all the subsequent discussion focuses on the original talk and not on the comments on the talk.

Anonymous said...

I've been to a number of sessions where the questions after the commenter dealt with the comments and not just the talk.

Anonymous said...

That actually sounds like a pretty good procedure. Thank you, gentlemen.