Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm just sayin'

If you're not prepping and refining your dossier right now, you should be. And if you have dossier-related questions for the wise Smokers, now would be a good time to ask them.



Anonymous said...

I'd appreciate some advice on the following: beyond adding an employment section to your CV, what changes about a dossier once you leave grad school for a postdoc or a visiting position? Should you still list coursework and a dissertation abstract on your CV, for example? Should your research statement still be a mix of dissertation summary and planned future work, or will programs expect different content (or a different balance of content)? And is it expected that you'll have a letter from someone at your new position, even if you've only been at that position for a couple months by the time applications go out?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone figured out when the first job ads of the season will be posted by the APA (whether in the official JFP or in the online ads)? The APA is transitioning to an online-only operation this year, I believe, and I can't quite decipher what the website says re: the schedule.

Anonymous said...

You guys sometimes mention preparing fake syllabi. I've been told by some though not to give syllabi away - that it might be a source of conflict. Are fake syllabi a necessary part of the dossier? A helpful part? An optional part?

Munni said...

Advice: Don't forget to look for jobs outside the US. You *should* want to spend a few years in Aust/NZ. And the pay is better.

Anonymous said...

"Fake syllabi"? Are they impostors? Masquerading as "real syllabi"?

It's always a safe move to have put some thought into how you would teach the courses they are asking you to teach. Putting those thoughts down on paper can't hurt. Acknowledging them as drafts that you are happy to tinker with with the valuable input from senior faculty also doesn't hurt.

Or you could hope teaching never comes up at any part of the application/interview/hiring process. That's a strategy many people seem to employ.

Anonymous said...


I would say definitely lose the "coursework". That definitely makes you look like you are still in gradschool. I would also probably lose the dissertation abstract from the CV. Work that material into your research statement, and yes, start shifting the balance of that from dissertation to more future directed stuff.

And I think people will understand if you haven't secured a letter from your new place yet, but you should definitely try. Hopefully, the people at your new place understand the pressures of the market, and won't be weirded out about you asking for a letter after you've only been there for two years. I asked for a letter after being at my new postdoc only about 4 weeks, and my mentor happily obliged--after all, he had read all of my application materials when I applied for the gig, even if he didn't know me that well personally yet.

zombie said...

12:28: If you're comfortable asking for a letter from someone at your new position, and they know you well enough to write you a good letter, by all means get one.

Your research statement should reflect your actual research program for the future, which you have presumably already begun. If it's related to your diss work, you can talk about how it is related. An employer wants to know you have an actual research program, and a clue (and it's helpful if you have some pubs out, or some in the pipeline to back up the viability of your research program).

I continued to include an abstract of my diss and a list of grad work on my CV, and managed to get a job. However, I tailored my CV to different types of positions. For instance, if a job asked for a separate research statement, I took the short research statement off my CV. If a RS was not asked for, my CV included a short statement of my research interests.

zombie said...

I included actual and "fake" syllabi in my teaching portfolio. If anyone cared, they could have looked at the list of courses taught on my CV to cross-reference and distinguish the actual from the fake. It's possible that if you're working as an adjunct, you haven't really had a chance to teach many courses in your AOS, so you can at least show that you've thought about how you would teach such courses, given the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

How many syllabi is it typical to include? I've taught at least 6 different courses, but none of them were in my AOSs. Should I throw in a couple of drafts of syllabi in my AOSs as well?

Anonymous said...

1:49 here. I've got outlines of courses in my AOS, and of courses I'd like to teach. I've put a lot of thought into teaching.

I'm looking for advice about a] what to include in my dossier (I'll include the syllabi for the two courses I've taught, but how many other potential courses?), b] what to have on hand in case potential courses arise or some interviewer requests syllabi (if this ever happens).

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering about what people think about including student comments in the teaching portfolio. I've taught a bunch of classes and I'm trying to decide whether it is worth it to include selected student comments from my classes. I can't include all of them but I don't want to look like I'm cherry-picking. Plus, I guess I think including student comments look cheesy. But I am more than willing to be as cheesy as it takes if that's what people want to see.

Anonymous said...

Here's some questions for the wise Smokers on cover letters:
- how long is the typical cover letter (in words or pages)?
- what elements should a cover letter contain at the very least? Should you repeat things they can find in other parts of your app or leave them out (e.g., I've published in renowned journals such as Mind, Phil Review, Phil Imprint and Phil Studies... [this is just a bogus example, by the way]; I have 5 years teaching experience in domain X... etc
- how much do SCs expect cover letters to be tailored to the position you're applying to?
- If the SC does NOT ask for this in your dossier, should you nevertheless make a separate research statement and teaching statement, or should you just make this part of your cover letter?

Anonymous said...

Selected comments are (IMHO) pretty worthless. Including all comments is too much. But it would be reasonable to include all comments from your most recent semester of teaching, along with summaries of the numerical evaluations from previous semesters, along with an offer to send additional evaluations if desired.

zombie said...

There is no way to include selected student comments without it appearing to be (and actually being) cherry picking. Don't do it.

My teaching portfolio included the data sheets from my student evals, but not the actual evals. That would have run into hundreds of pages.

It would be good to have a LOR from someone regarding your teaching, especially since some job ads specifically ask for such a LOR. (Obviously, this would go out with your other LORs, not with your teaching portfolio.)

Anonymous said...

"I'm wondering about what people think about including student comments in the teaching portfolio."

Personally, I think student comments are worthless. However, administrators like them, though rarely will they read applications. Honestly, I think including them can only hurt you; you gain nothing by including them, especially if they haven't been asked for.

"I can't include all of them but I don't want to look like I'm cherry-picking."

If you don't include all comments for all sections, you will be cherry-picking, and they will know it. Unless you choose to include negative comments, which would be idiotic. (See above.)

"But I am more than willing to be as cheesy as it takes if that's what people want to see."

If SCs want to see sample evaluations, they will ask for them. If they don't ask for them, you can assume they don't want to see them.

Anonymous said...

Re: teaching letters, what if you're applying for jobs while already in a TT/tenured position? Including an outdated teaching letter (from when you were first on the market) seems inadvisable. Yet securing a letter from a current colleague is, at best, awkward and probably inadvisable too (e.g., if you're looking to keep your candidacy on the down-low).

Anonymous said...

"- how long is the typical cover letter (in words or pages)?"

Never go over 2 pages. SCs have lots of paper to read. And most applicants rarely need more than 2 pages anyway. If you can't keep it to 2 pages, find someone to help you edit it down.

"- what elements should a cover letter contain at the very least?"

Statements of research and teaching, and I personally like if those statements are connected. That is, this is your chance to explain - to provide connective tissue for - the various individual lines on your CV. Anything else of note (such as relevant service to your school or the field at large) doesn't hurt, especially if it's related to your research and teaching.

"- how much do SCs expect cover letters to be tailored to the position you're applying to?"

Depends on the SC. But the more time you put into that, the better off you will be. You don't have to do so to get a job, but it never hurts you to show you've done a little work on your end. (Maybe prioritize, and personalize only your top choices? Also, many SLACs - especially ones with a religious heritage - take their identity pretty seriously. Showing you know what that is, and how you fit into it, can only help you.)

"- If the SC does NOT ask for this in your dossier, should you nevertheless make a separate research statement and teaching statement, or should you just make this part of your cover letter?"

Don't send anything not asked for. Please. SCs have a lot of paper to read already. Plus, some state schools (like mine) insist that applicants be judged on the same criteria. You send something to us we didn't ask for, we're not even allowed to read it.

Anonymous said...

i think the dismissiveness about including selected comments is unwarranted. while many applicants are competent teachers, not all applicants have students who say truly glowing things about them. if you have a critical mass of these, why not share them? and even if you don't have those caliber of comments, committees like seeing students saying positive things about the people they're going to hire. is it going to be some kind of huge help? of course not. but the idea that it might hurt seems pretty silly. everyone from my dept includes selected comments in the teaching dossier, and we've been very successful placing folks at research and teaching schools alike.

Anonymous said...

Re. teaching evals:

I would include only the actual computer-generated summaries. Sometimes I've seen teaching portfolios with a few candidate-prepared pages of evaluation summary numbers for different courses with selected comments. I thought it laughable, imagining the applicant thinking "I better put in a 4.2 somewhere, so all these 4.8 averages don't look suspicious." Teaching evals are already a very rough measure of teaching effectiveness. To copy down numbers or selected comments yourself renders them completely meaningless IMO. You might as well start rating yourself on RMP at that point.

Zarathustra said...

I find it hard to believe that many SC members distrust job candidates as much as 1:36 PM anonymous seems to. If you think your candidates are that mendacious, why wouldn't you expect them to face the computer-generated summaries too? Or their diplomas? Or their letters of recommendation?

Cincinnatus C. said...

Zarathustra: I absolutely distrust all application materials from anyone I don't know intimately. Therefore, I support the hiring of only my close friends and family. It's the only ethical thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:50 makes a dangerously wrong point. Assuming "if search committees want to see them, they'll ask" is wrong. Maybe one or two will ask, but a bunch of other people will look at your file, wonder why there are no evaluations in the teaching dossier, assume you have bad evals, and move on to the next candidate. Even when candidates have written things like, "Evaluations available on request", SC members generally don't request. It is a huge logistical hassle to get it and get it into the file, we may assume that if its needed, the chair will ask, see it as some kind of ploy by the candidate to see if people are reading their file, etc. If you write that, you are essentially committing yourself to having your file evaluated without any of that (hopefully helpful) info. If you don't even write it, then we aren't going to even request it.

Do not use selected student comments - they are worthless and many of us skip them completely. However, having the numerical evals, plus at least one course with full comments, is very helpful. You can type the comments out in a single file if they are on separate sheets of paper as is. Or you can scan and put all that info on your webpage, with the webpage location clearly indicated in that section of your teaching portfolio. That way, individual committee members can check it without having to issue a request which is sometimes a very complicated issue (i.e. if we request something from you, we have to request it from all candidates and there is no way we are going to do that). Remember that at the first round of file reading, committee members have hundreds of applications to sort through. Make it easy to find the teaching eval information.

Anonymous said...

Some tips from the other side:

I had always advised our grad students that selected comments were worthless. But having recently served on my first SC, I found (to my surprise) that they are helpful, for exactly the reason Anon 1:13 gives: not everyone gets glowing comments, so a handful of glowing comments went a long way towards assuring me that the candidate was a strong teacher. (Who cares if lots of bad and lukewarm comments were omitted? You can't please everyone, especially if you're a fair grader.) On the other hand, if the selected comments are lukewarm, that looks pretty bad.

Also, I'd recommend disregarding 1:36's advise to include only the computer generated sheets. Every school does these differently, and it's really obnoxious trying to sort out where the key questions are, what the scores mean (is it out of 5? out of 6?), etc. -- not to mention that they're almost always in some tiny font. I felt a great deal of gratitude and relief when a candidate put together a nice readable table, clearly displaying their main scores ("Quality of course", "Quality of instructor", perhaps one or two others) for each class they taught.

Good luck to all of you!

Anonymous said...


This is exactly why student evals are worthless. If good comments are evidence are good teaching, and bad comments can be discarded because you can't please everyone, why bother with evals?

"Who cares if lots of bad and lukewarm comments were omitted? You can't please everyone, especially if you're a fair grader."

Who cares? You should, if evals matter to you. Either evals matter or they don't.

It sounds like you are saying that good evals demonstrate good teaching, and bad evals demonstrate nothing. Which is a pretty common view of evals, anyway.

Anonymous said...

6:12, have you ever heard of 'false dichotomy'?

Anonymous said...

New questions:

At what stage should you be in your career to eliminate undergraduate accomplishments from your CV?

At what stage should works in progress be to be added to your CV?

(Related to previous discussion, but I think a bit different): Is there such a thing as providing too many course evals or syllabi for courses that you actually have taught if no limit is mentioned in the job ad? What, specifically, is the upper limit?

Anonymous said...

"At what stage should you be in your career to eliminate undergraduate accomplishments from your CV?"

Depends on the accomplishments. I think that conference presentations and publications can always stay on the CV. Awards, I'd say you can cut them after you get a job. (That is, for the public CV, the one you send to SCs or post online. If you want to keep a master CV of everything, that's fine. But once you get a job, there's no need for your CV to note that you won some department award as an undergrad.)

Anonymous said...

I am astonished that anyone on a SC would accept candidate-typed quantitative summaries or comments from teaching evals. At some schools, teaching evaluation is a high security process, because they are used in promotion and tenure decisions. I taught one place where the campus police actually handled the evaluation process! Why should they be treated so casually by hiring committees? Given the competitive job market, I do not find it in any way an imaginative stretch that some candidates would fake evals. Yes, even computer-generated-looking ones can be faked, but that takes a bit more effort.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the market for a long time now, and my CV is getting very long. How many pages should I aim for maximum? One way to shorten it would be as follows: I have +30 talks, should I list only a selection (e.g., the past 2 years) or only large conferences? Only invited talks?

Anonymous said...


If you are looking to shorten, you may want to just do "Selected Talks," and highlight those talks that are the ones in the areas you are looking to be hired to teach, or most impressive, etc. You can highlight what you want the SCs to focus on.

Personally, I don't think there's such a thing as too long, unless we are talking about padding (and let's not, because we tried that and the conversation wasn't very productive). I think that if your CV is longer than 6 pages, you either have to trim some of the padding, or have done enough work to warrant just selecting the most important/impressive/relevant materials.

Anonymous said...

If you decide to shorten the cv in the mindset of "highlighting" accomplishments, should the sections read "select publications" etc?

imprecise said...

Anon 5:52 there are several reasons why SCs accept such things. First and foremost, many institutions do not provide instructors with anything other than the evaluations. Of the three schools I've taught at, only one provided a summary sheet. Second, and this is related to the first, as a SC member, I don't want to have to look at a bunch of evaluations to get a sense of the candidate's ability. I want a summary. Later, I'll look at the evals in detail. Finally, you can usually tell by other parts of the dossier if someone is a good teacher. For me, evals just reinforce those other parts. So a little cheating won't really matter.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind the iron law of hiring: nobody hires someone more accomplished than themselves (for fear that either their accomplishments will be overshadowed by the new hire or in time the new hire will steal their job). Look at the CVs of members of the department who might be on the hiring committee and pare your CV down accordingly.

Mr. Zero said...

Just in case it isn't obvious, you should not do what anon 9:33 says under any circumstances.

zombie said...

12:40: yes. "Select publications" or whatever makes the point that it is an abridged list.

zombie said...

9:47 -- what is your goal in shortening your CV? When you read the CVs of senior faculty, they are miles long, reflecting the fact that this is someone who has been around for a while and has done a lot. If you want an SC to know you've done a lot, you want them to be able to see what you've done, so shortening your pubs list, for example, would be counterproductive.

I guess if I was going to make any cuts, it would be in something like conferences or invited talks -- maybe just show the last 2-3 years. And emphasize peer-reviewed pubs rather than non peer-reviewed.

While the conventional wisdom is that you don't want to look "dated," I should think you would also want to highlight your accomplishments. How you do this without looking like you've passed your expiration date is an interesting problem.

Dr. Killjoy said...

If the SC ain't interested/impressed by the end of CV page one, then they ain't gonna be reading CV page two, three,...

1st page: Employment, Degree, Publications

2nd-Nth Page: Unless "Publications (cont.)" no one gives a shit.

Anonymous said...

"...a little cheating won't really matter."

Are you serious? Would you like to repeat that in front of a classroom full of students? As someone who has sat on SCs, I have waded through various teaching evaluation summaries with obscure rating systems and bizarre questions. I can handle it. I've never seen evaluations done without summaries being available- unless they are informal instructor created evaluations or "handmade" evaluations for a special program (honors, FYS, etc.). Any form of scantron style or online evaluation process should include summary sheets. If a candidate genuinely cannot get summary sheets because the evaluation process is not computer processed, I recommend that she have her department chairperson, who hopefully is willing to review the individual evaluations, mention their quality in a teaching reference and maybe repeat selected student comments. Don't send the individual evaluation forms to the SC. Don't send a page of cherry picked comments that no one could ever know to be genuine.

Anonymous said...

@ Dr. Killjoy:

Right on!

I also think "selected peer-reviewed and invited talks" is reasonable, rather than listing every talk.

As far as looking dated, this is a huge problem for some candidates. Listing old talks or pubs won't be a problem so much as an old Ph.D. date will. Unfortunately, age discrimination is a real issue. Of course, if your last publication is from the Clinton era, it's not age that's keeping you from getting a job.

imprecise said...

Anon 3:11,

I was entirely serious. What I’m willing to say in front a roomful of students is beside the point. Maybe you mistook me for saying that cheating is not immoral. But I didn’t say that, nor did I mean it. What I meant was that _if_ a job candidate cheats a little on her evaluations (by illegitimately raising the scores or whatever) it doesn’t matter in any _practical sense_. There are lots of other ways of evaluating a job candidate: teaching statement, syllabus construction, teaching letters, evaluation comments, etc. Quantitative evaluations are helpful, but are only one piece of a larger puzzle. If you are shitty teacher it will show up in some of these other areas. It will definitely show up when you come do a demo. (Of course if someone gets a flyout b/c she gamed her evals, that’s a problem, but this won’t occur of the SC is careful, for the reasons I just gave.) So as a SC committee member, the prospect of cheating on eval scores doesn’t bother me in the least.

So I guess the takeaway here is that some people will be bothered by self summaries, others won’t. I agree that if you have the option to include a university-generated summary, it’s wise to do so. But if you don’t, it’s not going to bother me. Also, I never had university generated summaries in my own dossier, and I did pretty well. (I made my own summaries, and my other materials were solid.)

Anonymous said...

This is off topic, I'm sorry. But just as I was preparing my spreadsheet for next year's applications I realized that a new job ad was added to JFP online today. And the position is to start Fall 2012, i.e. in about two weeks! So, do they expect to review applications and hire someone in just two weeks???? Should I or should I not be amazed?

zombie said...

4:20 -- it's likely either a typo for a TT job starting Fall 2013, or it's a last minute opening for a sessional position. I've had adjunct positions where I was hired at the last minute. Once, I signed the contract five minutes before my first class started.

zombie said...

Importing a couple of stragglers from an earlier thread:

7:59 said...
Does anybody have advice on how to list the courses one has taught. For example, if I have taught Intro Ethics 5 semesters in a row, how would I list that? Also, do people list the courses they've taught in somewhat of a chronological order? Finally, do you try to distinguish upper level courses from lower level courses (for intro courses it's pretty easy to tell the difference, but it's less obvious for other courses)? Thanks!

August 17, 2012 7:33 AM
Anonymous said...
If anyone is still on this thread, suggestions about the last two questions (book chapters and courses) would be very welcome! Also, I'm not sure if there's a consensus about grad courses on the CV. Every graduate student and recent grad on the market seems to have them. What if you're still applying for your first job, but have been done with course work for... oh... 8 years?

August 17, 2012 1:04 PM

zombie said...

Re: listing courses taught.

I listed the school and dept, then the courses I taught in reverse chronological order (most recent first), with the dates I taught them in parentheses. So, if I taught the same course over five semesters, it would list the semesters and years in parentheses.

Anonymous said...

I prefer when CVs list courses taught with the course, and in parenthesis give the number of times offered, so: "Ethics (5 sections)." I understand the desire to note when you taught it, but if you don't teach the course every semester, you run into things like: "Ethics (Fall 2009 - Spring 2011, Spring 2012)," which can become unwieldy. Or even worse: "Ethics (Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012)." I think it's useful to know how many times someone has taught a course, but there's no need to know exactly which semesters. You have the experience; that's what matters.

Anonymous said...

Most of these comments read like they've been written by people who haven't gotten stable jobs and will likely never get stable jobs.

Responding to a few of these points: How much crap do you have on your CV if you're looking to shorten it. Selected publications on a CV for a job application? Are you kidding me? Unless you're publishing on some bullshit website or some other garbage forum, every peer-reviewed publication should be on your CV. Publications that aren't peer-reviewed, unless they are in edited volumes with well-known presses or edited by well-known people (and, if they aren't why did you agree to contribute anyway?), should be removed.

As for conference presentations, it's likely that no one is going to care. Having sat on hiring committees the last few years, I'd much rather see invited talks (when the invitation comes from a place out of state, very rare when looking at junior candidates) then a bunch of conference presentations. Anyone can present at a conference and most people attend conferences now just to pad their CV. But if you don't have anything else on your CV you might as well put your conference presentations--at least it looks like you're doing something. But, otherwise, if you have lots of real things on your CV (good publications, good invited talks, etc.), take all of the bullshit off because it just makes the real stuff look less important.

Graduate courses are important only when you want to highlight your competence in areas where you (1) haven't published or (2) haven't already taught a class. Let's say that our ad wanted a AOS in political philosophy, and you took quite a few courses that would give you a good background in that area but haven't taught a political philosophy course and have published only in the history of philosophy and applied ethics (or something like that), listing your graduate courses (as well as providing a syllabus or syllabuses for political philosophy courses you could teach) would be helpful. But, chances are, if you haven't published in the area we're not going to hire you unless you look really good otherwise and you give us a writing sample that matches the AOS directly and we think it's publishable (and that you can publish more in that area).

As for student evaluations, by all means send them if we ask for them. By all means compile a data sheet that puts your scores into context (if you don't do this we'll assume, rightly or wrongly, that your averages are mediocre). Do not lie when providing your numbers--the easiest way to fire someone after they've been hired is to find out that they lied during the interview process. The best application packet last year (and the guy we wanted to hire last year but he went elsewhere) had been teaching for 4 years and was able to submit all of his student comments because the school where he was teaching did all of the evaluations online. We got about 16 single spaced comments. Flipping through the comments, you'd see the occasional "bad" one, but it was mostly comment after comment of how wonderful this person was, how he made the student love philosophy, or how he turned a boring subject into something that's interesting. Honestly, I don't care much about this sort of stuff, but our Dean and other administrators do. But if we don't ask for them and your evaluation comments are good, my suggestion would be for you to put them online somewhere, reference it in your cover letter, and give us the URL to access them. If you're in the running, you better believe we're going to go and look at that file (as well as look at whatever else we can find on Google).

Good luck this year.

FemFilosofer said...

My $.02 as someone on the job market the past two years:

1) If you are simultaneously teaching a full load and on the job market, make a "generalized" package of info that can be sent out to any school. I found myself in my office at 9pm after a full day of teaching staring down application deadlines, and with stacks of grading that had to be completed for the next day. Its not ideal, but I had a "ready-to-go" cover letter that needed only small modifications and a stack of CVs, Teaching Portfolios, etc. that could be stuffed into envelopes and sent out with the next morning's mail. While most of my interviews have come from applications on which I spent more time, I did get one (maybe two) interviews from this method.

2) On listing graduate courses: I did list all mine, for the following reasons... a) I claim an AOC in the History of Philosophy, and from my dissertation one wouldn't suspect that. I have the coursework to back it up. (Two SCs commented that this feature of my application was a key reason they interviewed me). b) I was ABD and then a newly-minted PhD when I was on the market, so it made a bit more sense, and c) our transcripts (and not every school will request them) sometimes don't list the title of the course, but a more general headline (e.g., "19th Century Philosophy" when the course was on Nietzsche).

3) I was in a Visiting Faculty position my second year on the market, and had only been there for a month or so when I went on the market. I didn't ask for a letter from my new school, but I suspect that I could have. Instead, I let faculty know where I was applying, and they made what connections they could.

4) I had many, MANY sample syllabi--like 11 or so, too many. In hindsight, I should have spent more time developing a handful of syllabi than the rough outlines of course descriptions and reading schedules I gave schools. At two on-campus interviews, it was requested that I send full syllabi with assignments, etc.

5) I've said this before on the blog, but it was awhile back ... so I'll say it again. I include selected student comments from evaluations, and even critical ones whey they are constructive. The reason for this is that I get many comments about my appearance and my clothing, which are not only unhelpful, but can be detrimental to my portfolio. If I had to go on the market again, I'd probably take off all the comments and give my evals to a professor I trusted to write a good rec letter on teaching.

Cheers, Smokers.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the worth of selected comments: I had to edit my comments slightly for at least one class, as I received sexist/offensive remarks from two students. I didn't think they were appropriate to include, and everything else in my teaching evaluations (I have an extremely strong teaching portfolio) indicated that I am a solid teacher. Search committees should be careful - you never know why someone had to edit comments, and you frankly should be able to tell if the comments don't fit with the rest of the portfolio.
(And for what it's worth, I received one job offer, which I accepted, and was one of six finalists for two positions at another university. But this success had as much to do with being a good fit for both schools as anything else.)

Anonymous said...

If I kill myself today, it's on you zombie.


Anonymous said...


Really, a conference presentation at MadMeta would be worthless? An invitation to my BFF's department on my spring break would be worth a lot? Undoubtedly some conference presentations are worthless and some invited talks are worthwhile, but the generalizations you make just don't hold.

Anonymous said...

If it really is TT, it may be an internal candidate "sure thing". I saw another ad, Sam Houston State for TT job starting Fall 2012 that had a deadline of Aug 9, presumably two weeks before classes start there.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend using Interfolio to send application materials. It is more expensive than mailing and emailing everything yourself, but I found the cost worth the time and stress it saved me. Also, in a sea of unclear application instructions ("send us evidence of teaching effectiveness"), it was nice to work with a service that is competently run, reliable, and prompt.

Anonymous said...


The point in the 10:39 post was that it's far more impressive if a university has invited you to give a talk (and has paid for you to fly out to come and give that talk) than for you to show up at a conference. Obviously if you're teaching at school A in city X, it'll look far more impressive to be on the main program at the APA than for you to be invited to give a talk at school B in city X. But it's amazing how much crap people put on their CV, and conference presentations (as well as what people do under the general heading of publications) usually are mostly garbage.

Anonymous said...

What is the appropriate length for teaching and research statements? A page each? Single spaced or double? And if these aren't explicitly requested, is it better to include the relevant information in your cover letter?

Anonymous said...


As long as they need to be and no longer :) That's about as helpful as most of the comments in this thread.


zombie said...


My teaching statement was just a hair over a page. My research statement, just a hair under a page. IMO, a page is about right.

Don't send them if they are not requested, but include abridged statements in your cover letter.

Anonymous said...

My teaching statement was three pages and my research statement 2 pages. But, like anything for the job market, assume that someone will probably stop reading early on first pass, and front-load key things even if it's only a page in length. I also made use of headings in my research statement so at a glance they could see the focus for each of my AOSs (I have broad research interests).

Anonymous said...

Alright, anyone who does not have a tenure track job right now should not be answering these questions. How about that? We *might* get some useful information then, though I doubt it given all the noise we would have to wade through.


Anonymous said...

I agree with YFNA. I've heard once you get a Tenure Track job you are give the keys to the secret kingdom of job-hunting. Clearly, there is only one way to go about the job market and I want to know what that is. Who are all these people giving all these suggestions and expecting me to use my own judgment to decide which approach will work best for me!

Anonymous said...

FWIFW: My advice is to include however much information you need to include in a succinct a format as possible that really displays what you are about as a thinker and a teacher. Duh, right? There are no specific rules about how this will look in your particular case.

Clearly, a person's file who has been teaching five years or has a lot of publications or a lot of papers in progress will have a longer CV, a longer research statement, and more information in their teaching portfolio than someone just out of graduate school. This is a no brainer.

Give the committees as much information as possible so that they can make an informed decision. But...organize, organize, organize. Make it easy for them to find what they are looking for.

Give them your research statement and make it as long as it needs to be to show them what you are doing. Give enough information so that it is truly believable. For me, this means giving more than just vague outlines and meaningless catch phrases. The same principles that apply to convincing letters of recommendation apply here too. You may have a lot going on, but if you do, do provide headings.

Your teaching portfolio should give them as much data about your teaching as you can without overwhelming them with pages and pages of unorganized date. I stopped including that since it makes the portfolio much too long now that I have a significant amount of teaching experience. Instead, I provide summaries with balanced comments that indicate my strengths and weaknesses, a teaching statement, and actual and sample syllabi. It is long, but I put a TOC at the beginning so that committee members can easily find what they are looking for.

Do not pad your CV. But whether something counts as padding is also relative to where you are in your career. For instance, if you claim an area of competence not clearly reflected in your teaching experience or research, list the courses you took that reflect that competence. My actual teaching now reflects my areas of competence and so this has now disappeared from my CV. Likewise, if you don't have a lot of publications, it is important to demonstrate that you do have good, polished work in hand. So feel free to list works in progress. But do so only if you are willing to let the committee know something specific about those works. Otherwise, leave it out.

The one hard rule that I do believe in -- DO NOT bullshit anything! Philosophers can smell this coming a mile away.

Cover letters: Include the information in your cover letter that the advertisement specifically asks for. Otherwise, mine are pretty generic without being offensive. But this too has exceptions. For instance, there might be specific traits you make you a good fit for that department. If so, customize away. If not, don't try to fit a square peg in a round hole, it will only make you look bad. A cover letter will NOT get you a job IMO, but it can easily make you look like a long winded retard pretty quickly, if you're not careful.

Send as many letters of reference as are necessary to give a complete picture of you as a candidate. So, avoid sending letters that just give the same information over and over. Try to get letters from people that can speak to different aspects of you as a professional. Of course, again, there are exceptions: if you can get letters that might say the same great things from multiple super famous people, then go for it. But don't send 10 of them! I currently have seven letters, which seems like a lot, but each of them presents different facets of me as a philosopher and colleague. One of my letters is a teaching letter. One, of course, is from my advisor. Others speak to areas of expertise that are not reflected in my dissertation. One of them is from a person external to my home department and we all know the value that this kind of letter can have. Another is from my most recent place of employment.


Anonymous said...

For the selection of the writing sample, what criteria should one use (assuming one has a large body of published and unpublished work)? Snappy shorter papers (3000 words) or longer intricate work (8000-10000 words). I'm assuming they would prefer the shorter piece. But perhaps the longer one gives them a better idea of one's qualities as a philosopher (this under the assumption they only ask one piece of writing). Furthermore, should it be something that is published, or can it be a polished, but yet unpublished piece as well?
And if it's published, should one send something that is in a good specialist journal (e.g., Ethics, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism) or rather a mid-tier general journal?
Finally, what do people mean with "recent"? Suppose one's best paper (journal standing, content etc) appeared in 2010. Is that already dated? Should it be something that appeared this year or is still in press? I'd be interested to hear what the thoughts are of SC members (although my faith in the wisdom of the crowds makes me also curious for opinions of the non-TT and non-tenured people here).

CTS said...


I have been thinking about the questions you raise.

I the old days -whenever those were - a long paper would have been welcomed. However, given the number of applicants for every open position in these not-so-great days, i think a shorter one shows both consideration for the SC and an ability to get to the point. This does not mean that you should not also send along something longer - if we/they are intrigued, the longer piece will be read by at least some members of the SC.

Send whatever you think is your best work. If you do not think a publised piece is your best, then you can eiher send it along as a 'secondary' piece or let the SC find it (it will be listed on your CV after all).

I always think a best-level *for the position* paper is most important. That would count more with us than a so-so generalist piece. (I may be misunderstanding your query.)

Anonymous said...

suppose one has something forthcoming in a respected journal, and that it will not be published before the deadline for job applications. suppose, in case this has any weight, that this is the only item listed under publications on one's CV.

can SC members and other people with experience on the job market provide some advice about choosing a writing sample in this case? should one (1) send the penultimate draft of this forthcoming paper or (2) send a different, non-forthcoming working paper?

my sense is that sending the working paper would be preferred, since it shows that one has an additional, developed piece of research. but i have no basis whatsoever for this opinion.

should one rather take advantage of this opportunity--viz. the opportunity to put the forthcoming paper front and center--in the job application?

Ben said...

I've never served on a SC but, FWIW, I can comment on what I did. I actually used the same writing sample 3 years running (though not necessarily for all jobs each year). First year it was under review at a good journal, second year accepted and forthcoming, third year just published. My main reasons for using it were not only that I thought it a good paper and one that I'd be happy to talk about, but also that it was in a completely different area to my dissertation (and thus job talk).

I think it's worth bearing in mind that you'll want something else you can present if called to interview. If you only have one other piece that's reasonably polished, then I'd say use the forthcoming paper as writing sample and the polished piece for a job talk. If you have the luxury of two polished pieces (aside from the forthcoming one) then matters are different. Then I'd say don't be afraid to vary which you use by job (if, for instance, one is in an AOS/AOC requested for the job).

Anonymous said...

Here's a question that I would like to see discussed.

I was lucky enough to secure a position last year. Although I have more than a year on my contract, my position is ultimately temporary. I would like to apply for a few select positions this year. How can I do so without seeming ungrateful to my current employer and without signaling to potential employers that I might leave future positions as well?

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of using a new writing sample this year myself instead of my paper published in 2011, but my letter writers said it was still OK to use my publication as my writing sample and either send my new paper as well or simply tell the committee it is available if they wish to see it. Still not sure about this advice, but I think their point is that you want to show the committee your absolute best most polished work. Well, that's still my published piece.

FemFilosofer said...


I applied last year from a multi-year but ultimately temporary position. My employers were very encouraging, as they knew there was no permanent position in their department for me. I would hope that any department engaging in such contract hiring would not only understand that you must go back on the market, but would also be supportive of your efforts by staging mock interviews, writing letters of support, etc. If not, I'm not sure they are the kind of department towards which the "gratefulness" you express is owed.

Now, I'm often berated for my hopefulness and optimism, so it could be the case that your new employer doesn't want you to spend your time on the market. In that case, screw 'em. You don't owe them anything more than the work that is stipulated in your contract.

As for signaling to other employers that you might be a flight risk; if you're applying for TT work from a contract position I don't see this as a risk at all, rather, it just makes sense.

Remember that your interests and the interests of your new employers might not always be in line, and you have to look at your long-term interests while they worry about staffing sections next semester.

Anonymous said...

9:45 - I think your present/future employers perfectly understand you are on the market for select positions if you're in a temporary position. If it says something like VAP or postdoc on your CV, your prospective employers will not think twice about why you are applying. As for your current employers, if you're already there for a while (for instance, I am on a 3-year postdoc, and went on the market after 1 year), it was - in my case- absolutely no problem for them that you look for some positions. In fact, given the state of the market, I think it is highly risky to wait until your position expires and only start applying then. Just try some probing questions with faculty members you like/trust most at your present department "Look at this job - it's really me and it's a TT. What do you think?" or "X is going on the market this year - I think I'll try some select positions as well..." Good luck.