Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again

Yes. It's that time of year. The time of year where I don't get any writing done for eight or ten weeks while I revise my application materials, enter a bunch of application data into a spreadsheet, customize my cover letters, send out applications, electronically submit a bunch of other applications, study for interviews, wait around to hear from search committees, plan for the possibility of a job talk, and drink.

Even if I had the same amount of teaching, and even if there was committee work and other non-teaching responsibilities on top of that, I still feel like a tenure-track job would leave me with a shit-ton of extra time, just because I wouldn't have to keep looking for a tenure-track job anymore.

So, if it's not too much trouble, I'd really appreciate it if someone would offer me one.

Thanks and best wishes,

--Mr. Zero

36 comments:

Dr. Killjoy said...

Ol' Doc Killjoy wishes all applicants a less migraine inducing and relatively insanity free foray into the nightmarish hellscape that is the Philosophy Job Market.

Anonymous said...

Any templates for application data spreadsheets that folks would be willing to share?

Anonymous said...

"I still feel like a tenure-track job would leave me with a shit-ton of extra time."

Well, your feeler isn't tracking the truth on this one.

All the same, good luck this year.

zombie said...

It is ridiculously time consuming to look for a job. It IS a job looking for a job.

5:13, I made my own spreadsheet using Numbers (Mac). It was pretty basic, and once you've got it set up, takes no time to use. I listed applications in the order of the deadlines (but doing the snail mail ones first), so I could just work my way down the list every night after my kid was asleep.

zombie said...

Parkinson's Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Having a TT job does not save time. That time will be filled. (But filled with better stuff.)

Anonymous said...

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3r3z87/

Anonymous said...

What's the feeling about asking a current colleague or dept head for a letter of reference?

What about if they just hired you last year?

(I got a great TT job last year, but my dream job just opened up ... and I wonder whether I'd be making lifelong enemies to ask for a letter for that one application.)

Anonymous said...

Zero - serious question:

Have you ever thought about revealing your identity as a job market strategy?

Sure, it might sound crazy. But what have you got to lose at this point?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:52AM wrote: "(I got a great TT job last year, but my dream job just opened up ... and I wonder whether I'd be making lifelong enemies to ask for a letter for that one application.)"

Answer: yes, you would. You don't show up for a year only to jump ship...and you certainly don't ask them for a letter to help you do it. That's like asking someone for a knife to slash their car tires. They just spent a great deal of time and money to hire you...and you want them to help you ensure that their time was wasted? You're a strange one, Mr. Grinch.

Anonymous said...

@2:52 am. As a tenured faculty member at a place I would love to leave, I would suggest you apply for your dream job. You don't have to ask for letters from your current colleagues because you should have lots of good letters, but you should tell your chair. You should also mention in your letter to not contact your current colleagues except for the chair.

Explain that it is your dream job and that you aren't applying anywhere else. If they don't understand, then they aren't colleagues worth having.

I will bet that the chair will be somewhat understanding, but be honest with them. If you stay there, you will have to deal with them for a long time.

The job market is so fucked that you can't avoid trying for jobs that you really like, even after starting a new job.

Chair's know that early in a career is when you have the best chance to move to a job you really want. If you wait, you will be fucked as a mid career academic who no one wants. I am a case in point. Don't do that to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it will be a hassle for your current department if you leave. They'd probably prefer that you didn't. But that's not really something that should weigh heavily on your decision.

They hired you; I get that the market is bad, but they didn't actually do you a favor, you know? You're not slashing anyone's tires by sending out an application. Everyone sensible knows that early career academics have only a few years to move if they want to.

I get that this profession socializes us to feel like we should be grateful for adjunct's wages, but in many other professions, if you want a new job, you get apply for a new job, and you can do that at any time, not just during October.

That said, if you've only been there for five weeks or so there may not be much they can say, so you're going to rely mostly on last year's data anyway. Ask your chair if you want, explain that it's your dream job, but have that letter backed up with your grad school/previous employer's recs.

Anonymous said...

"I still feel like a tenure-track job would leave me with a shit-ton of extra time."

try being on a search committee. I spend way more time on SCs than I did applying for jobs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:52,

There are some very nasty and vindictive people in academia (as there are elsewhere). It's not always clear who they are. I would approach getting a letter from your department with caution.

However, you should totally apply for the job. You're not morally bound to your current institution.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:52,

I'd also recommend caution approaching members of your department. If you do decide to tell anyone in your department, I suggest that you state that you are applying only to one job, but do not over-do it. Say as little as possible, avoiding language like "dream job." "I'm sending out one application" pretty much says everything that needs to be said to someone on the ball and (relatively) on your side/well-disposed towards you. Why say so little? If, by chance, you get an offer from this dream department, you present department will get to make a COUNTER-OFFER. You must allow this to happen, no matter waht--even if you have every intention of leaving your current job. With written new job offer in hand, you and your department chair hold a meeting with the Dean, and the Dean, consulting up the chain of command, will present some counter-offer (salary increase, additional course releases pre-tenure, etc.) or not. Even cash-strapped schools frequently try to come up with a little something. If you do receive a counter-offer, you take that back to the Dream Job department chair. They may or may not make another offer. Cards played close to the chest are better in this situation, and if your application is unsuccessful you haven't gushed about going to another, better dream department. For all that person on the ball you've confided in knows, you just want to try your hand at increasing your salary and benefits.

Mr. Zero said...

Well, your feeler isn't tracking the truth on this one.

I realize that this is a possibility, and you probably have more information than I do about this. And I suspect that a lot of it depends on the individual comparison. But I have lots of friends who have tenure-track jobs. Most of the people I work with. I see what their jobs are like. I see that there are times when the non-teaching duties pile up, but I don't really see these duties exhausting all their non-teaching time for eight straight weeks.

I mean, I don't follow them around all the time, and I don't know what they're up to every waking moment. Maybe they're busier than I think they are. Or maybe your institution requires more of its tenure-track faculty than the one where I teach. And obviously it's totally possible that my feeler's all out of whack.

try being on a search committee. I spend way more time on SCs than I did applying for jobs.

I don't have any trouble believing that. None whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

You're under no obligation to alert the current chair that you're applying for another job. SC at your dream place will not contact your colleagues without your permission. You are replaceable and is institutional loyalty usually not warranted.

Anonymous said...

Ummm...I can see that going on the job market for the first time might take eight weeks of all of your time, but after that, I hardly think so, unless you are a very inefficient time manager. I go on the market every year, do my teaching, my grading, and get papers out. No problem. So what gives?

YFNA

Mr. Zero said...

I go on the market every year, do my teaching, my grading, and get papers out. No problem. So what gives?

I don't know. Maybe you're more efficient than me. But I spend a lot of time rethinking, rewriting, and polishing my materials. I figure, if my materials from last year were good enough to get me a job, they'd have gotten me a job last year. (Just kidding, kind of. I don't literally think that. But I never stop looking for ways to improve my file.) My teaching statement doesn't change much from year to year--though I tweak it at least a little--but my research statement changes a lot. I spend a lot of time on it--thinking about how best to explain what I've been working on, and how it all fits together. Briefly.

I try to customize my cover letters at least a little, depending on the institution. I think long and hard before choosing a writing sample. I send each of my letter-writers a detailed description of my professional activity over the past year, even if they already know, so that they'll have all the info all in one spot for easy reference. Each of these things takes time.

And then I find the process of printing stuff out and stuffing envelopes to be pretty time-consuming. And I find the process of using that BS online application software to be extremely time-consuming. That shit's terrible.

So, I usually put my nose to the grindstone in the first week or two of September, and then I finish and I look around and there are turkeys and pilgrims all over everything.

Anonymous said...

"I go on the market every year, do my teaching, my grading, and get papers out. No problem. So what gives?"

If you are going on the market every year, maybe you should think about changing your materials in some way.

Anonymous said...

Every time I write my research statement, I feel like I am mostly talking out of my ass.

Look, I wrote a dissertation. It had a thesis that I defended. I have two papers that I've published that basically defend that thesis in different ways. I may try to squeeze some more out of the dissertation if possible. This is what everybody does. Other than that, I have some other somewhat related interests that I sometimes write about. None of the stuff I work on "hangs together" in any of the bullshit ways that people always talk about in their bullshit research statements. I think the narrative arcs that we are forced to put on our work (you know, our fancy ongoing research "projects") amount to nothing more than good (or bad) salesmanship.

Anonymous said...

I do change my materials! Write cover letters, change research statement, update CV, teaching portfolio, website, etc. What do you take me for?

YFNA

ps: obviously Zero spending so much time on his dossier is not helping him any!

Clarence said...

but I don't really see these duties exhausting all their non-teaching time for eight straight weeks.

Job season wasn't this bad for me. But granting that it is for you, it still doesn't show that your feeler is tracking truth here. I think the poster is responding to the *amount* of extra time you think others have -- a "shit-ton" more, instead of maybe just more. Anyway, this is the case for me -- more, but not a lot more.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, writing cover letters that summarize everything in your dossier in any detail whatsoever is a waste of your time. Having been on an SC, in my experience, SC's, unless, they ask you to address something specific in your cover letters, are generally not interested in plodding through a long cover letter. Instead of wasting your time on this Z. just try to get more pubs.

On the topic of having an updated portfolio, try to make sure that you have letter writers familiar with not only your past work, but your current research, and who are willing to update your letters to reflect this every year. I don't know, maybe all letter writers do this by default, but the importance of detailed letters that speak to your work and its importance cannot be underestimated. Again, in my experience, after the first cut, SC's were most interested in letters and pubs, and relied pretty heavily on those to get info about the candidate. If that interested them, then they moved onto the writing sample. But different SC's I am sure are, well, different :)

YFNA

Mr. Zero said...

writing cover letters that summarize everything in your dossier in any detail whatsoever is a waste of your time.

That's not what I said. What I try to do is, have the cover letter say something about why I'd be a good fit for the department, why my skills and experience satisfy their needs. I realize that a lot of search committees don't care about this. But a lot of them think it's extremely important.

I think the poster is responding to the *amount* of extra time you think others have -- a "shit-ton" more, instead of maybe just more. Anyway, this is the case for me -- more, but not a lot more.

That seems reasonable.

Anonymous said...

On time and being a professor:

Truth be told, I'm just as busy now as I was as a grad student. But the work is different, and the rhythm of the semester is different, and that may be why it sometimes seems like some have more time than others.

When I was on the market, I was spending a great deal of time working right around now, getting materials ready. I'm not doing that now, and so grad students may think I have all sorts of time they don't. Of course, once students get their applications sent off, they have tons of time (or so it would seem, of course) while they wait, and people in my position read all those applications, meet several times (often on weekends) to thin the pile, and then interview applicants, have more meetings, etc.

However, that's an oversimplification. Because right now, when it looks like I have free time, I'm spending time writing letters of recommendation (for grads on the market and undergrads applying to grad school). Once that's done, I get to serve on a search committee (and do the above work). Once that work is complete, I get to do undergraduate advising, which also takes time.

And of course, we all know that at no point are we really sitting around doing nothing, because regardless of our schedules and demands, we are using what time we have to read, write, and revise our work. Or, at least, we should be.

Clarence said...

I figure, if my materials from last year were good enough to get me a job, they'd have gotten me a job last year. (Just kidding, kind of....)

This is a good expression of what seemed to me to be the *central* dilemma I faced years 2-5 on the market. Wish I could say more than good luck, but, good luck.

Glaucon said...

Variations on Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayest in me behold,
When crappy jobs, or none, or few do hang
Upon the JFP which leaves me feeling cold.
Bare ruin'd chances, where late the adjuncts taught.

In me thou seest the twilight of such hopes
As after no search committees call,
Which leaves me feeling like a fucking dope,
Even though I applied when it's not my AOS at all.

In me thou see'st the glowing of such Skype
As would save me hundreds if they'd only use it.
But I guess I'm really not their type,
So I'll sit at home and seriously booze it.

This thou perceivest, which makes me feel like shit,
That there's little anyone can do to overcome a lack of "fit."

CTS said...

Although it has been a very long time since I was looking for a position, I do think it is the sheer mind-numbingness of the 'work' and the mounting sense of futility that makes job searching seem so much more all-consuming than other kinds of work.

zombie said...

My research statement wasn't bullshit. I developed a new research program after I graduated, which I was able to write about concisely, but in detail. That research agenda got me a postdoc, and that postdoc, I am sure, helped me get a job.

But, despite having many years of teaching experience, I found writing the teaching statement to be much more of an exercise in BS. To a large extent, your teaching experience as an adjunct is to teach whatever you're assigned to teach, and only occasionally in your own AOS. The type of experience you get is beyond your control, but you still have to make it sound like you can teach anyone anywhere anything.

Anonymous said...

Glaucon:

I'd crawl a mile through briars to throw rocks at your shit.

Anonymous said...

I defended my dissertation in June of 2011. Still on the market. When I get the "Tell us about your research" question, is it still permissible for me to talk about my dissertation? Or am I now expected to be talking about something different? I have basically spent the last year and a half trying to publish papers out of my dissertation. So, I mean, I'm still working on that, I guess.

Clarence said...

I defended my dissertation in June of 2011.

Instead of saying "publishing papers out of my dissertation" I might say "further developing themes from my dissertation." (I'm thinking this is probably true.)

You probably also want to think some about how to answer something like this:

"Ok, we got it. So what next? And why?"

After a year and a half, I'd guess the dissertation is about played out.

zombie said...

If your research is all diss related, and you are not working on something else, and you haven't developed something else you plan to work on, you don't have much choice when asked to talk about your research.

My second year on the market, I was off in a different direction research-wise, with publications under my belt. I was surprised that SCs still wanted to talk about my diss, but they did. So, if you have new research to talk about, you should still be prepapred to discuss the diss.

CTS said...

On the research front:

My own experience has been that I discovered branches' out of my diss work. There were so many problems, issues, and tantalizing threads that I simply coult not address in the diss, that I was able to use the diss work to start out on those.

On the other hand, my most republished piece (ever) was written in a fury because of something dumb going on in the news0-sphere. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I can't find the new JFP. Is it available? If so, where?

Anonymous said...

Already annoyed by the new JFP interface. Why do I have to click every single ad just to see whether it's even in my AOS?

PhilJobs is so, so much better.