Category Archives: the Job Market

January 4, 2009, 8:35 pm

AHA Day 3: A Cautionary Tale

Helpful advice to graduate students: stop going to sessions about the job market. My sense is that it is simply making people unnecessarily hysterical. Yes, the job market this year is very, very bad. But whether it will be next year no one knows. I repeat no one knows.

So please, stop going to these sessions. Go home and write instead.

December 30, 2008, 1:37 pm

Grand Hotel: The AHA Conference Interview Redux

Baron: You’re so beautiful. It tore my heart to see you in despair like that…Please don’t cry any more…I’d no idea you were so beautiful. I’d like to take you in my arms, and not let anything happen to you, ever…I’ve never seen anything in my life as beautiful as you are….

Grusinskaya (getting up): You must go now.

Baron: I’m not going. You know I’m not going. Oh, please let me stay.

Grusinskaya: But I want to be alone.

Baron: That isn’t true. You don’t want to be alone. You were in despair just now. I can’t leave you now. You, you mustn’t cry any more. You must forget. Let me stay just for a little while. Ah, please let me stay.

Grusinskaya: For just a minute, then.

Okay, so your conference interview won’t be this exciting. But here’s hoping it won’t be so mysterious, convoluted and indirect either. Surely you are starting to get excited? Aren’t you? So let’s start to prepare for…

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December 26, 2008, 6:57 pm

How To Succeed At Your AHA Interview Without Really Trying: Looking Smart

Last year around this time I posted my guide to novice American Historical Association Annual Meeting attendees. This year we go to New York! So much better than Chicago, which is only good for the Chicagoans, since none of the rest of us are ever allowed to arrive or to leave on our flights as they were originally scheduled, so cursed by the goddess is Chicago and its weather.

This year you can find me at the reception thrown by the Coordinating Council for Women in History. Saturday evening I will be receiving at the soiree held by the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History, an organization that is soon to be called something else (add Transgender and stir), but for now look for CLGH on the program. However, I won’t get to wander ’round the book exhibit or the convention as much as I like to because over the course of three days I will be locked in a room with a jury of my peers…

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December 7, 2008, 9:49 pm

Receiving the Call: What To Do When Scheduling A Conference Interview

There has been so much heartbreak and angst lately about the state of the job market, here and elsewhere, that the Radical has neglected one critical function of this blog: professionalization. This post is aimed indirectly at search committee chairs and mostly at the people who love them. That’s right, this one’s for you, you lucky folk who will be called to a convention interview sometime between now and the first of the year, primarily in the fields of History and Literature, both of which have their Big Annual Meetings in the next month. What follows is information that you need to elicit in that first telephone contact, or if you haven’t — which is fine — follow up with an email tomorrow and get it.

Let’s begin. You are a person who has applied for a job, and you are at home playing Minesweeper — er, I mean working on your dissertation. Is that the telephone? (Imagine…

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December 4, 2008, 12:27 pm

A Letter To the Academic Proletariat

Many well-wishers wrote in to sympathize with the hazards I encountered mailing recommendations to Ph.D. programs: thank you, I am better. Nothing was broken, and the bruises are fading.

But the pain is only beginning elsewhere. The thought that I was sending more unlucky holders of the B.A. down the chute to the slaughterhouse of graduate school raised this question for frustrated job-seeker and blogging comrade Sisyphus. “Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t be sending students on to grad school and contributing to the whole PhD ponzi scheme?” asks this industrious young scholar, who applied for over 60 jobs this year, fifty of which have fallen to budget-cutting. “Esp. when there are all these dire predictions about even undergrad degrees becoming priced out of affordability for the middle class? I’m trying to get an academic job right now and bad as this year is compared to other…

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November 23, 2008, 10:54 pm

Who Says There Are No Jobs? Pish-Tosh!

Do you ever casually look for jobs on-line? I do. Usually when I am supposed to be grading or completing some other tedious task that is the bread-and-butter of my work as a tenured professor. I sometimes even apply for the jobs I find, but I have only been mildly successful at that pursuit, and never in a life-changing way — a nibble here, a nibble there (“Finish your book, stupid,” they write back on a postcard. “Oh yeah, right, I forgot” I say, and paste it in my scrapbook of Futile Acts.) But as I take little breaks from writing letters of recommendation so that many of my favorite students can go to graduate school and also worry about being jobless, I have been checking the listings and see if the economy has affected the market or that American Studies job at the University of Hawaii has opened up yet.

Of course, it’s always 1933 when it comes to jobs in United States history or…

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September 13, 2008, 2:39 pm

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe*: Or, How to Evaluate the Candidate Pool

One of the things everyone is talking about in the presidential race is the capacity for good decision-making, who has it, and what relationship that bears to previous experience making hard decisions. OK, so you are not running for national office, nor are you a pit bull with lipstick (or was that a hockey Mom who is a pig? I can never remember.) But you are on a search committee. And you have never been on one before. And there is a large drawer of files to evaluate. You have decisions to make. So today’s topic is:

How do you evaluate a candidate pool and decide which 10-12 people you want to invite to a preliminary interview for a tenure-track job?

There are a number of criteria that will be in play, depending on what kind of slot your optimum candidate is expected to fill and how broadly you advertised in terms of field. But one of the things I think is important is to have some…

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September 5, 2008, 11:43 am

Jumping the Tracks: Applying for a Job When You Already Have One

The Tenured Radical gmail account has been receiving a few gentle prompts asking when new installments in the job market series will appear. “Hey! What happened to the job market
posts?” one faithful reader writes. Well, I must confess that the lure of national politics and the beginning of the semester has kept me more than busy (although I have nothing — NOTHING– to say about the Republican convention. I have no words to express my dismay that the Republicans have finally been brought to their knees by their right wing. I couldn’t even pay attention to Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech for all the shots of that poor baby being passed from hand to hand in the gallery and the crowd shrieking maniacally when she delivered the line about the pit bull and the lipstick.)

However, today the series continues with:

Applying for a job when you already have one.

About a year ago there was a …

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August 12, 2008, 12:39 pm

Dream A Little Dream Of Me: Six Easy Steps to Writing a Great Job Letter

Last year I was in conversation with a fine scholar and a caring mentor from an excellent northeastern university. Since I have no graduate students, I expressed surprise — given how much more emphasis is being placed on readying candidates for a tight market at institutions like hers — that the quality of job letters in a recent search was so uneven. She rolled her eyes. “If my students would only show me the letters they write,” she said. “The problem is they tend only to show their job letters to each other, and they repeat each other’s mistakes.”

So this is where we need to start, as you ready yourself for the job season by drafting the letter you will use as a template for your job applications. Don’t write your letters in isolation, and don’t get advice from other people who don’t have jobs yet. The letter is what introduces you to search committee members: not your…

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August 6, 2008, 1:24 pm

Tell Me What You Want — What You Really, Really, Want: Writing and Placing the Job Advertisement

I want to begin with some bad news: if you are a search chair, and your ad has not already been placed, you may be up Hiring Creek right now, because important deadlines in many fields have passed. Just saying. And yes, one of your responsibilities as search chair is (was) to know when those deadlines are (were.) An experienced department chair will, of course, remind you of deadlines and help you meet them by facilitating the process I describe below, but as we all know, one of the joys of a successful tenure case can be the unhappy surprise of being informed you are the next chair, so s/he may not be experienced enough to have known this either. That said, let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you write and place an ad?

1. Write the ad for the scholar your department has agreed it wants to hire. This means being as clear about rank and field as you can be. If you are only will…

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