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Author Topic: PSA for job applicants  (Read 2453 times)
sc_member
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« on: December 05, 2012, 3:12:23 AM »

Public service announcement for anyone on the academic job market:

1. In compiling your CV, please do not combine book reviews, encyclopedia entries, and newsletter articles along with your one or two peer-reviewed articles in under a catchall "publications" heading. Search committee members do notice, and it doesn't make you look good. And some find it annoying (because let's face it: you're mixing apples and oranges, and the search committee probably couldn't care less about those apples). You don't want someone to be annoyed while they are reading your job application.

2. Also, if the current year happens to be 2012 (as, in fact, it is), do not write down "PhD, 2013," as if you have traveled into the future, defended successfully, and traveled back. No accredited university that I know of post-dates degrees. If you have a defense date scheduled, please list it: it will help your cause significantly. If you don't yet have a defense date but plan (and realistically expect) to defend in 2013, then put something like "PhD expected 2013." And have a chat with your dissertation supervisor to make sure your letters convey similar expectations. Anything else, and the committee will likely assume that you're blowing smoke.
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sagit
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 8:05:47 AM »

1. In compiling your CV, please do not combine book reviews, encyclopedia entries, and newsletter articles along with your one or two peer-reviewed articles in under a catchall "publications" heading. Search committee members do notice, and it doesn't make you look good. And some find it annoying (because let's face it: you're mixing apples and oranges, and the search committee probably couldn't care less about those apples). You don't want someone to be annoyed while they are reading your job application.

Agreed!  I am a bit annoyed though charitable to soon-to-be PhDs.  I am less amused when I see this in job applications from more advanced Asst. Profs who should know better.  And in this day and age, why aren't job candidates googling the CVs of people in their field to find out how to organize their CVs in a similar way to people who have the type of jobs they want?  It's sad but I can often tell the quality of the application materials based on a quick glance of the way the CV has been formatted.
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10293847
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 9:13:08 AM »

Who cares? I love these mistakes and think they are valuable.

Such applications (Stupid CV tricks, sloppy applications, not knowing the institution, etc) are a joy to sort out and make my life easier on the hiring committee. Also, for the many people out there who put a lot of effort into their applications and are professional, they stand out and I would rather give those people a fighting chance to get closer to the TT position.
My problem is with other members of the search committees in my department or elsewhere on campus who don't see these 'clues' and look only at Ph.D. granting institution.

We have made a couple of bad hires because the SC didn't read carefully. In hindsight, it was all there on paper, but no one on the SC noticed.

So please, keep the clues coming. With over 150 applications, we need help in our selection process.
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tuxthepenguin
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 10:34:46 AM »

Who cares? I love these mistakes and think they are valuable.

Such applications (Stupid CV tricks, sloppy applications, not knowing the institution, etc) are a joy to sort out and make my life easier on the hiring committee. Also, for the many people out there who put a lot of effort into their applications and are professional, they stand out and I would rather give those people a fighting chance to get closer to the TT position.
My problem is with other members of the search committees in my department or elsewhere on campus who don't see these 'clues' and look only at Ph.D. granting institution.

We have made a couple of bad hires because the SC didn't read carefully. In hindsight, it was all there on paper, but no one on the SC noticed.

So please, keep the clues coming. With over 150 applications, we need help in our selection process.

I don't agree. By the time we eliminate everyone that clearly doesn't have the potential to do the research for tenure and all those that are going to get Ivy League and assorted first-tier offers, the pool is pretty small. Some of those that remain will get better offers and some will do a bad job in the interview. I am willing to overlook minor details like the organization of the CV if it puts another strong applicant in the pool.
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thehighking
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 12:58:09 PM »

I don't agree. By the time we eliminate everyone that clearly doesn't have the potential to do the research for tenure and all those that are going to get Ivy League and assorted first-tier offers, the pool is pretty small.

This drives me nuts.

I think that SCs ought to subscribe to the following mantra (at least in my field): "The market is so bad that there is no reason to think someone is going to get an Ivy League or first-tier offer."

There is no reason (unless their letters betray a total ignorance of your institution or are arrogant and annoying) to eliminate candidates because you think they're "too good."

Not in this market.
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federale
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 1:54:29 PM »

Hey, I really like the notion that my lack of offers is because I am universally acclaimed as "too good." 

Like the Laird Hamilton of the academic market.

"Bro, I was just way too good for those guys. They couldn't deal with someone so EPIC.."

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dr_freakout
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 2:48:05 PM »

Can someone who has served on an SC please tell me definitively if that "too good" thing actually ever happens? Not that it would happen to me (I'm medium good), but it's one more thing to freak out about. 
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erzuliefreda
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 3:19:44 PM »

It's not "too good." It's "not a good fit for us."

Ivy League Ph.D. 2011 + Hotshot Postdoc + Top-Flight Journal Article in press + Book under contract + Only taught at elite New England universities + Letter goes on and on about research + LORs don't include a teaching observation letter, just three famous people saying your dissertation is the next best thing since sliced bread + Hot Subfield does not equal the best candidate for a 4/4 teaching school in the Deep South.

Different types of schools have different criteria.
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thehighking
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 3:26:17 PM »

It's not "too good." It's "not a good fit for us."

Ivy League Ph.D. 2011 + Hotshot Postdoc + Top-Flight Journal Article in press + Book under contract + Only taught at elite New England universities + Letter goes on and on about research + LORs don't include a teaching observation letter, just three famous people saying your dissertation is the next best thing since sliced bread + Hot Subfield does not equal the best candidate for a 4/4 teaching school in the Deep South.

Different types of schools have different criteria.

Yes, but that sounds different than what tuxthepenguin was describing.

This is a question of fit. There are plenty of people with the same qualifications whose letter is geared towards teaching, whose LORs talk about teaching, and who seems interested in your school.

I hope schools are not eliminating candidates like this (although I know from the experience of friends that some definitely are--sorry, dr_freakout)...
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cgfunmathguy
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 3:32:48 PM »

Can someone who has served on an SC please tell me definitively if that "too good" thing actually ever happens? Not that it would happen to me (I'm medium good), but it's one more thing to freak out about. 
It's not "too good." It's "not a good fit for us."

Ivy League Ph.D. 2011 + Hotshot Postdoc + Top-Flight Journal Article in press + Book under contract + Only taught at elite New England universities + Letter goes on and on about research + LORs don't include a teaching observation letter, just three famous people saying your dissertation is the next best thing since sliced bread + Hot Subfield does not equal the best candidate for a 4/4 teaching school in the Deep South.

Different types of schools have different criteria.
Sometimes, yes, and sometimes, no. I've heard SC members say "S/he'll never come here. The CV is 'too good'." about someone on our short list. The person blew us away in the on-campus interview and related that s/he wanted to come to our school because of family distance issues. When we were ranking the final candidates, the same SC members were saying the same thing, but we all agreed that s/he was the best candidate. We made an offer, s/he accepted, and they now have a good faculty member acting as chair (s/he took my place when I left after that search).

So, while some will dismiss "top-notch" candidates out of hand, the good SCs find the best candidate for the job, make an offer, and then hope.
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theblondeassassin
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 3:47:00 PM »

I had the "too good" reply from my doctoral alma mater, who said informally they'd had too many shortlisted people just apply to get a job offer in order to extort advantages from their current institution, and that no one in their right mind would move from MyUni to there.

Perhaps they remembered all the trouble I caused as a student and were just being nice, but I would have moved back there in a heartbeat if offered the job (and probably only one or two other places in North America).
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ruralguy
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 3:55:03 PM »

Its all about what you telegraph...

If you have an Ivy PhD., and your letter speaks to your new pedagogies and working with students on your hot research, then, the fact that you have, say, 20 publications is much less likely to have people say "She's too good"...they might say " This is a great fit for us at
Slacker SLAC, but she might get nabbed by Pomona, who are also doing a search in this subject area this semester." In which case , most of us respond, "Let us compete for her, and see how it goes". Sometimes we get people like that, sometimes we don't. Sometimes they stay, and sometimes they don't.

Look...SC's are groups pf PEOPLE. People say dumb crap from time to time. You have to more or less trust that functional aggregates of
people will cancel out all of the dumb crap like people saying "she's too good" or "This school is a way of life. I don't know if he's a REAL
Amherst man" or whatever. Most of us on SC's shut down that crud pretty fast and get to a decent list of qualified people. Some have more research, some have more teaching, etc. When they come to campus, some are affable, some are jerks. Most folks are just simply "OK". If you don't get picked, you were most likely a very qualified person who had an "OK" visit whilst someone else had a "better than OK" or even "knocked out socks off" visit. 
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tuxthepenguin
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 4:24:26 PM »

A couple points about my comment above. First, we don't remove that many candidates from the pool because they're too good. But we will remove about a dozen. Second, I'm not in the humanities. I talk to faculty in humanities departments and they routinely get their first choice. It depends a lot on the field.

If a job candidate comes from a top graduate program and has a first-rate publication, plus more work at that level in the pipeline, and letters from the best people in the subfield saying they'd get tenure in any department, it would be a waste of time to pursue them. Even if we did manage to hire them, they wouldn't want to be here.

How accurate is this screening process? I have yet to see a case where we tossed someone from the pool for being too good and they got a job where they might have considered our offer. You want to err on the side of leaving in too many candidates, and we do.
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thehighking
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 5:13:59 PM »

A couple points about my comment above. First, we don't remove that many candidates from the pool because they're too good. But we will remove about a dozen. Second, I'm not in the humanities. I talk to faculty in humanities departments and they routinely get their first choice. It depends a lot on the field.

If a job candidate comes from a top graduate program and has a first-rate publication, plus more work at that level in the pipeline, and letters from the best people in the subfield saying they'd get tenure in any department, it would be a waste of time to pursue them. Even if we did manage to hire them, they wouldn't want to be here.

How accurate is this screening process? I have yet to see a case where we tossed someone from the pool for being too good and they got a job where they might have considered our offer. You want to err on the side of leaving in too many candidates, and we do.

Like I said--this must be field dependent.
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munificence
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 6:38:39 PM »

Combining pubs doesn't bother me if the person isn't already TT and there are only 3 or 4 - really the formatting looks even worse to have as many headings as pubs.  It does bother me if they have 10 with 2 being peer-reviewed and sprinkled by date.
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