Monday, March 2, 2015

Administrative Post 31

This note is the last post to the "Job Tips" series (sort of).  This series was enormously popular by the standards of this blog, drawing on average a thousand visitors a week.  The individuals who contributed their insights did so out of their own generosityso if you have the chance you should thank them.  A few of them, though, sent in replies after I had already posted the relevant collection of comments.  As a result, I decided to take advantage of the dynamic nature of the internet and folded their advice in after the initial posting.  As a result, every essay in the "Job Tips" series saw revision and expansion in this past week.  Go back and take a look at them again.  There is a lot of good stuff in these new points.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blog CLXXII (172): Job Hunting Tips: Follow Up

What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).  Click here to see Part 1 entitled "Before Hand." Click here to see Part 2 entitled "The Application."  Click here to see Part 3 entitled "Know Yourself."  Click here to see Part 4 entitled "Be Prepared."  Click here to see Part 5 entitled "The Interview(s)."  Here is the sixth and final part of this series entitled: "Follow Up":
  • Don't forget that rejection is part of the game—don't take it personally and don't let it get you down.—Hillary Gleason, Laredo Community College
  • Never forget it's a crapshoot—there are no guarantees and nothing you can do except improve your odds (which remain, nonetheless, “odds”).—Jason Parker, Department of History, Texas A&M University
  • If you receive a rejection letter, take some time and then write a thank you note for the consideration and time to look at your application. It was one of these that led to my first year long teaching job.—Salvatore Mercogliano, Department of History, Campbell University
  • Perhaps the biggest change since I was last on the market has been the crowdsourcing of the entire process. For example, http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/Academic_Jobs_Wiki is now the one stop shop for the job search. For those on the market, this site is valuable not only to read the experiences of others who are applying for the same positions, but a forum where one can post their own experiences. In a nutshell, I think one of the most frustrating parts of the job market, for applicants, is information asymmetry. One applies for a position, doesn't hear anything for months or never at all, and never feels fully part of the process. This site helps to reduce information asymmetry.—Luke A. Nichter, Texas A&M University—Central Texas

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blog CLXXI (171): Job Hunting Tips: The Interview(s)

What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).  Click here to see Part 1 entitled "Before Hand." Click here to see Part 2 entitled "The Application."  Click here to see Part 3 entitled "Know Yourself."  Click here to see Part 4 entitled "Be Prepared." Here is part 5 entitled: "The Interview(s)":
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview. The interview is going to be exhausting as is and you do not want to put yourself at a disadvantage with less than adequate rest.—Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, Department of Strategy and Policy, U.S. Naval War College
  • At the end of the day of your interview you will be taken to dinner and wined and dined. Be yourself and relax, but don't think for a second that the interview has concluded.—Thomas D. Mays, Department of History, Humboldt State University
  • And don’t for a second think about taking that second glass of wine!—Jeffrey Engel, Department of History, Southern Methodist University
  • Check and double check and then check again the time and location of your interview. Keep a paper record and keep it with you. Make sure the interviewers have a way of contacting you if something goes wrong and that you have a way of contacting them if you have a car accident or your plane is delayed, etc.—Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, Department of Strategy and Policy, U.S. Naval War College
  • Prepare for an interview like you're preparing for a dissertation defense. Learn as much about the school as possible. Have an overall "command" message about yourself and your fit for the job with two or three key supporting ideas. Be able to give a 60 second "elevator pitch" of the same. Shine your shoes (I did and someone DID notice.)—Brad Carter, College of Distance Education, U.S. Naval War College
  • If you are traveling to do the interview, remember this a professional, business trip. You are traveling to do the interview and only the interview. Do not try to add on a visit to family or friends or take a side trip to an archive or a resort. Although these might be efficient uses of your time, they take away from your ability to focus on the main reason you are there—to interview for a job. If something goes wrong and you miss a flight or are delayed in some other way, it can hurt you in the interview process. Do you really want to be a day late? Many committees schedule the interviews to take place during a set period of time and unnecessary complications do nothing to help.—Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, Department of Strategy and Policy, U.S. Naval War College
  • Based on my experiences on both sides of the job application process, I'd say that the most important things that a candidate needs to do—at least in the job talk—are (a) to present a clear and succinct argument, and (b) to demonstrate why the argument, and the research project more broadly, should interest historians outside of the sub-field.  To put it more bluntly: know why you want to say, and tell your audience why they should care.—Michael Morgan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • I would say always be yourself and never talk badly about your current or previous employer. In fact, one should avoid negative comments in general. Also, let your interviewer do most of the talking. It will make him or her feel great, witty, sociable, intelligent, etc.—George Satterfield, Department of Strategy and Policy, U.S. Naval War College
  • Don’t yammer on and on about yourself. Express genuine interest in the teaching and scholarship of the interviewers, without being intrusive and flattering.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
  • AHA interviews and other opportunities to interview face-to-face are not opportunities to talk as much about yourself as possible. Recognize that committees have questions they want answered. Your ability to take a question and answer it in a succinct yet meaningful way indicates a lot about how you would be in the classroom or a faculty meeting.—Craig Friend, Department of History, North Carolina State University
  • DO ask questions. Lots of them. The more specific, the better. It shows us you have been thinking about the position.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Do ask questions, otherwise the committee might think you are uninterested in the position. Questions that suggest serious intent include those dealing with: library holdings, housing, tenure requirements, and getting a new course on the books.—Michael Creswell, Department of History, Florida State University
  • Ask questions and make statements showing that you will contribute strongly and consistently to the department, university, and community, that you can be a good colleague, succeed, and be happy.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
  • DO be yourself. We can smell a phony a mile away.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Be yourself. This one sounds so easy too, but is so hard. Job interviews (conference ones, Skype ones, campus ones) are all false constructs. Being at ease in them is key. Being overly nervous, overly formal, overly informal—all can be off putting. Just be yourself.—Andrew Wiest, Department of History, University of Southern Mississippi
  • DON’T be modest. Your competition is all very good. Tell us why you are better.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Never, ever trash your home institution (or people in it) when interviewing for a job—even if people encourage you to "dish" on what you don't like about it. Take the high road; stay positive; etc.—Kathryn J. Burns, Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • DON’T badmouth anyone. Not your previous employer, not your grad school profs, not historians with different methodological approaches. No one.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Don't be too casual. Surprisingly, some candidates get too informal after a day of interviews. Using profanity or talking about discomfiting topics is inappropriate.—Clea Hupp, Department of History, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Don't read your talk. Be able to speak from notes on power point rather than reading a script.—Hal Brands, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Never use this phrase, if asked a question, "Why in God's name would I want to do that?!" (I was a post-doc years ago at an institution when a candidate for a job at that university blew his interview with that response to a question if he would be willing, as a Soviet expert, to perhaps teach, if necessary, a second year east Europe survey class).—Galen Perras, Department of History, University of Ottawa
  • DO be flexible. If you are asked about your interest in teaching/administering/advising something that seems outside of your comfort zone, don't reject it out of hand: negotiate. Ask for more information. Ask how the committee thinks that thing meshes with the position. Ask about accommodations that can be made in regard to time, support, or funding to allow that something to be done well.—Judy Ford, Department of History, Texas A&M University—Commerce
  • Somewhere during the course of the interview someone may ask you "why do you want to join our faculty?" Answers like "I need a job" or "this is the twenty-seventh place I am applying to" are the kiss of death. Do some homework about the department's strengths and perhaps weaknesses (as well as taking a good look at the institutional mission of the place). Explain to them that you are familiar with their accomplishments and that you can enhance or be a valuable addition to the department. Someone has looked at your resume and decided that you are bringing aboard an area or areas in which they are weak. Also too, remember to tell them somewhere during the interview that you are committed to student success and of course, student retention.—George Vourlojianis, Lorain County Community College
  • Whenever possible, situate what you are writing/studying/contemplating within a context your listeners will be more familiar and comfortable with. People who would be interested in State and Society might tune out a disquisition exclusively on the Royal Dockyards.—James Levy, Department of History, Hofstra University
  • Don't assume that a school wants to know first and foremost about your teaching experience just because it's a teaching-intensive position. A lot of places have very accomplished faculty and will appraise you above on the basis of your scholarship.—Mark Lawrence, Department of History, University of Texas

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blog CLXX (170): Job Hunting Tips: Be Prepared

What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).  Click here to see Part 1 entitled "Before Hand." Click here to see Part 2 entitled "The Application."  Click here to see Part 3 entitled "Know Yourself."  Here is part 4 entitled "Be Prepared":
  • Do your homework.—Jason Parker, Department of History, Texas A&M University
  • DO examine the research of the faculty on the search committee and the department (if it a smaller school) before you interview. Knowing how your work connects with theirs is critical.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Do research on the people in the department (or people you expect to be interviewing you) and whenever possible ask them questions about their work. In fact, if you can get them to talk about themselves and then while they talk periodically throw in how what you do supports or rounds out their expertise—then you will be golden.—Vann Mobley, Department of History, Concordia University Wisconsin
  • Don't forget to read up on bios of people you will talk to, so you can seem interested and engaging.— Hal Brands, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Learn as much as possible about the department, university, the local community before being interviewed, especially before an on-campus interview.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor
  • Do familiarize yourself with the university and department website. Bring up unique programs that set the university apart. Show your interest in the academic life of the campus.—Clea Hupp, Department of History, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Do your research—be ready to tell folks how you can fit into their program. Be conversant with who they are and what they do. A candidate who knows about an institution, its faculty, and how they might fit in have a real leg up.—Andrew Wiest, Department of History, University of Southern Mississippi
  • The only absolute "do" that I have for job candidates these days is to prepare thoroughly; emphasis—thoroughly—on any place which you are serious about.  The internet makes it easy to know a great deal about the department and the individuals who are interviewing you.  That still is something which impresses me, when a job candidate knows the strengths of the department, knows about how it advertises its program, and even remembers the current research interests of the faculty members.  This is pretty obvious, but I still see cases where candidates have been less than thorough in their preparation.—Thomas A. Schwartz, Department of History, Vanderbilt University
  • Prepare for the job interview.  Be familiar with the university and the department (and its members) beforehand.  Expect the questions that may come your way, and prepare an intelligent response.  Be on your best behavior.  Avoid arguments.  Welcome dissenting points of view.—Steven Reiss, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015

    Blog CLXIX (169): Job Hunting Tips: Know Yourself

    What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).   Click here to see Part 1 entitled "Before Hand."  Click here to see Part 2 entitled: "The Application."  Here is part 3 entitled: "Know Yourself":
    • DO: Think broadly about your dissertation project and its relevance for many sub-fields and conceptual approaches to history. Show that you are interested in reaching out substantively to other sub-fields and conceptualizations.—Jeremi Suri, Department of History, University of Texas
    • Do give some thought to teaching philosophy and what courses you would like to teach. Make mock syllabi to show that you are serious.—Hal Brands, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
    • DON’T: Think narrowly or defensively. Don’t let others define you or miss the excitement in your work.—Jeremi Suri, Department of History, University of Texas
    • Don't attempt to figure out what's going on within a search committee—its goals, politics, prejudices, preferences, etc. You just can't know from the outside. The good news is that you might be a better fit for a job than you'd think given a job listing.—Mark Lawrence, Department of History, University of Texas
    • Be able to summarize the theme and point of one's dissertation into 50 words or less.—Steven Reiss, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University
    • Know your own research. This sounds way easier than it is. Candidates have been working on their topic for YEARS and so often get bogged down in it. You have to be ready to present your topic to a bunch of folks who don't know it well (the person who knows it well just left or there wouldn't be a job opening). You have to be ready to explain it (without getting lost in the weeds), to make it accessible, and to make its importance clear in a number of settings. Explain it in a letter—not a seven page letter, you will lose the reader. Explain it in a job talk (maybe 15 minutes at the AHA, or say 40 minutes in a campus interview). Explain it in 3 minutes. Some of the folks who you meet who will vote on your candidacy you might only speak to over dinner, or in an elevator, or on a campus tour. So be ready with a short and sweet explanation of your topic. The top candidates are ready for all of these eventualities in explaining their research.—Andrew Wiest, Department of History, University of Southern Mississippi
    • DO: Be honest about the state of your work (especially your dissertation) and realistic dates of completion.—Mark Lawrence, Department of History, University of Texas

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    Blog CLXVIII (168): Job Hunting Tips: The Application

    What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).  Click here to see Part 1 entitled "Before Hand." Here is part 2 entitled: "The Application":
    • Follow the rules—Jason Parker, Department of History, Texas A&M University
    • Pay attention to application directions. If the committee asks for letters to be submitted electronically by writers, don't collect and send the letters via postal mail. Committees often are restricted by institutional software on what they can and cannot add to an application.—Craig Friend, Department of History, North Carolina State University
    • If you want to stand out or make a positive impression, get the application (all of it) in early; the committee will notice and have a bit more time to look at your letters and resume, before they are flooded with applications in the last two or three days before the deadline.—Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, Department of Strategy and Policy, U.S. Naval War College
    • Limit your cover letter to 1 page. Search committees put a premium on succinctness.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
    • Limit your resume to 2 pages. Same reason.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
    • Proofread. A cover letter filled with careless errors will not impress a committee.—Stanley J. Adamiak, Department of History and Geography, University of Central Oklahoma
    • Fashion your letter and resume to fit the specific job, but don't distort your strengths and credentials.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
    • DO tailor your job letter to the needs of the university. Don’t stress your research to a teaching school, or your teaching to a research school.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
    • Write a lucid your job letter that indicates how you are highly qualified for the job you seek; explicate the central contribution of your dissertation.—Steven Reiss, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University
    • I think that the thing that I see the most in reviewing applications this is problematic is cover letters from candidates that are not specifically tailored for the position—lacking a sense of the department's courses, current faculty, etc., sometimes not even focusing on the advertised position.  In a job market with so many candidates, this really shows an astonishing lack of time investment that really does make a difference to a search committee.—Andy Johns, Department of History, Brigham Young University
    • DO craft a letter tailored to each position. Although much of your cover letter will be fine for every position, make sure that at least a paragraph explains how well you fit the advertised position/complement other specializations in the department/long to live in that part of the country. Make the committee believe that you actually want that particular job.—Judy Ford, Department of History, Texas A&M University—Commerce
    • DO send sample syllabi in the teaching areas of the specific job, not just syllabi of surveys.—William Ashbaugh, Department of History, State University of New York—Oneonta
    • Check with letter writers a couple weeks before the application deadline to make sure that they wrote and sent letters.—Craig Friend, Department of History, North Carolina State University
    • After submitting your application materials, do follow up with the head of the search committee or HR to make sure that your package is complete.—Hillary Gleason, Laredo Community College
    • DON'T bug the committee about the status of your application. A lot of the schedule is beyond the control of the search committee members—really! If you haven't heard anything after submitting an application, it may be that the institution's HR department issues all the rejection letters, at their own pace, without reference to the wishes of the committee. The committee may not be allowed to inform you that your application was rejected. If you are interviewed by phone or in person and weeks go by without hearing anything, it may mean that there is nothing the committee can say. Maybe another candidate has gotten the offer, and is dragging out negotiations which, if they fall through, means that you will get the offer next. Don't worry about being a second or third choice—if you get an offer chances are that someone on the committee thinks that you were the top candidate. It is not uncommon for committees to like several candidates very much, nearly equally.—Judy Ford, Department of History, Texas A&M University—Commerce

    Saturday, January 24, 2015

    Blog CLXVII (167): Job Hunting Tips: Before Hand

    What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).  Here is part 1 entitled: "Before Hand":
    • Take the long view—Jason Parker, Department of History, Texas A&M University 
    • It is essential to choose a dissertation topic that will prepare one to be a scholar of a series of subjects an one of interest to students.—Steven Reiss, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University 
    • Do apply at a wide range of institutions. If you only apply at Harvard you will probably be unemployed.—Hillary Gleason, Laredo Community College 
    • Build your network—Jason Parker, Department of History, Texas A&M University 
    • My slim advice would be to encourage people not to overlook at Great Britain in their job search. The salaries are now competitive, and there are many interesting professional opportunities, archives, access to the Continent for those working in European history, research grants, and so on. Quite a number of Americans are now teaching in UK universities, and there are many exchanges with Continental universities.—Doug Porch, Naval Postgraduate School
    • DON'T apply for jobs for which you don't meet the minimum qualifications. If an ad specifies that the successful candidate must have a major focus on the Mongols and your dissertation is on Communist China, don't apply.—Judy Ford, Department of History, Texas A&M University—Commerce
    • Try to get a chapter or two from the dissertation published.—Steven Reiss, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University
    • REMEMBER you might get interviews before you finish your dissertation, but a degree in hand makes getting more than one interview much more likely, as one of the first cuts search committees make is PhD in hand versus ABD.—William Ashbaugh, Department of History, State University of New York—Oneonta 
    • Our senior colleague, Jim Olson, once told me, "When we look for a new hire, it really comes down to three questions: Will this candidate attract or repel history students? Will he/she be a productive scholar? And, most important, will this candidate be a good citizen on the floor?" That always seemed a good way to winnow out the first batch of applicants.—Ty Cashion, Department of History, Sam Houston State University