Monday, August 20, 2007

Old Market Advice


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, the only reason to go on the market in your first year is that you don't like your job very much. If I were one of your colleagues and found out (and you should assume they will), that is how I would interpret it.

Second, if you are talking about next year, that means you accepted a job that you haven't started and want to leave already?

Third, regarding 5/30/2007 10:08 AM:

"After Year 3 no one will touch you with a 10-foot pole before tenure anyway, no matter how great you think your record is."

This is just false. Did you read the job market blog this year? Over the years, almost half of my friends moved to new jobs after year two and before tenure. So don't rule that out.

6/03/2007 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. It is risky to go back out immediately. I suppose if there are spousal career issues or other personal issues it may not appear as back to go back out in the first year of the t-t.

6/04/2007 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can immediately head out if you are at a notoriously weird place (like UM or KY) and you can say "things were supposed to have been different..." or "it was worse than I was led to believe" ...basically, the bottom line is if you have some pubs before hiring season you can go out but if your cv looks like it did on your first run at the job market, you shouldn't expect lots of different results

6/06/2007 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard this year of *at least* two instances in which a job finalist gave a verbal acceptance and then, after some time had passed, called and said they were taking a different position.

This seems to be a somewhat different tact than playing one offer against another and "bidding up" one's position/package. That process occurs before one accepts *any* offer. Once one accepts an offer, that strategy ends with, presumably, the person getting the best possible deal. One institution is then told "yes" and the other gets a polite "no thanks".

I am curious as to peoples' thoughts on this situation (accepting one place's offer and then going to another). Is this becoming more frequent? What might someone gain from doing this, if anything?

6/07/2007 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What might someone gain from doing this, if anything?"

Imagine a scenario where a department makes a very early offer and threatens to revoke the offer if it isn't accepted within (say) two weeks -- but meanwhile, the candidate is still waiting to hear back from other departments that he or she would rather go to.

So the candidate gives a verbal acceptance to the first department as an insurance policy, crosses his/her fingers, and then some time later gets an offer from the other, preferred department. He/she then accepts the latter offer and calls back the first department and reneges on his/her prior verbal commitment.

It's not something I think I would do, but I can understand why some might do it. And frankly, a part of me thinks it serves the first department right for being so conniving, setting up an arbitrary deadline to try to force the risk-adverse candidate into accepting the position.

6/07/2007 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conniving normally requires lies or deceit, and it's hard to see how a department is conniving just because it sets a deadline, however short the fuse.

The reneging candidate on the other hand...

6/07/2007 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is conniving if the deadline is fake and only in place to put pressure on the candidate to accept, to take the candidate off the market before other better offers arise.

Otherwise, if the department has other reasons for the deadline, like they want to make an offer to their second choice candidate as soon as possible, then yes, it's just manipulative.

6/07/2007 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since offers don't monotonically decline in quality over time, it seems it is a rational job-seeker strategy to both (a) defer signing a written contract as long as possible and (b) ensure a chance at a potentially acceptable job doesn't disappear by verbally accepting in the interim, particularly if they will not receive a written offer, which is the only legally binding one, without the verbal acceptance. Then, if (c) a better offer comes along in the interim, the job seeker is still in a position to benefit.

I don't see this as deceptive. Given the information available to the job seeker at point (b), he/she intends to accept the position, and most likely will do so, unless in the window the better offer comes along, altering the information available to the job seeker and giving him/her other options.

Incidentally considering the way the modal department treats the modal job candidate, complaining about this behavior seems petty.

6/07/2007 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only ways I think one can defend on ethical grounds the practice of orally accepting a job and then declining it are: 1) if the candidate was substantially deceived or misled about the terms of the offer in oral negotiations and learns this only when she/he sees the written offer/contract; or 2) if the hiring department forces to candidate to orally accept the terms before sending him/her the paper offer (this actually happened to me once!).

Both these scenarios involve unethical behavior by the hiring department. It is tough to justify a candidate doing this under any other circumstances I can think of.

6/08/2007 2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"considering the way the modal department treats the modal job candidate, complaining about this [candidate] behavior seems petty."

Hear, hear.

But let's be honest. It is deceptive for a candidate to verbally commit to one department, and then renege before signing a contract if and when a better offer comes along. A candidate who does this should suffer a reputational cost, just like a department would if it made a verbal offer but then never sent a contract. When this sort of thing happens, it causes injury to the other party: departments who think their search has concluded suddenly find themselves without a hire; candidates who think they have a job suddenly find themselves without one.

The thing is, even though I find fault with the candidate who acts this way, I also find it difficult to feel too sorry for the aggrieved department. The department didn't have to slap the candidate with an arbitrary offer deadline or try to force the candidate into accepting early -- they chose to do that. Whether because the department doesn't want to lose the candidate or because they want to avoid a bidding war, it is the department who creates this situation and this problem. They could have allowed the candidate to entertain a full set of offers and then permitted the candidate to make the decision that is best for themselves. But they deliberately chose not to. So let them suffer the consequences.

6/08/2007 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:14 here. I agree there might legitimately be a reputational cost to the candidate, although realistically I can't see it going much beyond the institution in question except in the highest-profile cases. Nobody in four years is going to remember the random new PhD who passed up X State for Y State.

I personally treat my verbal acceptances as binding (and twice this has cost me more desirable jobs)... but have little faith that departments do the same. Maybe I'm just paranoid.

6/08/2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE 9:47: In the vast majority of cases depts interview > 1 person, and it is often the case that > 1 interviewee is an acceptable candidate even though only one can get the initial offer. Sometimes those "arbitrary" two week deadlines are put in place so that depts can move to 2nd or even 3rd acceptable candidates within a reasonable amount of time. It is sometimes too risky for depts to let candidates have all the time they want. Doing so can result in all of the preferred candidates being hired elsewhere and impose the cost of additional recruitment on the dept. Most depts are willing to be flexible to the extent it doesn't cost them dearly. When it imposes costs on departments they have to force candidates to decide. So even if it means a candidate has to accept what may not be his or her preferred job, agreeing to a position and backing out can impose real opportunity and financial costs on departments. Just as depts that treat candidates shabbily deserve bad reputations, candidates who behave poorly deserve bad reputations.

6/09/2007 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes those "arbitrary" two week deadlines are put in place so that depts can move to 2nd or even 3rd acceptable candidates within a reasonable amount of time.

I've been in a department that did this. It always seemed foolish -- why not just make an offer to your second-favorite to start with if you're so worried about what your first-favorite will do?

If you make me an early offer with a very short, very firm deadline, congratulations. You've just told me that you think I'll get better offers. If you think I can do better than your department, why should I think otherwise? You're telling me I should not take your offer.

I've seen this happen several times, and even verified after the fact that the first-favorite candidates used a logic similar to the one I specified.

6/09/2007 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People turn down offers all the time for all kinds of reasons -- personal preferences on where to live, close and not-so-calculations about which department they'd rather join (not all of which involve U.S. News ranking style assessments), family considerations, etc. If departments aren't interested in other candidates, then relatively little harm in giving their favored candidate as much time as they need to make a decision. If departments have second-choice candidates waiting in the wings, then it is reasonable not to let the first-choice candidate string out the decision forever and clog up the slot. At some point, everyone needs some finality and the opportunity to move on if necessary. Doesn't mean you expect the first choice will or should turn you down; just means that there's business that needs to be conducted.

All that being said, any deadlines should be reasonable. Two or three weeks is reasonable. A couple of days or one week, and I've heard of departments doing that, would not be reasonable.

6/09/2007 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to be in a dept. that once decided to give the offer to the 1st choice even with the certain knowledge that the person was going elsewhere. The candidate was a student of a good friend of the search committee chair. It was also certain that the 2nd choice would definitely take the job on the spot if offered, but might be interviewing at other places later.

This created the risk of:

1. Losing the 2nd choice who now had more time finding other jobs;

2. Alienating the 2nd choice if the person decided to take the job eventually, with the knowledge that he was not the dept.'s top pick.

Is this also common?

6/09/2007 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If departments have second-choice candidates waiting in the wings, then it is reasonable not to let the first-choice candidate string out the decision forever and clog up the slot.

Sure, it's reasonable to extend your normal deadline and say that that's it. I'm talking about giving an especially quick and rigid deadline to a candidate because the department was worried that (s)he wouldn't accept.

(S)he didn't. Because (s)he thought the deadline was absurd.

Alienating the 2nd choice if the person decided to take the job eventually, with the knowledge that he was not the dept.'s top pick.

No sane person in this field would be alienated by being a second choice. That said, there are plenty of not-sane people.

6/09/2007 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have done okay for myself job-wise by being the kind of person that takes it seriously and negatively to a department's 2nd choice.

6/09/2007 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the implication of 9:32 and 9:37 is that person's who aren't sane can do well in academics. This isn't news.

6/10/2007 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops. Take the apostrophe out of "person's" above.

6/10/2007 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's important when accepting a position is that the department that you will enter is enthusiastic about you--or at least feels that you're a strong hire. (I think that is what the earlier post meant in noting that no sane person would worry about being a second choice). If you're second to someone but your future colleagues feel this way about you, then what's the problem?

Of course, yes, being second may signal to you that the department isn't enthusiastic about you. But should it in and of itself? Find out who the offer was made to initially. Was it someone who you know/who's work you respect? Someone who's been getting a lot of offers?

A little off topic of whether one should honor verbal commitments but. . .

6/10/2007 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One should of course honor verbal commitments. It's a small field and people have LONG memories. It's not worth it to break a verbal commitment for a few thousand dollars a year or a few spots in the rankings. E.g. if you can renege on Oregon to go to Stanford it might be worth it, but not to go to Arizona.

6/10/2007 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is going to sound weird, but being the second (or third, as in my case) choice doesn't mean a school is more excited about the candidate(s) ahead of you.

Schools consider faculty diversity, gaps in teaching/research, and other things in such a way that they make offers to candidates they are less excited about. There are many dimensions to evaluate candidates on and the weighting of these dimensions quite obviously can alter preference orderings. Most preferred and most excited about need not be the same thing.

Also, when schools go back to the pool for additional interviews, it is not uncommon to interview a candidate preferred to all initial candidates. One is clearly not the first choice then, but nonetheless the most preferred candidate.

6/11/2007 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider it in terms of the golden rule. If a department chair made a verbal commitment to you and then reneged and hired someone else, would you see that as acceptable conduct?

I suspect the answer is no, and that you'd be screaming bloody murder on this blog.

6/12/2007 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do departments ever "target" ABDs or postdocs for their searches? I realize this happens quite a bit at the more advanced level, but I was wondering if it happens often at the junior level as well.

6/13/2007 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In exceptional cases they do. Quite sensible. Think it through. If we wait til ABD X is ready, then s/he will be poached by FANCY PRIVATE DEPT. If we go after him/her before s/he is ready, then we have a shot of landing him/her, and having him/her for at least a while, but probably longer (path dependence, relationships, etc).

6/14/2007 1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are up for tenure this year and plan to go on the market just in case, does it make sense to apply to assistant jobs? Or, should you stick to open and associate listings?

6/14/2007 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we wait til ABD X is ready, then s/he will be poached by FANCY PRIVATE DEPT. If we go after him/her before s/he is ready, then we have a shot of landing him/her, and having him/her for at least a while, but probably longer

I think this strategy is overrated in theory and also rare in practice. There is no real way to tell that someone is going to get the F.P.D. job before they are ready in the eyes of F.P.D. As a result this strategy either picks people up shortly after qualifying, or picks up 7+ year dissertators. And it also tends to pick up people who are worse then they appear to be at the time they are "poached" because of adverse selection.

Think that through: if 2nd tier place is worred that B.F.D. will take you when you're "ready," you're probably at a decent grad program. So if you agreed with 2nd tier place's assessment you could wait a few years and go from your fancy grad program to B.F.D. If you didn't agree with 2nd tier place's assessment you'd gladly jump on their offer right away.

6/14/2007 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who talked about second tier? Relevant difference here is, say, Berkeley (think about how they hired Arriola) vis-a-vis competitors like Stanford, Princeton or Yale.

6/15/2007 5:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Berkeley is one of 2-3 public schools that doesn't have to play that strategy because it stacks up against just about any F.P.D. They don't do bad going toe to toe; they gain little by accepting the extra risk that the person who appears so great 6 months after comps turns out not to be.

6/15/2007 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about going on the market in your first year in a TT job, should you apply to everything you qualify for, only places that specifically invite or seek your application, or some set of places in between? Are there any adverse possible consequences to going ont he market in year 1? Also, how often is too often to test the market before tenure?

6/16/2007 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk to people at Cal, UCSD or UCLA. They try to exploit every imaginable advantage to prevent a relatively common outcome - losting their faculty, actual or prospective, to Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia. I know of at least three cases in the last decade when UC schools went after someone a year early in order to snatch them.

6/16/2007 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Berkeley has recently lured tenured and untenured people from Harvard, Yale, and Michigan. I am sure they like everyone else wants every advantage they can get. But that does not sound like a place that needs to take extra risk over those places to get good people.

6/16/2007 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chumps, stop this gab-fest about how rich, poor, or influential Berkeley is or is not - or take it to a new thread. No one cares.

Let's get back to the legitimate issues and questions raised earlier.

What about going on the market in your first year in a TT job, should you apply to everything you qualify for, only places that specifically invite or seek your application, or some set of places in between? Are there any adverse possible consequences to going ont he market in year 1?

I would venture to say that it is best not to go out at all in year 1 unless you are specifically invited to apply for jobs at departments that are at least as good as where you are at. I pity the fool who blithly goes out on the market every year on the TT. Ever hear of the Asst Prof who cried wolf too many times?

6/16/2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Life Should be Full of Luxuries, yet, only a handful of people can afford the
finest products, the luxuries of the elite.
We are committed to bringing you the finest products, at prices incomparably
lower. Perfectly crafted luxury timepieces, all at affordable prices. Thousands
of different models to choose from!

The finest of products, at the lowest of prices:

6/16/2007 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I must tell you, your personna is so unfunny that it makes me concerned for how clueless you are. I saw it in the other thread as well and it's really just terrible. In real life people may tell you you're funny but they're just being polite if this is any indication of your sense of humor.

6/16/2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:44 -- pretty typical 3rd year grad student from a Rank 25-15 program who has passed qualifying exams. Knows it all, it does. And the sad thing is, the 1st and 2nd years believe it and gather around its desk in the TA room as it shares its pearls of wisdom.

Everyone with a lick of common sense, on the other hand, tunes it out, which is hard, since it shows up for all job talks, faculty presentations, and department-wide meetings, peppering speakers with undisguised self-promotion ("of course, I've always found...").

I had one of these creatures in grad school. After stalling on the dissertation, it went to law school. I assume it did just fine.

6/16/2007 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6/16, 7:31 AM here:

So, does anyone have any advice for me beyond what 10:44 said?

6/17/2007 4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:31: Ask you advisor. S/he will have the better answer than anyone on this blog. If you have marketable skills, an interesting focus, a contribution, chances are you'll be competitive. If you don't or need seasoning or need a publication or two, s/he'll tell you that too. Likewise, ask individuals you respect/trust at the coming APSA. Ask former grad students from your department for their experiences.

The only rule in this field is that there is no rule -- for every "I pity the fool that" there is an "oh but what about" counter-example.

Whatever else you do, definitely don't take advice from a guy (and it has to be a guy) who thinks it is clever (or worse, "ironic") to write in faux-Mr. T-ese. Besides simply stupid, it is so tragically self-referential VH1 "I love the 80s" pseudo-hip that it can only come from some lamebrain cast adrift in a cornfield school someplace. While it's almost certain that his frat house pals cackled with glee when he put on his genuine Mr. T lookalike wig and plastic bling, it's just as certain that this guy is too dim a bulb to figure out that they were laughing at him, not with him.

6/17/2007 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the record I thought 10:44s advice was pretty good in general.

However, you may not be "in general" so asking you adviser and others who know you and the market as 9:52 is ALWAYS a better plan. I assume that since you are posting here though that for some reason those avenues were unavailable to you. So absent that 10:44s advice is not all that bad. Unless there is a compelling reason going out on the market after one year is not a good idea.

Not sure what the visceral reaction to 10:44 is all about. I know this blog is serious business, but anyone trying to add a little levity to the proceeding is appreciated by me.

-NOT 10:44

6/18/2007 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Following on the comments of 6:31 AM, I have to say I wasn't offended by 10:44's advice either - it sounded sensible. I never watched the A-Team so maybe I am missing the references. (Not that they sound very funny.) But to say that you should be selective in going out on the job market, especially in your 1st year at a TT job, what's wrong with that?

6/18/2007 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is the journal Rationality and Society ranked in comparative politics and/or in general?

6/18/2007 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather low visibility journal, both in general and in Comparative.

6/18/2007 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

General rule of thumb: in your first year of a TT job, don't go on the market unless your dream job opens up and that dept is clearly interested in you. 10:44's advice was basically sound.

6/18/2007 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Non-comparativist answer: not sure I've ever heard of Rationality and Society.

6/18/2007 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 1st or 2nd year TT, I'm not sure I'd wait for clear signals of interest before applying, but I would limit myself to only applying to a select few positions. 10:44 seems generally sound on the merits (if not the humor).

6/18/2007 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

6/16, 7:31 AM here:

So, does anyone have any advice for me beyond what 10:44 said?

6/17/2007 4:23 AM

Agreed. It is one thing to go out every year. It is quite another to go out your first year, when you can credibly claim to be unhappy with your current placement and possible were undervalued your first year on the market (were you??).

But you take the risk of being labeled a malcontent and grass-is-always-greener type which can hurt.

6/18/2007 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To avoid seeming like a grass-is-greener type, only make moves that are a pretty clear step up by some sensible criteria.

6/18/2007 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are instances where going on the market, even in your first year of a TT, will not hurt. Moves to be closer to family (especially a spouse) are usually understood. If you have an opportunity to go to a much better place, I think people also tend to understand that (though I doubt there are too many cases where six months improves someone's standing in the discipline so much that it can substantially change their level of placement).

Most other things--don't like the department, the weather sucks, etc--you haven't been somewhere long enough to get a good read. Applications are usually due in October. For most applications, you'll have been there full time less than two months. I think that is pretty early to make a decision to leave, except for the two cases above. But, that's just my opinion.

6/18/2007 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about if you accepted a job and deferred for a year to take a postdoc or other opportunity? Thus, it would be nearly 2 years since you'd been on the market. would this be significantly different from the scenario where you are only 8-10 months removed from the market? Would new colleagues likely be more upset or less upset in the case I am outlining?

6/19/2007 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should at least show up and do one year with whoever hired you. No doubt.

6/19/2007 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean show up and work a year BEFORE even looking back at the market again, or do you mean it is acceptable to go on the market in your first year and thus leave after one year?

Your post was not clear.

6/19/2007 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The former.

6/19/2007 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Otherwise, unless you have truly extraodinary reasons, you will look as someone fickle who's happy to get a concession out of your employer (a year away), and then be rather nasty to them (run away after having that year off).

6/19/2007 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Going on the market AGAIN even though you are starting your TT job.

If there is a good reason to apply to a few jobs, selectively, then presumably your new department will understand. Even if you don't have a noticeably different record (though that could happen, if you've gotten one or two big hits), jobs open up in different places each year and if your dream job is posted the year you are starting your TT job, why not apply? That particular job is unlikely to be there in your second, third, or fourth year when it might be more 'acceptable' for you to go on the market.

6/20/2007 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm seeking some advice about the coming year. Does it hurt your future chances at elite schools if you apply before you're "ready"? My record is pretty good right now, but it'll be even better in 2-3 years given what's in the pipeline. So, does it hurt my chances in 2-3 years if I apply now for some elite jobs? I'm already in a good TT job.

6/20/2007 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically, it depends on how closely they look at you.

If you make the short list or get a flyout but don't get the offer at a school, in the future they're likely to stick with their same assessment.

However, if you don't make the short list, either because of the composition of the search committee, or for some other reason, then they're not likely to remember rejecting you, especially if they have a different committee in subsequent years.

6/20/2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of department politics can lead to 2 offers being made for the same job simultaneously? Is this equivalent to going in as a 2nd choice for both candidates if they accept? Can one ask for for information about why this came about when considering the offer or is that still considered inappropriate?

6/20/2007 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm assuming that means both were over the bar, and they managed to get an extra line from the Admin.

It's not always a zero sum game.

6/20/2007 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A department could not extend two job offers at the same time unless it was prepared to back it up with two jobs. Otherwise it would be subjecting itself to legal liability (an "offer" + an acceptance is a contract).

6/20/2007 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"...and they managed to get an extra line from the Admin."

6/20/2007 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Possible reasons for two offers:
1. Both candidates are exceptional, and dept. convinces dean to offer both.
2. One candidate exceptional but unlikely to accept. Dept doesn't want to hire zero and convinces dean to offer both candidates, counting on only 1 acceptance.
3. University aff. action policy allows dept to get an extra slot when making offer to female/minority candidate.
4. Dept can't agree on who to hire, and both factions convince dean to make offers to their top choice.
5. Dept relabels a line from another search to create a slot for one of the two candidates.

In sum, there's many possible reasons. If I were the recipient of one of the offers I wouldn't care about the backstory. All I'd want to know is whether this additional potential colleague makes the dept. more appealing.

6/20/2007 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If I were the recipient of one of the offers I wouldn't care about the backstory."

This advice applies even if there is only one job offer. Candidates for jobs should assess how attractive the situation is and do their utmost not to overinterpret why they (or anyone else) may have been offered a job. Often the "reason" is more akin to a Roshomon story than to a rational process of weighing department needs, sentiments, and candidate attributes.

I recall on my first job arriving in a rather contentious environment, of which I was totally unaware before I got there. I did my best not to prejudge the situation or individuals but instead to rely on my own observations and experiences after I arrived. Then one day, a particular senior faculty member came into my office, shut the door, and proceeded to offer me some confidential advice. "You may not know this, but some of the people whom you consider your close friends now actually opposed our hiring you last year -- they wanted the other candidate."

I responded that I wasn't interested in history, people have lots of reasons for making the decisions they make, and I was glad the department chose me. End of conversation. (And I got along fine with this faculty member afterwards, even though I had in effect kicked him out of my office.)

6/20/2007 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:26 gives great advice.

6/20/2007 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the third person offered the job in my current position. Folks seem happy enough with me, and I sometimes joke about being the third choice, but it doesn't bother me.

We "fail" enough in this profession (rejected manuscripts, jobs we don't get, grants we don't win) that it seems silly to focus too much energy on focusing on the negative aspects of good things that actually do happen to us.

6/20/2007 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is you Lifehacker moment of the day

An eJobs tip:

On the eJobs page there is a link for "View all new jobs from the last 2 days"

Well if you miss a day of checking and want to see all new jobs from the past X days here is how.

1) Click on the "View all new jobs from the last 2 days" link.

2) In the location field (you know where all the stuff is displayed) you will see a LONG string of stuff. In there you will see Month=6&Day=19 (or what ever the date was two days ago).

3) All you have do do is change the Month and Day to what ever you want and hit ENTER. Now you will see ALL the post since that day.

4) If you go back past January then you will also need to change the adjacent Year=2007.

6/21/2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks much!

6/21/2007 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding going out on the market shortly after taking a tenure track position:

One thing that everyone has omitted--being on the market, selectively or not, is time-consuming, energy-sapping, attention-diverting and stressful. It makes it hard to build a good record while sending out and then monitoring the applications. I wasted far too much time early in my career trying to get out of an unpleasant locale/job.

I should have waited at least until year 3 or 4 as my record got better and as I had more things in progress.

You cannot underestimate how much being the market takes away from everything else. Even after you are tenured and in a good place, it stresses and diverts.

Good luck

6/22/2007 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the person who posted the 2 offers question. Thanks for the feedback everyone. Its just a little intimidating trying to figure out what kind of reception I might be walking into. Nice to know that there could be good reasons for them as opposed to just inter-faction battles.

6/22/2007 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:06 Thanks. Very helpful advice.

6/22/2007 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You cannot underestimate how much being the market takes away from everything else."

Really? Guess it is no big deal then.

6/25/2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't put too much water in a nuclear reactor.

6/26/2007 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok, how about, you should not underestimate. Geez ;)

6/26/2007 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't put too much water in a nuclear reactor.

Homer: It's pronounced 'nucular'.

6/26/2007 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That reference predates Homer by 15 years. Kids.

6/26/2007 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lighten up!

Besides, you can never use too many Homer quotes.

6/27/2007 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need some market advice: I'm a grad. student at an R1. My advisor quite unexpectedly announced towards the end of the spring that he/she was taking leave for the next two years. A sympathetic faculty member has told me that this is almost surely a precursor to my advisor leaving. I'm at the point where I need to be finalizing my dissertation committee (in the middle of quals now), and any other logical possible advisors already have students in my year.
So here's the question: should I stick with this person who will be hundreds of miles away and on campus once or twice a year, or switch over to somebody who will consider me a second or third priority behind other people? Moving to another university isn't really an option for personal reasons.
Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

6/28/2007 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tough call. I think it's very hard to put together a dissertation with a remote advisor... particularly one who may not come back before you defend (and if he/she leaves, many places will make you find a new diss. chair even if it's the day before your scheduled defense).

If you can find another advisor who fits your field well enough, I'd go that route. I'd imagine in practice you'll get more attention as New Advisor's #2 than as Advisor in Katmandu's #1.

6/28/2007 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with 9:03. You need face-time, and you'll presumably get more even as a #3 in local person's queue than as #1 priority for someone who is not around.

My $0.02.

6/28/2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When this happened to me, I asked another faculty member who would be in residence to co-chair. It worked fine, but the two people got on well and the department and university didn't care, or notice.

6/28/2007 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You also make the wrong assumption that just because you sign up third you will always rank as third priority. If you are doing nice work (or the best of the 3) you likely won't get ignored.

6/28/2007 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the co-chair advice, with a possible caveat.

Is your advisor going to another university, or to another career (consulting, govt work, retirement)? If your presumed chair is leaving academia, then that is problematic for a number of reasons. If it is simply another academic job, then I think you are fine. Between phones, email, and travel (remmeber--you can travel to see you advisor) it is possible to get sufficient guidance.

At my PhD school, it was common for multiple students in the same cohort to have the same advisor, so if you want to switch, I don't see a problem. But it doesn't sound like you want to make a switch.

6/28/2007 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just went through a similar situation at my R1 institution. I ultimately went with an on campus faculty member serving as the official chair while the faculty member that left for another institution was on the committee and served as the de facto chair. Overall, I would say the situation worked out well for me. The problems I encountered with the manuscript were worked out quickly via email, so the distance never was a huge deal. I didn't think the official chair was any less involved in my project than she was in other projects she was chairing. Plus, the two faculty members involved got along really well (co-authored papers, etc.), so there wasn't the feeling that anyone's toes were being stepped on. The main point is that if you want the person that is leaving to stay involved on your project, it can easily be done.

6/28/2007 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One suggestion that hasn't come up yet in this discussion is whether it would be possible to go with your adviser. While this is not always possible, especially if your adviser is going to a Department that serves your interests well and can provide you with any support that you would need, relocating with your adviser can be a very helpful, productive thing to do.

6/28/2007 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it depends a lot on your working style. If you like to have an advisor with a "hands on" approach, I'd say get someone on campus. But if you are fine working on your own and just like to have someone to report progress to, I would stay with the person who knows you longer.
Question to more experienced bloggers: Doesn't the market value letters from advisors who have a longer mentoring relationship with the student?
Provided the long relationship does not stem from a dissertation that is taking excessively long to write.

6/28/2007 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have supervised three students at a distance: one because I left and two because they moved away to take teaching positions before finishing.

I don't think it hurts to have an adviser whose letterhead is different from yours. It really depends on how much of a self-starter you and how committed the adviser is.

For me, agreeing to supervise a Phd student is essentially a binding magical contract--a lifetime agreement whereby I write letters and look out for the student and answer questions mundane and not so much for the foreseeable future. So, if I leave my current job, I will not leave my students hanging. Some may want to move to other folks, but most (if not all) would probably stick with me given their interests and mine.

6/28/2007 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another perspective. I was away from my advisor and committee for the entirety of writing my dissertation and we did everything by phone and e-mail... it was never a problem. I received timely feedback and help when necessary.

So, I guess it really depends on the relationship you have with this advisor. One thing that hasn't been suggested is to you ask your advisor what to do - that's what s/he is there for - to advise you in career decisions. If they give you a bad answer, maybe time to think about switching... if they say, stick with me, etc., etc... I'm sure something can be worked out.

6/29/2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rule of thumb on the advisor question: if you're already dissertating when your advisor leaves (or goes on leave), no need to change if you think you have a decent enough relationship to work long distance. At most, think about adding a co-chair. If, however, you haven't yet defended your prospectus, get a new advisor. You can in most cases keep your old advisor on your committee as long as s/he hasn't resigned by the time you defend your prospectus, and in some instances you can have that person on even if you defend after a resignation.

7/02/2007 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question for faculty who've been around for a while: Standard practice, it seems, is for job market candidates without pubs to send two dissertation chapters along with the rest of the application package. I've heard applicants should send one empirical chapter and one theory chapter (e.g. the intro). It this really what's expected, or would sending two polished empirical chapters do the trick?

7/06/2007 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One theory and one empirical seems to make the most sense to me, and I have been on more search committees than I care to remember...

But, quality will out generally, so the key really is the idea and its proposed execution. As long as you get that across, the format of the package does not really matter.

7/06/2007 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot depends on how self-standing or self-explanatory the empirical chapters are.

I think that if you send any material from the dissertation, then it can be helpful to include some kind of overview piece, whether that's your first chapter or some other summary. Something that explains the theoretical framework and research design. Then you can send at least one empirical chapter -- i.e., something with some results -- even if it doesn't say much by itself about the theory or design.

However, if your empirical chapters are virtually self-standing papers (with hypotheses, design, results), you can send them alone (perhaps also with 1- or 2-page abstract and an outline/table of contents).

7/06/2007 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I agree that, on average, quality will win out, I think many job candidates will be shocked at what goes on in searches once they are on the other side. The job search process is imperfect to say the least. Having been on the other side for a couple of years now, I am shocked at how little of the writing samples is actually read.

Don't assume that your application will get a close reading. Make it as painfully easy on the reviewers as possible. Send a dissertation overview, a theory chapter (as few numbers/greek letters as possible), and a heavily "quant" (broadly defined) chapter. I am convinced that one of the big advantages of having publications is that it serves as heuristic that takes the place of actually reading the files--because search committees are not going to read everything sent. Although to be fair, it is impossible to give 60+ applications all a good reading.

From what I have witnessed, each member of a committee uses the following things (in varying combinations) to narrow the pool to 5-10 candidates: 1) School of Phd, 2) letters, 3) cover letter, and 4) CV (ie publications). Notice writing sample is not in that list. Yes, it matters if you make the "short list", but the other stuff has to be there to actually get your stuff read, no matter how brilliant.

By the time you are on the market, you really only have control over the cover letter, for good or for bad.

7/06/2007 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"From what I have witnessed, each member of a committee uses the following things (in varying combinations) to narrow the pool to 5-10 candidates: 1) School of Phd, 2) letters, 3) cover letter, and 4) CV (ie publications). Notice writing sample is not in that list. Yes, it matters if you make the "short list", but the other stuff has to be there to actually get your stuff read, no matter how brilliant."

I basically agree with this (based on many many years serving on search committees). But I would add, 5) your dissertation advisor/committee. That would actually rank ahead of cover letter and cv. In fact cover letter is the least important of these items, IMO. (I read them mainly to find out the progress and EDC of the dissertation, or for any explanation of significant gaps in the CV or the timeline to completion of PhD. I generally read the CV first, and look for the school, PhD advisor, status of thesis, and publications before anything else.)

The reason for adding PhD advisor to the initial screening is that sometimes a candidate may come from a "name" department but not actually be working with the best or most appropriate faculty member. In such a case, somebody on the search committee is likely to ask, "Why isn't s/he working with so-and-so?" (Not to mention, "Why isn't there a letter from so-and-so?)

I agree that while you are asked to submit a writing sample, it is seldom read -- and never by everyone on the search committee. But it does frequently come into play if you are among the contenders for the final list of invitees. At that point, unless there is already strong consensus on the committee, it's often the case that somebody is going to take a look at or ask another faculty member to take a look at your written materials. This would include copies of your pubs, not just unpublished materials. But they're unlikely to spend a lot of time on them.

So you should take care in submitting those materials to make them accessible and telling.

7/07/2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should have added to the previous post that we tend to look especially at who the thesis advisor is for applicants who come from the less highly reputed departments. At such schools there is often just one and only one most appropriate thesis supervisor for a given topic, and if for some reason that person isn't the director or a member of the thesis committee then we want to know why.

7/07/2007 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is 11:18 again. 11:44 makes some excellent points that I wish I had made!

7/08/2007 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A question on publishing books: aside from Cambridge and Princeton, what are considered the better publishers in IR/Comparative? Are academic presses always better than commercial ones?

7/08/2007 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"as few numbers/greek letters as possible"

A question on this. My dissertation contains light formal theorizing (i.e., what was cutting edge circa 1987). I plan to focus my job search on liberal arts colleges, and imagine most aren't super-keen on modeling. Is there any way to "soft pedal" the math? Would having illustrative figures (say, a unidimensional issue space with 3 voters) be too much? Should the presentation be entirely verbal?

7/08/2007 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michigan, Johns Hopkins, Stanford and Cornell (not necessarily in that order) are close behind the two you mentioned. But it really depends on the character of your work. I've been told by senior colleagues to stay away from commercial presses.

7/08/2007 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about U of Chicago Press?

7/08/2007 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 12:40--

I don't think you should assume that liberal arts schools will automatically be hostile to modeling. The challenge is making it seem relevant to politics and being able to explain it. I think how "techy" your talk is depends on the particulars of the job. Are you going to be teaching the departmet stats class? Would you like to teach a social choice theory class? Or, are you seeking to teach classes on Congress or the Presidency--classes that could easily be very good and helpful even without ever mentioning the words Baron, Ferejohn, or gridlock interval.

Liberal arts schools, on average, care more about teaching than big research departments. After a visit, the department needs to have a very clear idea of who you are and what classes you will be teaching. Liberal arts schools have small departments. Being "technical" might hurt if you are an ass about knowing truth and how others are wrong and stupid because of the methods they employ. But, even then I doubt that is harmful for the belief itself. It hurts because you could come across as a difficult person, and small departments really want to get along because otherwise life is miserable.

The main advice--be true to yourself. Give the talk that makes you feel most comfortable. It will eventually work out.

7/08/2007 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A quick suggestion to the ABDs... notice how carefully some posts on here get read! For the most part, that's how closely the writing samples will be read (if at all), unless you're short-short-listed.

If you really want a job in a particular department, do your best to cite a few people from the faculty. If parts of the diss. do get read, it's an easy way to get some brownie points.

7/08/2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About presses - this question seems to be asked every few months. The general consensus seems to work out to some version of: Academic presses are more desirable than commercial presses, except perhaps at the very margins (Something like Routledge might be preferable to [obscure, low-profile academic press].

Comparative/ir types might find the annual TRIP survey (by William & Mary) interesting on this issue (and others).

7/08/2007 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would add Columbia UP to the list by 1:55, but the general idea is about right.

And commercial presses, even the best, are below the top two or three rungs of academic ones--a stigma exists, like it or not.

7/08/2007 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good liberal arts colleges will not be put off by 2x2 games or a two dimensional policy space with a few actors that you are using for illustrative purposes. Just show that you can translate your math-speak into english. Might also show that you learned something by doing that model that you would not have learned through low tech methods. Convince them that you are not just showing off, but actually learned somethign by modeling the process you are explaining in the disseration.

Another way to think about this: If your potential new colleagues were very put off by a simple model that you did a good job of motivating and explained clearly....would you really want them as colleagues? Look at median age of the small faculty. The higher it is, the less you should employ formal models.

Presses: Cambridge, Princeton, Cornell, Oxford, Columbia, Michigan, MIT, California, Ohio State, Penn State, Yale, Hopkins. Then Routledge, Reinner, and other. Of course, these do vary by specialty. Best in Latin America may not be best in Europe.

7/08/2007 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an articles person, I think Chicago should definitely be included in the list of reputable university presses.

7/08/2007 10:09 PM  
Blogger Paul Gronke said...

3:39 gives good advice. It's a lot easier (and dangerous) to dumb down too far at LACs than it is to talk over people's heads.

BUT places do differ. When I was on the market, I encountered a few LACs with undisguised hostility toward quantitative and analytical approaches.

7/08/2007 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, there are a few R1s out there too with undisguised hostility toward quantitative and analytical approaches!

7/09/2007 6:20 AM  
Blogger Paul Gronke said...

Ha ha. They didn't interview me!

Seriously, I think the market situation in LACs is much better for quantitative scholars than it was when I was on the market in 2000, and much better in 2000 than it was a decade earlier.

This is a product of a number of scholars building successful careers at LACs and also simply generational shifts. You have to remember that LAC departments tend to be very smal and turnover is very low.

The postings above, about showing how you can take the technical material and make it work for a broad audience, were spot on.

The same advice works for many research institutions. I think the challenge at many LACs is the many audiences that you have to appeal to. It simply isn't enough to convince the Americanists on the search committee.

7/09/2007 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are many diss advisers such asses?

7/09/2007 11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: 11:28 PM

Because they think they are the center of the universe, that you're ideas are crap, that you are a waste of their time, that it is 'charity' for them to work with you... because they think everything good about your dissertation was their idea but everything weak was your fault, they are unorganized, they never show up for meetings, they are impossible to get a hold of, they think everyone else on the dissertation committee is an idiot. That was my experience, anyway.

7/10/2007 3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I have a question about jobs which advertise for "race and politics". Do non-minority applicants stand a chance at such jobs? How often are these searches exclusively shopping for minorities? I'm not trying to start a big affirmative action debate because I support that. But since I do research on race and politics, I just want to know if I should even bother trying to crack that market, or if I should try to focus on other searches. I am applying selectively because I already have a job, so each application has a cost to me.

7/10/2007 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A large number of those positions are tied to minority scholars. In my department we were not even able to bring a non-minority scholar in the two Race & Politics searches we have had in the past 7 years or so.

I am sure at least some departments will operate differently though. My hunch is they'll constitute a (no pun intended) minority though.

Good luck.

7/10/2007 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A large number of those positions are tied to minority scholars. In my department we were not even able to bring a non-minority scholar in the two Race & Politics searches we have had in the past 7 years or so.


So...your institution does not qualify as an "Equal Employment Opportunity" one, huh?

7/10/2007 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A large number of those positions are tied to minority scholars. In my department we were not even able to bring a non-minority scholar in the two Race & Politics searches we have had in the past 7 years or so.

Whoa. I'm a bit speechless about that. ... 7:50am -- that hasn't been my experience at the two institutions I know, so I would say apply for all race & politics jobs just in case.

7/10/2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really? The two institutions I have been affiliated with have been the same - as in the same as 7/10/2007 7:58 AM.

Happy to hear that's not the case everywhere.

7/10/2007 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That is illegal. Really, you can't make the race of an applicant a necessary condition for interviewing/hiring. I'm not saying institutions don't do this, but I am saying if you do it, you can get sued.

My department is waiting to see how our university will deal with this. We know the administration wants to increase diversity (defined as hiring more African American faculty) and we would certainly like to add a position if university money becomes available. But we can't figure out how departments are going to do this legally.

Do others have experience with such situations from POV of hiring department? As long as the person being hired is a good political scientist and we can figure out how to do this legally, I like the idea of adding a position.

7/11/2007 5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are special "diversity" hires at many places, including the UC schools and at Ivy League institutions. My understanding is that these candidates are interviewed for existing open lines (along with non-minorities), but if they are then selected as the best candidate (or if the dept wants to hire them), the university will front the money and not necessarily take away the dept's line. As you can see, this is very different than earmarking particular positions (esp those in Race & Politics) as minority positions. If I were a minority scholar who studied race and politics, I would be opposed to the kind of earmarked job described above. It promotes ghetto-ization of both minority scholars and of the study of race and ethnicity.

7/11/2007 6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At my institution, things work like 6:13 a.m. says, but diversity lines are also available to departments with no open lines. Yes, this is illegal.

7/11/2007 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes a good cover letter?

When I was on the market, I tried to emphasize what the contribution of my research was--why it was important substantively and why it would effectively answer the questions it posed and add to the literature.

In the last couple years, though, I've served on a few search committees and read what I thought were some atrocious letters. One candidate's letter devoted the first page to listing all of the methods courses s/he had taken. I recall thinking that it was the worst cover letter I had ever read, burying the lead, not even mentioning his/her research until later. But this person did reasonably well on the market, at least in my opinion (no doubt having other attributes that lead one to do well). Perhaps the person did well in spite of a bad cover letter. But maybe it was a great one and I'm just dense. So this leads me to reconsider what a good cover letter should be comprised of. What do you readers of this blog think?

7/13/2007 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On cover letters:

One important thing I look for is some indication as to why this person fits the job description and what they would add to the department. Many cover letters are simply "form letters", with little individualization. This is understandable, since it is impossible to write a new letter for each department. However, at least a line or two as to why this person is a good match helps a lot.

Also, it is a good idea to highlight things that may not be immediately clear from reading the CV. I mainly look at PhD institution and publications when reading the CV. However, maybe there are awards, fellowships, extra training, etc, that can be emphasized.

7/14/2007 6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do departments draw the line between IR and Comparative? I keep hearing that these distinctions do not matter as much anymore, but it seems like they still do when hiring. My research can be seen as IR or Comp, but I'm concerned that many CP people will see my work as "too IR" and vice-versa. How much do hiring committees discuss these differences?

7/14/2007 6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The distinction between CP and IR is getting blurred. I think both fields realize that a person can do both, especially if your interests center on civil war determinants or issues concerning domestic politics and international trade (the intersection between IPE/CPE).

7/14/2007 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:39: Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by looking for an indication of a "good match"? Do you mean course coverage or research interests complementing (not overlapping?) current faculty, ability to fit the job description, or something else?

Then again, I was offered one job where I left the wrong institution's name in the cover letter (admittedly buried on the second page), so I'm not sure cover letters matter that much!

7/14/2007 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to think cover letters were irrelevant, but then I sat on some search committees. Applicants can overcome a "bad" cover letter, but they can move a file to the "slush pile." As others have noted, key issues:

(1) Flag how you fit the listing, particularly if certain areas, methods, or topics are noted in the ad;
(2) Pay attention to the broader nature of the job. Does it have a policy component? Is it at a Liberal Arts college? Failure to adapt to these different job profiles can be deadly;
(3) Present yourself as a package, e.g., make it impossible for people to dismiss publications that might be outside of your standard research as "one offs" that don't indicate your "real" potential;
(4) Self-promote, self-promote, self-promote. Why should we care about your work? Why are you awesome? That sort of thing;
(5) Don't belabor the point, but do indicate some interest in the job;
(6) Have peers, advisers, and other trusted and knowledgeable types read your letter. This can particularly help with (4). I've seen a lot of letters that hurt a candidate because the writer is obviously thinking about all his/her negatives. I had this problem the first time I went on the market. Some people have a lot of trouble self-promoting.

7/15/2007 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My (desirable) department is very open to those crossing the CP/IR "divide", but if a hire were in one and a person seemed to shade too much toward the other (as indicated, e.g., by committee members, interests/focus, publication venues, etc.), it would probably be something we'd discuss.

Look, you are what you are. Put your best foot forward -- if it's a CP job, sound as CP-ish as you can, and vice versa for IR. Spin it more in one or the other direction depending upon the job in question, which you ought to do if you are truly overlapping. Then let the cards fall where they may.

My $0.02.

7/16/2007 9:01 AM  
Blogger Paul Gronke said...

If you are applying to an LAC, you improve your chances by:

- Writing a teaching statement (but avoid tired metaphors) or explain your teaching philosophy in your cover statement

- Remembering that you are applying to a LAC. Discussing how you'd handle graduate education is generally a no-no.

- Discussing the kinds of courses you would teach and how they'd fit into or extend the existing curriculum

- Showing some understanding of the type of institution you are applying to.

I know it is a pain to write a specially tailored letter for LACs, but doing so will increase your chances.

7/16/2007 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're an ABD or recent Ph.D. on the market, it's relatively easy to do a shotgun approach. Have 2-3, or even 4 canned letters that are relatively easy to personalize. At bare minimum, you should definitely have a "teaching school" letter and a "research school" letter. The research school letter could also be split according to whether the job was for methods/American/IR/comp or whatever (obviously, though, you can't stretch your vita to ad absurdum). Personalize each of the letters early (first paragrah) by mentioning a specific part of the advertisement and how you meet it. Somewhere buried in the text should be a mention of the school's name or something else that's personalized. Sign off with something personalized as well. Let's say your sending out 15 applications a week or so, that's a relatively easy cut and paste 3 times for 15 letters.

Another thing that will make the process easy is to have a separate teaching statement and several different research statements that you can include along with the cover and according to job ad. The poster above who asked about IR or comp could have separate statements to throw in according to the ad and would only have to slightly alter the cover letter.

7/16/2007 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the suggestions. And thanks for the discussion of your classes that you provided a while back. Keep posting.

7/16/2007 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a consensus on when ABDs should contact employers who are attending APSA?

7/18/2007 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most of the apsa setups happened in early August last year?

7/19/2007 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been contacted by one department already (in US), but I'd imagine the first week in August would be a good time to contact departments unless specified otherwise in their ad.

7/19/2007 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, all of you on the market now, what is the best advice you would give to someone just starting their PhD?

What should I do now and over the next few years to best prepare myself for the job market?

7/19/2007 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quit and go to law school.

7/19/2007 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delete this blog from your bookmarks.

7/19/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does a good British degree (i.e. Oxford, Cambridge, LSE) fare on the US market? (particular focus on West European politics)

I've been told that in the States, British degrees are considered "too narrowly focused" because of the lack of field exams, and also have problems because of a lack of teaching experience.

Is this true or would a British degree have a chance over there?

7/19/2007 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re 7:10,

Learn the literature, the right tools of analysis, pass your quals, choose a dissertation topic early, then finish your PhD...but most of all, learn how to do good research and become a good political scientist.

Don't worry about the job market until later...and yes, ignore this "blog"...

7/19/2007 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does a good British degree (i.e. Oxford, Cambridge, LSE) fare on the US market?

Not very well at all. They do a different breed of poli sci that most US institutions, fairly or unfairly, don't take seriously.

7/20/2007 2:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does a good British degree (i.e. Oxford, Cambridge, LSE) fare on the US market?

I agree partly with 2:47, but I think even if you do "American-style" political science, you'll still have a hard time on the market. Because the degree course is so short, most British PhDs simply will not have the grounding in literature and theory (much less across sub-fields) that American depts will expect. Of course, a truly exceptional British PhD can succeed, and there are a number of British PhDs who make the move to the States at the senior level. So I would say very very minimal chance at the junior level, unless you've had a prestigious post-doc in the States.

7/20/2007 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does a good British degree (i.e. Oxford, Cambridge, LSE) fare on the US market?


Not well *at all*. Maybe a few exceptions among normative theorists, but even in PT you will struggle.

If you want to end up in the U.S. you have a better shot taking a job in the U.K. first, publishing in the right journals, and then giving it a shot.

7/20/2007 4:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One for people who have sat on lots of search committees:

Suppose you are a senior-junior (4 yrs from Ph.D.) and are interested in applying to a single job at a top department. Suppose also that you have a strong publication record. Suppose also that you like your current institution and want to be as discrete as possible. What are the pros and cons of acting like an already tenured scholar, and not submitting letters along with your application unless the committee shows some interest? Is this even an option? Thanks.

7/20/2007 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd express interest informally. Do you know someone in the department?

7/20/2007 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I was in a similar position, I sent in a full application. I would contact informally, but not sending letters is a bit uppity, IMHO

7/20/2007 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might help to know why you feel the necessity to be discrete. You may be overestimating the negative reactions that an attempt to move up the ladder would create among your colleagues.

7/20/2007 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate it when I have to be discrete. Life is much better when I'm continuous.

7/20/2007 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can discreetly get away with being less than discrete?

7/20/2007 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for your reactions. I appreciate it- 7:46 AM

7/21/2007 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear all,

I am just seeking some advice regarding journal submission. A decent journal has had my manuscript for almost 5 months and the editor finally received the reports from the reviewers a little over 3 weeks ago. But I still haven't heard from the editor, after several email reminders since 3 weeks ago. What could this imply? What should I do? Thanks so much for any tips from your own rich experiences!

7/24/2007 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

_several_ emails? Bad move

7/24/2007 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's the AJPS, the same thing happened to me. After 3 months, I asked the editorial assistant when a deicision would be made. She said soon because the reviews were in. I still waited another month for a form letter from the Editor.

Ps Pestering is a bad move...

7/24/2007 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A month is really bad. Some journals, like the JTP, take only a day or two. But never, repeat never, send many reminder emails like that.

7/24/2007 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

several email reminders since 3 weeks ago

This paper will be rejected. Never bug the editors.

7/25/2007 5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are editors somehow beyond purview? Are they so insecure that they lash out when asked "what is the status of my manuscript"? If so, we need some new edtors.

7/25/2007 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience, it is ok to send a very friendly and polite letter asking the status of the manuscript after 6 months. If the reviews are in, then it is customary to wait two weeks to send an inquiry about the timeline re: a decision.

In some cases, the reviews are contradictory, thus requiring the editor to read the reviews and the paper before making a decision. Also, if it's summer, then the decision will probably take longer because of vacation, travel, research, etc.

In short, be patient. It's always better to have the manuscript germinating on the editor's desk than rotting away in your desk drawer. Spend the waiting time on working on getting other manuscripts out and on your dissertation.

7/25/2007 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6 months? What is this, Econ? Come on -- a paper should never be sitting at a Polisci journal for 6 months!

The key always is: be respectful. I think it's fine to contact a journal at around the 3 month mark to see what the status is. Especially at journals where the administration is poor; such as, for example, at places where interns don't actually get initial confirmation that their chosen referees will actually review the paper!

7/25/2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question from rookie job applicant:
If applying for TT jobs in CP/IR should you list practical experience such as election monitoring for the or interning at the State Department on your cv? If yes, where?

7/25/2007 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding contacting the editor--I think it is important to distinguish between the editor and the managing editor. I worked for a couple years as an editorial assistant for a comparative journal, and the managing editor was a paid staff member whose job it was to correspond with authors and handle the business of the journal, whereas the editor was the professor who made the final publishing decisions. The "" email went to the managing editor; to contact the editor you had to email his/her personal email. Based on my experience submitting to and publishing in other journals, this is a common arrangement.

Obviously you do not want to annoy anyone when dealing with a journal, and I think it is particularly good practice not to annoy the editor. But I think there is no excuse for a managing editor not responding to polite and reasonable inquiries from authors. It is simply a matter of professionally running a journal for a staff member to maintain communication with those who have submitted manuscripts.

Based on my own experience, I do not think routine inquiries with the managing editor should endanger the changes of one's manuscript being published. Moreover, I think that authors' self-censorship with respect to these sorts of issues simply encourages the perpetuation of unprofessional journal management which is already far too common.

7/25/2007 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of journal submission, I guess your experience might be much better than those at Studies in Comparative International Development (SCID, now based at Brown). I heard that it takes more than 3 months even for the editorial board to internally decide whether a ms. should be sent out for external review in the first place. At least, your reviewers' reports are already in.

Any seasoned hands here with recent experiences at SCID (yes, post-Berkeley) to share? What was the turnaround time for you, for instance?

7/25/2007 4:50 PM  
Blogger Paul Gronke said...

To Rookie,
I cannot speak for research institutions. For my own LAC, I can say that election monitoring experience has been a plus for CP applications. Interning is less clear (was this as ugrad? grad?).

But we value "real world" engagement if only because it shows some potential ability to link the academic world to practical applications, something of great interest to our students in CP and IR.

7/25/2007 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul - thanks. It's very good to know that the election monitoring can be helpful. The internship is "between ugrad and grad."

7/26/2007 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top-40 R1 perspective here: election monitoring experience would interest some in my department, and alienate none. I.e., it'd be a net plus. Internships would probably not get noticed but wouldn't hurt.

Don't game the CV too much, and don't work too hard to find extras to "fill" it. If you are ABD, we wouldn't expect you to have a 10-page vita. Just list what's relevant.

7/27/2007 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To apply or not to apply?

I received a two-year post-doc, and I feel like staying off the job market this year and focusing on publishing some papers/working upon the new project. Is it a good strategy or should I send out applications even if I don't have a lot of pubs? Ideally, I would like to find a job at a research-oriented university, but I don't have a PhD from a top twenty school.
I would appreciate your advice.

7/27/2007 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given how tight the academic job market is, the more chances you have at landing the ideal the job, the better. So I'd say apply this year, but be picky. This is the year to try to land the ideal job.

7/27/2007 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would disagree. Stay off the job market this year, unless you have some strong publications. You risk being faced with a job offer from a less desirable school than you could get after a year of building your resume, and, in my experience, people have difficulty turning down a job, even one that leaves them underplaced. Secondly, the job market is time-consuming, and you have little chance as a fresh PhD of getting interviews at R1s if you don't have a degree from a top R20 and don't have top publications. I would say concentrate on publishing, concentrate on cultivating some networks, and concentrate on putting some time between you and your PhD, especially if it's a prestigious post-doc. You want to take full advantage of the two years you have.

7/28/2007 6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't risk getting an offer from a less desirable school if you apply only for ideal jobs. Sure you may not get any of those jobs this year, but you certainly won't get them if you don't even apply.

7/28/2007 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me second (or third) the point about the job market being time consuming. Your publication record is what will get you noticed. To have stuff accepted or R&R at this time next year requires likely requires total focus from you this fall. I don't know your situation, but there are lots of steps to go through (finishing papers, sending them to colleagues for comments, submitting to a journal, making revisions, sending back under R&R or submitting to a new journal). Suppose you have a finished draft of a paper right now--that process starting with sending to colelagues for comments can easily take a year or longer. Don't distract yourself if you don't need to.

7/28/2007 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with 6:03 and 10:20. I've seen people see their post-docs swept away with applications, job talk prep, fly-outs and recovery. Then they’ve landed jobs in worse places than they would if they had just focused on publishing. What this leads to is a job with more teaching and less research time so you never get back the research time you've lost. Finally, how do you know that the job you land will allow you to take the second year of the post-doc? Not all schools are excited about their new hires delaying the start of a new job especially if teaching in an understaffed area is involved.

7/28/2007 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with 7/28/2007 7:25 AM.

As to 7/28/2007 3:03 PM, and in particular "how do you know that the job you land will allow you to take the second year of the post-doc?" Well, you negotiate that. If they don't agree to let you defer your tt starting date, you simply don't take the job.

7/29/2007 3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting debate.

I myself and in the "should I stay or should I go camp." However my options are looking for a good post-doc/staying another year versus going on the market.

I would be interested to hear others thoughts.

7/29/2007 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have known several people who have left their post-doc after a year to take an ideal job that they were offered. If you were to land a perfect job during the first year of the post-doc and for some reason they didn't want you to finish the second year, then you simply leave the post-doc early. This is fairly common.

Keep in mind that the job market is highly uncertain and competitive. Just because you have some extra publications doesn't mean you will necessarily get a better job than you would get with fewer pubs the year before. So much of who gets a job is a matter of "fit." Perhaps your ideal school is looking for someone just like you this year, but you don't apply.

Don't apply widely, but if you see a job you'd really want, throw your hat in the ring.

7/29/2007 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AS someone who is now on faculty, I am really jealous of people on post-docs who don't have to worry about prepping lectures, writing and grading exams, whether that interesting talk on campus will set them back all week.

Don't get me wrong, I love this career (I've had others and know how good we have it). But it is a job, and has its fair share of grind. Maybe the grass just looks greener, but post-docs seem to have a pretty sweet gig.

7/29/2007 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grass must always be greener. I am a post-doc, and spent a good deal of my post-doc dealing with the anxiety of not having a tenure-track job, not having a clue as to where, if anywhere, in the country I and my family may end up at (I know, for possibly only 6 years), being away from my family for one year, etc.

7/29/2007 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is 7/29/2007 11:45 AM. Thanks for the letting us know how the grass looks on your side! I had somewhat forgotten about all of that panic and anxiety (and it wasn't that long ago that I went through them).

7/30/2007 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the opinion of the blog is there any reputational cost that one incurs for going out on the market and flopping because it was too early? There is obviously an opportunity cost to the candidate, but otherwise is it wise to just go for it and let the chips fall where they may?

There is always next year right?

8/02/2007 5:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the only way to suffer any "reputational costs" is if you get a lot of interviews, but don't end up landing any of those jobs. Even then, I doubt that there is much of an effect.

8/02/2007 6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reputation costs?

analyhedzahurtincosten = a german sociological term for over-analyzing the job market costs.

8/02/2007 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that there are no reputational costs, but there are costs involved. You're taxing your advisor and letter writers. You're spending time on individual letters. And more likely than not, if YOU feel you're not ready, prospective employers will feel the same way. It's a buyer's market after all.

8/02/2007 7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's another cost of going out too early: you likely only get one chance at a top department.

I could name names (but I won't) of people who went out too early, got a bunch of very good interviews (based on glowing letters and one dissertation chapter), and then bombed at the interviews because they were too early (which tends to reveal itself clearly in a job talk, in particular in the Q&A). There's always next year, but those folks could cross the schools that they interviewed at the first time around, which included "top 10" departments, off their list. Of course, there's no guarantee that they would have gotten those top interviews at all if they had waited a year and let the search committee actually see more of their dissertations. ;)

8/02/2007 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know of two people who were interviewed two successive years at the same places. It does happen.

8/02/2007 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going on the market is very time-consuming. You spend a lot of time crafting letters and statements and getting everything ready to send off. Then, you spend a lot of time wondering and worrying (and reading this blog!) and then a lot of time preparing for a campus interview should you get one. This is all time that could be spent writing. So consider that VERY carefully before making the decision to go on the market.

Another thing to consider (based on personal experience): most faculty advisers are busy people and don't spend as much time thinking about you as you do about them. If you go on the market early and flop, they may make a rash decision that you're not a strong candidate. In the worst case scenario, they may "give up" on you and start pressuring you to take a low-end job or consider a non-academic career. At the least, they may simply devote less energy to your cause. You'll have to decide for yourself whether your letter-writers fit this profile or not, but be warned: it does happen.

8/02/2007 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of this is a little ridiculous and I hope it isn't driven by people who want to keep other candidates off the market. Applying for jobs takes some time, but not a lot. If you are reasonably good at multi-tasking, it won't set you back. If you aren't, then you probably aren't going to make it in this business anyway.

If you have an advisor that would give up on you, then you need to get a letter from somebody else. There are not too many advisors who would do that, and those that would are the same people who are bad citizens in every other way as well. So it should be easy to pick them out.

Speaking of the point about advisors: if you are worried about what your letters look like, you can always find out. If you know somebody at a school that is hiring in something you would be even vaguely qualified for, apply for that job and then have your friend check the letters for you. I'm not saying your friend should make photocopies or anything, but if somebody is writing you a shoddy letter, they can alert you to the fact.

8/02/2007 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of this is a little ridiculous and I hope it isn't driven by people who want to keep other candidates off the market.


That strikes me as a bit paranoid. For the record, I posted the comment at 8/2/07 @ 9:52. I have a very good job, am not looking to move, and do IR. I couldn't care less who is or isn't applying for American and comparative jobs.

(Why am I here? Because I don't feel like working on my APSA paper.)

8/02/2007 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a paranoid sort, I suspect that 12:15 is someone who will be on the market in 08-09 and thus wants all of the strong competition to clear out in 07-08!

8/02/2007 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last comment was hilarious.

8/02/2007 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, I'm meeting some folks at APSA this month. I am prepared ``from my end,'' i.e., what are my plans/qualifications/future like. But what is OK to ask them? It seems early to ask about teaching load, salary, etc.--so what's left? I can figure out department reputation and ``climate'' on my own; standard of living in the area is similarly public knowledge. I'm pretty naive here, but what else is there, that is acceptable to ask, that isn't public knowledge?

8/04/2007 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not too early to ask about salary, teraching loads, etc.

8/05/2007 6:43 AM  
Blogger Brian Schaffner said...

I agree that it is not too early to ask about teaching load, at the very least. And I can't stress this enough, but just because you can figure out something for yourself, that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask. This is something I didn't realize when I first went on the market out of graduate school, but the interview is an important opportunity to show them that you are as interested in them as you want them to be in you. If you only ask a few questions, they won't feel like you are really interested in them and you are unlikely to get any further in the process. So ask lots of questions, even if you don't care that much about the answers or even if you think you could answer the questions yourself.

Other good questions to ask are what the students are like. Whether faculty have to do any formal advising. What kind of travel support there is. What kind of internal research funding is available. What the service expectations are for junior faculty. And that is just to get you started.

Good luck!

8/05/2007 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, having done these on hiring committees before, you're only scratching the surface of questions to ask. You need to show genuine interest. These people are looking for a colleague-- someone that may be with them for decades.

All the questions Brian suggests are good ones. You also could ask about specific course expectations. This is especially good if you have experience teaching a variety of courses. I imagine there are different strategies depending on the school-- some will be more interested in research than others.

8/05/2007 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I'd add is try to phrase your questions in such a way that it doesn't sound like "what's in it for me?" Most of the time this is just a matter of phrasing the question, but you want to appear as someone who's looking at places where you can contribute rather than where you can get the most for the least.

8/05/2007 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But what is OK to ask them? It seems early to ask about teaching load, salary, etc.--so what's left? "

Teaching load should definitely come up in the interview itself...if it doesn't, definitely ask.

When I was on the market, I had 2 standard questions that I'd ask departments. I'd ask first about the students - their backgrounds and preparation, their motivation, etc.

Then I'd ask about the tenure review process. Not the tenure "expectations," I found you won't get much of a definite answer there. But ask about the review process. Will you get annual reviews? An 'official mentor?' 3rd year leave? Etc.

Good luck!

8/06/2007 4:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had three standard questions (or question sets) for APSA and phone interviews:
1. What are the students like, both in the college/university as a whole and those who major in political science specifically? What do most of the political science majors do after graduation?
2. What are the teaching, publishing, and service expectations for faculty?
3. What is the city/town like?

8/06/2007 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just defended my dissertation, and I wonder how important it is to set up APSA interviews. Will it hurt my chanhces of getting a campus interview if I just wait until late September to start sending out application packages?

8/07/2007 5:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your record is fairly impressive, then skipping the APSA interviews won't hurt you. If your record isn't as impressive, networking would be more beneficial.

8/07/2007 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's try to bring this back to life:

8/07/2007 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For 5:02... I'm of two minds on the APSA interview thing, having been on both sides of the table. When I did it, it did not lead to any campus visits (I had 6 fly ins later on). It did help me assess some of the departments (some negatively), but it didn't seem to help me land campus visits! It's good practice, but keep in mind you could really screw over your chances with a school if you're not practiced already.

When I was doing the interviews, we used it to screen candidates, and then didn't fly in any that we met at APSA. We learned there were several we didn't want to pursue further.

You have one really big thing going for you, though, that many will not. You've defended your dissertation, which is a huge plus. Good luck!

8/07/2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re 8/07/2007 5:02 AM, don't wait until late September - send your files in earlier rather than later if you can get them together. Some people start looking early...

8/07/2007 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto what 10:06 said. The later they come in, the less of a look they'll get, in my experience.

8/07/2007 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, a brief shoutout to all the departments willing to accept applications via email this year. It's nice to see that at least some places know 1996 has rolled around already.

On the "do the meat market or not" question; like 9:09 I'm torn, but in my old age I've decided to be a little more charitable towards the APSA clusterf*ck. (It still needs to be run as a separate conference in November/December, when the schools that would benefit most will actually be able to interview, but nobody asked me.)

I think the meat market can work in your favor if you can effectively sell yourself to complete strangers in 20 minutes. That's actually a very hard thing to do for most budding academics, because you've spent the last n years getting your ego beaten out of you by your professors. If there's something you can do in person that you can't do in an application packet to stand out (positively!), it's a good idea.

Another way to think of it: if your packet can easily be tossed in the reject pile (weak pedigree, not-well-known advisor, no networking connection with the department, job not an obvious fit with your vita [i.e. job wants Congress, you did your diss on mass behavior], mediocre state school undergrad applying to snooty LAC job or vice versa), the meat market may be your only chance to get on the shortlist. But if your advisor and the search chair roomed together at Oberlin, you really don't need to go to APSA, for that job, at least!

8/08/2007 11:32 AM  
Blogger Paul Gronke said...

Can't agree, 11:32. I'm sure email submissions are easier from your end, but try to see the situation from the perspective of the institution. (I suspect the first time students ask you why you are so "pre 1996" and refuse to accept emailed papers and exams, you may sympathize.)

Imagine a school with one administrative assistant managing 20+ searches, each of which may receive 50-200 applications. That mean 1000-10000 packets will arrive; 10,000-100,000+ pages of paper.

And you want that person to accept email submissions?

If there was some sort of centralized "drop box" where applicants would fill out a standardized form, and place applications, letters, writing samples, AND letter of rec (and now you are depending on the faculty), AND in PDF format only, then I might be willing to go along.

(And anyone who has used the supposedly improved web-based letters of recommendation system for grad school admissions may want to pipe in here...)

Until that point, we'll never accept emailed submissions.

8/08/2007 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was relatively successful converting the meat-market interviews into on-campus visits. These are some lessons I took away from the process:

1. You stand to benefit most if you have weaknesses on paper (e.g., your PhD is from a weaker department, a gap in your record) that a face-to-face meeting can address. Like 11:32 AM says, this may be your best chance to avoid the reject pile.

2. You stand to benefit more with smaller departments or those that care about collegiality (assuming that you make a good impression). The big research-oriented departments are more likely to use this simply as a weed-out process.

3. Listen for tidbits that can help you write your application. You'll probably be talking to at least one member of the search committee, and they can give you valuable insight beyond what the job ad says.

4. It's good practice for on-campus interviews. So schedule some interviews with places that are not high on your list and use them to practice your questions and answers, if nothing else.

8/08/2007 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean gap in the record?

8/08/2007 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:32 here. (I'd not be anonymous, but I'd rather the other 90% of 11:32 not be associated with my name in Google.) Paul, I can certainly understand the logistical challenges of running a search, and insisting on PDF submissions or using your campus' online job application system (which I think in most cases dumps whatever candidates submit into PDFs) would not be objectionable to this candidate. Heck, I'd settle for departments just signing up with Interfolio so I can send you my stuff for $4 without dealing with the department copier and the post office.

I've maintained for a long time that APSA needs to add "drop box" functionality to make eJobs more useful to candidates, and could do it at minimal additional expense. I'd pay $50/year extra to APSA for it, and I'm paying them too much already, as long as they required every department that posts on eJobs to accept "drop boxed" materials.

For what it's worth, I'm a sucker and accept emailed papers and exams in my classes.

8/08/2007 4:46 PM  

<< Home