Thursday, September 1, 2016

Everything is different, but the same... things are more moderner than before... bigger, and yet smaller... it's computers...

Yes, this is the thread where everyone comes to complain. So blow off some steam, but try to keep it civil...

1,037 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Hooray!

Also, the thread titles are a most excellent choice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Servius I for getting us back online; and thanks to the Servii V for being willing to keep us running this year.

So, anyone have the scoop on why UCLA's first effort to fill the Ronald Mellor Chair a couple of years back failed? Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

Or, for that matter, what's the story behind USC having four new lines? Is the donor's identity known?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and a hearty thank you to all who aided in keeping this great resource alive in its original iteration.
Looking forward to another year of hangin' wit ya.

Anonymous said...

FYI

It looks like the two jobs at Texas Tech are both inside hires, so don't get too attached. But don't begrudge them their luck (if it's true); we all want it to happen to us, too.

Anonymous said...

So who had 5 in the office pool about how many posts there would be before someone mentioned inside hires/candidates?

Anonymous said...

University of Maryland Baltimore County also looks like an Inside Hire (VAP in the department fulfills oddly worded announcement to a T).

Anonymous said...

We're starting to apply for jobs, 9:38: one of the first things people are going to notice, and remark upon, is going to be when an inside person fits one of this year's ads to a t, while their spouse fits the second job ad at the same college....

Anonymous said...

It's just good information to have before investing too much time/emotion in an application. Good to get that out there well in advance of the deadline.

Anonymous said...

How's this for conspiracy theory? What if it's ONE of the INSIDERS posting about the inside hires/candidates as a way to deter other applicants from applying??? Too crazy? Or just crazy enough to be true?

Anonymous said...

I think it was Martians. Green Martians, from Venus.

Anonymous said...

Coulda saved myself some heartache last year by listening to FV about a job I interviewed for. It went to exactly the person FV said it would. Don't rip on people trying to give others an emotional heads-up.

Anonymous said...

I'm "Anonymous October 12, 2016 at 10:46 AM." I'm definitely not one of the inside candidates in question (wish I was). I was mildly burned last year by an inside hire situation, so I'm just being more careful this time.

Anonymous said...

Inside hires at Texas Tech, Maryland, Arizona, Knox College, and Valparaiso, FYI...

Anonymous said...

Possibly also at Macalester, from the looks of things.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean that there's an inside candidate, 12:48, or that it is a fixed inside hire? Knox does not seem to fall into the latter category to me even though there is an inside candidate. But the TT jobs definitely do.

Anonymous said...

Arizona? I've been doing some pretty intense Googling, but I have yet to confirm this.

Anonymous said...

I haven't found anything on Arizona yet either... Any further info would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

And what about BU: inside hire? I think so...but curious to hear what other folks think.

Anonymous said...

Can't speak to Arizona or BU, but I'll tell you this: all candidates, inside or not, should stay away from Knox College.

Anonymous said...

Toxic environment at Knox, or something else?

Anonymous said...

Oct. 12, 9:38 here. It was a JOKE, people. Sheesh. Anyone who has hung around in these parts before knows that every year there is a whole lot of hating on inside candidates, who are an obsession for some. I was mocking that attitude, not the sharing of information regarding potential inside candidates.

Anonymous said...

The person was very clear that he/she was not hating on the inside candidates, just warning other people not to get invested in that job. That would be the "But don't begrudge them their luck...we all want it to happen to us, too" part of the post. If you haven't had the experience of interviewing for a job that in the end went to e.g. a faculty member's spouse, which did happen last year, you may not realize how helpful this kind of warning can be in a process which is emotionally difficult enough.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth (not much, I'm sure some will think), my experience in five years on the market has led me to believe that whether or not there is an inside candidate for a position should make no difference to my (and, for the same reasons, your) attitude toward applying. It seems rare for a committee not to take applications and interviews seriously -- in several cases where I have paid close attention, the inside candidate was not hired, and in one case where I was a finalist I eventually learned that the inside candidate was not among the finalists. So while your chances are no doubt decreased when there's an inside candidate, that doesn't mean they're zero. More importantly, though, whatever you tell yourself to get through the day, our chances of getting into the first-round are usually pretty low anyway unless the position is a very specific one; this is not because we suck, it's because the chances that there are more than eleven other highly qualified applicants are, in this market, close to 100%. Most importantly, though, you should never get more emotionally attached to a particular job than absolutely necessary for doing well in interviews, because 90% of what determines whether you'll get the job is completely outside of your control. I say this as someone who has had a very nice competitive VAP and a very nice competitive fellowship yet also been a finalist for three T-T jobs, none of which I got. No doubt we might conclude on this basis that I'm just awful and that if I weren't such a loser I'd have gotten at least one of those positions. Maybe so. Or maybe, like many others I've known, I did just fine and they just liked somebody else better. The point is that unless you are actually a divine being, the outcome will depend much more on things you can't control than on things you can. For that reason, it is a mistake to get yourself too emotionally invested in a particular job even when you are a finalist; it is a huge mistake to do it when you're just writing your applications. So if there's an inside candidate for some job you're applying for, you should probably not get your hopes up. But you should probably not get your hopes up for any particular job. At least if you want to avoid becoming a complete mess for much of the time between February and June.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wise thoughts, Anonymous at 4:11.

And heads up: the Texas Tech application is a nightmare. Impossible to use. Crashes constantly. You upload stuff, and then it insists that you have not uploaded anything and refuses to let you continue.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Inserts yearly plea to distinguish between "internal" candidate -- i.e. a VAP who may or may not be a specialist in the area advertised for -- and "inside" candidate -- i.e. a spousal hire or some other situation (e.g. immigration) that strongly suggests that the search is disingenuous. Inserts yearly observations that plenty of internal candidates don't end up getting the job for a variety of reasons, that being an internal candidate has both its advantages and disadvantages, that search committees will take seriously the possibility that other job applicants may be more qualified. Inserts yearly appeal to personal experience with serving on multiple search committees and being an internal candidate who both has and has not been offered the TT job.

Anonymous said...

One of the claims made above about a job being an "inside hire" is completely wrong.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes an internal candidate is also an inside candidate, by your definition.

When (1) the job ad is tailored to the internal candidate's specialty AND (2) there is, at the exact same time, a job ad from the same university that exactly matches their spouse's specialty, it seems like what's going on is that the university has managed to get two tenure lines to keep two married VAPs.

I agree, however, that just because there happens to be a VAP and a search on at the same time doesn't mean it's fated the VAP will get it. I would prefer it when posting rumors the poster be more specific about the evidence that an "inside hire" is underway. If the only evidence is that there is a VAP in that specialty, then they should say so. If there is more conclusive evidence (e.g. what I outlined above), they should say that.

Having said that, 9:47am, could you be more specific about which one is wrong?

Anonymous said...

I think 9:47 with a few other earlier posters is being a bit funny on purpose here. Preying on the obsessive among us. Which is fine, I suppose. But I also think a lot of us need to keep some of the earlier comments in mind - apply for everything you'd take, you really never know if you're going to get an interview or a job or anything else. Being fully invested in a 1:1000 shot is a bit silly, so don't do that. But don't try to pretend you don't care, either, some of us can tell ("us" = "people on the other side of this stupid system").

If you're certain that there's something fishy (insider-ey) about a job ad, point us to specific information that we can all access, or else probably we're not going to believe your "I know some stuff but I can't tell you the details but trust me I'm not making this up" claims. Those aren't particularly useful anymore. If anyone is really bored, it would be interesting to see how many of the jobs last year (or the last three years, or something) went to someone who was already sort of in that position as a so-called insider. I still agree with (probably) most of you, it makes a great deal of sense for a department to hire someone they have had a chance to get to know rather than take a gamble on a new person, given the stakes. But I also think we really seriously need to revise our system to allow institutions to convert visiting lines to tenure-track without going through this whole stupid routine. This wouldn't take very many of the ads out of the job cycle, but it would remove a handful of them, and that's something.

Good luck out there, everyone,

Anonymous said...

At October 17, 2016 at 7:11 AM
Ditto. Ditto everything.

At October 17, 2016 at 5:20 PM
It would also reduce stress and anxiety for those deserving individuals already in the VAP lines, save universities money, and avoid the ill will that a faux search garners.

Anonymous said...

I count 5 TT positions going to insiders out of 52 junior TT searches with recorded, successful results last year. There are probably a handful of others; the one search I know of that seems like it was truly fixed (someone's spouse just happened to be the very best candidate in a completely open-field search) would look totally legit if you just went by the wiki. So as agonizing as the experience must be for an internal candidate, overall they seem to have a considerable advantage.

Anonymous said...

What would it take for universities to be able to hire (in any other job this would be "promote") a successful VAP as a TT faculty member without a national search (which is stressful for the VAP, for the outside candidates, and for the search committee)? Anyone in the know about how we can lobby for this change?

This is what I envision as a future "normal" life for a Classics PhD:
1. You defend and get a VAP. (Parallel to an entry-level position at a regular company.)
2. You do a good job at your VAP, and you're a good colleague, and the feeling is mutual. (What everyone at any job, in and outside academia, tries to do.)
3. Your department gets permission to hire you permanently, either as a permanent, non-TT, or as TT. (Parallel to promotion at a regular company.)
4. You take the job. (Which your friends outside academia see as simply a promotion reflecting your good work and good fit in the department.)

Anonymous said...

October 18, 2016 at 9:26 AM

For your scenario to happen, it would take a massive shift in the economy AND in US attitudes toward Humanities, followed by a massive internal shift in university bureaucracy and habits.

Most VAPs aren't sitting in lines that are going to be converted. They're sabbatical replacements or other stop-gaps never intended to be permanent, no matter how good a job they do and how well they are liked. At my university, the biggest difference between a VAP and an adjunct is how good the chair is at cobbling together a few extra courses from other disciplines and from freshman writing to bump the position up to full time. That same politicking is how we determine how many years the VAP will work with us. (And we figure that out one year at a time.)

Other problems: because VAPs are used this ways--as stop-gaps--the provost doesn't approve funding to hire them until much latter in the season compared to TT lines, and the funding is much less. This means that a full, national search isn't usually possible. And THAT means that, if a TT line does come open, HR considers the search that hired the VAP invalid. To be honest, so do some of the other faculty. No matter how much everyone likes a VAP, when the CVs and cover letters flood in, search committees get stars in their eyes and start to wonder how much "better" they can do.

Also, we produce too many PhDs and have too few classics departments / classics lines for your scenario to work. The "normal" would still have to be leaving the field. Only a few lucky ones would get the TT jobs.

Fix all of that and your scenario could work.

Anonymous said...

I think Oct. 18 12:27PM misunderstood 9:26AM's suggestion (though I can't be sure). I take it that the suggestion is not that all VAPs lead to promotion provided things go well. The suggestion is, instead, that in cases where a department has a VAP that they'd like to make TT, they just be able to do that without having to run another search. The idea, or so I thought, is about how to eliminate pre-planned inside hires for jobs advertised nationally. I don't see why that shouldn't be possible. Certainly none of the stuff that 12:27 says explains why it's not.

On another note, it is worth remembering that often the alleged 'inside' candidate is a person who has been teaching at the institution for literally 1-3 months by the time the ad is placed. Sure, they were already hired, and so the department must like them enough for that. But unless the plan was all along to hire them TT, I'm not sure I know many people who would be convinced from one or two interviews and 1-3 months of employment that there is definitely not a better candidate out there. Those of us who are up against internal candidates might do well to remember that the internal candidates are probably stressing out about the whole thing, too.

Anonymous said...

If many institutions started converting VAPs to TTs without a search, this blog would instead be flooded with messages about how unfair it is that these institutions do things behind closed doors and don't even give other candidates the chance to compete.

Anonymous said...

Some of the comments here about the "certainty" of the "inside" candidate succeeding in being hired permanently and the general nature of VAP hires (and the mechanics of working as a VAP) unfortunately betray a tremendous amount of ignorance with respect to how the higher education circus actually works. Stick around some years - or decades - and see how easily things actually work (not) and how many magical fairy tales actually come to pass.

Anonymous said...

@10/18 9:54: Agreed. But if a department really just wants to hire a particular person and is going to hire that person provided that nobody stops them, the national search is just a waste of everybody's time. We might all be able to agree that it'd be best if everyone were given a chance to compete, but the gripe about the current system is that we're being made to think that we're competing when we're really not; not being allowed to compete in the first place would be less bad.

That said, while 10/19 11:55 is unpleasantly self-satisfied, the point that internal candidates are rarely such sure things as they might appear from the outside is true in my experience, as I've said before. As I've also said before, we should all just apply for these jobs if we're qualified for them and would take them, since the odds are stacked against us no matter what and there's always a chance it will work out. If we want something to be depressed about, it shouldn't be jobs with internal candidates, it should be that we have reached the point where our field hovers between a 9:1 and 10:1 candidate:tenure-track position ratio.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone looked at the Interfolio page for the Yale ancient history position yet? It seems to be missing links for both cover letters and letters of recommendation, or maybe I just doing something wrong.

Anonymous said...

I wrote to them when just the link for the cover letter was missing, and they told me I could attach the cover letter to my CV but also that they were in the process of adding a separate link to it. Since that time, the link for the recommendation letters has also disappeared.

Anonymous said...

On a completely unrelated note, has anyone been experiencing long, even by Classics journals standards, wait time to hear back on articles submitted to CQ?

Anonymous said...

@October 19, 2016 at 6:00 PM

The current system is in place to correct hiring situations of the past that were considered unjust (i.e., Professor A picking up a phone and telling Professor B that his grad student is a prodigy and deserves a job).

Many (most?) institutions have rules in place stating that such job searches must be accompanied by a national search. In those cases, departments' hands are tied.

Anonymous said...

About CQ: my last experience with them was a few years ago, so maybe it's gotten worse, but I heard back in a little more than 4 months. That felt about normal, and was in any case what they told me to expect.

Now, what seemed more extreme was the long lag between submission and publication: I was told that the earliest an accepted article would hit print was 2 YEARS after publication, which did seem long.

Anonymous said...

2 years after acceptance, not 2 years after publication. Oops.

Anonymous said...

I think it just depends on the referees: CQ was pretty fast last time around for me. But their editorial staff is great, so if you haven't heard back in a very long time, you should definitely inquire.

Anonymous said...

@Oct. 20, 10:31AM. If that's the rationale, it doesn't apply to the kinds of cases that I (and, I thought, the person who originally made the suggestion) have in mind. The cases we have in mind are like this: our department has someone currently in a non-TT position; we like this person and want to bring her on more permanently; we have a tenure-line open; we really want to give the position to her; but instead we are required by our university's policies to run a full national search, despite the fact that we pretty much all believe that we already have the right candidate sitting in the office across the hall. In cases like these, requiring the department to run a full national search does not correct unjust hiring situations of the past, since even if we only hired our currently non-TT colleague because some hot shot at Harvard called us up and told us to hire her, we now collectively want to bring her on permanently. If that's what we all want, then that is probably what we are going to do anyway even if we have to run a national search; the national search will just be a massive waste of time for us and for the candidates that we interview without any serious intention of hiring. Might we end up changing our minds and choosing an even better candidate? Sure. If we didn't want to do a search in the first place, then it's unlikely, but it's not impossible. But it wouldn't be correcting any sort of injustice. One might more sensible think that it imposes one on our department and our preferred candidate, who has, ex hypothesi, done enough already to show us that we want her for the job, but is now required to go through yet another interview process.

Don't get me wrong; I don't expect the current system to change. But if there's a good reason for it, it's not the one you've given.

Anonymous said...

Oct 21 at 3:20 PM: Here then is the more modern version of what Oct. 20 at 10:31 AM seems to be talking about. We have someone in our department who we really like: he's doing a good job, and we all get along with him. He just feels like a regular member of the department, you know, one of the guys. Why can't we just hire him without a national search?

Because when you do the national search and the dean looks over the finalists' CVs, he may think it is in the best interest of the university to hire the woman (who somehow just doesn't feel like one of us, one of the guys) who has a more impressive CV, and you may be forced to justify a preference for the insider that is based on how much you like the guy, not who is the better candidate.

I have seen this happen. And I have seen a department in this day and age hire a VAP to TT because he just feels like "one of us" in an all male department. Right down to the justification that we can continue to have our faculty meetings informally at the local sports bar.

There are, historically, some very real reasons why it is just better to do everything out in the open.

That said, most private universities actually do have policies whereby they can hire someone they want without a national search. It's usually called a "targeted hire" or something like that, and it can be used for things like hiring a "star." Public institutions have their hands tied a little more on this.

At any rate, I would say in the case of private institutions, if they are advertising, it is a real search. If they really wanted to just hire the insider, they would.

One thing you have to realize about the whole "inside search" idea is that it's really a two-way street--the university might try to hire the insider, but if the insider is actually good, he or she could just as easily jilt the university and go somewhere else. For instance, in the case of a spouse to be hired, presumably the couple is already applying out to find a better situation, and the spouse may well not accept the opening. If the department really does need the position filled, then they are left empty-handed if they didn't carry out a real search.

As has already been said up-thread in various ways, if the job is advertised and you are interested and qualified, apply, but don't get too invested in the idea of the job, not because the job may go to an insider, but simply because the odds are unfortunately really bad all around.

Anonymous said...

Well gee, maybe the guy hired from VAP to TT because they like him and they like their sports bar department meetings is a better fit for the department, as opposed to someone who will never really fit in with the department and is just using the position as a stepping stone to something better.

Anonymous said...

Yep, it was all just locker-room talk, anyway.

Anonymous said...

October 23, 2016 at 3:57 PM:

"At any rate, I would say in the case of private institutions, if they are advertising, it is a real search. If they really wanted to just hire the insider, they would."

I actually know of a private institution that has their hands tied as much as a public one in this respect. So don't assume anything.

On the subject of "if the job is advertised and you are interested and qualified, apply"--for some people it helps, psychologically, to know in advance if it's an even longer shot than usual (i.e., there's an inside candidate, or it looks like it might be an intentional inside hire) even if of course they are going to apply any way. For some people this may not make any difference. To each his own. Good luck, all.

Anonymous said...

3:57 here; thanks for the clarification about private institutions, 5:05. Yes, most private institutions actually do require a national search because it is considered best practice and it is also in the interest of the institution. So at the department level it is probably true: the department can't just say 'we want to hire this person' and it is done. But that doesn't mean that the institution (dean, provost, etc.) can't make it happen. I actually work at a school like this. When we have an opening, the dean requires a national search, even if there is a VAP everyone likes and would happily hire. This means the dean is looking over the department's shoulder and wants to see that the insider really IS the best candidate. But the school I work at has still hired people without a national search when there was a very specific reason that suited the administration. If the administration isn't willing to do this, then the insider isn't a lock; that's what I'm trying to say. I completely understand from the perspective of the outside candidate that this sort of situation sounds like one where you have no chance at getting the job, but in truth you really have no way of knowing that. Even if in the end the insider gets the job it could still be a real search without a predetermined outcome.

Anonymous said...

10/21 3:20 PM said: "If that's the rationale, it doesn't apply to the kinds of cases that I (and, I thought, the person who originally made the suggestion) have in mind."
If you think search committees and Dean's offices react that agilely to current conditions, I suggest you think again. Many departments are still deluding themselves into thinking that the market isn't as bad as everyone says it is (usually for one-off examples, like so-and-so's grad student was hired last year by awesome R-1 institution).

Anonymous said...

I was an internal candidate three times. I'm no logician, but if my experience is representative, I'd say an external candidate will beat out an internal candidate two out of three times.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your experience, 11:06. That must have been really awful.

But: congrats that your perseverance finally resulted in a happy outcome!

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else having trouble with the SCS website not allowing them to access the recent ads (not public) even when logged in?

Anonymous said...

How many applicants will that Dartmouth position (TT, Latin poetry) attract? 50? 100? 200? In some ways it is a premium job (top tier school, great resources, presumably great students, presumably great compensation), in others I could see people being not really interested (remote location, weather, undergrad only but high research expectations, limited social life especially if single). Also, is this one of those internal thingies? It looks like they have a person there visiting who does Latin poetry and who has excellent pedigree and pubs and such.

Anonymous said...

@October 25, 2016 at 3:22 PM

1) If your list of negatives ("remote location, weather, undergrad only but high research expectations, limited social life especially if single") would make Dartmouth an undesirable location for you, then you're in a privileged position and not really on the market. (I.e., siddown and shaddup.)

2) A place like Dartmouth is ALWAYS looking for "something better." If they have an internal candidate, this person will still be competing against all the other bright-shinies in a very real competition.

Anonymous said...

Trust me, you want to teach at Dartmouth. You really do. And I'd bet my left thumb that it is a real search and not an internal thingie. But if you're turned off by it, don't apply; you'll help give other people a better chance.

Anonymous said...

@ October 16, 2016 at 5:56 PM

I’m a little late to comment, but I’m another former student of Knox College (and, I’m willing to bet, a [near] contemporary of the other commenter), so I wanted to add my 2¢.

I saw five professors in the Classics department during my time there. I only knew three of them well (two of whom were the senior faculty), but I had (and still have) a deep respect for those three, and I heard positive things from my friends about the others.

As a student, my knowledge of the administrative side of things was / is limited, but, as I understand the situation, the non-renewal of all the visiting professors had nothing to do with the senior faculty feeling threatened by glowing CVs.

I’ll also say that, although I was almost certainly one of the “good” students, I was well connected and good friends with most of the other serious / upper-level students—both “good” and “bad”—and I do not think any of them would say that they felt manipulated, iced, or that their academic trajectories were ruined. I certainly know nothing of any of us having any influence on contract (non) renewal (although our input was taken very seriously during the hiring process). Likewise, as an involved member in the one and only and not-very-big student-run club that had close ties with the department, I saw no manipulation there, and we had good relationships with senior and junior faculty alike.

As to the senior faculty, I never saw them be hostile / disrespectful / unprofessional to students or colleagues. In fact, I know that they have worked fruitfully with faculty in other departments as far distant as Biology and Computer Science, and I have watched them foster the interdisciplinary interests of their students.

Finally, as to the claim about the administration, I cannot really speak to that point. Like I said above, as a student, I had limited access to / knowledge of that side of the college (in spite of my heavy involvement within the department itself). I am surprised at how much more the other former student seems to know about this.

In short, I think the claims in the above comment range anywhere from blown-greatly-out-of-proportion to pure libel. Knox has a great community of students and faculty, both in and out of the Classics department.

Anonymous said...

I'm the original Dartmouth poster. I WANT THAT JOB. I just wonder whether others could possibly want it as much as me. So, for you wafflers out there: it's cold in NH in the winter, please don't apply!

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, there is the rich local culture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keggy_the_Keg

Anonymous said...

October 26, 2016 at 1:39 PM

It's pretty public knowledge how Knox College's Classics Department treats their junior, visiting faculty. That's an unfortunate side effect of hiring people from diverse graduate institutions. People talk and triangulate what they hear.

Anonymous said...

Since we are on this subject of senior vs. junior faculty, what do people think about whether to apply for the Arizona job? One of the reasons I am hesitant is that it is pretty well known that a few years ago the Classics Department was really messed up, and now... there ISN'T a Classics Department. That does not seem to bode well.

Anonymous said...

People think...don't apply. Don't apply unless it's your last ditch effort and no other profession will ever do it for you. You'd rather be committed to an asylum or take your own life than go without a job. Arizona is on that order. Go for it.

Anonymous said...

"Arizona is on that order."

So is Knox College.

Anonymous said...

Question for anyone on a SC: let's say you have a good reason to include all three letters from your original dissertation supervisors. But you also need a teaching letter, and have one from your current university. Are SCs who request three letters going to toss your application for "not following directions" if you send four, rather than three?

Anonymous said...

@2:26 AM

No, we're not going to toss it. But our HR system might not let you upload more than three. And at some places, HR may prohibit the SC from considering extra materials not asked for (if there wasn't an "additional materials" section). And at other places, HR may screen all applications before sending them on to the SC. What they would do is anybody's guess.

Anonymous said...

By the way, will there be an SCS/TLL fellowship application this year?

Anonymous said...

Never mind...just found it. https://classicalstudies.org/awards-and-fellowships/thesaurus-linguae-latinae-tll-fellowship

Go Cubs!

Anonymous said...

Shout-out to anyone at CAMWS-SS this weekend!

Anonymous said...

how long do y'all give a journal that hasn't even acknowledged receiving your submission?

Anonymous said...

Eight days. It shouldn't take more than a week, and there's a chance that it got lost.

Anonymous said...

People, stop applying online while I am trying to!

"This website is under heavy load

We're sorry, too many people are accessing this website at the same time. We're working on this problem. Please try again later."

Anonymous said...

This discipline is under heavy load!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to need someone to unpack "heavy load" for me. It's so...loaded.

Anonymous said...

He ain't heavy, he's my father...

Anonymous said...

I have been on the job market for sixty-six years and I have never seen Interfolio this bad. The market is officially glutted.

Anonymous said...

ITS RIGGED FOLKS

Anonymous said...

It's so rigged I'm going to apply to every job twice.

Anonymous said...

That's the only way to counteract the rigging.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous Anonymous said...
It's so rigged I'm going to apply to every job twice.

October 31, 2016 at 5:42 PM


Make sure you identify as an LGBTQ POC for one of your two applications. Then publish the results, analyzing against tier of school and geographical region. You'll be hired in Sociology on the next cycle.

Anonymous said...

Fifth-generation Servii here. We wanted to remind old users and enlighten the new about FV standards. Criticism of departments is allowed, especially as relates to the job search process, but if such criticism comes too near to attacks on individuals, it will be deleted. We're late to the game because of a hitch in our moderating capacities, and we apologize for that, but we have deleted some material above that seemed to us to cross a line.

In other news, we are hoping that the long-anticipated placement tracker should be up soon on the wiki site.

Anonymous said...

...aaaaaaand rejection season is officially open!

Anonymous said...

Who sent out rejections?

Anonymous said...

ICCS.

Anonymous said...

Re: Dartmouth search. They lost a tenured Latin poetry person over the summer, so that's likely what drove the hire.

Anonymous said...

Hey FV, we have put a placement tracker on the wiki. It is organized by cohort, and you should feel free to enter information from any cohort you know of, not just your own. We hope it is a useful resource for the field!

Anonymous said...

Are the UW entries just examples, or are those the actual numbers for those cohorts?

Anonymous said...

No, those are just examples.

2016 Servius said...

I've just changed the example in the tracker so that there's no ambiguity.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we could prime the pump by putting a list of PhD-granting institutions:

https://classicalstudies.org/list-graduate-programs-classics

2016 Servius said...

Good idea. The programs are now added. I didn't run a separate search for archaeology/ ancient history programs, so some of those might need to be added.

Anonymous said...

Question: If a person in your cohort leaves to get a PhD at another institution, do you count that as a PhD earned?

Anonymous said...

No: in that case, the earned PhD belongs to the other institution.

Anonymous said...

Maybe start from the UNC placement page?

Anonymous said...

I think adjuncting/VAP/non-TT permanent positions should be differentiated in your count. I know several who have landed in continuing, stable positions that are simply not TT because of institutional constraints (but stable enough to buy a home) or are a mixture of teaching and administration (with some time for research) or the institution simply does not do TTs. Obviously a TT is the golden ticket, but when you're at the bottom of a very bad looking market knowing that these other sorts of things are out there can sometimes be comforting.

Anonymous said...

9:31 - "otherwise working in an academic capacity at a post-secondary institution" fulfills this, but I think you're saying you'd like to see separate categories for "other permanent" vs. "other limited term/contract," right? You could put library/administrative/teaching non-TT/etc. in the former, and VAP/post-doc/adjunct in the latter.

That would also acknowledge the fact that permanent jobs that aren't TT but are still "academic" are out there.

Anonymous said...

@9:31

yes, precisely --it's the limited term difference that soothes my soul (maybe that's just me?)

Anonymous said...

Servius here: we'll expand categories a bit. Of course there is a huge range of non-tt possibilities, but we don't want this to turn into chaos (or end up having people describe unique career paths in a way that would compromise anonymity).

2016 Servius said...

Ok- we've made some adjustments to the categories, and they're up on the wiki now. It would be great if those who have already entered cohorts could check them/ update them to fit with the new scheme. (We'll try to keep the iterative-design changes to a minimum.)

Anonymous said...

In the placement tracker: Is it okay to leave a question mark if you're not 100% on something?

Anonymous said...

I would say yes. I would also suggest that if you have partial information about a cohort, you omit what you don't know, with an x acting as placeholder.

Anonymous said...

Is everyone else getting documents stuck "waiting for processing" for unreasonable amounts of time on Interfolio?

Anonymous said...

Yup. I'm getting a 3-day delay on posting recs to an external website. Or at least when I pay for it, the estimated posted date is 3 days later.

Anonymous said...

What happens if Interfolio sends them after the "deadline" for the application? Nothing? Do they disappear into the void? Do they make it into your application? Does it bounce back? Would Interfolio reimburse you for an undeliverable delivery?

Anonymous said...

I think they give you a credit to your account if there's a late delivery.

Anonymous said...

Getting my six bucks back is pretty beside the point if my job applications aren't going through.... Please, anyone on an SC, spread the word that Interfolio is not functioning properly this year and a lot of people's letters of rec. are being delivered late through no fault of the job candidate.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be more and more common to ask for sample syllabi at the application stage. At first blush, that would seem to put ABDs at a disadvantage, or at least requires them to spend even more time on applications than they do already. Candidates who have been out in visiting positions will have had more opportunity to develop syllabi (even if only for myth or civ courses), whereas current grad students don't necessarily get many chances to design their own courses, so having to put these things together is just another, slightly time-intensive, hoop to jump through.

So, a question for SC members: are you actually looking at these things? If you are, that's fine. But if you're not, why not at least wait until you have a short list and save everyone some time and energy?

Anonymous said...

Part of why it's not very common for ABDs to get TT jobs straight out the gate: places want someone who can hit the ground running with teaching, and fair enough, that is not a meaningless hoop. On the plus side for you, it is also not wasted time on your end: once you design a syllabus, no one can ever take it away from you!

Anonymous said...

I legitimately wonder why there's not a standard formula for *first round*:

[Cover Letter]
CV
Writing Sample
Letters of Recommendation

I even think we could get away with NO cover letter (gasp!)--all this could be covered by the teaching statement and research statement (see below). Half the time, all they care about is something the CV will instantly reveal. Then there would be a *second round* (still no interview) asking for the following:

Tailored Teaching Statement/Evidence of Excellence in Teaching/Teaching Philosophy/Syllabi
Tailored Research Statement
Tailored Diversity Statement (if required)

That way, if you're, say, an expert on Pindar but they really don't want another one of those--despite the vague request for "Greek Verse"--you don't waste your time tailoring your teaching credentials to whatever specific format they are asking for and emphasizing undergraduate or graduate or interdisciplinary or language or whatever teaching depending on the kind of university it is.

I long for the days when you could just swap out the name of the college/university and send out the letter with your CV. That is so much more humane.

Anonymous said...

@4:26 pm

Some disciplines, like Math, do exactly this. We in the Humanities are allergic to authority. We don't like regulations imposed from above as if by some fascist dictatorship patronizing us with its paternalistic phallologocentricity. We need room to problematize and muddy our statements, to assert, dialogue, and quarrel. We...ah, screw it.

We're fvcked.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't have to be imposed from above, but--please, O SCs, if you are out there listening--if enough SCs did it of their own accord....?

Anonymous said...

I think the suggestion for a standardized set of application materials just overlooks the fact that different institutions and departments legitimately have different needs and interests. Some places will be much more interested in your teaching material than your research, whereas others will care much more about your writing than what you've taught already. There is also disagreement, legitimate I think, about what kind of information about your teaching is most relevant. I, for instance, don't think evals are very good evidence of teaching effectiveness, whereas other people can't imagine assessing an application without them; I think statements of teaching philosophy are a waste, others think they're the most informative thing; and so on. We also shouldn't forget that in some cases the requirements aren't decided on a departmental level. As a poor bastard still applying for jobs in my fifth year out of graduate school, I share the frustration of having to submit such different combinations of things to different departments. But really, once you've got the material together, it's not hard to just mix and match and upload the relevant documents.

In other words, it's not going to happen, and there are arguably legitimate reasons why not, so we just have to put up with it.

Anonymous said...

Apparently there are still people out there who think that individual departments get to decide the format and contents of their job advertisements. Ha! In actuality, these are dictated to us by HR, university lawyers, and the Dean's office, and every time we run a search we fight the same battle to ensure that the job posting manages to somehow still vaguely resemble the norm in our discipline, while at the same time satisfying the bean-counting i-dotters and t-crossers without whose co-operation we get no search at all. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Fellow US citizens: if you haven't already, please go vote today.

Anonymous said...

Fellow US citizens, if you actually think your vote today counts for anything, you don't understand math.

Anonymous said...

2:51: What do you think is a good measure of teaching effectiveness if evals and philosophy statements are out (I'm not saying I disagree, I'm just curious what the alternative is)?

Anonymous said...

a teaching letter might be better than teaching phil. it wouldn’t be crazy to allow 4 letters of rec. (or have one of the 3 include a discussion of teaching).

Anonymous said...

Yes, PLEASE, SCs, allow a fourth letter.

Anonymous said...

I'd even say save rec letters for the second round, or anything beyond one or two. Or, use Interfolio. I am so tired of scrambling for recs and bothering people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking your responsibilities as a citizen seriously, 12:46, that was some really awesome advice. You're clearly way smarter and cooler than those of us who wasted our time voting.

Anonymous said...

@Nov. 8 3:04PM: experience, syllabi, and rec letters. I suppose I don't really think evals are entirely worthless; it's just that plenty of people get good evals despite being pretty mediocre and that, especially in large enrollment courses, plenty of people get lukewarm or even negative evals despite being pretty good. There are also well-known gender bias problems with student evaluations. Statements of teaching philosophy just show whether someone is good at bullshitting about pedagogical generalities; I suppose I haven't encountered many good teachers who couldn't do that, but I've definitely encountered some mediocre ones who can.

Anonymous said...

I'm 100% percent behind getting rid of the teaching philosophy bs. However, I can see that some evals are better than others. If all your good evals say "she's" (gender bias?) "really approachable and fun!" that's pretty useless. But if you happen to get some gems like "I really like how he" (gender bias?) "had us discuss X in light of Y, and the assignment where we did Z really opened my eyes up to A, B, and C" (where the letters stand for substantive things). Honestly I never wrote evaluations like that when I was an undergrad (I guess I was lazy?)...but I've heard there are some responsible student citizens out there that have said things like that.

Also, I bet some departments want to know if a person is likable (teaching ability aside), because that will help gauge if they are going to be a draw for majors/minors or for students shopping around as to where to fulfill their core requirements, thereby boosting their enrollments.

Obviously being likable doesn't make you a good teacher. But if you can prove you're both competent AND likable, well...

Anonymous said...

Likability is one of the gender bias problems, at least if things like fairness count for likability. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/01/11/new-analysis-offers-more-evidence-against-student-evaluations-teaching

I also have some anecdotal evidence that evals don't matter for job applications: my students almost unanimously love me, and I still don't have a TT job. A friend of mine who I think is one of the best teachers I've ever seen has had the same experience. Anecdotal, of course, and perhaps just one variable (maybe we suck at everything else). But if good evals were going to get anybody a job, they'd have gotten me one by now (I didn't have to submit them for any of the non TT jobs I've held).

Anonymous said...

That doesn't really mean anything though. The market is such that a large percentage of candidates who are fully qualified for TT jobs in every way will never get them. You can do all the things right and never get one.

Anonymous said...

I taught for a few years at a SLAC, where they told me that three of the questions on the student evals were completely ignored by the administration because it had been shown that female instructors literally could not score well on those questions. I remember that one of the questions was: is the instructor available outside of class hours. I can't remember what the other two questions were.

Begs the question as to why the questions were left on the evals. Maybe they had scored a deal in printing millions of them up front and didn't want to trash them.

Anonymous said...

I keep trying to post and the post keeps disappearing. Sometimes it shows up and the post count goes up, but then a minute later it's gone. What's up with that?

Anonymous said...

It happened again! The post stayed up briefly and then disappeared! Why? It's not naming names, it's not nasty, it *is* an interesting and helpful look at the things that can go wrong in an application from the point of view of SC member. Why would that be deleted repeatedly?

Anonymous said...

(2) You don't know where you're applying, part 2. If your letter talks about teaching grad students (which we don't have), or if your letter talks about how excited you are to teach Greek when we only have a Latin minor, we'll trash your application.

(3) Teaching. This the one thing that actually matters here. If your cover letter talks only about your research, we'll trash your application.

(4) Research. We want to know that you have some so that you can get tenure. We want to know that you'll give lip service to it the way that we do. But we really want to know that you're not going to let it get in the way of catering to the students.

(5) LORs. If your recommenders don't know AND RESPECT where you're applying, we'll trash your application. If you've got two recs that both talk about how you'll be an excellent colleague because of your research in x, y, or z, then you're no good to us. Make sure that you've got at least one, preferably two who talk at length about what you're like as a teacher AND why that's integral to who you are. (I.e., not just that you won some grad. award and won't suck in the classroom.)

(6) Respect. You've got to show us that you respect our mission. We're tuition driven. We're student driven. We teach to make the world a better place. We can't support much -- if any -- research. If your application gives even a hint of condescension, any idea that you'll be looking down your nose at us for "failing" to achieve a post in your ideal R1, we'll trash your application. We don't need a colleague who thinks that her Ivy degree makes her better than everyone else who holds the same job. We've got enough of those already, and they suck.

Anonymous said...

Part 1 of above:


You're right that there's nothing you can do to be the right candidate. There are too many excellent candidates for that. But there are very many things you can do to be the wrong candidate. Here are a few that come to mind immediately. Others will be able to add or subtract from my list.

(1) You don't know or care where you're applying. If the only way you tailor your cover letter / application is by inserting the name of our university in a different font into your "insert university name here" slot, we'll trash your application. I get that you're filling out 55 different apps 54 of which are for positions where you don't really fit. I get that you've got to submit that paper you've been working on, do revisions on that book chapter, grade essays, etc. So do I. And I have to work on student retention, politicking, 12 different committees, and a variety of unpaid "initiatives," "working groups," etc. ad nauseam. It isn't fair for any of us. And yet some applicants manage to glean information about my school from the web or from contacts and then tailor their letters. Some don't. We'll trash the latter.

Anonymous said...

6:07/6:35/7:03, How would you characterize the school you teach at? SLAC? Non-R1 public university? Something else?

Anonymous said...

November 10, 2016 at 9:40 PM

I'm at a LAC. This was part of my post the first dozen times it disappeared, so I started cutting things to try to get the post to stay up.

I'm at a LAC. We like to pretend that we're a SLAC in promotional materials, but we're not by any measure. We're tuition-driven, over-worked, un(der)funded, and have little support for anything beyond catering to our students. In short, we are the median university.

Anonymous said...

Servius here: that wasn't us. Posts disappear sometimes, even after posting, apparently because FV itself identifies them as suspect. It has happened to us, too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Servius.

It happens to my posts a lot. More often than not. I must just have suspicious typing patterns!

2016 Servius said...

Other Servius here: This disappearing post thing happens often to me. One thing that has helped is to be logged in through my gmail account, and then just to choose to use the 'anonymous' identity. It doesn't always work, but seems to have a better chance. Also, blogger doesn't seem to like long posts (or posts with bullet points, strangely), so breaking a long thoughts into shorter parts also helps. I wish we could do something about this, but there doesn't seem to be an real solution.

Anonymous said...

If I'm sending letters using interfolio--the same letters every time--they aren't going to be uniquely suited to a particular job.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. The content of recs is not something that applicants can control. If you want customized letters of rec then you might as well not bother looking at anyone from any of the larger programs.

Anonymous said...

@10:15 and @11:31,

You actually can. Ask your recommenders to write and upload individualized recs for each job. I get that you feel like it's too much to ask, but you've got to realize that if you don't do this, you're disadvantaging yourself and hoping for the best.

Even some people from the larger programs do manage to get individualized recommendations. I know this from having read them. If you can't get that, then it tells me something unfavorable about you, your recommenders, or your relationship with your recommenders.

Is this suboptimal? Probably. But it's also true, so you should be aware of it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. My advisors love me, I know this, and I've been told that their letters are very good. But I'm one of three people they have on the market. We're each applying for roughly 25 jobs. You think they're going to write 75 tailored letters, not only tailored to each school but differentiating between us with respect to each institution? This is not reasonable.

Anonymous said...

I think they should write tailored, differentiated letters to the schools you and they together flag as reasonable shots that you'd like to work at. That should narrow the field to about 3-5 specially tailored letters per advisee, most of which won't be overlapping at that point. You know as well as they do that all 25 are not reasonable shots. I also think each recommender should have two generic letters: one for a research-intensive school and one for a teaching-intensive school. Failing that, I think you should have a bank of about 5 recommenders with two focused on teaching schools and two focused on research schools so that you can pick the three most appropriate recommendations for any given application.

If these things aren't reasonable, then your advisors have too many students or are too disincentivized to care about their students' outcomes. Take a good hard look at your program. What're you're describing -- if it's really the attitude you and they have -- is a problem program. Even if the persons involved are good people, the way that system is set up encourages failure.

Anonymous said...

An added note, 2:05/11:31:

If you look back at my earlier comments, the LORs are only a small part of the things a candidate can do to be the wrong candidate. In my estimation, they should only get you tossed if you're applying to a LAC and all your recs are a 3/4 page statement about what an excellent researcher you are in proto-Minoan glaze techniques. I want to know what someone who isn't you thinks about the teaching they've seen. I want some specific comments about what you do and how you can do well in the kind of place I'm at / in the kind of position I'm hiring for.

Anonymous said...

I'm 2:05 above. Well, maybe you're right: I can't say my program is placing very well, certainly hasn't placed me, but according to the Placement Tracker, nobody places well!! What I do is adjust the mix of letters I know focus on teaching and those I know focus on research depending on what type of institution it is.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this is true of us, too: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/11/12/being-from-a-privileged-background-helps-men-but-not-women-get-top-jobs/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories-2_gp-jobs-715pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory. In summary, class markers on CVs are a major determinant for who gets hot law jobs (with such decisions disguised as the dreaded "fit"). Does it work against a classicist if their undergraduate degree is from an affordable public university? What about Liberty University? I think one thing we’ve seen in this election is that academics need to be more welcoming of diverse ideological and class perspectives.

Anonymous said...

RE: the conversation between(most recently) 2:37PM and 2:48PM,

Given how the current market is, my letter writers are writing for several cohorts' worth of graduates (I graduated last year but am on the market once again; they are also writing for current graduate students and for people who graduated years before I did but haven't yet landed TT jobs). I really think it's unfair for a search committee to expect them to tailor their letters for all these different candidates and positions. They've told me that I should let them know if there are positions I am particularly excited about, but it's impossible to know which positions I actually have a shot at.

I didn't receive any interviews last year as a result of my faculty tailoring their letters for a particular position or reaching out to people they knew at other institutions. (I know they did both things, and none of those institutions requested an interview.) Instead, half a dozen places that had not received any special attention from me or my faculty DID request interviews.

This is all to say, I'm firmly in the "it's a total crapshoot" camp. And by the way, an instruction to "Take a good hard look at your program" does absolutely no good to someone who is already on the job market. What, are we supposed to get a second PhD somewhere else?

Anonymous said...

@ 12:49

See above about what "tailored" means. Then rethink your objection.

Also:
And by the way, an instruction to "Take a good hard look at your program" does absolutely no good to someone who is already on the job market. What, are we supposed to get a second PhD somewhere else?

That's supposed to help you think about the difficulties you and your cohort face in systemic terms compared to people from other programs. Does that "do you any good"? I don't know. Does thinking about Sappho or Vitruvius or black-figure vases do you any good? Does understanding basic statistic do a gambler any good in Vegas? It just seems like academics should want to try to understand their circumstances even if only for the sake of understanding them.

Anonymous said...

Not one of the above posters: ok, but we can see from the tracker that literally no program places well. It is not like some places do this "right" and others do this "wrong." Nobody is placing. It's a crapshoot. PS 12:49PM: six interviews your first year is great! Go, you!!

Anonymous said...

I assume that SCs can (rightly or wrongly) give more weight to recommenders who may be known to them from other contexts, which is something that applicants can quasi-control by picking said recommenders carefully.

Anonymous said...

General advice for people on the market for the first time: just do what you can. One search committee might trash your file right off the bat for whatever reason, but another might notice something cool that makes them want to learn more about you. Represent your achievements honestly and know that it's mostly out of your hands. Apply for jobs outside of academia if you can. The people I know who got jobs and stayed in the field aren't any happier than those who didn't.

Anonymous said...

One way on our particular search committee to get your application dropped from the running is to not really be an applicant for the job we're advertising. We're asking for a specialization in A, but if you really study the transformation of A in another culture instead, or the early pre-phases in the development of A, or something that evolved alongside A at the same time, you may not make it through to the next round. This is no aspersion on you or on your honest, thorough efforts to relate to us (in fact, we really respect the thoughtful connections drawn in these kinds of applications). It's just that we know from years of experience that we cannot do without actual A. Some searches and some subjects may have enough flexibility that these kinds of lateral intellectual connections can work, though, so my advice is that there is no harm in trying. Just don't think that the silence comes because you are not good enough. It really is in many cases about A.

Anonymous said...

More and more jobs require such bizarre specializations that you can't blame people for trying to squeeze themselves in. One this year seeks a historian who is also a specialist in material culture (archaeological and documentary), preferably who engages with other humanities disciplines as well, and who is also fully trained in the languages and can teach both at the graduate level. Given that they've advertised the job descriptions of several whole departments, they're going to get about 600 applications, and I hope they have fun with that...

Anonymous said...

I would note that in some instances, bizarre search descriptions are the tell for an inside hire (including, I strongly suspect, the one discussed above).

Anonymous said...

I guess this will probably just add to the confusion, but I am a search committee chair, and I really don't care if your letters are tailored or not. I know the game, the big industry of letter writing, and I want to see a letter that can speak about your teaching, research, and service *in concrete detail* and, especially in the case of research that may not be close to my own, an attempt to situate your research within the field in terms of content and quality. Also, I look for between-the-lines clues about whether the candidate might be nutty or difficult. None of that requires tailoring.

Anonymous said...

Naive first-year-on-the-market here...so have all the TT jobs come out by now? When is the deluge of VAPs? Post-docs?

Anonymous said...

TT jobs should be done now, except the odd probably-fixed advertisements that come out at weird times of the year. VAPs are mostly still coming.

Anonymous said...

"Deluge," though, is a word that has not been spoken in these parts for many years.

Anonymous said...

You can expect VAPs to come out in a more or less continuous trickle from now all the way through the spring until May. Probably more in the spring than in the winter as departments decide on their needs for the next year.

anonymous said...

Another beginner on the job market here. Is it worth applying to jobs at universities in the UK? My impression is that they're not interested in Americans, but am I wrong? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to know the answer to the above.

Anonymous said...

Your odds are even longer than they are in the US. But since it doesn't cost you anything, you may as well apply, in case lightning strikes.

Anonymous said...

I got to the interview stage for some JRFs as a American a few years back, though connections probably helped with that. I never got any response from actual jobs.

Anonymous said...

In general UK universities seem to prefer candidates from the UK or other European countries, especially France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. I suspect one reason for this is that academia in the UK works somewhat differently than in the US, with the result that American candidates can be at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding UK job ads and communicating with search committees. I interviewed (unsuccessfully) for a JRF at Oxford, and while the committee was pleasant, friendly and engaged, there was clearly a gap between our respective understandings of the nature of the position and its relationship to the college, the university, and other units. That said, it is clear from the past years' wikis that American PhDs (I know nothing of the actual citizenship of the candidates in question) do occasionally get hired by UK universities, and in my experience UK applications are generally less involved than American ones, so if I a position appeals to you you may as well apply. The only thing I've learned from my years on the market is that it's impossible to predict what will happen with any given position.

Anonymous said...

The SC member demanding tailored rec letters in applications deserves to be publicly flogged in Toronto. No doubt he'll preserve his anonymity for that reason, which is really too bad, because I'd like to know which department I should avoid applying to in order to avoid having colleagues with such an outrageous sense of entitlement.

For those of you worried that the demand is widespread, however, I can attest that it is at least not very widespread, as I have had plenty of interviews in my time on the market and only a very few of those were with places to which any of my writers sent a tailored letter or reached out to someone on the faculty. Mercifully, many of our colleagues do not have their heads so far up their asses.

Anonymous said...

Also, for what it's worth, the anecdotal evidence I have to offer about UK jobs is that Americans with fresh PhDs have a decent shot at JRFs but not at permanent positions, unless they are either extraordinarily well connected and/or have spent some time in a UK university, whether as a graduate student or an undergraduate. But even then, I can think of exceptions, so if there is a job for which you are an especially good fit, it's probably worth a shot.

Anonymous said...

The SC member demanding tailored rec letters in applications...

Reading comprehension fail.

Anonymous said...

Seriously though, people: do not ask your recommenders to write custom letters. The risk of straining your relationship with them is far greater than your risk of losing a job you otherwise would have gotten if your letter had been tailored. And let's be real: if you ask them to tailor their letters, and they quite pleasantly tell you they will, they're still probably not actually going to do it, since rule number one of holding a job where the demands are never-ending and the compensation is shit is to slack off at exactly those parts of the job that can never come back to haunt you.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:59 PM

I think the response is to this sentence: "If your recommenders don't know AND RESPECT where you're applying, we'll trash your application."

I know the OP went back and explained he/she didn't mean tailoring, but it's hard not to read this sentence that way. In addition, he/she also said in their follow-up post, "I want some specific comments about what you do and how you can do well in the kind of place I'm at / in the kind of position I'm hiring for." Which also sounds like real tailoring.

Nevertheless, I think some of the anger would be more appropriately aimed at the comments of those who are posting things like what November 12, 2016 at 1:23 PM posted--and I'm assuming these are job-seekers, not SC members. Their better-than-thou/suck-it-up comments are what really get people riled up.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:58 PM

I assumed November 12, 2016 at 1:23 PM was the same person who posted all the other similar comments from a SC perspective. They mention having read individualized letters.

Anonymous said...

I would say that someone who expects their advisors to tailor more than about one special-case letter per year does not know the norms of the field/their place in it and is likely to prove an imposing and self-centered colleague.

Anonymous said...

7:58 PM here

@ 9:54 PM okay, I see how it could be interpreted that way.

Funny how all the anonymity gets confusing!

anonymous said...

So now we have one SC member who will throw out your application if letters of reference aren't tailored and another who will take take tailored letters as evidence that you're self-centered? What are us newbies to do!?

Anonymous said...

Piss and moan, apparently.

Anonymous said...

I think the tailored letters = self-centered means that the SC member is self-centered. I'm the SC chair above who said I don't care about tailored letters. My philosophy as both a letter-writer and reader is that we all know the strengths and weaknesses of the letter-of-recommendation genre, and I know it's easier for letter writers (of which I am one) if they can just write a truthful, detailed letter without having to worry about tailored spin and send a lightly edited version of that for as many applications as possible, and I know as a search committee member that if the letter is well written, detailed and honest, I can make a better judgment than the letter-writer can about whether the candidate will be able to fulfill the particular needs of my department and university. So I guess you could flip that on its head and say that I agree with the comment above that search committees looking for tailored letters are more likely to be special snowflake colleagues. (Not questioning that different programs and institutions have very different needs, but the people who know those needs and can best judge the candidates' suitability are the search committee members, not the letter writers.)

Anonymous said...

Welcome, newbies, to a world in which everyone strongly believes that they know the recipe for getting a job, and that unless you follow this recipe to the letter, you will not get one. Problem is that nobody agrees on the recipe. My advice, four years in, is that there is no right way to do this. It's a crapshoot. Anything you can do is not done in application season but the rest of the year: you increase your odds in this crapshoot if you teach interesting classes well, and publish your behind off.

Anonymous said...

@11:14 AM,

Do you agree with the idea that sending a LAC (only) a 3/4 page letter about research is a bad idea and that sending an R1 several pages about teaching and nothing on research is a bad idea? Is it special-snowflake to have two versions of the letter to be used for different types of schools or to have a pool of recommenders from which to draw the appropriate types of letters?

Your comments sound like you have a very narrow view of the US university system. Your kind of narrow-mindedness is a particularly virulent sort of head-up-assery.

Anonymous said...

I have written plenty of letters of recommendation on behalf of job candidates, both those freshly out of graduate school and those who have had VAP positions for a couple of years. I have never tailored those letters to the extent recommended by a couple of posters above (e.g. Nov 16 @ 12:17pm). Instead, in a typical letter (let's say two pages, sometimes three) I'll try to devote equivalent amounts of space to assessing both a candidate's research and his/her teaching. In that sense, I agree with Nov 16 @ 11:14 am: my role as a letter writer is to give as accurate an impression as I can of a candidate's potential as both a researcher and a teacher; the role of the search committee is to determine whether or not those things align with their own goals.

In practice, I naturally find that it is sometimes difficult to produce a nice and balanced letter that focuses equally on teaching and research. When that happens, it is usually because a candidate fresh out of graduate school has not necessarily accumulated lots and lots of teaching experience on which I can comment. My letters for candidates like that necessarily focus more heavily on assessing the quality of their dissertations, although I will also focus on things like performance in formal presentations etc. as a proxy for teaching.

Anonymous said...

Nov 16 @ 11:14 here. 12:17 PM: Nowhere did I even hint that anyone should write a short letter only about research to a LAC or a long letter about research to an R-1. I currently work at a selective private university, and I have also taught at two LACs, and I am very aware of the idea of institutional diversity beyond my own direct experiences. Smart candidates who are well-prepared and able to (based on their experience) will have letter-writers who can speak to different aspects of their dossier, whether that means teaching, research or some other kind of distinctive experience they have. If they are fortunate enough to have more than three letter-writers in their corral, they certainly should choose which letters to send on the basis of which strengths they know a particular letter-writer can highlight. That does not mean that letter-writers should be crafting tailored letters. Nov 16 @ 1:33 hits the nail on the head as far as what the letter-writer can and should do, and I stand by my statement that the people who know a program's needs and can best judge the candidates' suitability are the search committee members, not the letter writers. The job market is, as somebody noted above, a real crapshoot, and it is also just plain crap: even excellent candidates can't get jobs, and, while I am asking for *no sympathy* here, for employed faculty members, it means we have to both write and read that many more letters. If you can't see the human side of the process, be reasonable, and work to make the best we can of a shitty situation for all, well, that's on you, not me.

Anonymous said...

@ 11:14/3:00

"If you can't see the human side of the process, be reasonable, and work to make the best we can of a shitty situation for all, well, that's on you, not me."

That's exactly how I would characterize your position. All the more so since your stance relies on "it's too hard to write an appropriate letter and SCs should just get it." What I get is that not every letter writer holds your view. So you choose to disadvantage your candidates because your privileged lifestyle is still just too hard. That's on you, not me.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say it's too hard to write an appropriate letter nor did I say that the search committee should just get it. Instead we clearly disagree about what an appropriate letter is. In my opinion, the letter-writer needs to know specific details about the candidate, not the job, and an appropriate letter is therefore one that provides concrete details about what the letter-writer knows about the candidate's abilities and qualifications. The search committee member knows the specific details about the position, and it is the search committee member's job to read letters carefully to learn who might be the best candidate for the position and not just toss an application because, oh the horror, we are teaching-focused institution and the candidate's dissertation chair had the temerity to suggest that the candidate is interested in his dissertation research! So my privileged lifestyle means writing detailed, supportive letters for candidates, and, as a search committee member, reading dossiers carefully and considering the human dimension of a frankly crazy process for deciding people's professional fates.

I hope this discussion is helpful to candidates and those who will one day be letter writers. I'm not really interested in arguing with you, Nov 16 @ 3:49 PM, so good luck with your search and peace, bro.

Anonymous said...

Except that you're clearly not interested in the supportive part of the letter. Go ahead. Take your ball and go home.

And, for the record, I'm not your bro, sis. Despite popular wisdom, not everyone on the internet is a man.

Anonymous said...

Folks, I'm with 4:31 PM. What a Search Committee wants is a generic application that shows that you and your advisers are too busy doing real scholarship to play anybody else's games.

Anonymous said...

5:53 speaks the truth! They want to see that they will learn what true scholarship is from you, if you deign to join their department.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of people on the job market and have myself had some success on it (although no job yet), and 4:31 describes the system as it actually functions. If you think otherwise, you are misinformed, and if you're someone who has not had a lot of contact with the job market lately, you might want to rethink your assumptions.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? "I know a lot of people..." and "no job yet" but "4:31 is totes right!"? And you don't see a correlation here? You might want to rethink your assumptions.

Anonymous said...

Let me direct you to the Placement Tracker if you are under the impression that this situation is unusual: http://classics.wikidot.com/placement-tracker

Anonymous said...

Lol. And how many of those who actually got a job had someone who cared about their applications and their recs? YOUR experience is that none of it matters AND that you don't have a job.... Hmm..... Just sayin'..... But, yeah, keep angrily asserting that your way is right.

Anonymous said...

I am a professor at an R1, for which position I left a TT job at a SLAC. I am sure that the SC member above would hold me up as proof of her wisdom, but the truth is that I loved teaching there, liked and became friends with the dean, and got on well with my students. The only reason that I left is because my very few colleagues were insufferable and had I stayed they would have done everything in their power to prevent me from gaining tenure. They resented--in fact manifestly hated--that I enjoyed doing research and published more in my few years there than they had in their entire combined careers. Once they realized that they had hired what one of them called a Trojan horse--I had no publications when hired and devoted my cover letter to talking about teaching and my own experiences as a student at a very similar SLAC--they did everything they could to undermine me, primarily by attempting to create the impression that my research was somehow detracting from my teaching (e.g. they wrote a letter to the dean demanding that I be formally censured for attending a conference in Europe while classes were in session--the dean wrote back that he had not only approved my attending the conference but had contributed funds for it [and, yes, I had made accommodations for my students]). They were constantly mouthing the same ridiculous claims as the SC member above about how much time they had to devote to teaching and college committees etc., but I teach more students here in a year than they teach in a decade, while the burden of service and especially supervision is far more onerous as well. I would estimate that I have less than half as much time now for my own research. Which invites the question of what exactly my former colleagues did with their time? But I know the answer to that: spend countless hours on social media in order to gossip about their students and the private lives of the rest of the faculty, while indulging seemingly every mindless hobby. And of course blogging.

Anonymous said...

8:34,
The petty viciousness of the SLACers has verisimilitude, but no other part of your post does. You need to work on internal consistency when creating your character next time. For example, your character can't attack others for having the time to blog in a blog post! That just undermines the persona's message. It's no stretch at all to begin to wonder if the author is in fact implying sympathy for the SLAC colleagues at the expense of the passage's "ego".

Anonymous said...

@November 17, 2016 at 8:34 AM
By your own admission you did not understand the SLAC culture, tried to turn the upper administration against your colleagues, left, and now espouse stereotypical R1 disdain for people at SLACs. I hate to agree with the obvious troll above, but the shoe fits.

Anonymous said...

Guys (I'm a woman so I can say that), can we be a little bit gentle on each other? Especially those of you/us on the market, and especially those doing it for the first time: whether you know it or not, you're about to take an emotional walloping in December such as you probably have never experienced before. Go into the experience with a little karma of kindness on your side.

Anonymous said...

I do not 'espouse disdain for people at SLACs' and I never have. In fact I wish I taught at one, but certainly not at that particular place (or, I suspect, yours). The culture there was not "SLAC culture"--the professors at the SLAC I attended as an undergraduate, and likewise many others with whom I am acquainted, were as active and engaged in research as our colleagues at R1s. As far as I can determine the only thing that separates them is that they had/have no interest in supervising graduate students and they are/were able to and interested in getting to know and empathizing with each of their students individually.

As far as trying 'to turn the upper administration against [my] colleagues', I can assure you that even if that had been something I was interested in, which it wasn't, there would have been little need as they had managed it well enough on their own.

Anonymous said...

Nov 17 @ 4:25, your original post described what sounded to me like a good attempt on your part to do your best in a bad situation. Ignore the troll.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. The "troll" sounds right to me. I've had colleagues who love to make martyrs out of themselves and evil witches out of others. Nov 17 @ 4:25 sounds like one of those to me.

Anonymous said...

Alas. We are the most educated, sophisticated, civilized people out there--for goodness' sake, why do we even think it's worthwhile for students to read classical literature, if not for its ability to broaden our minds and make us more humane?--and yet the internet can make us into trolls as well.

I acknowledge that not all classicist are good people, any more than "all" of any category can be, but most of the ones I know really are. Let's keep being good people, even on the internet.

Anonymous said...

"We are the most educated, sophisticated, civilized people out there" -- and humble too!

Anonymous said...

SCS website: "If you've forgotten you're password...." Oh dear.

Anonymous said...

I should have added "supposedly" before that statement. It's meant as a bit of an overstatement.

Anonymous said...

Trump!

OK, now that's over.

I was just struck by the fact that the word was found nowhere on this blog. Given what is going on in the world that is pretty impressive. Way to keep focus, people.

OK, now back to work!

Anonymous said...

Don't you know he's the Voldemort of 2016? Anyway, I take credit for being the one who snapped at the too-cool-to-vote person the day after the election, so I at least have not kept my focus.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if on the Placement Tracker we couldn't put in place-holder years so that it's easier to skim the data. For example:

University of XYZ

2008: 4, 3, 1, 0, 0
2007: 4, 2, 0, 2, 0
2006:
2005: 5, 2, 0, 1, 1
2004: 3, 1, 0, 1, 0
2003: 5, 3, 2, 1, 1
2002:
2001: 4, 2, 1, 0, 1
2000:
1999:

This way we're comparing the same years in the same institutions, and we can see the years we don't have the numbers for.

Anonymous said...

Sure, why not?

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