Job Talk Notes

How to Get a Job in Academia
Dr. Sid Dobrin
February 22, 2012

Note: I have taken the liberty of organizing these notes based on topic. They do not follow the order in which Dr. Dobrin discussed them.

Important: Any of this advice is invalid if your director says otherwise – always refer to his or her advice first

Long-Term Preparation – Things to Remember
• 3 ways you should be able to talk about your dissertation
o 1. Elevator conversation – 1 sentence
o 2. Cocktail party – 1 paragraph (for your cover letter)
o 3. Interview style
• Chairing sessions counts as service
o Do national service – mediate a list, help out at large conferences
• Don’t do graduate student conferences during your 4th year (makes you look like a graduate student and you need to look professional and like you’re branching out)
o Things like EGO are best for your first couple of years
• A national conference is usually better for you than a local one, unless the national conference is unknown or poorly organized
• Think about where you want to be in 10 years and map backwards
• How many R1 jobs are out there? Most academic lives aren’t that way
• Write and publish about pedagogy and teaching, if you want a teaching-focused job
• The job search costs $$$ – professional printing, clothes, travel, postage, etc.
• Don’t think that credential building is about volume – it’s about strategy
o Remember – search committees see your dissertation title on your C.V., so make sure it is clear and appealing
o Don’t write a seminar paper that’s not within your research interests
o Always have things at each stage of publication
♣ People reading your resume don’t care if things are under review; they want things published or in production; revise and resubmit is OK
o Get over the want to quote too much, anxiety about things that were published before
o Get used to rejection – “live in the rejection”
o Send out perfected work – remember, it’s your REPUTATION
• Suggested book: How To Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation
• Get your degree!

Job Postings – go up around the end of September
• Departments have long-term hiring plans, e.g. a 5 year plan at UF
o These depend on budget (approval of hiring lines occurs around February / March)
• The search committee forms job ads, usually around the end of the spring semester
• Where do jobs get posted?
o MLA publishes the JIL (Job Information List)*
♣ Graduate students have free access (don’t look at it right as it comes out, lots of traffic on the list)
♣ *every year, look at the JIL in your area and look for trends*
♣ Pay attention to how people write job ads
o The Chronicle of Higher Education
o Listservs
o Note: Jobs need to be advertised, by law, in 3 locations
• Think about the number of applicants, what the committee wants

Preparing For the Job Market: Do before jobs are posted
• *Over summer, before the JIL comes out: draft your materials and develop a strategy with your director
• Remember: The job search is a full time job – it’s nearly impossible to balance it with writing your dissertation and teaching
• Materials you will need to have
o Cover letters
o Writing Samples
o CV / Resume (with different focuses, depending on what kind of institution you’re applying to)
o Letters of recommendation (3-5)
o Proof of teaching excellence
o Other materials
o Note: A school might ask you for your dossier up front
• Why prepare so early? Most search committees will want your materials around early-mid November

The Cover Letter
• This is NOT A TEMPLATE – do one for each school, individually
o You can use models of a letter, but customize them
o Research each school on its webpage, learn about its culture
• Length: 2 pages, single spaced (not longer than 2.5 pages)
• These are the first way that a committee trims down the applicant pool
o They will look at these very closely – Pay attention to grammar, length, tone, etc.
• What is the purpose of a cover letter? To get the search committee to want to see more of your material
• Don’t sound like a graduate student
o Instead of saying “my dissertation,” say “my project” or “my research”
• Relation of the cover letter to the resume
o The resume is an index, the cover letter explains key points in that index
• Introductory paragraph
o Identify the job and where it was advertised – search committees often are handling multiple jobs and specificity helps them
• Consider the 3 measures of academe: Research, teaching and service (service not being as important as the first two)
• Research paragraph (put first if applying to an R1 research institution)
o Make sure to mention what you will do in future projects
• Teaching paragraph
o A U.F. advantage: you will have taught courses in your subject area, maybe upper division courses
o Remember: EVERYONE teaches 1st year writing / composition
o Talk about courses you have designed, textbooks you selected
o If you taught at community colleges or mentored, it’s good to mention
• Service – good to mention (things like EGO, conference organizing, etc.)
• Always make sure you have accurate contact information, a professional sounding voicemail on your phone and a professional email address
• Ending the letter
o Tell them to feel free to contact you if they have further questions
• If you’re not sure how to write a cover letter – your director will know; there are online resources for this sort of thing
The C.V. / Resume
• Organize the C.V. / resume in relation to the job – develop a research vitae, a teaching vitae, etc.
• To prepare for writing this – always write down everything that you do, in one document, noting dates, places and titles – keep this document up to date

Letters of Recommendation (3-5)
• These have to come from an official source (from the letter writer or software like Interfolio)
o Interfolio – an online recommendation and resource distributor, pay to use
• Ask for letters early – at the end of spring, summer (some people might not be there over summer); the beginning of the fall semester at the absolute latest
o Remember: a lot of people will ask Raúl for a letter about their teaching
• If you ask someone to write a letter, tell them what you’d like them to focus on and address in that letter
• Who should write your letters?
o 1. Your director (research letter)
♣ He or she best knows your research
♣ A savvy director will target the particular school you’re applying to
o 2. Teaching letter – Raúl, faculty evaluator, someone who has seen you teach
♣ Invite your director to come see you teach, 2 or 3 times, various kinds of classes
♣ You can invite people to see you teach as often as you want
♣ Don’t rely on the contractual letter writer – they’re randomly assigned
♣ Faculty only – not other graduate students
o 3. Committee member, someone you have had multiple classes with and who you have a good professional relationship with
o Reach out to professionals you know well at other institutions
♣ They may have an ethical issue with this, maybe only support people in their own departments
• The diversity of your letter writers and their name recognition matters

Writing Sample(s)
• Things you could use (the institution might specify what they want)
o Dissertation chapter – if not using the first chapter, you can provide a page of context
o Something published!!!
• If you send a .doc file, it looks like a student paper
o Make your writing sample look like a book or journal article (consider layout programs like Mdesign or Apple Pages)
o Use the standard academic fonts (e.g. Times New Roman, Garamond, etc.; NO COMIC SANS)
• Article length, unless they say otherwise
• Don’t send something from completely outside of your field
• Try to have a few different samples prepared

Proof of Teaching Excellence
• You may have to submit your student evaluations
• Submit evaluations in full packets – you can’t pick and choose
• An issue: UF does online student evaluations, so you may not have a complete class to submit
o There’s no hard copy and no official way to submit them either
• Go up for teaching awards

First Cuts
• How are people cut out of the applicant pool?
o First cuts – cut down to around 30-40 people, whom they ask for more information
o Occurs around mid-November
• What kinds of materials will you now need to provide?
o Teaching philosophy statement – you need to know how to write one
♣ Explication of why you teach the way that you do
♣ A professional knows why she does what she does
♣ 1 page, single spaced (NO LONGER)
o EO cards (equal opportunity cards ) – fill them out
o May ask for additional essays, prompt you to write something
♣ E.g. if a university has a religious affiliation, they may ask you about how you incorporate Christ in the classroom
• Know if a school has religious or military affiliations
• Keep track of all of your documents that you’re sending – it’s a clerical nightmare

Second Cuts
• Institutions cut candidates down to 10 people who match their fit
• These people are invited for interviews, usually at MLA
o Note: Phone interviews and Skype interviews are becoming more common
• You want this invitation to MLA
• The schools call the candidates to schedule the interview
• Handling the phone call
o Take a second to compose yourself – be calm, not overeager
o Scheduling the interview
♣ When are you best? Don’t schedule for 9 AM if you’re bad at mornings
♣ Be there when the interviewers will be at their best – try not to get an end of the day appointment, they will be exhausted
♣ If you miss the call, get back to them quickly – better scheduling chances
♣ Don’t lie about how busy your interview schedule is
o Ask who else will be at the interview, who else is on the search committee

Preparing for the Interview
• When you’re on the way to MLA – you are on – be professional and watch what you say, because you never know who is around you in the airport or hotel
• When you get to MLA – check in place for job candidates
o You will find out here where the interviewers are, what hotel room or suite they are in
o This check in area will be tense
• Before you show up for the interview – don’t just knock on the door, call the hotel and ask to be connected to the interviewer’s room and let them know you’re on the way
• Handling STRESS – eat properly, wear comfortable shoes, keep snacks and water in your room, etc.
• Always be prepared – know about the program, research what they do
o Know about the research areas of the search committee members – they won’t all be in your field
• Think about the physical space of the interview and adapt
o Give yourself space to relax and pause

The Interview
• Attire – formal business attire (and, again, comfortable shoes)
• Expect some introductions and small talk
• They will ask about your research
o Be visually excited, lean in – it’s a performance
o Take about 5 minutes – this is the “interview style” of talking about your dissertation
o Discuss structure of your project, its agenda and WHERE IT’S GOING
o Details – know the presses or journals where you might submit your book / articles and know major publishers in your field
♣ This shows that your research has an audience in mind
• Talking about your teaching
o Classes that you teach, texts and assignments (don’t hesitate when they ask you about textbooks you assign)
o Don’t have a generic approach – think about what kinds of classes this institution offers
o Don’t tread on other people’s turf – e.g. don’t say you want to teach their Intro to Children’s Lit course when one of the search committee members has been handling that course for 3 years
o Don’t leave them with a big pile of syllabi – you could bring 2 or 3 along, though
o They will ask you about upper division, lower division and grad level teaching
o A common question: If you could teach anything, what would it be?
♣ Ideal course (program is thinking about their course development)
♣ Make sure your answer is something in your field
• Legally, interviewers cannot ask certain things, so consider what you need to disclose
o E.g. issues of your spouse needing a job
• Don’t bring up salary
• When they ask “do you have a question for us?” – DON’T SAY “NO”
o Standard answer: tell me about the students at your school
o Ask a couple of job-related questions, ask 1 non-job-related question (something about life in the community; you’re not just working with these people)
• Interview time – scheduled in 1 hour blocks; usually around 45 minutes
o If it’s 25-30 minutes in and it’s winding down, they have no interest
• Interviewers are thinking about how students will react to you
• Don’t take notes during an interview, or refer to notes during it

Third Cuts and Campus Visits
• After the interview, the search committee cuts the applicant pool down to 3
o Some search committees confer with the department to make this decision
• February, 1 per week – campus interviews
o They will call you, often the night after the interview
• The interviewer wants to sell the college to you
• Campus visits also let the department become more familiar with you
• At UF, candidates don’t give a formal presentation; other places ask for a formal job talk
o Some places will ask you to teach a class
• Tours to go on when visiting a campus – ask for a real estate tour (by a realtor), ask faculty where they shop
o Ask about the price of the three staples they buy the most – it’s a good test of the cost of living
• Meetings you will have
o The search committee
o The dean or someone above the department
♣ Ask him or her about how he or she views the culture of the department
o The chair – describes details of the job
♣ Still not appropriate to ask about salary
• You can’t negotiate at this point
• The offer isn’t in writing

Job offers will roll in around March

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