Thursday, June 23, 2011


Dean Suzy managed to beat three more positions out of the chancellor, two of them t-t even. Not wanting to waste any time (someone might realize that the basis of my blackmail was not all that solid) we got on it right away and put an ad in the papers with all three positions. I have some advice for applicants (I may be repeating myself here).
  • We put numbers on the ad so that my clerical help can tell the difference between Oriental Carpetweaving and Horsehair Upholstery. Make it easy to read the number at first glance - my staff can't deduce from the cover letter what field you are going for here.
  • If you are applying for both positions (and I really hate these people who believe they can teach anything) please submit two copies of your application. They are different search committees and they don't share toys with each other nicely.
  • Sending the dean 15 MB of attachments in an email application when we requested paper does not score points.
  • Don't send us copies of your book unless we ask you to. That makes your application not fit in the little boxes we are using to try and organize the stuff.
  • No, it's not cute to use carpet as a cover for your application.
  • Don't use the letterhead of the university you are planning on leaving.
  • Don't call the dean to ask her if we will accept a doctorate in Underwater Basketweaving for the Oriental Rugmaking position. That will be decided by the committee. I hope they say no, because you asked me three times and tried to explain how wonderful Underwater Basketweaving is. I don't understand what it is and I have other things to do.
  • Do check that the telephone number and address are correct - it is frustrating to invite someone for an interview, and they don't respond.
And for those lucky ones invited for a visit:
  • No, you do not look sophisticated keeping one hand in your pocket the entire afternoon.
  • If I show you how to operate the table so you can stand up to lecture, don't put it down so you can sit while speaking.
  • Don't use the Wikipedia as the basis for your talk.
  • If you are requested to stop in 2 more minutes, speak for exactly 1:59 and not one second longer. If the search committee head stands up because you have now spoken for 20 minutes longer than intended, stop right there.
  • Don't use the school logo for your talk. You are not here yet.
  • Bathe. And maybe skip the garlic for breakfast.


  1. so much conflicting advice out there about whether or not to use letterhead from your current place of employment. . . Dean Suzy, can you elaborate on your reasoning here?

    Others care to chime in?

    What's a job applicant to do, when some say absolutely use it and others say definitely don't?

    'Cause, really, what those of us on the market want to do is to agonize over WHAT KIND OF LETTERHEAD TO USE. . . as if the whole process isn't fucked up enough.

  2. I have an issue with using the school logo in a presentation.

    I've read on CM and on RYS (and I tend to agree) that adding personal touches to the actual university where you are interviewing is a good idea. Know the name of the library. The name of the school mascot. The basics of the town and its surroundings. Adding something personal like the logo of the school seems to be one of many things applications could do to show me that they are serious about THIS position, at THIS university, and not just giving me the same song and dance anywhere else.

    Dean Suzy? What do you think? Is it just that he school logo is too cheesy or do you disagree with my reading of it?

  3. @vietcong: I acknowledge and celebrate your concerns, but I agree with Suzy.

    And there are other related issues, such as whether or not to list as your contact email address. I don't think that's appropriate, but I've seen it many times. (I don't even think it's appropriate when a person is applying for a promotion or lateral move at hir current university.)

    It gives me the impression that the person is more likely than most to steal paperclips and then ultimately embezzle bigger things.

    You're not applying as a representative of your current university. You're applying as yourself.

  4. "What's a job applicant to do, when some say absolutely use it and others say definitely don't?"

    Pointless worrying about it in cases like that.

    In any case, I doubt something that inconsequential is a deal breaker to Dean Suzy. (And if it is, do you really want to work there?)

  5. The "don't use your present university's letterhead" one surprised me (as did Bubba's addition about email addresses), though I do get the thinking behind it. I suspect my situation might be a bit different: I'm in a non-TT job of a kind that was originally, several decades ago, designed as the equivalent of a postdoc, but has morphed/metastasized into a permanent feature of the department. In the (very few) cases that someone holding one of these positions has succeeded in getting a TT job elsewhere, the TT faculty have been absolutely delighted, since it's very easy to fill the line (often from the current adjunct pool), and since it helps maintain the sense/illusion that our jobs aren't the dead ends that they in fact, in the great majority of cases, are.

    It's easy enough to have an alternate email address, even an .edu one, since most schools offer forwarding addresses for alumni.

    I suppose if I were secretly plotting to leave a TT job I'd probably use my home address, phone, and email anyway, so as to keep my efforts as quiet as possible. But I'm still not sure I'm really all that disturbed by the idea of someone doing otherwise.

    On the other hand, putting the logo of the school to which you're applying on your slides? That strikes me as weird. There are other, much better, ways to show you've done your homework about the school.

  6. @CC: Putting the logo/name/colors of the school on slides is something I've seen many times with firms bidding on contracts. I don't know if it helps them; it doesn't seem to hurt them. This is apples and oranges, but they're both fruit.


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