Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shenanigans at the APA

An anonymous commenter writes:

"Is there a blog that gives updates on the shenanigans going down now at the APA Eastern? Inquiring minds want to know!"

Yes, anon, there is, and it is this blog. So, people, give us your shenanigans, your gossip, your stories of heartbreak, and your wild conjectures about the recently concluded APA meetings.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Questions for them

When the interview is winding down, it is pretty common for the interviewers to encourage the candidate to ask them a question or two. Obviously, this is yet another opportunity to impress them or to fuck things up. So, what are good questions to ask at an interview? Should one get down to brass tacks (tenure requirements, course load, salary), or should one use the question to make oneself look good? What are good questions to ask, and which questions are off-limits?

Monday, December 22, 2008

What do you want from us!?!

This is more of a question for members of search committees than those who successfully landed interviews. The reason I'm less interested in hearing from those who successfully landed interviews is that there's a good chance that the reason you landed interviews won't ever be a reason that I'll land an interview or others might land interviews. Most of us who want jobs don't come from Leiterriffic departments. So, what can we do to compensate for that? Something? Nothing?

I'm guessing that your answer will depend on the sort of department you work for. I thought that if you could beef up your teaching portfolio, this would impress the SLAC. If you get some pubs, that would impress research departments. As you might have guessed, none of this has brought me any luck and I'm now starting to fear that for most people the answer is 'Nothing'. But, I could be wrong. So, if there is something that can be done to overcome the lack of pedigree, we want to know what it is and who this sort of thing might work on. If some of you really wouldn't hire those of us from departments that aren't Leiterriffic it would be good to know. Some of us could give up and grad students could make some informed decisions.

Fwiw, this isn't a good thread for fighting and arguing. We just need some honest answers. Also, don't take the '!?!' as a sign of bitterness or frustration. My year wasn't as bad as it has been for many. I feel pretty okay about things at the moment.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My suitcase is empty

I'm finally done grading. Now, on to interview prep, and the small matter of preparing for for my courses next semester. Oh, and holiday cheer, of course: Happy holidays to all of you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why, oh why, must the wiki always be down?

And can somebody who knows what they're doing fix it?

Interviews with small departments

Small departments are probably looking for someone with your AOS because they don't already have somebody who can plausibly teach an upper division class on that topic. So you can be pretty confident that your interviewers don't know much (and perhaps shockingly little) about your AOS. When discussing your research, then, should you be careful to define the basic terms and concepts in your area (even those that any 3rd year grad student should be familiar with), thus risking seeming pedantic and condescending, or should you operate under the assumption that your interviewers are familiar with the basics, and risk alienating them very quickly while coming off as a bad fit in a small, teaching-oriented department?

Monday, December 15, 2008


Last night I read on the wiki that the "core search" has been canceled. But the wiki doesn't say that today. Anyone got the straight dope on Skidmore?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Misery loves company

It's been a rough weekend. With literally a small suitcase's worth of grading hovering over me (I mean 'literally' literally: I have a small suitcase that is full of papers and finals that I have yet to grade), 2 places I applied to set up interviews with people who are not me, and another place I applied to canceled its search. The number of places I have yet to hear from (or rather, have yet to know about via the wiki) is now about 1/3 of the total number of places I applied to. So far, 1 interview for me.

It no doubt reflects my bad character that it made me feel better to read the following, from Philosophers Anonymous:

"Searches are being canceled without warning, the number of interview slots is being shrunk, people are having to suddenly rearrange their travel itinerary, and so on. A seemingly large number of new Ph.D.'s who managed to land 4 or more interviews last year (as ABD) have zero interviews this year. It's rough out there."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good lines

"If I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?"

Now that is clearly an awesome pickup line, and anybody who disagrees just doesn't understand romance.

Are there the equivalent of pickup lines that one ought to intersperse throughout one's cover letters? Little verbal hooks that will make the SC think that you are a driven researcher and an inspiring teacher? This will only be good for next year (or the VAP season), but would anybody care to share their best cover letter lines?

(I'd also be interested in hearing from members of SC's about the worst lines they've ever read.)

Got one

Now, for a few more ...


So CalTech apparently notified candidates for a philosophy position that the search would now include candidates outside of philosophy, and according to Leiter this was done for budgetary reasons. I'm trying to understand how this change is supposed to be of any financial help to CalTech. Whether the successful candidate is a philosopher or not, CalTech is still going to have to pay his/her salary. The only thing I can think is that there were several different searches for positions in different departments, and that these have all been condensed into one. But how this would work in practical terms--for example, who would conduct the interviews?--is beyond me.

What am I missing?

Are SC's dragging their feet?

Anon 4:53 writes:

"Question for those who were on the market last year: judging from wiki activity, calls, emails, whatever, do things seem to be going slower this year than last?"

Thoughts? Also, anybody care to brag about the number of interviews they've already got scheduled?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

rejections but no interviews

What does it mean when a department sends out a bunch of email rejections but doesn't schedule any APA interviews? Would it be reasonable to conclude that one will eventually get an interview on the grounds that one has not received that rejection email? Should one read anything into this at all?

Anonymous comments now enabled

As David helpfully pointed out, it won't be much of a gossip blog if anonymous comments are not enabled. So, now they are. Have at it!

Common job mistakes

I don't have any interviews yet and I'm starting to wonder whether I made some mistakes in my application materials, or whether it's all about where I got my degree. Given the standard ad asking for a cover letter, letters of recommendation, a cv, and a writing sample, I included all these along with a 2 page dissertation abstract. My cover letter explained where I got my Ph.D. (unranked program that I continue to believe is really very good), where I am now working (VAP at a SLAC), what my dissertation was about, and some stuff about teaching tailored to the job ad. I kept most of the letters to a single page. I have two good publications and (I am led to believe) very strong letters of recommendation, but no bites so far. Did I make a mistake in my application materials, or does pedigree trump all?

More generally, what are the sorts of mistakes that applicants make, so that we can avoid these next year? Comments from members of SC's would be most appreciated.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

welcome to philosophy gossip

I once enjoyed the Philosophy Job Market Blog, but these days the owners of that blog rarely post, can't be bothered to even update the comments for days on end, moderate the comments, and delete comments that complain about their practices or suggest alternate venues for discussion about the philosophical profession (and who knows what else). I would like this blog to become a new venue for gossip, complaining, ranting, or even helpful advice (though this should be kept to a minimum) about the philosophical profession in all its dubious glory. I promise not to moderate comments and to post new items at least once every few days. The main point of this blog, though, is not for you to read whatever pearls I have to dispense, but for there to be an open forum where philosophers and philosophers in training can talk about their profession.