As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am going to run a new series here at the Cocoon: a Job-Market Boot Camp of sorts. The basic aim of Boot Camp is to share and discuss information and advice on how to succeed on the academic job market. We will discuss everything from what a good dossier looks like (CVs, research statements), to developing a unified research program, to interviewing, stress management, and lots of other things. The idea for the series came, quite frankly, from my own struggles on the market. It took me a lot of time to "figure things out" and come across good advice that actually seemed to work. My hope is that the series will help others avoid a similar kind of flailing, and provide sound advice based--as far as possible--on evidence. Allow me to explain, then, how I would like to conduct the series.
Discussions of the job-market in philosophy departments and the philosophy blogosphere is rampant with speculation. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion of "what search committees are looking for." The problem, though, is that opinions here often differ dramatically, and often appear to be based on little more than personal impressions. This, in my experience, tends to lead to a lot of unhelpful, contradictory advice. What we should try to do, I think, is base job-market advice on evidence. Of course, such evidence is hard to come by. Given that there are (to my knowledge) no sound empirical studies on what it takes to do well on the philosophy job market, we have to do the best with what we have--and that is personal experiences as job-candidates, search-committee members, PhD program placement directors, etc. What I would like to try to do, then, is conduct the Job Market Boot Camp in the following way. I am going to ask that discussion, as far as possible, be based on evidence. So, for instance, I am going to share quite a lot of my experiences on the market, and trends between what I did and results that I experienced. Similarly, I would like to ask other job-marketeers, search-committee members, placement directors, etc., to share their experiences, in as evidence-based of a way as possible. I would like, in other words, for discussion in the comments-sections of posts to be of the following sort:
- "As a job-candidate, I did X, Y, and Z, and here were the results."
- "As a search-committee member at an R1 institution, this is what I looked for."
- "As a placement-director at a Leiter-unranked program, our students did X, Y, and Z and fared well."
Notice that in each case, the information/advice based it on some kind of evidence beyond mere intuition or speculation. This is what I would like to try to aspire to in the series, and I would like to ask everyone who participates--myself and commenters alike--to hold each other to it. It will, of course, be a highly fallible enterprise, and contradictory advice may obviously still emerge. But, for all that, I believe, an evidence-based discussion--linking advice to specific results, trends, etc.--will be more helpful than pure speculation. As such, I would like to invite all job-seekers, search committee members, placement directors, etc., to share evidence they have throughout the series: evidence of how they fared as job-seekers, evidence of how they made decisions (as search committee members), and evidence of how their students fared (as placement directors). Further, I would like to ask commenters to be as specific as possible in the evidence they provide. Did X, Y, and Z seem to result in a lot of interviews? If so, where? At R1's? SLACs? Community colleges? Were you a search committee member at an R1? An R2? SLAC? Etc. You get the picture. The more specific your evidence, the better!
Finally, given that I will be offering advice in my posts throughout the series, I suppose I should answer the obvious question: why should anyone take seriously the advice I have to offer? A reasonable question, to be sure. My first year on the market was 2007. I got my first TT job this year, in 2015. It was a long road, and I by no means have all of the answers. All I can do is share my experiences: things that didn't work, and things that seemed to. I will, at the end of the day, leave it up to readers, and commenters, to decide whether the information and advice I have to offer is accurate and useful--but what I can promise to try to do, throughout, is base my advice on the best evidence I can: on facts and trends that I experienced myself, and on evidence that I have come across from other sources. I hope readers find the posts helpful, and I look forward to discussions of the topics to come.
So, then, up, up, and away! The topic of the next few posts? How to develop and put together a good CV!