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07/07/2014

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Gradjunct

I am curious whether the OP might be able to say more about the nature of the individual providing the service. How did the OP find this person? A cursory google search of "academic job market consultant" returned no useful results. Was the individual in question familiar with the philosophy job market per se? If so, what were their qualifications? Pehaps a phd, and had they held a tenure track position? Had they served on at least one philosophy hiring committee? Was the person able to point to recent past successes in getting their clients placed in tenure track positions?

Without answers to these questions, it seems to me, that it would be very difficult to justify the expenditure. Perhaps if others have used such services, they might be willing to let us know what sort of bona fides they examined before making the decision to go with a consultant.

Carrie

I'd love to know more, too--the only one I know of is Dr. Karen (of The Professor Is In), but she doesn't specialize in philosophy but academia more generally. Also, what is the ballpark of "not cheap" one would be looking at to hire a consultant for this sort of thing? Mid-three figures, low four figures, more than that? I'm sure it varies based on what the consultant does, but even having a ballpark would help.

Original poster

Hi Gradjunct: It is right that you should always look at the credentials of the consultant. In this case, the consultant was a tenured professor at an R1 institution, which she left after feeling unhappy with the job and for personal reasons. She has been in a hiring committee and has had several grad students. But she also admits that she has no information on the success rate of her clients, as this is very hard to come by. While some clients come back with feedback (mostly positive, but also several who didn't find a job), many do not. Also, people who are going to hire a consultant (which costs a significant sum for junior people like us) are probably highly motivated to give it their best shot that season and may have done other things toward that end, e.g., getting more pubs out, more networking. So even if it turns out that this consultant's clients had a higher-than-baseline success rate, only part of that variability might be due to her skill.
Purely judging from her feedback, though, all the advice she gave to me "rang true" more so than advice I received from many people in the academy. So my personal sense is that she definitely helped me to land the offer.

Original Poster

I paid in the mid 3 figures range for covering materials (CV and cover letter): she works with clients through 4 drafts for each document. So you write the cover letter, she responds by saying what should go out, what should come in (e.g., substantive paragraph about one's overall research project), she goes through second draft etc.

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