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How does it look to have pedagogical training from one's institution (e.g. teaching certificates, courses, etc.)? And is it worth doing more than one of these things?

junior faculty

Related to the previous comment (re: pedagogical training), what about pedagogical research? Sometimes I get the sense that some view the scholarship of teaching and learning as not 'real' research, so I wonder how search committees respond if they see a candidate who has a research program in pedagogy. To be clear, this would be research related to teaching philosophy (even if it has wider implications).

And, of course, presumably the applicant would also have other, 'standard', philosophical research programs.


Do search committees usually have a ranking in mind when they invite candidates for Skype interviews? How can candidates best prepare for these things, particularly on short notice when one is balancing a heavy course load?


A thought for the threads that are generated by this (and sorry if it's something that already occurred to you!): it might be good to encourage search committee members to add something about the search they are involved with - the kind of school, the teaching load, whether the job ad lists AOCs as well as AOSs, whatever. I think there's probably several different inside scoops for at least some of these sorts of questions.

international student

I have a question about applying as a non-US citizen to jobs in the US (after graduating from a US PhD program). Some postings explicitly state that eligibility to work in the US is a requirement (especially visiting positions, but also some TT). For searches that don't explicitly state that, is not having a work permit still a liability, explicitly or implicitly? Does the recent climate regarding H1B visas affect administrations and search committees?


Two questions:

Assuming all else equal, do search committees prefer an unpublished paper as a writing sample to a very recently published or forthcoming paper being used as a writing sample?

Assuming so, and now assuming that one thing is not equal - namely, that the unpublished paper still has some minor kinks to be ironed out (because it's unpublished!), would search committees still prefer to read the unpublished thing over the more polished recently published or forthcoming one?

Or is all of this just terribly nit-picky and not worth worrying about?


Re: pedagogical training, it would count in your favor as far as I'm concerned. But how much depends a lot on what it is, how significant it is, etc. One workshop isn't worth much; a substantial course, on the other hand, is stronger. Earning a teaching certificate very much depends on what is required, and I tend to be skeptical about how much those are worth unless the candidate gives me reason to believe otherwise--my own PhD institution originally had a "certificate" but it could be achieved simply by attending a certain number of 1 hour teaching sessions. If your training was more substantive than that, you should indicate that in some way.


International student,
Canadians used to have a right to work at American colleges and universities, in virtue of the TN visas, which is part of NAFTA. It may still be the case. But US colleges and universities have to provide evidence that there was no better qualified American. At elite schools, this is a mere formality. At other ones, less so. It is done often. But some very remote places do not even know the law, that Canadians are permitted legally to work in the USA (under such and such conditions).

to Ed

When I have been involved in searches, at least for junior positions, I wanted to see a published sample. I assume your best unpublished piece is what you will use for the job talk. Does that makes sense?
But do not give as your job talk the same paper you sent in as a writing sample. It looks like you are all spent on the one paper.


International student,

I'm a Canadian in a TT job, and on a search committee, at a teaching-focused school in the US. My institutional does hire international candidates who tend to come in on H1-B visas. (I have not heard of a Canadian on a TN visa for a TT job here or elsewhere. I think TN visas are more commonly issued for visiting positions.) I don't think that the current political climate affects this, though I could be wrong since things do change quickly. But in my experience, it isn't that difficult to justify an international hire over US citizens since search committees do have reasons for thinking that the international candidate was superior when they make the offer.

I am on an H1-B visa, and one thing I will say is this: if you get an offer from a US school, make sure that offer includes ALL FEES associated with securing your visa. And try to negotiate that the school also pays for your green card application, and that they begin the process in year 1. There are confusing laws, and one of those confusing laws requires people to start the green card process within 18 months of hire. The green card application is also thousands of dollars, and it's even more expensive if you are bringing a partner to the country (which you will have to pay for). Also, get whatever you negotiate in writing. Be sketched out if schools will only negotiate by phone.

Good luck!


Suppose a candidate has a partner who is finishing their PhD and won't be on the market for a couple of years. Would knowing this about the candidate make you worry about whether they might become a flight risk? Should candidates in this situation, and relevantly similar ones, just not talk about their relationship status until after a contract is signed? What do you infer if candidates aren't mentioning anything about having a partner (e.g. on a visit, where multiple faculty members keep bringing up their partners in conversation.)?

Recent PHD

What would constitute a significant improvement from one job market season to the next> Assuming that X candidate does not get a job this season, what should she do to improve for next season. For example, how many publications and conferences would imply a marked improvement? What other things can one do to improve their profile?

Part of the worry I have is over publishing, and having articles not count toward a tenure file. Should one try to publish all of their ideas for the market so as to have as many publications as possible? Or should one be more measured?

Recent Grad

Recent PHD,

What makes for significant improvement has a lot to do with what your application looks like currently and what your weaker spots are, i.e., going from no publications to one or two should significantly raise your research profile; going from, say, four to five won't as much. So an important thing to do is figure out the weaker parts of your application and direct more of your attention there.

I don't think you should worry about publishing too many papers at an early stage. Maybe worry about publishing a book too fast, but, all things being equal, having more papers will help you stand out, and, from what I recall, the research suggests that your chances of getting a permanent job are highest in the first couple of years you're on the market. So why not maximize your chances of standing out then? Also, given the state of peer review, I think it'll be hard to quickly publish all of your ideas anyway. It will take a while no matter what.

Marcus Arvan

Recent Grad: I’m going to dedicate a new post and discussion thread to this, but for what it is worth during my 7 years on the market, my number and quality of interviews increased more or less proportionally to my publication numbers. The more I published, the more interviews I got. And once I got a book contract, my interview numbers (and flyouts) increased substantially yet again. I also did informal job market statistics a few years ago and the single best predictor of job market success appeared to be total number of publications (which seemed to matter even more than “quality” of publications, I.e. journal rankings).

Recent Grad


It seems reasonable that more publications will continue to improve your chances, but, isn't it also reasonable that, if you're looking for a teaching job, for example, teaching related achievements could help your application more than tacking on another pub? I have in mind things like getting lots of broad teaching experience, developing solid AOC's in high-demand teaching areas, doing high teaching load VAP's and getting good teaching letters from the faculty or chair at the institution. I could float a few anecdotal stories about people who had some of these things *and no pubs* and still managed to land teaching jobs. I guess I'll be curious to hear what other people think.


Anon - I would definitely not mention your partner's situation until after the contact is signed. I just don't see any benefit in doing so - and there is some risk. (Might worry about a flight risk, might worry about asking for a spousal hire.) It shouldn't be too hard to not mention your partner. There are single people out there you know. Or you could mention them and not mention their job status - this shouldn't be too hard.


Each year you got more publications Marcus, you also had an extra year of VAP experience, right? I think both help - but top publications hurt for teaching jobs.

Marcus Arvan

Amanda: that’s true. There are a lot of variables. Still, I know people who have been on the market a long time but haven’t necessarily gotten more interviews as a result of the greater experience. And the idea that publication quantity matters coheres with the data I collected years ago, not just with my own performance on the market.


Top publications will not hurt for a job at my teaching-focused institution. I assume that candidates with top publications would rather be elsewhere, but many of those candidates cannot get jobs. I'm sure my department would hire one of them - especially since tenure-promise issues (before and after hire) usually come up with research, not teaching.


This question is for those folks who care to see ye olde `I want to be at your specific school because X' thing in the cover letter.

Do you care where in the letter it happens? Should it be first? Right after the stuff about my research but before stuff about teaching? Last? Have I completely misunderstood what a cover letter should look like?


I have two questions:

(1) How do post-doc letters of recommendation differ from job letters?

(2) What should a person applying for a post-doc provide their letter writers with that differs from what they would provide their letters for job letters they write?


For most postdocs - I would be very surprised if you used a different letter. I had two post docs before getting a permanent position, and I never used letters any different than the letters I used for TT jobs. It would be asking way too much of my letter writers to do this. There might be some exceptions - if you are applying to a very specific postdoc that you have a high chance of getting or something.

Cover letters should be different, but it's hard to say how, because each post doc is different. Some want you to write about a project, some are teaching post docs, etc. Tailor your letter to the add.


Should candidates send follow of thank you notes after Skype interviews?

from Europe

When applying for post docs in Europe, generally, you need to tailor the application to the project. It is the project that is funded, and you need to show how your research relates to or could contribute to the project that the post doc is tied to. So very good candidates can be passed over completely because they fail to realize this.


I did that by tailoring all my personal material to the project. But yes, I guess in Europe it is possible they require letter recommendations to be specific as well. I don't know what you do there, as I would never have it in me to ask my search committee members to do the extra work for the mere possibility of getting a postdoc - and honestly I doubt that all of them would even if I asked. Writing letters is very time consuming. If letter writers have to write multiple letters for each candidate they wouldn't have much time left for anything else. This seems a really unreasonable request for postdocs to ask.


I have two more questions.

(1) Should someone who is ABD apply to a tenure-track job and a postdoc that are in the same department? The worry here is that applying to both positions will cause the committee to undervalue your application.

(2) In this kind of case, is a job-search committee the same as the postdoc search committee? That is, do these committees have the same members?

Recent PHD

I was wondering if any search committee members would be willing to share the kinds of questions one might encounter in an interview. In particular, are there any difficult questions that get asked that tend to throw off candidates? What should a candidate be especially prepared to talk about beyond their research, teaching, etc.

Thank you.


I have a few years under my belt doing postdoc and adjunct teaching work. As a committee member, how would you look at a candidate with a long publication list, long list of invited/refereed talks, and plenty of courses taught (all into double-digits) that took time off to do something else, like teach high school? The itinerant teaching game is no longer an acceptable sacrifice for me and my family. I don't want to give up hope for a TT job yet, but I am afraid that if I trade unstable adjunct teaching for more stable and better paying high school teaching near the extended family while I search that I will be essentially killing any future chances of getting a TT job. Most I have asked this question to say it shouldn't matter, but it seems reasonable to think that it only takes one who cares about that on any committee. Thanks.

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