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What do *you* read first in a file? What don’t you read at all? Do you even *have* a systematic way of going through files, or is it haphazard/varying/based on how much you’ve been drinking?

(My expectation is that the answers to these questions will be wildly different from SC-member to SC-member, so I’m more interested in the diversity of answers than any particular answer.)

early career anon

If an applicant has chosen to work in a number of different areas of interest and is less specialized in one particular AOS than other candidates, how should they go about presenting that in the best light to search committees?

Marcus Arvan

I'm actually going to pose a query I recently heard a job-marketeer pose on social media: namely, whether candidates with significant citation counts (viz. Google Scholar) or download numbers (at Philpapers, SSRN, etc.) should put these things on their CV. I recall the person suggesting it might be helpful, as it would provide search committees with evidence of scholarly impact (that they might not otherwise be aware of). But I also vaguely recall people discouraging the person from doing it. I think it might be good to hear from actual search-committee members what they think about this.


Sorry if this has been answered before: should you list previous job talks (from campus visits) in your CV?

One person

I read material in roughly, the following order: the application letter (some people already show they were not appropriate for the job in the letter), the c.v. (here one gets an overview of the candidate and their accomplishments and qualifications - it is the most useful piece of information), then the rest. The teaching material gives a sense of their teaching, supported by a teaching letter; letters are looked at, but with some degree of skepticism, as there is lots of inflation; the writing sample may be looked at then. Then if they have some sort of research statement outlining future plans - this is useful for when you choose who to bring to campus as point of discussion.


Cover letters for me are to some extent the most mysterious part of the application, so much so that I think they shouldn't even be required.

I have read here already that you can tell just by reading someone's cover letter that they are or are not a good fit.

But what are you really looking for in one?

Are you looking for the cover letter to convince you of fit for the position mostly?

Are you looking for the cover to convince you I have tailored it sufficiently and done research about your school?

Maybe I am alone in this but I find this aspect of the application the most frustrating to compose, especially without just repeating thing that are found elsewhere in my dossier.

Do you have like a checklist for what might be considered "best practice" in a cover letter?


Here's something I'm curious about, looking back on the job market with at-least-closer-to-20/20 hindsight. My suspicion is that folks on the market (myself included) often commit the following fallacy: 'I'm competing against hundreds of well-qualified applicants for every job, therefore every minute detail of my application is likely to make a difference'. This fallacy (if it is one) tends to be encouraged by sources like The Professor Is In and, occasionally, posts on this blog, like the recent one about putting job talks on your CV. Frankly, I very much doubt that it makes a net difference whether or not you put job talks on your CV, or have a high quality photo of yourself on your website, or whatever. It may turn some people off, it may turn other people on, it will hardly be registered by most search committee members (including those who interview you). Ditto for a hundred other small decisions you make when putting your materials together. The things that land you interviews are (a) the big things that you can no longer control when you're tweaking applications in the Fall, (b) the idiosyncratic tastes of departments and individual search committee members, which you can sometimes appeal to by tailoring cover letters, but which are often invisible, and (c) luck. That's my hunch, anyway. I'd be curious to hear search committee members weigh in.

(The preceding is in no way intended to trash what you do here, Marcus; I have found the majority of your job-market-related posts to be extremely helpful.)


I agree. The most important by far is (a) the big things you can no longer control ...
If you still only have two conference presentations and no publications on your c.v. when you apply for a job, that will really determine how you will fare in the competition for that job. If you still have never taught your own course when your application goes in, all the hypothetical course syllabi in the world will not make a difference for most jobs at teaching oriented colleges. etc.


I'd like to know how search committees read teaching statements. I'm familiar with the standard advice on teaching statements from The Professor is In (give concrete examples, don't be saccharine, keep it down to one page), but I am curious what people on the other end are actually looking for. What can a search committee learn about a candidate from their teaching statement? What role - if any - does a teaching statement play when determining whether a candidate would be a good teacher? And, for good measure, what are some things that SC members find annoying?


Question and the answer may be: anything that can make you more competitive on the job market is a good idea

But I want to ask: how much does having a wordpress web site matter?

Is it just expected?

Will it really give you an advantage or might it only matter if one gets an interview?

Marcus Arvan

Anon: having a nice website can matter, yes, both before and after an interview. I'm not sure what you mean by a "wordpress" site. What matters is whether your website is informative and well put together.

Search committee members may well visit it to learn more about you--which may help land an interview, or give the committee more to go on after an interview is complete.

Conversely, I suspect there are cases where search-committee members find it frustrating that a candidate doesn't have a website where they can learn more.

New PhD

How uncomfortable are search committee members with candidates who've been outside of academe post-PhD, but who've had prior experience teaching as a grad student and have started to teach again by (say) picking up adjunct work? I’m wondering if it’s possible to be competitive on the market if one has gaps in one’s _academic_ employment.


I'd be interested in hearing search committee members talk about what they're looking for in assessing someone's plan for producing enough research to get tenure. What's the best way to talk about something that's years off into that plan and that you just haven't started writing yet? (Or should I have started writing all of it already?)


Re: Marcus web site

Would an academia.edu count be considered a legitimate web site? Are these sites frowned upon?

Marcus Arvan

anon: This is just my own sense (but I’ve heard others say it too), but my guess is that just having an academia.edu site can come across as pretty weak. First, a lot of people I know canceled their account with then, and I believe you need an account to log in and view other people’s stuff. But second, my sense is that it can just come off a bit lazy. I’m not sure having a website or not is likely to make *the* difference when it comes to deciding to interview or hire someone. And there are probably some search committee members who don't care at all. But I think search committee members do visit them quite a bit and that having a good one might make a difference. And here, as elsewhere, my guess is that the difference it is likely to make may be less about your accomplishments and more of what it might seem to indicate about you as a *person* (viz. “this person is conscientious, has their act together, and knows how to present themselves” vs. “Wow, this person didn’t even bother to set up a decent website for themselves?”).

This, again, is what I think too many job candidates just don’t seem to get: that hiring committees are just as interested in the kind of *person* you are as what kind of philosopher you are. And make no mistake about it: your non-philosophical skills and personal qualities *are* job relevant. My department has dramatically increased our major numbers. Why? Well, we have faculty members who are motivated enough to put together, design, and distribute attractive and informative materials about the major. And we also have a faculty member who runs our department webpages. These things—not just philosophy—are a part of this job. So it can be important to show that you are the kind of person who is conscientious enough to design a good webpage...as that might suggest you might be the kind of person who would be self-motivated to design things for the department. This is what I think candidates really need to understand. Yes, what you do as a philosopher—as a researcher and teacher—matter a great deal. But they are only a part of this job, and I think a savvy candidate should do everything in their power to present themselves, both online and offline, as the kind of philosopher and person a department wants to hire.

I know, I know—all of this reeks of “rat race” capitalism: have the best CV, have the best writing sample, have the best website, project the right persona, etc. I get it. It sucks. But I’m sorry if this is super cynical: that’s the world of human beings. Always has been, probably always will be. It is what it is.

Publish, please

You would be far better off on the market if you spent your time publishing a paper in a good journal, than grooming and updating a website. You will never get a job if all you have is a nice webpage, and no publications. But people get jobs with publications and no webpages. Stay focused. Too many people are spending too much time on really trivial things, like webpages, when what people really want to see is that you can do (and publish) philosophy.


The publish comment just strikes me as strange. If anybody looks at who gets hired, there are still people every year, at both teaching and research schools, who get hired with no publications. Granted, each year this is becoming less and less common. So I *do* agree, that if the choice is between publishing nothing and having a great webpage, or to publish with no webpage, then you should publish. But that seems like a false dilemma. People can do both, and I do think it would be silly not to have a webpage on the grounds that every second must be spent trying to publish. Here are the truths about the market:

1.There is a long list of people with amazing publication records who have been unable to find a job. The list gets longer every year.
2. There is a long list of people with jobs (both men and women) who have publication records that, in some traditional sense, would be viewed as not nearly as good as those people who don't have jobs. This is true at *both* teaching and research schools.All you have to do is pay attention to who gets hired each year.

I really don't understand this mantra I hear, often from r1 professors, but from others too, that the most important thing on the market is publishing. Publishing is important. It is definitely important. But basically no one is hiring on the pure basis of the best publishing record, and pretty much everyone takes into account other factors. Jarred Warren probably has, in some traditional sense, the "best" publication record of any junior philosopher. And he did get a job at Stanford. But this took him years, and he applied to many, many, jobs that did not hire him. His colleagues with not nearly as great of publication records got hired before him. If straight publication record was the most important factor, he would have gotten a job as an ABD.

Lastly, "You will never get a job if all you have is a nice webpage, and no publications. " This is false. Some people get hired like this every year.

Recent Grad

I have a question about the value of "full time" (i.e., VAP or teaching intensive postdoc) teaching experience vs adjunct teaching experience. How important is it (or is it important at all), once you've got *some* full-time teaching experience on your cv, to continue to string along VAP or teaching post-doc positions as opposed to adjuncting? I ask as someone who's done the VAP shuffle but is currently living in a location they're happy with, where adjunct work is easy to find and actually pays well. I find myself loathe to fling myself across the country just to (in all likelihood) repeat the process again in another year. But I wonder if search committee members think that's what I ought to be doing if I want to be the strongest possible candidate. Or, once you've demonstrated the ability to thrive as a regular member of a department, does it not really matter whether you continue to tack on more teaching experience as an adjunct or as a VAP?

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