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05/09/2022

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david

I think this seems a bit desperate. It also seems sort of antithetical to the spirit of philosophy. The same holds with ranking departments. Was the Garden of Epicurus rated higher than the Stoic Porch? Sheesh!

Daniel Weltman

I don't know conversation a week ago the questioner is referring to, and consequently I'm not sure I quite know what it means to have a "brand," but I think that one of the main challenges of the job market is standing out among a large number of applications that are very similar to yours, and one way to stand out is to present yourself in some salient and partially unique way. Does that constitute a "brand?" That's how I understand the idea of a "brand," but that might not be what everyone has in mind.

I agree with David that sometimes it can seem desperate, but I think if done well, it doesn't have to. I'm not sure it's antithetical to the spirit of philosophy, but even if it is, my impression is that overall it's often helpful on the job market. Bellyaching about how this is bad for philosophy is fine once you've got a job, but while you're on the market, I would aim to get a job so that you're later in a position to bemoan whatever it is you had to do to get the job.

Assistant Professor

Agreed with Daniel, that standing out on the market is important and some amount of "branding" may help clarify who you are as a candidate and why you stand out from the pack. Of course, branding can't make up for the lack of other credentials (no pubs, minimal teaching experience, etc.) but "branding" is really just identifying and promoting a through-line for your work. Colleagues in other fields talk about their professional "mission" "vision" or "goals" and that might be one way to think about a "brand": what holds your work together and shapes your overall objectives regarding research, teaching, service. Part of why having a "brand" might be successful on the market is you can't make it up for each new job ad - you might be able to do some tailoring (and should tailor to the specific job!), but either your brand aligns with the AOS/AOC sought after or it doesn't, and this can help you stand out to institutions seeking something specific and showing them that you clearly align with whatever it is the need/want for their hire, unlike folks who might have more tenuous connections to the areas being sought after but apply anyways (because of all the reasons with which we are all aware about the state of the market).

Like Marcus I wonder how a dossier that has some element of "branding" to it lands in an open AOS/AOC search that tends to come out of R1s who presumably are looking to hire someone with potential to do big things, but without a clear area of focus in mind for the hire.

Emma

I know from friends in other industries where "branding" is more of a done thing that cultivating the brand on one's social media (Twitter, Instagram, blogging, etc.) is a large part of it. Wondering if folks have a sense of how helpful (or unhelpful?) that could be for philosophy job marketeers. (I am a private person and don't use social media much, but I suppose I could get into it if it helps me get a job.)

Daniel Weltman

@Emma: Again I'm not 100% confident in my answer because I'm not sure exactly what falls under the heading of "branding" and so on, but I think that in practically every case, all of the stuff that you mention is irrelevant. A search committee with 100+ applications is not going to bother checking everyone's (or, for that matter, anyone's) Instagram.

assist prof.

If by branding you mean having a clear research statement that explains to non-experts what your main area of research is, and how your research is novel, interesting, and relevant then yes, I think branding is very important.

That said, the 'branding' should be honest and consistent. If someone says their AOS is one thing (perhaps to match a job ad) and then the publication record tells another story, this doesn't look good.

Also, in reply to Emma, I wouldn't worry too much about social media. It looks good when you have a website and a well-tended Philpeople profile, because it demonstrates that you are an engaged member of the profession. But social media is such a time suck and source of demoralizing comparisons that I wouldn't bother with it -- the costs seem to outweigh and potential benefit.

If you really want to promote your research in a public way you might try something like publishing with The Conversation or at the blog of the APA, but I wouldn't even do that unless it can be done without too much effort. Better to focus on publishing, which we know is a huge factor in getting a job.

Assistant Professor

To one of assist. prof.'s points: publishing with The Conversation, or other public-facing outlets can be incredibly time consuming (I have done and continue to do both) and is often helped by engagement with social media to the extent that you promote and engage with commentary about what you write, which as others noted is its own time suck and additional burden. I find professional value to these endeavors (though this will depend greatly on your professional goals, and areas of research and how well they translate to these kinds of ventures). But doing this public-facing work is far from low-hanging fruit (see for example Helen's recent excellent Cocoon post on the public philosophy oligopoly). I don't see these as "branding" as much as a distinct form of professional/public engagement and note that not all institutions will be excited about candidates who take up this kind of work - so if it is part of your professional identity and goals, go for it, but I wouldn't do it merely to be "out there" in some other way.

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