Monday, September 3, 2007

I Have a Plan, We're Gonna Make it Happen

Last night I started talking about the disconnect between well-meaning non-academics' advice and the realities of the job market. But maybe I was too quick to dismiss the advice. Maybe we should give it a shot. What do we have to lose, right?

So in the spirit of taking very seriously the thoughts of non-academics on the job market, I offer these real-life suggestions about how to get a job.

First, just to get warmed up, you have to fully exploit your mother-in-law's connections:
Recently we moved across the country. Before we left, my MIL told me that a guy in her office had a brother who was in the admissions office at a university in our new state and that she had talked him into asking her brother to hire me. She means well, but despite my frequent explanations still has no idea how the academic job market works and was offended that I wasn't more excited about her "inside contact."

This plan is sure to work. Your mother-in-law's co-worker's brother--got that?--works in the admission's office. And that guy's got juice with the philosophy department.

Okay, so maybe that doesn't work out. No problem, you've got options. Have you tried a headhunter?

A friend suggested to me that I hire a professional headhunter. I explained that headhunters know the corporate market; they don't understand the academic market. He insisted that a headhunter could let me know about all the jobs available that I'm not aware of. I told him I pretty much know about all of the jobs available in the US in my field, that I am linked to several job posting sites and get email notifications about jobs, and the problem is not finding jobs to apply for, but getting the job after I apply. He was not convinced.

The real genius of this plan is, after you've applied to all the jobs in the JFP, the Chronicle, and the all the listservs you're on, you can pay a guy to tell you about all the jobs in the JFP, the Chronicle, and all the listservs you're on. He can also probably offer professional advice about how to jazz up your "resume" with things like your professional goals and personal interests.

But if the headhunter doesn't do it, you're going to have pull yourself up by your bootstraps:

No, I can't just decide I really really want a job at, say, Princeton, and get a job as an administrative assistant in X department and "work my way up."

Why the hell not? You can be just like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, except you do epistemology. Once the chair of the department at Princeton sees how awesomely you answer phones and make photocopies, he'd be insane not to give you a research budget. After all, this is America.

My mind's made up. I'm totally trying these out.

1 comment:

Himself said...

To be fair, this last plan did work for Will Hunting. But then that was a mathematics department.