Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Dollar When I'm Hard Up VIII

I put another round of applications in the mail today, and left the post office $15.54 poorer. I'm not going to bother figuring out my total for the year so far, because even just thinking about it is making me dry heave.


Anonymous said...

You are a better man than I. I couldn't even gather the energy to submit more applications. Good luck, though!

Anonymous said...

Aren't these mailing expenses tax deductible as job-hunting expenses? In that case, you should keep track of them...

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

As always, good luck!

I've been having daydreams again about writing a book titled, "Jobs for Philosophers" -- in which I research all the stuff that philosophers do when they decide to get jobs outside of academia... of course, the irony is that I don't have time to write such a book with my 5/5 load... sigh.

apriori said...

Your department should be paying to mail your files out! My program did and so did my VAP job!

If they don't, you should bug the fuck out of them to make that happen. You should get your grad student org together and make that happen.

You do use their letterhead and envelops, right? If not, you should. It is professional mail correspondences. I always find it odd when I get a file that doesn't (the three SCs I have been on). You also use their letterhead when you send out papers too, right?

If your department doesn't pay for it then the faculty are fucks. The kind of uncaring fucks that should not have a grad program. It is part of the cost of the program. They should all chip in and have a fund.

PGS, I if you want, I will send you a private e-mail and talk to you about this some more, but your department really should cover the costs of your professional mail. They do it with e-mail and other forms of communication.

Fucks I say if they don't.

whipitgood said...

Great news, everyone who's working as an adjunct instead of as a "real" professor:

Indiana Jones is one of us!

(see 1:35-1:40)

Anonymous said...

I'll admit, I didn't empathize too much with your early complaints about the cost of mailing apps. After all, as long as I got a job at the end of the year, and I had the cash flow to cover applications, what did it matter? But now that the season's winding down and I've got squat to show for it, I have been thinking about what I could have done instead with the money, like bought a new laptop. The money's basically wasted, especially considering that it would be so easy to just send out cover letter and CV, and direct committees to a password-protected ftp site if they wanted my teaching portfolio or writing samples.

Unfortunately SCs are, on the whole, both lazy and technologically inept. Yeah, I know a lot of profs with SC experience and JOBS will say, hey, don't say such mean things, we work hard deciding who to hire and, you know, we always hire the best person FOR OUR DEPARTMENT [I just cut out a lot of mean stuff that I'd typed here]. But the fact remains, it's not hard to set up a sensible electronic application system and have some AA (who's paid to do it) download everything. Why make poor (literally) grad students and VAPs do the heavy lifting, who's paying for the right not to receive a PFO at the end of it?

Yeah, so now I do feel your pain.

Anonymous said...

Of course you can only itemize job expenses if you're already itemizing at all, which usually requires that you own a home. A few hundred or even a thousand in job hunting expenses won't be enough to exceed your personal deduction.

Anonymous said...

I fail to see why you continue to complain about this, it's a direct reflection on your dept.

If it was a dept worth it's salt, they'd pay for your postage.

apriori said...

Anon 5:01 is a fucktard for writing:

"Unfortunately SCs are, on the whole, both lazy and technologically inept."

I take it that you mean members of the committees are. But let me tell you that some of the files we get are not worth reading. I would say that over half of the files are incomplete and silly. Sometimes I know I have put more time looking for info in a file than the person putting it together did doing it.

And if the members are such and you are aspiring to get that kind of job are you lazy and and tech inept? Think about it.

Make no bones about it, departments that are worth their salt pay for printing and postage of your applications. If a program cannot even manage to do this minor cost, then why in hell would anyone think that the program would spend money on better faculty and training of grad students.

Well, they wouldn't. So perhaps an indication of how good a program is in terms of support is do they pay for your applications. They have to pay to mail your letters out. Just add your stuff in and the cost is not that much more.

So, unless you have served on such committees, you cannot make these kinds of claims without coming off like a fucktard. And this kind of attitude is why you are most likely not getting interviews and offers.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating:

I think departments should grant conditional loans for job market costs (everything, including APA hotel etc). Then, if you get a job, you have to pay them back, and if you don't, you don't. Sets up the right sorts of incentives and guarantees that the costs won't be too much for you to bear (because you'll only have to bear them if you'll be suitably employed next year).

Anonymous said...

"Indiana Jones is one of us!"

Hahahaha. Inside the Phil Factory, maybe you could devote a chapter to Dr. Jones's career choices in your "Jobs" book.

Anonymous said...

You saw ads in the JFP worth applying for??! They all seem to be crap or non-applicable to me...

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

My program doesn't pay for application postage. I haven't directly pressed them on this, but I'm sure that response would be something like this: "See our fucking budget?! We can barely afford to let you teach. Take it to the Dean."

Also, some universities (mine, at least) forbid the use of official university letterhead for job application materials. I forget why, but I guess if you're looking for a job somewhere, you not conducting official university business. So don't judge those applications differently--their university may have such a policy.

Mr. Zero said...

And if the members are such and you are aspiring to get that kind of job are you lazy and and tech inept? Think about it.

I'm thinking about it. I'm kind of confused, though. The remark reads in a way that suggests that you mean for us to make a Modus Ponens-type inference here. As in, All SC members are lazy & tech inept; your goal is to be an SC member; therefore your goal is to be lazy & tech inept. But you can't mean that, can you? Right? Because that would be fucktarded.

departments that are worth their salt pay for printing and postage of your applications.

I'm with anon 8:57. This might be true, but not at any public institution in a state whose government is hostile to public education. Which is just about all 50.

And this kind of attitude is why you are most likely not getting interviews and offers.

This kind of response comes up again and again, and is such bullshit. a) No, my "attitude" is not why I didn't get any interviews. b) It's obviously not why. c) Do you SC people think that you can somehow magically tell from my teaching statement whether I resent the fact that I had to make 90 copies of this thing on my own dime and then spend over a hundred bucks to mail them all out? And if so, why would you care? What possible difference could that make, especially since you think I actually shouldn't have to spend my own money on it?

apriori said...

Mr. Zero

My point with the rhetorical question was to point out that SC members are a lot like you guys. Some are tech savvy and some are not. Some are more diligent than others. But I was conversationally implying that one think about why they would want to work with with or aspire to be lazy and inept. That's all.

As for electronic applications. I know for a fact that many people cannot make PDF files. Most job applicants aren't as tech savvy as you would think. So, this is as much about the SCs as it is about the applicants. Plus, why put the burden of printing on the department. SCs do have to send files to deans and the like.

As for letterhead and postage. Fight for this. They have to mail out your letters on letterhead. I have never read a letter of rec not on letterhead (not that it doesn't happen). So have your CV and other material added in with that mail.

Absolutely take it up with the dean if your chair gives you a hard time.

As for why you don't get interviews and jobs. Think about the level of support you are getting if you cannot even get a few hundred bucks for postage. How good are your letters? How good is your training. Are you getting good advice about putting together a package? Probably not.

Take serious care with your application. If you are really strapped for cash, then do this:

In your cover letter, state that your department doesn't have funds to pay for photocopies and postage. And the dean and president of the university agree with this. Then say that you have included your CV with the cover letter. All other material: writing sample, evidence of teaching excellence, and teaching philo can be found online.

Then send the draft of that letter to your chair, dean, and president and see how fast you get postage money.

If you don't get it, then put everything online. If they like your CV, they will look a bit further with the click of a mouse. I know I would. In fact, I have done this very thing.

The point is: Don't be a complaining fuck. Do something about it. Many of us are telling you that our department did (and VAPs) and that if your program wants to be "real" then it should too.

I would be willing to bet that many of you don't have files that are nearly as awesome as you think. There are lots of things that can make a file stand out (regardless of letterhead).

I have found that SCs take their job seriously b/c they are hiring a future colleague. They won't someone who is competent and comes off as such.

One of the things that R1 faculty tend to forget is how they got their jobs. And since most people don't get jobs at places as good as where they went to school, you need to know how to sell yourself at that level. Talk to people that have been there and can work over your material. I was lucky that during my VAP, several other VAPs got together and talked and learned a ton b/c we came from widely different programs. We all got jobs! Look outside your program for advice on how to sell yourself.

Take control of your graduate education is all I am saying and demand what you need to be successful. Remind the program that your success and failure is a direct reflection on them. (Whether true or not, that is the perception).

Anonymous said...

Why would stinginess of the university in this regard or misplaced budget priority with regard to graduate placement reflect on the quality of the actual education one receives? I don't see the connection. I suck at balancing my checkbook, but that doesn't put my teaching and research abilities in a tailspin.

Anonymous said...

Re: Indiana Jones video...note that he says that he's a "part-time" teacher, which is not the same thing as an adjunct.

I'd have to imagine that he's tenured at his instituition, having uncovered the Lost Ark, Holy Grail (he chose wisely), etc. So the more likely possibility, given his age, is that he's a professor emeritus who only teaches 1-2 classes a year. As Napoleon Dynamite would say..."lucky"....

apriori said...

Anon 11:06

I think it indicates that a program doesn't take graduate placement (and other graduate issues) seriously. Budgets for grad programs are rather large relative to postage. If you TA or any of that, you will make a minor amount of money. They can afford to pay your postage after five years.

Get the chair of the department (probably making over 100 grand) to put aside $500 of his/her own money for job postage. Hit up the senior faculty!

My program had named chairs that gave their own money b/c they had a commitment to graduate students and graduate student education. One got a job offer at another school and instead of asking for a raise asked for more money for the graduate students and got it. That's how you show a commitment to graduate students. Not by exploiting them and then not supplying them basic professional courtesies like postage.

Sorry, but I have work to do, a class to teach and a job talk to go listen to.

Good luck getting what you deserve!

Anonymous said...

A suggestion:

A number of schools have short-term teaching needs but don't advertise them--the best way to get a short term gig without spending any money on postage (and without having to relocate) is to send out personalized letters to the best departments in your area inquiring about short term teaching possibilities. Also, because this way of doing things is as yet not widely practiced, you'll have hardly any competition (as long as the school you apply for is not advertising publicly for the job). I was surprised last year by the response I got by sending out ten or so such emails. I was able to get a full time 2-2 job with benefits about ten miles from where I live. this was lucky, but I had several other offers that weren't half bad. This year, as a back up, I did the same thing, only I emailed only two places. I again was offered a full-time job with benefits for a year. Departments love short term hires--its very cheap, can allow for a leave of absence or teaching load reduction.
Also, the sooner you do this the better.
Just a suggestion.

Mr. Zero said...

a priori,

I'm taking your comments seriously, against my better judgment.

All other material... can be found online.

Maybe I'm living in a fantasy world, but I cannot imagine that this would work. My institution conducted a search this year and received over 450 applications, which is typical. I can't see any search committee bothering to download some crackpot "photo-copy renegade's" file just because he's too cheap to mail hard copies. You put it best: "why put the burden of printing on the department."

Many of us are telling you that our department did (and VAPs) and that if your program wants to be "real" then it should too.

a) Many of who? Anonymous commentators on some blog? You want me to go to the dean and say that?

b) Are you that naive? My department would love to pay my postage for me, except that our state legislature is hostile to public education and there is no money available for that. Any extra money that became available would be better spent on our salaries and crumbling infrastructure than on postage for graduate students. It's not that they're dicks; they can't afford it. Does that mean they're not "real"? No, it means they're "public."

The point is: Don't be a complaining fuck. Do something about it

a) why can't I complain a little bit? This process is time-consuming and expensive, both of which are pretty annoying qualities. Complaining is a totally reasonable response.

b) Do you really believe that your little procedure would accomplish anything? I can't believe you think that. Did you do that at your school? No, you didn't. Or if you did, you're a moron. All it would accomplish would be to get everyone in your department pissed off at you for making them look bad in front of the dean, make the dean pissed off at you for being a complaining fuck, and give the departments you're applying to an excuse not to read your file.

Get the chair of the department to put aside $500 of his/her own money for job postage.

You are kidding. Either that, or I just died. I am dead. You killed me.

Anonymous said...

Wait, I'm confused, apriori. Using letterhead to send out a paper? Do you mean, on a letter accompanying the article? An entire article on letterhead sounds silly. Anyway, my impression is that most submission is electronic at this point anyway.

Anonymous said...

"As for electronic applications. I know for a fact that many people cannot make PDF files. Most job applicants aren't as tech savvy as you would think."

How to make a pdf file:

in MS Word:

File-->Print-->PDF-->Save as PDF

If that qualifies as tech-savviness, then call me Steve fucking Jobs.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm always sure to send my BLIND-REVIEWED papers on departmental letterhead. Apriori definitely isn't pulling this and the bit about postage out of his ass.

Anonymous said...

So, a priori, I'm not getting hired because I have a bad attitude about postage, and also I should try to force my department to pay my postage for me by threatening to send out embarrassing cover letters?

Also, I really think you're on to something when you say that "an indication of how good a program is in terms of support is do they pay for your applications." Obviously Leiter has been going about it all wrong. If you want a reliable ranking of graduate programs, just figure out how much postal support they offer. That's what really matters.

Are you for real?

Anonymous said...

This blog is getting increasingly pathetic. It started out as a good source of information about, essentially, the philosophy job market. Now I (and I suspect many others) only come here for a laugh. I really hope you never get a job in philosophy. You never seem to do any work because you're always so depressed about how much work you do. If I were you I would give up writing this blog UNTIL you have a job and then come back in all your glory to prove people like me wrong.

Anonymous said...

Cut the blog authors a break. Sometimes I vent in ways that may make me appear to be more depressed/desperate/anxious than I really am. It's a natural human reaction to stress. This is the outlet for the authors and some commenters. The rest of you can observe our venting or read Drudge.

apriori said...

To Zero and misc Anons:

(i) Cover letter on letterhead, not the entire paper. Be charitable. If you ever had a real job you would understand what professional standards are like. I have seen over 600 files and many of them are poorly done. I know of people that send papers out in all kinds of shitty forms, and I have seen the job files of the same form.

(ii) Since I was never shut out at an APA (five years, with one year that I shouldn't have been out) and always had multiple on campus visits and have a job with a 3/3 load and great pay (thanks union) and had multiple offers when I accepted, I might have something to add to this conversation. How I was successful. How I tried to support myself and other grads.

(iii) My main point is that you should be proactive. If you don't ask for things (and demand) in some cases, you won't get them.

I gave my advice here b/c I really wanted to help grad students that are struggling. I didn't go to a leiterrific school, but I worked my ass off and made it happen. If you want to waste away and cry about postage, then don't take my advice. The point was to shame your head/dean/provost/prez into paying for postage. I didn't actually mean for you to do it. But hey, you couldn't have done worse and would have saved money on postage.

As for state schools and legislators and postage. Unless it is Mississippi, which doesn't have PhD programs in philosophy, that sounds like admin bullshit. I don't believe it. Put the link to the law in question. Plus, how might that get enforced, but I digress.

As for Zero. If you really did apply for 90 job and you didn't get a single interview, phone or the like and let's say that each school on average interviews 15 people, then you didn't get 1 out of 1350 interview slots. Keep doing what you are doing man, but I don't think you have a lot of room to turn down advice you haven't tired, but keep rocking your success at getting nothing.

As for people like anon 4:14, your rhetorical question is silly. I hope you enjoy working at Walmart this summer.

And I couldn't agree more with this: "This blog is getting increasingly pathetic."

And the advice to PGS to stop the blog and get back to work.

Good luck everyone!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, or you could go and religiously read the other job market blog at:

That one post is sure cool!

Mr. Zero said...

anon 2:10,

Not to defend a priori or anything--I wouldn't do that--but the procedure you describe works only on Apple computers. It's due to the native PDF-making software Steve Jobs was thoughtful enough to include in OSX, and is not a behavior supported by MS Word. Windows people have to figure out a way do it on their own.

Anonymous said...

An organized and motivated group of graduate students who are planning to be on the market in, say, 2009 should bring this issue to the APA Committee on the Status and Future of the Profession, along with concrete solutions. You should do the same regarding the burdens of traveling to APA interviews.

The conditional loans proposed above are a good idea. We could also try to establish a practice of hiring departments reimbursing either the hiree or the degree-granting departments who front the money to their graduate students. And the profession could be encouraged to move to online applications (in some way that avoids the result that job applicants have to apply online separately to every individual job, because that would be a disaster).

As a number of people have noted, haranguing your department (or asking nicely!) isn't going to work at a lot of places, because a lot of places really don't have the money. I know that's true of my department, and my college more broadly. Taking up a collection from the faculty is a charming idea, but we're talking probably at least a couple thou a year (depending on how many people go out, etc). My junior faculty budget is actually pretty tight, between costs of home-ownership, kids, paying off partner's student loans, ... I'm not saying I couldn't squeeze out a couple hundred a year to help the cause, but there are better solutions.

Anonymous said...

"Unless it is Mississippi, which doesn't have PhD programs in philosophy, that sounds like admin bullshit.."

Louisiana doesn't have public PhD programs in philosophy either--just an MA at LSU.

(Which I hear is de facto open admission. So maybe de facto no publically-funded grad. programs in LA.)

apriori said...

One last justification for my point:

Having a faculty job is difficult in the following sense. You have to compete for money to travel and raises and the like. And no one will defend you except you.

And if you don't have the cojones to ask for money to pay for postage and other justified graduate expenses, then you will not make it to a job much less to tenure.

On a VAP I got a teaching reduction and a grant from the university to do research.

When I was in grad school, I asked grad students in different departments what they were making and what they got. You would be surprised at what others get that you don't. When you tell your chair, she might be surprised too. Then ask for those things.

Budgets are tight, but the costs associated with grad students is very low in the overall budget.

You could ask for 30 files to be paid in the first round and for all temp and jobs after Feb and the like to be paid. Then Zero, you would only have to pay for some.

Don't think of this as an all or nothing proposition. You have to pave the way for your own success. Not just in grad school, but when you get out too.

You think your chair is going to do your bidding with the dean? Probably not. She has other issues too.

I also said take up a collection from SENIOR faculty. The burdens of younger faculty are large, and I would be willing to bet that they would be willing to help anyway.

Ultimately if you don't hustle and try to get more, you won't.

And for the record Zero, I think you don't have a job b/c your file doesn't say: LOOK AT ME. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME. INTERVIEW ME! You think the process is capricious and random. And I am not trying to be an ass about this at all. But if you cannot stand out just a bit and get one interview, then you really should think about changing your currently unsuccessful strategy.

I have shared some of the things I did that worked. If you don't like them, fine, but what you cannot do is ridicule them because they worked, and in the end, that's all the matters in the job hunt: success.

Mr. Zero said...

a priori,

If you thought I meant that the legislature had passed a law forbidding our departments to pay our postage, I cannot believe that you would then turn around and complain that people were interpreting you uncharitably. Or, rather, I am appalled that you would do that, since you did.

What I meant was, the legislature refuses to appropriate adequate funds for dat-to-day operations, let alone luxury items such as postage for graduate students.

Look. I just don't see what your advice is. First you say I'm not getting any interviews because of my "attitude." I say, that's obviously not it.

Then you say that not only do I have the right attitude (about postage, at least), but I ought to do more, like threaten my department and my dean, in order to get them to pay my postage. I say, that won't work; it will make enemies out of everyone; it's in tension with your earlier advice.

You say to unilaterally go to online applications, posting my materials to the internet and making them available for download. I say, that won't work, either--no one would download it; it's inconsistent with your earlier advice about my attitude and with some other remarks about what it's reasonable to expect SCs to do.

Then you complain that I really ought to take you seriously, since you're really trying hard to give well-meaning and well-thought out advice from a guy who's been there and has been successful.

Well, good for you. I just don't see what you could possibly be talking about. You can't possibly think that you got interviews because your cover letters were on letterhead, or that I was shut out because mine weren't, can you? Or because your department paid for your postage? Or because you had the right attitude about the postage that you weren't paying? Do you think that's why you got interviewed? Because when I read your comments, these are the things you talk about. If you think you're being misinterpreted, you should seriously consider whose fault it really is.

apriori said...

Mr. Zero,

(i) I think really a priori that you haven't gotten any interviews for lots of reasons. Most likely you don't come across well in your file. Maybe you aren't ready, I just don't know.

(ii) Having worked at three different universities, I know there is always money, you just have to know how to get it. Figure it out. In the grand university scheme, grade student requests are minor. You can get some of that cash. If you don't want to work to get some things, fine, do without.

(iii) In general, you have to have a never say die, always be positive in public, and make your requests reasonable as you can. Sometimes you have to be a pain to get stuff. I am certain that other department pay for things philosophy grads don't get. Go ask them! Then you have a reason to get what you want.

(iv) I am saying be proactive. I really think that if you are ABD and it is time for you to be on the market, then you should at least get ONE interview. If you got shut out, then you have got to do something different.

Now it is hard to give perfect advice via a blog. My points would be easier to make if I could talk to you and not have to try to type it all out with no proof reading b/c I am busy. But the point is that you have to do something different.

The advice that the one person gave about sending out e-mail to local universities to see if they need work. That was great advice; the kind of thing that a person that is willing to hustle does.

I love the movie _Glenngary Glenn Ross_ here is what I would say:

ABC: Always be closing.

Coffee and philosophy jobs are for closers. If your sales pitch doesn't work, fucking change it.

And yes, your attitude about the workings of a university are bad (or I should say seem bad from what I have read on this blog). This is what you have to deal with. Start dealing with it now, or get the fuck out. It is that simple.

I attribute my success to the help and encouragement of lots of people that saw that I really wanted it. If you haven't read the book: _Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Getting a MA or PhD_, then I recommend that you rush out and get a copy.

Getting done and getting a job is as much about politics and selling yourself as it is about how great a philosopher you are. Those are the facts.

Anonymous said...

A Priori,

Your recent posts have become less vulgar, and you're hoping this will make you seem more rational. It does, up to a point. But the advice you're giving (or pretending to give, as Mr. Zero points out) is still condescending crap. Your attitude ultimately is "hey, I got a job, and I'm great, so the system obviously works, and if you don't have a job, something's got to be wrong with you." That's really all you have to say, and since you come off on this blog as a complete chickenshit (I'll admit, maybe you're a great person in real life and smile at puppies, and it's just your online persona that makes people want to fuck your mamma, so be it), it's hard for us to take your advice seriously.

Mr. Zero, I'm the one who proposed the online system, and I wasn't proposing one person do it unilaterally. Rather, if it were the norm then it would solve a lot of problems. Someone complained that it's an unfair burden on departments to ask an AA to spend a couple of days printing shit out, and all I can say to that is, yeah, I feel really sorry for the poor departments who are getting paid to do their job.

That's really what my complaint comes down to. Candidates are working for self interest, trying to get a job, and A Priori, I'm quite professional in how I present myself on paper and in interviews. But professors and administrators are getting paid to do this, and I detect, in jobs ads, in interviews, in every step of the process an attitude of "well, it's a buyer's market so I can be as arbitrary/lazy/insufferable as I choose to be." Now, I'll admit, I've had mostly great interviews and met lots of wonderful and generous people during searches where I didn't get the job. So I'm not all bitter. But I'm embittered by the whole process, and I think it's a fact that even friendly and well-meaning academics are often moderately to greatly incompetent. But they never suffer for this, we do (or students do when it's in the classroom, etc.). There's a real lack of accountability in education, not in the sense that politicians use the term, but in the sense of being lazy and unprofessional.

I'll stop ranting and point out two things quickly. One, I haven't collected hard copies of student papers for years: students turn them in, I grade and comment on them electronically, return them electronically. There's no need for paper for much of the hiring process either. Departments could read CVs electronically, or print them out if they're wedding to dead tress. I don't think it will happen, but I do want to point out that it's not just possible, but actually easy.

Second, PCs could produce PDFs in Word until, I think, Word 95. Now you just need to shell out $100 if you have an academic discount, buy Adobe Acrobat, and install it. Then producing PDFs in Word, for PCs, just requires one click of an icon. It's really not hard. And if we didn't have to spend so much on paper and postage, we could all afford to have Acrobat and more.

Anonymous said...

mr. zero: look up "straw man"

Anonymous said...

If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. . . . If you can press a button, you can create a pdf.

Anonymous said...

I think there's an advantage to having job candidates print out and pay for (part of) their own applications: it provides a disincentive to just applying everywhere that has a job. Yes, it takes you an additional 5-20 minutes to write a new cover letter and print out a new application, and it costs a couple bucks, but SCs spend way more time having to read that application. I know that some places this year got over 400 applications.

More applications wouldn't just be annoying to SCs. Note that if they got twice as many, they would spend less time reading yours and pay even more attention to whether it has "Leiter top 15 school" written on the top.

[For the record, I spent over a month doing nothing but photocopying the darn thing and printing out cover letters (and I paid my own postage) and I still think it's a decent system.]

Anonymous said...

No No No. Don't buy Adobe Acrobat just to make a pdf from a Word document. Go to and download the pdf995 application. It is free and will let you create pdf from Word documents. When you want to create a pdf just file>print>select printer>pdf995. Its really easy to use. I've been using it for a long time now.

mr. Zero said...

anon 11:32,

I'm down with online applications, provided (and somebody else made this point somewhere) it could be implemented in a way that wouldn't require us to do it all 90 different times. If they could do it well, it would be cool. (A priori, on the other hand, suggested that we just upload our materials to the web and invite SCs to download them at their leisure [or threaten to do that so that the dean would fork over some money for postage]. Which is stupid, and that's what I was talking about up there. Not your idea, which I like.)

a priori,

Maybe you think your advice is helpful. But seriously, it is not. You say, "Be proactive." "Use letterhead." (Actually, that one may not be bad, if you're not already using letterhead. But I am, and I don't know where you got the idea that I wasn't.) "Coffee is for closers." Your advice is vapid and superficial. And believe me, I am looking for all the help I can get, which is why I obsessively read this blog. But I find your advice next to useless and the snotty tone with which it is delivered next to infuriating.

Part of the reason your advice is so pitiful is that although you behave as though you've got me pegged, you don't know who I am. You don't know what department I'm at. You don't know who my advisor is, or what her placement record is like. You don't know how many pubs I have, or how far along on my dissertation I am, or what my letters say about me. Instead you just assume that since I performed poorly that my file is shitty and unprofessional. Which may be true, or it may not. You don't know.

There are thousands and thousands of reasons why someone might not get any interviews. You don't know what my problem is. How could you when you don't know me?

Anonymous said...

anon 12:55 makes a good point about the hassle and cost of compiling hard-copy applications, and the way in which that might (modestly) control the flood of applications that departments receive. of course, there are presumably more efficient ways of doing this such as, for example, imposing fees on applicants. no doubt, imposing fees would be a problematic solution in many respects. still, before we (applicants) dismiss this idea out of hand, it is worth considering the way in which this might (conceivably, subject to a careful working out of important difficulties) benefit us by significantly reducing - as 12:55 suggests - the noise that departments must sift through in order to hire a philosopher. A fee structure would plausibly increase the ratio of appropriately qualified and genuinely interested candidates to mere "hey, what the hell" applications. That would benefit appropriately qualified and genuinely interested candidates who don't have a blue chip school on their application. It also might benefit blue chip school applicants who have a genuine interest - for personal or professional reasons - in taking a position in a less prestigious department. Their willingness to pay the fee would provide at least a minimal signal of their genuine interest. By reducing the flood of applications that search committees receive, it also might tend to increase the average care and attention lavished to individual applications.

As far as the money from such fees goes - if we as a profession could sufficiently get our shit together, then the money could be put into some sort of fund to assist graduate students with particularly difficult financial situations.

The more general point - irrespective of the fee suggestion - is just that this process is noisy as hell in ways that are probably harmful to applicants, search committees, and the field overall. It is worth exploring intelligent ways to change this state of affairs, though I'm sure I don't have the answer.

Anonymous said...

FYI - You don't have to pay money for Adobe! As grad students, we are already broke:) Download a free .pdf writer - I, for instance, use CUTEpdf and it works great for creating .pdf files for whatever purpose.

Anonymous said...

I'm at the end of a successful job hunt. PGS, thank you for running this blog. It offered lots of helpful tips and a place to vent when things weren't going so well.

These 'Dollar when I'm Hard Up" posts make me wonder if there's some practical way that I can show my gratitude. Maybe a paypal transfer to an anonymous account or something like that. Obviously, my 'contribution' would be on the 'help with postage and coffee expenses' level rather than on the 'it doesn't matter that I didn't land the job' level, but if there's anything I (and other thankful bloggers/lurkers/etc) can do.... please let us know.

juniorperson said...

Anon. 8.36:

Congratulations! And what a *really* nice gesture!

apriori said...

Mr. Zero:

You are right, I don’t know you. But here is my offer to you. Send me your cover letter, your CV, and what ever teaching portfolio type thing you have via e-mail, and I will give you my honest feedback.

I once had a professor tell me that philosophy is an exercise in courage, so send it along. You sent it to 90 plus search committees you didn’t know, so send it along to me.

Here is the e-mail address I created for you to send it to me: helpingzero [at]

Even though I don’t know you, I know why I and the SCs I have been on reject people. Here are the last two lists on our eval form. (Yes we have a form, and we fill them out and then we talk about EVERY candidate.)

RATINGS (like GPAs):
Yes interview (4)
Likely (3)
Maybe (2)
Not Likely (1)
No interview (0)

REASON FOR REJECTION (we have to give our affirmative action office reasons why we reject members of protected classes. Since we don’t know who they are other than sometimes gender, we just keep a list for everyone.)

Wrong AOS
No PhD
Weak Letters
Suspect Teaching
Weak research potential

Now, you can see some of the possible reasons you haven’t gotten a job based on my list. One or a combination of things is what happened. I once had a candidate write the wrong school name on the cover letter. I wasn’t that bothered b/c I know she probably sent out over 100 applications, but others were not so nice about it. They thought it quite sloppy.

So, send it along, and let’s see if I can help you out a bit.

If you don't like my advice you don't have to take it, and I have wasted only my time.

Anonymous said...

I think it was UC Davis that said in their rejection letters that they had almost 500 applications.