Monday, March 17, 2008

Murderers You're Murderers, We Are Not the Same as You

Oh my god, this piece in the Chronicle is pure gold. It's by someone who spent fifteen years working on HR-related crap, writing books and teaching seminars on how to get jobs in the non-academic world I keep hearing so much about. But now she's finishing up her PhD in something business-y, and she's been out of the academic job market three times. Why three times? Because—wait, wait for it—her non-academic job-seeking skills are totally fucking irrelevant! Can you believe it? I know! Who could have guessed?

The thing about the piece is the tone. The author isn't just talking about how different the academic and non-academic job markets are. She's talking about how utterly fucking gobsmacked she is about the differences. Her realization that the markets were different was an “epiphany”, and she “continues to marvel” at just how different the markets are.

The point isn't that the author made some serious rookie mistakes. The academic job market is really weird and fucked up. Who isn't going to make mistakes the first (or second, or third) time out? The point is, why is it such a fucking revelation that the academic job market is nothing like the non-academic market? Why is it so hard to convince some non-academics that, no, you should not be making follow-up calls about your applications, and their advice to do so is terrible, terrible advice?

-- PGS


Kalynne Pudner said...

PLEASE tell me you accepted the Chronicle's linked offer at the bottom of this piece, to share your own "job-seeking experience"!

Anonymous said...

It's particularly rich that this person got on-campus interview offers in searches 1 and 2 and DID NOT GO TO A SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of thing that makes me think that the Chronicle author not only doesn't have a clue about academic job searching, but is likely worthless in giving advice about the non-academic market.

Anonymous said...

I think the info about the CV is super relevant. Here are a few CV no-nos for those going on the market.

1. So you published in an undergrad journal. Awesome. Don't put it on your CV.
2. 'Under Review' is not the same as 'Published'. Noting that a paper is under review when that paper is listed in your 'Works in Preparation" section tells us that the paper is done, but "done" doesn't mean good and "done" doesn't mean published, so stop putting papers under review in your "Published Papers" section.
3. A book review is great, but a book review goes in a book review section, not a published papers section. See #2.
4. Grad conferences are fine (and some are great) but pick and choose if possible.
5. This one may be controversial: If you choose to list grad courses taken, leave off the ones you audited/sat in on. Anyone can claim to have sat in on any course, and it only comes off as padding. If you put "Audited Dr. Brown's Seminar in Blah" I, who happen to be good buddies with Dr. Brown, may call her to inquire about you.
6. Unless you do history of philosophy or hardcore linguistics, why on earth would I care that you know Greek, Basque, and Tagalog and have a reading knowledge of Sanskrit? Padding.

Less sometimes is more. If I must wade through a bunch of irrelevant padding to get to the good stuff, the good stuff seems less good to me. Sure, from across the room your 6 page CV looks impressive, but when I read it only to find 2 pages relevant, I may hold that against you.

Anonymous said...

WTF?!? I worry both about that person's fitness to earn a PhD, and also (and perhaps more importantly, since they can advise/screw over many students) her program! How does one not know to go to the hiring conference? To attend interviews??

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about not listing unpublished work as being published. It makes you look either lame or dishonest, imho. - Kris

Anonymous said...

Here's a fun piece of advice from one of my fellow Baristas: "My friend's mom is the Dean of Education, maybe I can ask her to give you a job?"

I had to express multiple times that this was a bad idea - she wouldn't believe me at first.

And yes, my PhD took me to a Starbucks...

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:58 PM wrote:

"This one may be controversial: If you choose to list grad courses taken, leave off the ones you audited/sat in on. Anyone can claim to have sat in on any course, and it only comes off as padding. If you put "Audited Dr. Brown's Seminar in Blah" I, who happen to be good buddies with Dr. Brown, may call her to inquire about you."

I have to disagree with this. Of course, you shouldn't lie and claim to have audited courses that you didn't. But if you were actively engaged in the course and made positive contributions, then why not list it? If the search committee calls Dr. Brown, Dr. Brown will say good things about you. Better yet, get Dr. Brown to write you a letter saying what a pleasure it was to have you auditing the course, your useful contributions, etc.

Anonymous said...

Can someone name a PhD progrm at a diploma mill univerity?

Sisyphus said...

The point isn't that the author made some serious rookie mistakes.

Nope, I'm going to disagree with you here --- that applicant sounds as dumb as a post, and I'm not really sympathetic.

But I do wonder, where are her advisors and mentors? Did she blow them off because of all her non-academic job training? Did they decide her training meant she knew far more about the process than they? Maybe she really is at a diploma mill school and it's only just sinking in to her now.

Either way, her advisors should have been giving her a heads-up on how the academic search worked (including how college budgets get set, to understand why you'd never throw aside campus interviews, as this shit is a once-a-year seasonal thing) _way_ before this point in her grad career. Why did she have to wait until after graduation and go to her professional organization? Where the fuck is her dissertation director in all this?

Yeah, at the beginning of reading the article I was all about the schadenfreude, but now I'm just sad.

Anonymous said...

This story does boggle the mind.

On another topic, the Univ of Miami (a ranked Ph.D. program) appears to have filled three tenure-track positions this year. One of them went to an ABD, and the other two went to people who have spent time in visiting positions. So, just a data point to add to the "Is a VAP a good thing?" wars.

Ross Cameron said...

Anonymous 3:58's comments about CV writing rules are absolutely spot on. We're seeing people list works under review under the pubs section of their CV more and more. If the point is to make the CV stand out by having a significant number of entries under pubs then it does the job: but it's not worth it, given that it looks like you're trying to pull one over on us. 'Publications' means, funnily enough, publications. Only list publications. It's great that you have loads of stuff under review - we want to hire active and ambitious researchers - but those are *not* publications.

I'd also add, although this may be more controversial, that you shouldn't list publications in graduate journals, let alone undergrad ones. In my opinion, such publications are *at best* worthless, and are just wasting space on your CV, where no space should be wasted. At worst, listing pubs in grad journals will actively count against you, because the SC will think, rightly or wrongly: is that the *best* place you could place your paper? Since they probably won't count in your favour, and might hurt you, play it safe and leave them off.

Anonymous said...

Not to be disagreeable, but I see something different here. I don't know who "Claudia Hent" is, and I haven't read her books, but my guess is that her non-academic job search books don't suggest padding a resume, skipping job fairs, and not showing how one's experience is relevant. Instead, she seems to have thought that she deserves a job just because she got a Ph.d., and that she shouldn't have to do any of the work (I assume) she recommends re. non-academic job searches. The academic job world is more competitive than most (but not all), but I'm not so convinced it's that different.

Anonymous said...

"So you published in an undergrad journal. Awesome. Don't put it on your CV."

Depends. Our SC this year took undergraduate publishing seriously from ABDs, as it belies a history of committed research and scholarship in the field. A Ph.D. candidate who was publishing as an undergraduate - even in undergrad journals (which, by the way, don't just publish anything!) - clearly didn't stumble into philosophy but was in it from the get-go. That counts for something in our book.

That said, publications in under/grad journals should probably be removed from your CV after you've obtained the Ph.D. and/or are in your second year on the market! By that point we don't care any more!

Anonymous said...

"Claudia Hent" has a "Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in organizational behavior." She describes her school as "low-residency" but emphasizes that it "has unjustly and wrongly [been] perceived as a distance-learning institution -- or, worse, a diploma mill." I think here, like elsewhere, she's just naive, stupid, or lying. I doubt many reputable schools offer PhDs in interdisciplinary studies-Florida State does, I believe-and I don't think such programs generally produce graduates qualified for faculty-rank positions. I'll add that reputable b-schools generally expect or require degrees from AACSB-accredited schools. Don't know about comm programs. More to the point, if you want to study and teach OB, you'll go to either a b-school or a good psychology PhD program. Claudia Hent shouldn't be taken seriously or trusted. She's got a fake degree and is really, really, stupid and unjustifiably haughty.

Mr. Zero said...

"So you published in an undergrad journal. Awesome. Don't put it on your CV."


No, it does not depend. For every SC that won't mind a line like that, there are 1,000 who will think you're a tool. Don't do it.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:25,

I think claudia hent does have a fake degree, but not b/c it is in interdisciplinary studies. I know of one interdisciplinary program at a top ranked university that puts graduates in ivy league departments, and has even put graduates in philosophy tt-jobs (though at institutions outside the leiter 50).

apriori said...

I just looked at my stats from the last SC I was on, and 12% of files were like her file in some way or other. Poorly informed about the process or seemingly sloppy and the like. I have to admit, however, that those files were the easiest to get through and allowed me to reject with ease. They were, in a word, refreshing b/c I didn't have to think much about them, but I could laugh and not worry about whether or not we didn't get the right new faculty member.

Anonymous said...

"No, it does not depend. For every SC that won't mind a line like that, there are 1,000 who will think you're a tool. Don't do it."

I'm sorry. And when were you on a SC exactly? You're wrong.

juniorperson said...

Another CV writing rule--don't list yourself as having the job that you're applying to.

Unless you're applying to my previous institution, Pure Hell Research 1, where the Department hired someone who did this into a TT position because "clearly it's rightfully his job". Mine was the sole dissenting vote....

(Now banging head on table at recollection of this inanity...)

Anonymous said...

Look, here is the reason why putting publications from undergrad journals on your CV is a rotten idea.

Most likely, you wrote this paper 5-7 years ago. That means it most likely is not representative of your writing style, your interests, or your ability. If it is, that means you suck. Also given that you have had the last 5-7 years to tweak it, if it was any good, it would be published in a regular ol' philosophy journal and you would list it as such. Perhaps if you are already awesome, then putting it down just tells the SC that you have bee awesome since undergrad, but guess what, if that Pub section of your CV is empty save the undergrad publication, that tells the SC that you have nothing to show for the last 5-7 years save for something you wrote 5-7 years ago. I mean would you really want the SC to read it? Does anyone think that an SC can get a better idea of who you are as a candidate by reading an undergrad paper? Why would any SC give any positive weight to such trivial shit? Don't fucking do it!

Prof. J. said...

No offense to Mr. Zero, nor especially to Ross Cameron, but I think this is one of those grain-of-salt threads. Nobody has been on enough SCs to make broad generalizations about whether a grad student journal pub looks terrible on a CV, or the like. (My own CV has no padding, for what it's worth, and I do personally prefer to read short ones.)

Also, can someone explain this:

I doubt many reputable schools offer PhDs in interdisciplinary studies...

What makes a study 'interdisciplinary'? Is African-American Studies interdisciplinary? What about Environmental Studies?

Katrina said...

Clearly the author of the Chronicle piece is a moron, because - as others have noted - even outside academia I'm pretty sure you need to SHOW UP AT THE DAMN INTERVIEW.

I can't believe the Chronicle published this nonsense, which is of no use whatsoever to actual ACADEMICS.

What really takes the cake is her declaration that she won't accept anything less than T-T.

mr. zero said...

I was thinking of the undergrad publications in this manner: papers written as undergraduates tend to suck. Those undergraduate journals tend to suck, too. (I occasionally read them while I wait for the photocopier to open up. They suck.) I doubt that their editors can afford to be very selective, and even if they could, since the editors are undergraduates themselves, they probably don't have a solid idea of what, specifically, to be selective about.

So it seemed to me, and I've been given lots of advice from various advisors that bears this out, that listing your undergrad pubs is unlikely to help you--though I'm willing to admit that it might help you with one or two SCs--it is much more likely that it will hurt you. The expected utility of listing them is low. I could be wrong, and if you're confident about it, do what you like. But it seems to me that listing pubs in undergrad journals is meaningless at best and pathetic at worst.

That said, I know of a couple of people who presented papers at the Pacific APA as undergrads, and one guy who got a paper he wrote in college published in Phil Studies. If that's the kind of thing you were up to as an undergrad, I'd be inclined to recommend listing it.

Ross Cameron said...

Oh yeah, if you publish in Phil Studies as an undergrad (I know of a case of this as well, and it's a great paper), damn right - go ahead and list it! That's a real coup. I don't object to undergrad publications, just to publications in undergrad or postgrad journals - or even the many weak professional journals.

Prof J - you're right. I wasn't meaning to generalise about all SCs. I've only been in the job 3 years (although we've done an awful lot of hiring for 3 years), and I can't speak to how SCs outside my current institution work. I'm only reporting on how I view applications. And I'd hazard a guess I'm not alone. So it's just a risk analysis: given that no one is likely to be that impressed, and that some people might actively consider it a drawback, it's probably best just not to list such things. But as with any of these things - SCs are going to differ so much that any such advice is going to be fallible.

Anonymous said...

"I doubt many reputable schools offer PhDs in interdisciplinary studies..."

Many reputable schools offer doctoral degrees in interdisciplinary disciplines (see below). I cannot think of any, however, that offer a doctorate degree specifically in "Interdisciplinary Studies," probably because it is not at all clear what "Interdisciplinary Studies" means.

"What makes a study 'interdisciplinary'? Is African-American Studies interdisciplinary? What about Environmental Studies?"

The answer to the second and third question is "yes." The term "interdisciplinary" refers, quite simply, to studies that draw upon research from a variety of disciplines. Fields like African-American Studies, Environmental Studies, etc. are interdisciplinary by definition inasmuch as they employ composite rather than uniform methodologies to their respective objects of analysis - again, drawing upon the scholarship or research methods of a variety of distinct academic disciplines without constituting a distinctive academic discipline in their own right.

That said, most if not all of the humanities and social sciences are "interdisciplinary" to greater or lesser degree nowadays. For example, philosophers across the spectrum draw variously upon research in natural science, empirical psychology, economics, literature, history, etc. etc. depending upon the nature of their inquiry. The same is true of English (so much so, in fact, that some scholars have argued that English Litearture no longer has a distinctive disciplinary method of research or analysis and instead applies a "fusion" of philosophy, psychology, history, etc. to the analysis of literature in particular and culture in general).

The only thing counting against obtaining a doctorate degree in a broadly interdisciplinary field is that it is occasionally (perhaps often) difficult to find a job in programs other than the sort that granted your degree. In philosophy, interdisciplinarity can work in your favor or against you depending upon your AOS. Obviously someone coming out of a phil/cognitive science program is prima facie a strong candidate for a job in phil/cognitive science, since he or she will undoubtedly have received some training in science as well as philosophy. A candidate who has only taken courses in phil of mind may not be as attractive for a position of that sort, ceteris paribus. I would say, though, that you're much likely to get a job in this country if your AOS is in history or some core area like M+E and ethics/social-political.

Anonymous said...

"Also, can someone explain this: I doubt many reputable schools offer PhDs in interdisciplinary studies..."

Since I wrote that I'll explain what I meant. As another Anon pointed out, there are a lot of interdisciplinary fields (the two you list, plus women's studies, classics, religious studies, anthropology (social, biological, linguistic are all included), etc.), and everyone is interdisciplinary in some minimal sense. I didn't mean that.

I meant when the degree has the words "Interdisciplinary Studies". No reputable school will do that, with one or two exceptions (I mentioned one, and the Anon who said "there is one, but I won't tell you what it is" might have another in mind), because grads won't get a job if it's not clear what the degree is good for. A degree in field X warrants that you can teach certain basic courses, but all a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies says is that even you don't know what you've studied, which isn't a good sign. Some fly-by-night for-profit schools offer PhDs in Interdisciplinary Studies (big I, big S) because they can't afford to hire enough faculty, or fund a decent library, to offer real PhDs. So they offer fake ones to people who can't get into, or complete, real ones.

Oh, and OB is (the field the Chronicle writer says she specializes in) IS a real field, and if you want a degree in OB, you get one-from a business school or industrial psychology program. Getting a degree labelled "Interdiciplinary Studies" and pretending it's in OB is stupid.

Mr CV said...
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