on academic job hunting

I don’t like writing cover letters.  I really don’t.  I sound, by turns, smarmy and cocky and unsure and begging and pandering and, oddly enough, sarcastic.  I’ve never quite struck the right balance between being enthusiastic about a job I really want, without scaring the hell of the unknown people on the other end, and trying to sound enthusiastic about jobs I’m applying for, but know that either I won’t get, or am unsure I’d want even if I did.

That enthusiasm is hard to muster for schools that are, in themselves, pretentious.  Honestly, would it KILL you to give the name of the person who is the chair of the search?  Really?  Why make it hard for your applicants to ask questions?  Don’t you want people you can work with?  When you don’t include a name, it just makes you seem like you can’t be bothered.  And really, let me tell you, when you get high-falutin’ with the job title, that’s another mark against you.  Seriously.

Why are the job titles and lack of names pretentious?  Because I can still go look at your website, and look at who your faculty are, and lo and behold…who is that?  And that?  I’ve never heard of that guy.  Nope, not that one either.  Good lord, do you have any WOMEN on your faculty?  Anyone who isn’t …white?  Is there something you’re not saying?  Or are you just a wannabe school (as in ‘we wanna be Berkeley/Harvard’)?  Because between your lack of openness, your fancy mission statements, and your horribly overcomplicated, or just plain BAD, website (a lack of a complete list of departmental courses, a photo of the faculty as a stand-in for actual information) …guess what?  You ain’t.  Because when Berkeley does a job search, they list the chair of the search (as does Harvard) and they request more than just my CV and transcripts.

And what the hell do my transcripts have to do with anything?  Okay, maybe they prove that I’ve gotten my masters, but really, beyond that?  We all know that grad school grades are inflated…it’s an A, the okay A-, and the ‘what the hell are you doing in grad school’ B+.  Guess what?  I’ve got one of those.  From my first year, in a Marx class.  Guess what?  Doesn’t mean I can’t teach the classes you’re asking me to teach.  Wouldn’t you rather see my class evaluations?  My teaching philosophy?  My evaluations as an instructor?

Come on, people.  YOU hated your job search, you thought the same things I did, and yet you continue to repeat them.  And we wonder why so many people don’t understand academics.  Damn, but we’re a catty lot.

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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