Post Academic

Application Tracker: An introduction

Posted in Absurdities,Process Stories by Arnold Pan on March 1, 2010

One of the most inefficient and frustrating aspects of the academic job search is the complete lack of any standard format to applications, even within a single field.  In English and literature fields, job applications might constitute any combination of the following:

1. Cover Letter

2. Curriculum Vitae

3. References/Confidential Letters of Recommendation

4. Writing Sample

5. Dissertation Abstract

6. Statement of Teaching Philosophy

7. Teaching Evaluations

8. Official Transcript

The application could be requested as a hard copy or as online attachments or some unexplained combination of both.  Then the applicant will wait for an acknowledgement that might or might not come, as an email or letter or as a request for demographic data.  Then the applicant will wait to hear whether s/he will make it to the first round of convention interviews–unless the school wants even more information.  Unmercifully enough, the applicant will find out whether all this waiting was worth around Christmas time, after having to purchase airline tickets and hold hotel reservations.  The reward: more interviews and more waiting and probably more documents to send at a moment’s notice.

“Application Tracker” highlights the various parts of this process and what it does to the mental health of the academic job applicant, evidenced by threads online discussing:

* Whether to use letterhead or regular paper;

* Whether to staple or paper-clip documents;

* What is the nicest, most generous (form) rejection letter?

I’ll track some of my applications as an example of just arbitrary and mystifying the mere process of applying for an academic job can be.  And please feel free to jump in with your own experiences, hypothetical reader!

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