Post Academic

Look Like You Want the Job

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension,public domain wikimedia commonsDean Dad recently published an article explaining why he can’t answer the question “Can You Tell Me Why I Didn’t Get the Job?”

But he did drop a few hints about why some qualified people don’t get one of the precious few academic jobs that are available. One of those hints was this: “Your answer to x suggested that you’re settling for this job, and other candidates seemed actually to want it.”

One of the major issues with the academic job market is that there are so few jobs that people feel like they have to apply for everything. Then someone gets a job in a place they don’t like, and they spend half their time miserable and half their time trying to get out.

A smart interviewer or job search committee will be able to separate the candidates who are interested from the ones who just want a job, any job. So, if you want that job, whether it be an Ivory Tower job or a Hamster World job, you must look like you want it. Find out how after the jump!

Image from Reefer Madness from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Crank up the hype machine. Academics are the best at getting the scoop on potential employers, and we Hamsters could learn from them. But academics could learn how to promote themselves a little more. The tougher the job market, the more promotion you need to do. If you really want that job, start putting out feelers among friends, which will send the interview committee a signal that you’re one to watch.

Cancel the interview if you know you don’t want it. Practice interviews are a nice idea, but it’s not a nice idea to waste anyone’s time. Given the state of the academic job market, skip the interview with a school that doesn’t interest you. Someone else will gladly take your place.

Answer the location question with enthusiasm. Academics and Hamster People need to take special care when discussing the employer to which they are applying. That employer is the best employer in the universe. Even if it isn’t, so what? It still is. Sure, it seems fake, but nothing will doom your chances at getting a job faster than seeming like you’re looking down on a potential place of employment.

Beware the proverbial chip on the shoulder. If you aren’t looking down and wouldn’t dream of leaving that impression, you still need to spell out that you are genuinely interested in the school and wouldn’t mind working there for the long haul. Some people get defensive about where they live (Exhibit A: Bostonians after they feel insulted by New Yorkers), or they get defensive about their schools, and they might be overly sensitive. You may find a comment innocuous, but the interviewers may be offended beyond belief. If you can avoid any value judgments or broad assumptions about small towns or urban centers or anything of that nature, you will be well on your way to impressing an interviewer.

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