Post Academic

Get ready for your secondary requests

Posted in Process Stories,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on November 10, 2010
Tags: , ,

I just peeked on the Academic Jobs Wiki for the first time in a few weeks.  I have to say it’s much better not applying for jobs this year and not having to sweat all the responses to the listings on the Wiki.  In the past, you see someone else post that s/he’s gotten some kind of request, which only leads to a bunch of speculation on the Wiki and in your head: When did you get the request?  Is it because you sent in your application early and the school sends out responses on a rolling basis?  Are they responding alphabetically?  Why haven’t I even gotten the Affirmative Action postcard?

In the end, there are some things to remember: 1. Yes, your application got where it’s supposed to go, so don’t sweat waiting for a receipt; 2. There’s a person on the other end of the application, probably someone who’s overworked and underpaid, so just wait; 3. You either have a shot or not, so just wait.  Still, you should be ready–like we’ve been telling you to be–in case you get that email you’ve been waiting for asking you for more materials.  Because once things get rolling, the process can spin out of control, leaving you wondering why you didn’t use the time you had earlier on–i.e., now.

Be polite: When you receive correspondence from a department, respond to the message and be nice about it.  Take a little time and be anal about sending out a proper response, even if it’s to a work-study student who’s saddled with all the work and not the chair of the search committee.  Treat everyone the same way, especially if you’re the paranoid type who worries that being perceived as rude or aloof or anything might blackball you or cause something to happen to your application.  But be nice mostly because it’s the right thing to do, too.

More tips after the jump…

Be prompt: Just don’t take too long in responding, because this ain’t the time to act too cool for school.  If it’s a standard request for materials you pretty much already have, like a writing sample or letters you already have on file, just send ’em back in your reply message.  It’ll make you feel like you accomplished something and it can’t hurt to show that you have you shit together.

But buy time if you need it: Then again, maybe you don’t have your shit together or folks ask for stuff you can’t anticipate.  Like, for instance, a second writing sample of a very particular length that you don’t have.  Or they want your recs to be emailed when your dossier service can’t fulfill online requests and there’s no way you’ll be able to herd your faculty into sending their recs on their own somewhat simultaneously.  When you don’t know what to do,  just ask–I’ve found that if you’re polite and prompt (see above), the people processing the applications are flexible and willing to help.  But asking can also serve a pragmatic purpose, because it can buy you time to do what you need to–chop down…er, write…that writing sample–as you wait for them to provide direction.  You might be trying to milk as much time as possible to get things in order, but your questions are honest and fair ones too.

Don’t read too much into things: The biggest temptation of all this correspondence is to read too much into things.  Just keep in mind that a simple acknowledgement actually means nothing more than that–hundreds of folks are getting them too and probably making too much out of them too.  A secondary request is nice, but also remember it’s only a necessary starting point that guarantees you nothing, except you still have a chance to get where you want to go.

One Response to 'Get ready for your secondary requests'

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  1. Wow, reading the job wikis, brave man. Even though I’m not in the game, it’s so stressful to see the horribleness. Good tips, though!

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