Post Academic


Time to herd the cats! Don’t get wrecked by your recs…

Posted in Process Stories,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on August 19, 2010
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"Herd of Cats" by Boksi (Public Domain)

I’m not sure I’m the person who should be giving this advice, seeing as I can’t even decide whether to save the dossier I currently have or just let it be sent to the paper shredder, where it probably belongs at this point.  But if I were to, say, start planning for the academic job market, which is closer to starting up than you think, I would probably at least start thinking about the most excruciating part of getting your application together: herding the cats–er, contacting your recommenders–so that you can have your dossier ready to go.  You know you’re gonna procrastinate when it comes to actually carrying out the palm-sweating task of asking your mentors to write your recs, so at least put yourself into that mindset now.  That way, you’ll actually be right on time after you keep putting it off–call it time doping!

What makes getting recs so stress-inducing is that it’s the only part of your application profile you really have zero control over.  If your CV is either too weak or really straining the limits of credulity, that’s on you for doing too little and/or embellishing too much.  If your cover letter is a mess and the job you’re applying for is a real stretch, that’s your responsibility.  But you have almost no hand in your letters of rec, short of deciding whom you ask to advocate for you.

What’s out of your control–and what you can try to do about it–below the jump…

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