Post Academic

Decluttering the job application process: The spreadsheet

Posted in First Person,Process Stories by Arnold Pan on August 24, 2010
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So it might seem bass-ackwards to start talking about the academic job application process by beginning with letters of rec, before you even know what positions you’re applying to.  Really, it isn’t, though, because that’s the only step that depends on other people–well, unless you count the schools you applied to.  But the “next” step should really be the first one–finding job openings and making a spreadsheet listing them in a way that’s easy to access and sort.  If only schools would cooperate and, you know, start posting positions now!

"ExCel Exhibition Centre" by jasoncart (Public Domain)

(A quick aside before we get going: you might ask yourself why you would listen to the unsolicited advice of a post-academic who hasn’t gotten on the tenure-track, which is a good rejoinder on your part.  Well, I’ll say that I did have good success getting convention interviews, though it was definitely a case of “quality”–however you define that–over quantity, since I never got double-digit invites at any MLA nor applied to that many jobs in a given year anyway.  As for the next step hopefully coming at the beginning of 2011, you’re on your own–or we’ll try and find a sherpa who knows what s/he’s talking about when it comes to campus visits.  Till then, you’re stuck with me.)

So back to the process: The first thing you need to do, obviously, is find where the jobs are, which has been easier said than done the past few years.  In English, we’re still about three weeks away from the big unveiling of the MLA Job Information List–henceforth known as JIL–on September 16, a day we’ll commemorate for sure.  But, for the time being, you can check the Academic Job Wiki for whatever has been posted–you might as well bookmark the wiki and get used to checking it, because it’s gonna be the equivalent of your browser homepage soon enough.  The Chronicle online want’s job site, and university HR sites (if you know what you’re looking for) have some early job postings in a variety of fields.

More about getting started with the process below the fold…