Thursday, October 25, 2007

Confidence in the job search

Two observations as I browse the Chronicle of Higher Education listings:

1. Some schools don't categorize their jobs correctly, so I just look through all of them for the locations I'd live in. In contrast to everything else in academic life, I see a broad array of fields, some of which I've never heard of. The availability of a wide selection almost feels like the menu for choosing an undergraduate major, as if I could suddenly decide to apply for a faculty position in Quantitative Assyrian Film Studies. In reality, there are 400 people with PhDs in precisely that field madly competing for the one position, but that's not visible from the Chronicle website.

2. Last year, I applied to a wide variety of jobs, looking primarily at the fields and how I fit in. Somehow I felt less nervous to be applying for a range of jobs and to treat all the jobs the same. I applied for one job at an urban commuter school and I looked at their website just the same as I looked at the website of the more traditional research-oriented universities, and spent about the same time writing cover letters. Writing 70 cover letters each individual one doesn't mean all that much, so the process went smoothly. I got interviews at all levels of places. Now that I realize that the urban commuter schools may offer fantastic teaching opportunities, if I want research I need to go elsewhere, so my search is far more directed, each cover letter means much more, and I feel more tempted to procrastinate.

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