This post is jointly written by Steve Heard and Jacquelyn Gill, and appears in addition on Jacquelyn’s blog The Contemplative Mammoth
A couple of weeks ago, one of us (Steve) posted “How to write, and read, a (job) rejection letter”. (I should clarify that we’re talking here about the university/college academic job market*). One piece of advice to job candidates got some interesting pushback on Twitter, including from Jacquelyn. It was this piece:
Finally, realize that the letter isn’t an invitation to further conversation…Don’t contact the letter writer, or anyone else, to ask for further feedback (not even “so I can improve my future applications”). Believe me, we understand how much you want that feedback, because when we were in your position we wanted it too. But the same confidentiality considerations that kept the letter short and a bit vague apply to later conversations too.
Rejection is normal in academia.
One could take that as depressing, I suppose, but one shouldn’t. Rejection is normal in most everything; if you go through life without being rejected, you’re definitely not trying hard enough. But this can be hard to remember, especially when the stakes are high – when you’ve submitted your first paper, or applied for your first job at a university you’d love to join. It’s only human to find such rejections weighing you down (and perhaps confirming your imposter syndrome). One way to lessen the impact is surely to see your own rejections in the context of other peoples’ – and that’s the idea behind the “shadow CV” or “anti-CV”. (Here’s Jacquelyn Gill explaining the same idea, but better.)*
I don’t have a complete shadow CV, because I haven’t kept track of every time I’d had a paper or a grant rejected. But I was sifting through a filing cabinet and discovered that I do have a pretty-much complete list of the (academic) jobs I’ve been rejected from. Continue reading
Last month I offered some advice about how to write a terrible teaching statement – or, more usefully, how not to. The post was inspired by many years of serving on search committees (not, I will point out again, by any particular applicant’s example). But in researching an upcoming blog post, I stumbled across a copy of my own teaching statement, from the last time I was on the job market. And guess what? It was terrible in many of the very ways I mentioned. Continue reading
Over the last 20 years I’ve served on at least a dozen faculty search committees, and that means I’ve seen approximately six wheelbarrowloads of job applications. I’ve seen some terrific applications and some terrible ones (and I now understand that my own applications, at least early in my career, shared some features with the terrible ones). But one standard piece of the faculty job application almost always makes me roll my eyes: the teaching statement.
Most faculty job ads request a “statement of teaching philosophy”; some search committees even pay attention to it*. I’ve seen them anywhere from a couple of sentences to several pages long. And actually, there’s no need for a post titled “How to write a terrible teaching statement”, because believe me, this skill is already widespread. So instead, let me suggest an important way in which you can write one that isn’t terrible. Continue reading