A flash of insight

Look at these instructions on how to apply for jobs.

I had a flash of insight: they are asking for more materials now because they are tired of weak applications. I have never applied for a job that asked for a research statement, but I always included clear discussion of research in my letter. Now they are separating the components of the letter, and breaking things down to step-by-step instructions … just as we now must, when we assign things to the students.

(My experience is that essays do get much better when you write instructions almost as long as the essay itself is to be — even when teaching at a level where part of being at that level is, or was at one time, no longer needing such instructions.)

Now job candidates need more explicit instructions, or now search committees have organized to improve the quality of job applications. In this process it has become the case that more materials are required than ever before. Things have not become more competitive, but more bureaucratic; and official efforts are being made to ensure that all candidates know how a good application looks.

What do you think of my theory?





Filed under Questions

7 responses to “A flash of insight

  1. j.

    i think this might have more to do with the rationalization (bureaucratization) of hiring practices? a breakdown like this anticipates the ways that committees will rate applicants during their internal deliberations (turf wars, bargaining, etc.).

    • Z

      Oh, you must be right. Make candidates’ materials as uniform as possible so nobody’s candidate will get thrown out, etc.

      • j.

        this array of materials is the norm in my discipline btw, i don’t know since when. i listen enviously to stories about upper-tier humanities hiring where what’s expected is essentially a long letter. (we’re told: more than three paragraphs, and you’re XED OUT.)

      • Z

        P.S. Oh yes — requiring syllabi with job application, for instance, it all just seems hokey and make-work. We used to take syllabi to MLA interviews sometimes. I think requiring all of this paper, requiring that all of your several hundred candidates compile this much paper, is a lot although maybe now, if each person has a website, their things are already there.

  2. Z

    The separate research statement, separate statement of teaching philosophy, sometimes video, etc., are things that have appeared in the last 10 or 15 years. It used to be just letter, vita, and then they’d ask for letters of recommendation, offprints, sometimes student evaluations. Now you have to expand in separate documents on information that I would have said was in letter and vita.

    Three paragraphs? I just sent off a letter with eight. Short ones–whole letter was under two pages. But eight total paragraphs. Have I been Xed out?

  3. Pingback: Monday Great Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion | Clarissa's Blog

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