Now that I can finally stop stressing about being homeless in New Job City, let's get back to business, shall we?
Summer's in full swing, and if you're thinking of throwing your hat into the TT ring this fall, it's time to start working on your application packet. What's that? You'd prefer to be lounging on the dock of a lakeside cabin? Too bad! There are plenty of non-lakeside loungers who would gladly sign that offer letter instead of you.
Those of you who've been following me from the beginning know that in the '09-10 hiring season, I truly struck out looking. Dozens of applications, and not a whisper of interest from anyone, despite my Classy Institution-filled CV, letters of rec from Famous Dudes (and Dudette), and (what I naively thought was a) brilliant Research Plan. Ahem.
It was super depressing, and the whole experience made me want, at times, to throw in the towel completely. But I picked up my sad, wilted ego, regrouped, and as you well know, the '10-11 hiring cycle went much better. So, what was it that made the difference? How does a person go from gut-churning despair to confetti and revelry in the course of just one year? Here are a few things that, for those of you about to have another (or even a first) go at it, may be worth thinking about.
1. New data. In late spring/early summer '10, I got some data that turned my frown upside down. Not a whole paper's worth, but enough that it gave me a lot to think about, and even better still, another line of research I could add to my research statement. My excitement about this new avenue came through in my proposal, and made my statement much, much stronger.
2. More eyes. I cannot say this enough--get as many people as you can to give you feedback on your statements. In '10-11 I expanded my sources of
criticism advice, and it made a huge difference. Honestly, a one-sentence suggestion from a new reader inspired me to restructure my whole research statement, and all of a sudden, everything just clicked.
3. More teaching. One interesting trend I noticed between the job ads of '09-10 and '10-11 is that way more of them started asking for teaching statements, even at very research-heavy R1-type places. Luckily, I had the opportunity to co-teach a course during the spring '10 semester, and I was able to add what I'd learned from that experience to my previous teaching statement, using concrete examples. For more on the teaching statement, check out Dr Zen's latest.
4. Broaden your options. As has been discussed at length by Drugmonkey/Risottoproffe, the benefits of casting a wide net when applying greatly outweigh whatever negatives you could come up with. In round 2 I expanded my application submissions to places I probably would have passed over in round 1, and it paid off immensely; when I went to interview at NJU (one of my top choices), I had an offer in hand from my first interview U, and NJU worked their butts off to get me a far superior offer as quickly as possible.
These are the biggies for me, I'd say, but I'd love to hear from others who also had better experiences this year than last. How did you effectively change your game?