Essay on what academic job ads really mean | Inside Higher Ed

Essay on what academic job ads really mean | Inside Higher Ed

Comments on this article include one of the most useful paragraphs about the job market you will ever read:

“The author has some interesting insights, but they all proceed from a common misunderstanding: that the advert is actually trying to convey useful information. As a longtime administrator in a number of offices, I can tell you that in almost every case, it is not true. Hiring is an administrative function, so you have to approach the emtire process from an administrator’s perspective. Here is what it comes down to: every step of the hiring process – except for the final decision of the school – is not designed to inform the candidate. The steps are not designed to “see if you are a good fit.” The steps are purposely designed to eliminate you from consideration – period! The hiring process at schools may have been different in the distant past, but we have to live in today’s world, and the realities of this world make hiring a royal pain in the rear end. When a school places an advert for a teaching position, it knows that it will receive an enormous number of applicants. This is the reality. The hiring committee (or the poor sucker who gets stuck with the initial screening – yes, Virginia; they do sometimes stick one person with that job) cannot possibly give all of those applicants the consideration they deserve. There simply is not enough time, money or resources to do it properly. So the game plan is: get rid of as many of them up front as you possibly can. They don’t care what you know. They don’t care what you can do. They just want you out of the running. Every candidate knocked out of the race is a win; the earlier, the better. A vague (or even misleading) advert can help accomplish this, as the befuddled applicant submits an initial application that shows that he or she does not understand the craven process that hiring has become. Those poor souls who make it through the first gate are met with progressively more insidious processes designed to weed them out by any means necessary. Some of them are frighteningly devious, and believe me; they work. Eventually, the school is left with a manageable number of candidates for the job; broken, humiliated and stripped of any shred of hope for their futures. One of them will get the job. I wish it were not so, but it is. So don’t place much (if any) stock in a print advert. Know what it is beneath the surface and plan your strategy accordingly. Contrary to popular belief, administrators like people who can figure out the game and take advantage of it. Good luck, people. I do not envy you.”

In a previous column, I wrote about finding your academic fit when you go on the job market by figuring out what kind of college or department with which your sensibilities and abilities might best align. That advice focused on being introspective — asking yourself some philosophical questions — a…


Warnings from the Trenches

Warnings from the Trenches

If you, as a higher education professional, are concerned about the quality of students arriving at your institution, you have a responsibility to step up and speak out. You need to inform those creating the policies about the damage they are doing to our young people, and how they are undermining those institutions in which you labor to make a difference in the minds and the lives of the young people you teach as well as in the fields in which you do your research.

You should have a further selfish motivation. Those who have imposed the mindless and destructive patterns of misuse of tests to drive policy in K–12 education are already moving to impose it on higher education, at least in the case of the departments and schools of education that prepare teachers: they want to “rate” those departments by the test scores of the students taught by their graduates.

The Essay, an Exercise in Doubt

The Essay, an Exercise in Doubt

According to Theodor Adorno, the iron law of the essay is heresy. What is heresy if not the expression of contrarian doubt about communal pieties or orthodox positions? This is sometimes called “critical thinking,” an ostensible goal of education in a democracy. But since such thinking often rocks the boat, we may find it less than supported in school settings. Typically, the exercise of doubt is something an individual has to cultivate on his or her own, in private, before summoning the courage to air it, say, in an essay.