Sunday, January 09, 2005

My eyeballs are about to fall out

Sorry for disappearing for almost a week. As you could probably tell from my last post, I have been knee-deep in reading job applications. This is my first time serving on a job search committee. I wanted to do this, so it's my own damn fault for committing myself to it. But I finished the last batch (at least the initial pass through) late yesterday (well, technically it was early this morning), so I'm hoping that's the worst of it.

I have to admit that I volunteered to be on the search committee partly out of wanting to do service for my department, partly because I do really want a big say in who I'll be working with for the next however-many years, and partly out of morbid curiosity. It has not been that long since I was on the market, and I wanted to know what happens on "the other side". How do people make decisions about your application? What made my school decide to interview me, while other schools passed? What makes some applications stand out from others?

I still remember stressing over and toiling over each application I sent out. Writing and re-writing cover letters. Checking and double-checking my materials. Making sure the teaching schools got the CV with teaching experience listed first, and the research schools got the more extensive research statement. I was a perfectionist wreck, but I really wanted to be hired, so I did whatever I could. I thought everyone did this.

Well, let me just say that I am appalled at a lot of what I have seen in the applications I've read. Cover letters that don't mention the school, or indicate anything about why the person wants to be at my school. Spelling and grammar mistakes all over the place. Teaching and research statements that either have no content or ramble on for pages with no point. Are people really that stupid? Do they think that this won't reflect poorly on them? If I have five minutes to make an initial impression of you, I sure won't have a favorable impression if I see any of the above things in your application. The mind boggles.

So anyway, I hope that the worst is over. The next round should be better, since we only have to re-read the better applications. Better, but probably not easier.

(Actually, the worst part of this experience is that, because I've been reading tons of applications, I have not been able to read to relax before bedtime! Torture!)

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