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More Thoughts on the Job Market (Salma Monani)

I too have been asked to add my thoughts to the Job Search process. Kenny has covered the basics, so I’ll add to them via my own personal experiences. Perhaps one of the most important things for me in this process was access to an excellent one credit Preparing Future Faculty class offered by the U’s own Teaching and Learning Center. If you happen to be like me, generally unorganized and also somewhat perplexed by this whole process, it’s a great resource. Here’s the link to the Academic Job Search part of the PFF website: http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/tutorials/jobsearch/index.html. Even if you don’t take the class, here’s what it taught me:
1) It got me thinking about institutional fit and also gave me a sense of the current state of the job market. In essence, it made me think more realistically about what my options were and where I might be happy.
2) It forced me to pull together a CV and a cover letter for an ideal job ahead of time (so I wasn’t scrambling when it was crunch time—believe me this process can be time-consuming. Anthony attests to that!). I had to think about what this ideal job was and also familiarize myself with job sites. A few to consider are MLA (the department used to pay for this, and it’s worth seeing if they will do so again), the Chronicle for Higher Education, NCA, and H-Net.
3) It’s worth it to start looking at job postings sooner than later. That way you get a sense of what jobs there are out there and how you can tailor yourself for first choice jobs, second choice jobs, and third choice jobs. Always, always think of a back up plan. For example, I want to teach environmental humanities. The job market is next to non-existent in this area, so I need a back-up plan. Can I teach Techcomm? Or Composition? The market for these jobs is better. But, I also need my resume to show I can do this. It’s worth thinking about your opinions sooner than later as that gives you time to build up your resume.

Here are a few additional thoughts:
1) Just to test the waters, it’s worth going on the job market earlier than you think you’ll really need to. Apply selectively. Only apply to your ideal jobs. Only apply to those jobs you feel really qualified to do. Who knows you might get lucky (I did)! Even if you don’t, you might still get interview experience, and you’ll certainly have your CV and other job application materials (teaching philosophy, research statement, cover letters) crafted and ready to go for the next time around.
2) Once your applications are out, the process seems a bit like a crapshoot (if I can use the word). Often times, it’s impossible to know what a hiring department is really looking for. They might simply reject your application because they’ve already got too many people from Minnesota, or because they have a candidate in mind already. Just make sure you have your best material out there, do your homework beforehand, make use of your professional networks to stay in the loop as this might help you get a better sense of what a department might be looking for, and don’t get disheartened. There are always other jobs to apply for!

I’ll stop there but am happy to add more of my two cents worth, if any one is interested. ☺


Comments

From an article in the Nation:

The most striking fact about this year's list is that the lion's share of positions is in rhetoric and composition. That is, not in a field of literature at all but in the teaching of expository writing, the "service" component of an English department's role within the university. Add communications and professional and technical writing, and you've got more than a third of the list. Another large fraction of openings, perhaps 15 percent, is in creative writing. Apparently, kids may not want to read anymore, but they all want to write. And watch. Forward-thinking English departments long ago decided to grab film studies before it got away, and the list continues to reflect that bit of subterfuge.