Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Frustrated Job Candidates


  1. Feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, esp. because of inability to change or achieve something.
  2. (of a person) Unable to follow or be successful in a particular career.
In previous posts I have talked about the unlikelihood of landing a tenure-track job as an ABD candidate (click here), and recommended that PhD students have a strategy when seeking employment (click here).  If you have been applying for faculty positions this year, I'm sure you are aware how difficult the current market is for prospective humanities professors.

Here is a sobering example of the challenges awaiting individuals who hope to secure full-time faculty employment as humanities professors. UTC's history department advertised for an entry-level position as Assistant Professor of  Modern American History. Keep in mind that this is another job with the enticing statement, "Applications from advanced ABD candidates will be considered." I had heard rumors of a huge pool of applicants for this position, but I had no idea how many dossiers the department received. According to the pundits at the US History Academic Jobs Wiki, a whopping 368 people applied for this history job! Apparently, the search committee recently narrowed the pool to 46 people, who will then be whittled down to roughly a dozen candidates for Skype interviews. The lucky finalists will then be invited to the campus. Below are the highlights from some of the obviously frustrated candidates:

  • Received this email from the search chair (2/4): "Good afternoon. I am very pleased to inform you that your application still is being considered for the tenure-line assistant professorship of Modern American History at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Following an extensive review of the 368 applications submitted, your dossier is amongst 46 that now will advance to a second round of evaluation. Over the next 7-10 days, the search committee aims to identify 10-12 candidates to be interviewed via Skype during the second half of February. The most successful of these interviewees will be invited to Chattanooga for a campus visit during the month of March. Please accept my congratulations for advancing to this stage of the search process, and don't hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or concerns. Please also let me know if you no longer wish the committee to consider your candidacy."
    • What a load of old garbage. I wonder how they decided to advance 46 and not 47 or 48? I am absolutely certain that I had to be number 47 in the pool and I am severly disheartened not to get an interview. I will be filing my claim with the Human Rights Commission and the United Nations immediately.
    • Regardless of the above tantrum, I am severely disheartened not to be selected when I have many more publications than the search chair. Academia is a strange business. (x3)
    • I would love to know the criteria they used to select the "Lucky 46." I'm especially interested if this committee dumped all of the "stale PhDs" and just went for ABDs and recently-minted PhDs? When the Lucky 46 gets whittled to the Elite 10-12, I hope those who do not make the second cut share their ranks with the Wiki.
    • Rejected ABD here.  BLARG.  46, really?  That's ridiculous.  
  • Received reject email stating they received 368 apps (2/6)
  • I still beleive this to be an inside hire.
  • It's sobering that the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga recieved 386 applications for one position. UT-C isn't exactly a top research university or even the flagship UT campus. Inside hire or not, this is a prime example of a broken system.
  • Of course, this was a very broad search, but it is also sobering to know that after this search is over, there will still be 45 people out there looking for jobs who are more qualified than me. Time to consider non-academic positions?
    • You can't look at it that way. I, personally, do not think that there are 45 more qualified individuals than me out there...certainly not for this position. I think that the search committee was looking at some kind of "fit" issue or other criteria that was not written in the job advertisement and that caused my application to be rejected. I have a book, a contract for the second book, multiple articles/chapters, conference presentations.....far and above what the search chair for this position has. However, they chose to go for some other aspect of the CV instead of publications. For one of the searches below (not UTC), I have radically better qualifications than the three finalists (who have one article between them), yet the search committee was swayed by the desire to be hip and trendy and hire on academic fads and "potential," rather than actual accomplishments. My advice to you is the same I give myself: keep doing your work and something will eventually open up.

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