Market Crash Course is here!

Market Crash Course is here!

Bringing a little much-needed gallows humor to the indignity of the academic job search, here (you can also just click on the title of this post) is the first in my Market Crash Course (get it? Because the market CRASHED?) series for Vitae. I believe my objections to the current dossier process are unassailable. My solution might need work, but hey, at least I offered one.

Now I must return to the cross upon which I spend my days nailed. Because I’M A MARTYR, GET IT? For serious, though, I just have to go teach. 54 paper conferences in a row–is there anything that can fry a teacher’s brain more than attempting to reconfigure that many essays in real-time? #friedout

12 thoughts on “Market Crash Course is here!

  1. OMG, I almost spit out my coffee in laughing when I read the following, so true so true: “recommendation letters have ballooned into hagiographic novellas of the absurd, are done away with altogether, replaced by a simple list of references that can be contacted directly in a later round.”

    I, too, don’t understand why the clearinghouse model hasn’t been implemented–law schools do it, why not the humanities? It makes everyone’s life simpler. I know because I’ve written letters for a few students applying to law school. I couldn’t believe it at first…what? So simple? Efficient?

    Hindering the move toward the clearinghouse are both the epic administrative dysfunction and the mystical self-perception that characterizes the world of university Humanities. They’re anointing fragile, exquisite minds and brilliant souls rather than merely hiring an employee in a business, see? Don’t you get it, Rebecca? 😉


  2. I have been trying to get my own field to follow the lead of Math, whose FREE TO CANDIDATES clearinghouse works quite similar to your own sketch. Give it a look and let us know what you think:

    More later, but I just wanted to say keep at it! Even those of us whose lucky lottery ticket came up, whose bingo cards got punched, are very happy that your voice is getting out there!!


    • Right? What the fuck is wrong with the Humanities that they think every precious job opening has to be someone’s transcendent calling? If you don’t give me 40 hours of your time, you’re not worth it? Please.


  3. I like your ideas but really the market needs radical change. What I say is that we move to an “agent system,” like that in Hollywood or sports. Search committees can talk to candidates’ representatives. This would make sense since PhDs are terrible at marketing themselves. Plus, an agent would be so much better at the awkward contract negotiations and he/she would remember to ask questions that would make a candidate look uncouth (does the faculty receive regular pay raises, how would you rate faculty turn over, do faculty members each have their own printer!, is the office in the sub-basement of the library). Candidates would only appear for the on-campus visit. Rebecca, you’d be perfect to start academia’s first CAA.


  4. Brava! That was fantastic! And you didn’t even touch on what I personally find the worst part of the recommendation letter process: the never-ending pleading, and the feeling of harassing and annoying the people you are asking to write (pointless) letters for you, and of course the fear they didn’t submit them punctually…


  5. “But we don’t want a candidate who wants any job! We want a candidate who is willing to put in the time and effort for this one.”
    … It is elitist twaddle to assume that an applicant must have some sort of transcendent calling to your job—because there is absolutely no way for her to know what you’re actually looking for.”

    Exacta-fucking-lutley – this sort of attitude is rampant in many job fields beyond academia and it’s ridiculous. It’s so irksome to go to a conference and have someone from Campbell’s say they look for passion for the product in their job candidates. Passion. For soup.

    Seriously, when you’ve been on the market forever, you don’t give a shit about company values. What? Monsanto pillaged a village in South America to make mutant rabbits that grow corn out of their backs? And they need someone to market it? Sign me up!


    • Once you’ve made it to the interview stage, *then* you do your research on the company and fabricate/show your passion. Until then, it’s absolute bullshit to assume anyone has a Higher Calling to a job they know nothing about!


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