Rate My JIL, Nov. 1, plus, a Dossier Comparison

There will be few if any “marquee” listings today and beyond, as many application deadlines have already come and gone, dossiers Interfolio’d (and many dollars lost in the process) and ready to be dismissed out of hand by some high-and-mighty Search Committee for a single typo. This week’s only beginning “German” listing (see below for the reason behind the scare quotes) is yet another “do two people’s jobs” job.

Rochester Institute of Technology, Assistant Prof. of German or French. I guess I should be grateful they didn’t demand it be German and French–but the job still requires “near-native” fluency in two languages that are only related because the Germans had to kiss up to the Latin- and French-speaking upper classes for the entire Holy Roman Empire.  Multiple-language positions are insulting, because they imply (or, rather, explicitly state) that those of us only qualified to teach but one foreign language can no longer compete on today’s market.


All right, now for something completely different. Yesterday was my Vitae column’s debut, and my essay on “Dossiers With Dignity” got a lot of amazing responses (and I am now privy to more bizarre search-committee requests than I ever thought possible; yesterday someone told me an department wanted five recommendations on letterhead and for the application to be printed out, signed, and then scanned–dafuq?!).

What I’d like to do, actually, is make a list of all positions a still-marketing me would have applied for this year, and their requirements, so that you can see just what kind of needless (and, in the end, quite fruitless) work goes into them. This is a list that excludes: multiple-language jobs, linguistics/SLA jobs, medievalist jobs, “open rank” jobs (that always, always goes to someone with tenure already), non-tenure-track jobs. I am “applying” to jobs that ask for a specialty other than what I do, because in my experience that actually means jack-squat.

  1. Bowdoin College wants: “a letter of application, curriculum vitae, a statement of research plans, a statement of teaching philosophy, and the names and contact information for three references who have agreed to provide letters of recommendation,” submitted directly (i.e., you will either have to pester your recommenders to upload their letters themselves, which they hate, or pay Interfolio $12 to do it, because “prompting” I-folio to send one letter to one place costs $4).
  2. Colorado College wants: “an initial letter of application (including statements on teaching and scholarship) and a CV,” through Interfolio ByCommittee, which is free to the applicant (hooray for you, CC).
  3. Gettysburg College wants: “a letter of application, curriculum vitae, teaching statement, and three letters of recommendation,” sent directly, which means you’re out at least $6.
  4. Harvard wants: “a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, a one-page dissertation abstract, and the names and contact information of 3-5 references,” uploaded directly to Harvard’s precious Harvard portal, which is nominally free but I am betting they have retina-scanning software to check if your blood is blue enough to work there (also, having your letters sent there will cost $12).
  5. Northwestern wants: “a letter describing research interest and teaching experience, a CV, a representative chapter of the dissertation and/or a published article (no more than fifty pages) [HA!!! -Ed], and three letters of reference,” all uploaded to their precious special portal, which will thus cost you $12.
  6. Oberlin College wants: “a letter of application, curriculum vitae, graduate transcripts, and three letters of reference,” directly, by motherfucking SNAIL MAIL (WTF?) which will cost at least $6 and probably more.
  7. Princeton. Get a load of this. They want: “a letter of inquiry, a complete CV, and a full dossier,” uploaded to their precious portal. A “full dossier”? Check out this list. Every single “dossier” is different. Dafuq could a “full dossier” be? IT COULD BE ANYTHING. If you were worthy of Princeton, though, you’d already know. Whatever this ends up being, once they request your letters (if they do, pleb) it will cost you $12.
  8. SUNY-Binghamton wants: “a cover letter, curriculum vitae, a syllabus for an ideal undergraduate course, a writing sample (no more than 30 pages) and three letters of recommendation,” sent directly, which will cost you, with that amount of printing, at least $8.
  9. Sewanee: University of the South wants for you to “post”: “cover letter, C.V., sample syllabi, evidence of teaching excellence, a graduate transcript, and three letters of recommendation,” directly to their precious portal, which will cost you $12.
  10. Texas Tech wants: “letter of application, CV, statement of teaching philosophy, three letters of reference, and sample of scholarly writing,” and also a time machine that puts the Holocaust in the early 20th Century, sent directly, which will cost you at least $6.
  11. Transylvania University wants: “a letter of application addressing professional and scholarly vision of teaching at a liberal arts college and curriculum vitae,” sent directly to their portal along with a vial OF YOUR BLOOD. This will be free until they want your letters, at which point it will cost you $12.
  12. Tufts wants: “Letter of application, CV, and three letters of recommendation,” via Interfolio ByCommittee, which is free to applicants, hooray Tufts.
  13. University of Cincinnati wants “a letter outlining the candidate’s qualifications for the position, a cv, a writing sample (article or dissertation chapter), and a brief teaching statement” submitted through their precious portal, plus three letters of rec submitted to FoPKK Todd Herzog, along with your statement of preference for Cincinnati Chili. This will cost you $6, plus the cost of a quadruple-bypass surgery.
  14. Mizzou conveniently wants you to “Merge your CV with a brief cover letter and upload the document in the Resume/CV section of the application” (DAFUQ?!?) and send your letters directly to the SC chair, who is not a FoPKK to my knowledge and thus won’t get called out here, but will end up costing you $6.
  15. University of North Dakota wants a letter and C.V. only. Hooray!
  16. UT Austin wants “letter of application including research plans, CV, three current letters of reference, a writing sample (up to 30 pages) and graduate transcripts,” directly, which will cost you at least $6 depending on how long your writing sample is.
  17. Wellesley College wants: “etter of application, CV, graduate transcripts, and four letters of recommendation, one of which should address the candidate’s experience in language teaching,” directly to their precious portal, which will cost you $16 because of that fourth precious letter.

As you can see here, there is a huge variance in what institutions want, and how they want it. This is a paltry, pathetic list of jobs (if I hadn’t done Thesis Hatement I would bet on maybe two interviews, if I was lucky, maybe one at Mizzou since I already live in Missouri and thus they know I can handle it, and one at Cincinnatti because I seem to have a lot of luck in Ohio, I don’t know why). But as you can see, just applying for them will cost someone upwards of $132, and (rough guess) upwards of 200 hours of your time if you’re a rookie crafting all the materials from scratch, and 100 if you’re updating old ones. “Merged” letters? Special letters? Writing samples of different sizes? Portal upon portal upon portal, each of which has an increasingly absurd list of requirements just to get to the document-upload part?

This. Is. Fucking. Insane. And there is absolutely no need to keep doing it. As you can see, though every requirement is slightly different (different enough that you have to spend your own damn time to customize your materials), they are all more or less the same: send us a letter introducing yourself, and talk about your research and teaching. Send us a list of shit you have done. Send us a sample of your work. There is literally no reason whatsoever that institutions can’t agree on a Common Dossier other than straight-up egotistical snowflake mania.

19 thoughts on “Rate My JIL, Nov. 1, plus, a Dossier Comparison

  1. My biggest pet peeve is the three recommender letters on the first round. Please!!! I think it’s sensible to ask for their contact info should they want to interview you for the first round (that’s what? 10 folks?). A hell of a lot more reasonable. Also: let’s get over the ridiculous conference interview format at the hotel. Search Committees need to give the bankrupt candidate a choice of meeting at the MLA/AHA/MESA WHATEVER or through Skype.

    I’m infuriated for having had to spend a few thousand dollars to go to these preliminary rounds to not only NOT be short listed but not even get a gracious thank you EMAIL.

    Skype works fine; I had the opportunity of interviewing a couple of times and found the dynamics not to be different. In fact, they were much better than the awkward hotel room/suite format. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. It’s a technological phobia based on generational gaps. Oh, and the fact that the Search Committee seems to think that all candidates have $1200 to spare (oh, sorry: I guess if they REALLY want the job they’ll make that “little” sacrifice and drag their ass cross-country).


  2. Thanks for your JIL updates and commentaries. Your blog has really been a big help to me during this very trying time. Seriously. So many emotions these days trying to make sense of what the FUCK I just did to myself the past few years, trying to be everything to everybody, being the smartest person in the room and yet completely oblivious to the gun barrel I’m staring down on the job market. Your blog is therapeutic. It’s like participating in a conversation I’ve always wanted to have but couldn’t because I’ve felt the burning, censoring gaze of the Ivory Panopticon.

    The Chronicle and MLA can publish as many sweetened-up reports on the job market as they want, but at the end of the day? It’s a lottery. My colleagues and advisors tell me I can walk on water like Christ himself if only I apply. They react indignantly when I tell them I won’t apply for jobs in places I, as a single minority, CANNOT live. The only thing worse than being non-white at a religious college in the middle of small town Alabama? Being non-heterosexual of any color at a religious college in the middle of small town ANYWHERE.

    My advisors tell me that it’s a rewarding trade-off to take any job anywhere, as long as it’s a job. They tell me that if I take a job at Bumblefuckville State U then I’ll still have plenty of potential partners and friends. Sure, if I plan on dating/sleeping with students, who will likely be 10-15 years younger than me. I don’t want to do that. My advisors are tenured, straight, white people with big salaries, paid off mortgages, supportive spouses, picket fences. Hired, of course, in the 70’s and 80’s before everything went COMPLETELY down the shitter. We’re talking back when the JIL was organized by STATE rather than by discipline.

    “Why would you want to teach high school?” they ask. People who lament the state of secondary education in this country, who have no qualms about venting their hatred of the run-of-the-mill schoolteacher and his/her inferior intellect, whose constant refrain is “If only teachers would/could better prepare students in high school” ………. find it appalling that someone with a PhD would consider secondary school teaching as a viable career option? One would think they’d rejoice that a content specialist, who knows what college preparedness should look like, is willing to go down into the real world to better prepare children for higher education. You’d think they’d want someone who is passionate and articulate and informed about the humanities to go to those secondary schools and help renew the country’s interest in languages and literature. But no. They want Mini-Me’s.

    I’ve rambled. I apologize. I’ve had a drink or two. 🙂 But thanks for your candor and for putting yourself out there to speak for those of us who are still too afraid to put our own real names to our own real opinions.



  3. I’d submitted a comment along these lines earlier, but I don’t see it posted. I’m sorry if for some reason there was a glitch and you find something similar in a spam file or what not!


    My biggest peeves are:

    1) Three letters of recommendation for the initial submission. What a waste of everyone’s time (and it really sucks having to bother people–as Rebecca has noted– to write you letters that are going straight into the shredder). PLEASE!!! Just ask for recommenders contact info. and ask them for a letter if you are interested in me for the “preliminary” short list. Which leads me to say:

    2) DON’T MAKE ME GO TO MLA/AHA/MESA/WHATEVER. Give me the EXPLICIT option of the Skype interview or face–to–face if I do happen to go to the darn conference. I don’t have $1000 to travel cross country and sit in the hotel room to not only NOT get short listed but to not even receive a courtesy follow-up email note saying “thanks but no thanks”. I had two Skype interviews and I thought they were just as comfortable (or not) as the face to face format.

    I think Search Committees are

    a) Financially entitled and clueless, as Rebecca has repeatedly noted. I don’t have $1000 to see you when I make 15K a year. And yeah, I really, really want this job (what? nearly years in the academy and 100k of my own money/loans don’t show I want it enough?).

    b) Belong to a tech–inept generation that is unwilling, too proud and scared to use Skype and other technology because they’re unaccustomed, afraid and unwilling to learn. Search Committees fear admitting/exposing the degree to which they are Outdated (yeah, capital O). Instead, it’s much easier to cover up the unwillingness to use the clearinghouse (as Rebecca has recommended), Skype and more recent, cutting–edge technology under the guise of “academic mystique” BS. Search Committees will never face their 21st (heck 20th) century inadequacy. Hopefully that technophobia will clear itself out in the next 10–15 years as the recently–hired and technologically adept generation will begin sitting in Search Committees. Yeah, because it would save applicants a lot of money and hassle.


  4. Reading https://chroniclevitae.com/news/94-the-professor-is-in-search-committees-are-made-of-people only wants to make me say: they brought it on themselves. Streamline the process, as Rebecca has been saying, at least in order to short-list 10 people. THEN ask for the writing sample, rec. letters. Committees are overlooking people as is, streamlining the process is not going to terribly affect the outcome other than to make their own lives and that of their applicants less insane. This article, to me, smacks a little of “blame the victim.” And I adore the work and service Kelsky provides now. But it’s like “the committee asked for this vague pile of demanding stuff….why does the SC berate me for it”? Again, it adds to the martyred mystique that academics love so much.


    • I really like Karen, and she is just trying to give advice that works–which is, if you want a job, you have to worship the SC like deities and take everything they throw at you. She’s about helping ppl win the game if they play. She’s just pointing out how some academics act, and warning people to genuflect appropriately. The reality of the situation infuriates and depresses me, but it is the reality and her job is to help people navigate that reality. You’ll notice, for example, that while she’s a FoPKK she has been VERY silent on #ButtScan.


  5. Yes, agreed. I understand that her business seeks to prepare candidates (contestants?)to successfully navigate the system–as–is and “win” the job. Along with that business goal, she has also not been shy about recognizing and calling out the industry’s deficiencies. Thus, I felt that maybe, just maybe, along with the “insider take” for the prospective applicant and the empathic portrayal of what a SC goes through, she could could have tossed in a nudge about their need to change if they want to suffer less. That’s all.


      • I don’t either…but I like glancing at her facebook page to see if there’s any interesting critique or links to critiques (which she does include…another reason why I like her work: she does not shy away from showing her clients the type of “workplaces” they’re stepping into). Anyhow, she definitely had a link to the “indefatigable Rebecca Schuman” and the ButtScan thing. You are so brazen, really. My jaw dropped when I first saw that you had posted the offer (and loved seeing SC members twittering back about being on the lookout for it!).

        PTSD–you know that I hear you!


      • Yes, I’m brazen–but I’ve now normalized saying all the shit I’ve said aloud, aloud. People can now officially say all this stuff, because it’s been said, and there is nobody more inappropriate than me. All subsequent critique will have to be more civil by comparison. /megalomaniacal snark

        AH, Karen’s link explains why I got so much traffic from FB. I follow her on FB but I didn’t see that. I’ll check it out. Like I said, she’s an ally, and she of all ppl understands why I can’t with the game-playing stuff right now (PTSD, etc).


  6. Nu-uh. People can’t officially say all this stuff, are you kidding me? And for someone like you, still adjunct-ing and with a book under contract at a university press? Kid, don’t sell yourself short. Yes, you’ve busted much secrecy, bulldozing through the rotten state of things with both serious commentary and irreverent butt-humor, but it is NOWHERE near normalized.

    BTW-I read to my husband the piece on how you and your husband deal with your postacademic ptsd/selfabsorption/melancholia. My husband listened, blinked and sighed. He’s been living with my shit for years at this point. A saint, really.


    • Don’t tell my husband that! He’s giving me like another month of this, tops.

      I don’t think I’m going to adjunct anymore after this year. I am getting enough clients that I would rather do my coaching full-time. But I’m scared to have only one job again. I like doing lots of different things.

      I really do think that my explosiveness paves the way for more reasoned critiques that were previously themselves thought of as brazen. I’m here to say: no, THIS is brazen. Saying “I didn’t get a job and that’s normal” is normal, and more people should be saying it.


  7. You are going to be so OK both writing and coaching. Hey, I am so grateful for your great coaching! 🙂 Keep us posted on the book, too. I will order it as soon as it’s out. This is also my last year as an adjunct and I am looking for a full time teaching position in a private high school.

    My husband has been unfairly shouldering both of us for a while and our finances, as you can imagine, are not walking prettily. He, to say the least, can’t wait until I’m finally done with the trauma (for my sake) and the no money (for both of our sakes bc we will be working from the grave at the rate we’re going-retirement….HA).

    Anyhow, again, thank you and you will not only be fine job-wise, you’ll be doing GREAT.


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