Now Accepting Applications From Search Committees

Hat tip to Fargo Jones on the twittarz, for alerting me to this succinct piece of (non-academic) job market criticism. Remember, my academic and post-ac compatriots, those in the corporate world have it way worse than we do, because at least if we actually *get* the job, it’s one where we get to spend most of our time doing things that don’t make us want to turn our own faces inside out with boredom and shame. I remember working at Esquire and going: Great googley-moogley, every single thing I do all day makes the world a worse place, a sexist, bro-ey, douche-baggy worse place.

One thing that I’ll admit. Even as an adjunct, where I’m participating in a brutal and toxic labor scheme, with the students I’m not actively making their world worse (though I did yell at one of my classes today: “No, I’m not mad, I’M JUST CURIOUS: Why do you never use any specific evidence, even though that is the only thing I ask you to do?” Answer: “We have a LOT of reading to do.” I usually assign them 30-50 pages per class, by the way. THIRTY. Can you imagine? Anyway).

Imagine having to go through the dehumanizing rigmarole of Facebook profiling and a credit check, just to work as some corporate cog and have to wear one of those shirts with a white collar like Lumbergh, and attend birthday “parties” in the break room for someone you hate, and answer to a micromanaging twerp of a boss every five seconds. Shit, you guys, adjuncting is seeming better by the second, health benefits be damned! Anyway. Solidarity to my corporate brethren, and here in honor of this article, is the Search Committee Version.

To the Members of the Search Committee:

Thank you for your job listing of Assistant Professor of German, Spanish and Russian. Before I submit my dossier, I require all candidate institutions to log into my personal application portal at https:/// and supply the following information:

  1. Letter of “Fit” Declaration. Please submit a letter detailing exactly what the right “fit” for your institution would be. Feel free to use celebrities as examples, or to name your Ideal Candidate “Kriemhild” or “Siegfried,” depending on whether you want a man or a woman (let’s face it, you should hire a woman, but you probably want a man.
  2. Statement of Teaching Philosophy. Please include a one-page statement of the collective Teaching Philosophy of your department, making sure to include all relevant experience from everyone, protracted interaction with the latest pedagogical research, and any evidence whatsoever that any one of you teach introductory courses, “bridge” courses, or otherwise non-plum major/grad courses.
  3. List of anyone who has been denied tenure in the past decade. It’s only fair for us to know when we’re walking into a guillotine. I mean, it’s not going to stop anyone from applying.
  4. Sample of scholarly writing. Make sure it is from this year, it’s in a top journal, and it doesn’t spend more than 1/3 of its total page count quoting your own past work.
  5. Your own C.V. when you were at my stage. Just want to make sure you’d hold yourself to the same standards you’re holding me.
  6. Five-year Research Agenda, including evidence of aggressive plans to secure outside funding, while not taking a sabbatical and leaving everyone else with your courses.
  7. Relevant HR information: your high-school transcripts (official only); your driver’s license number, the phone number of your last four supervisors (especially if you’ve always worked in academia and have never had any), and descriptions of every job you have ever held, including camp counselor (also, a reference at the camp).
  8. Three syllabi for courses that I made up.
  9. Sample lesson plan for a text I choose.
  10. Unedited video of a department meeting.
  11. Evidence of teaching excellence. This may be a butt scan. All butts of any shape, size, background and ability are encouraged to scan.

If I choose to conduct an interview with your department in an awkward hotel room where members are meant to crowd onto a bed like ugly-suited orgy prostitutes, please know that I will be judging every Search Committee member’s every minute gesture for the smallest sign of something that is totally irrelevant to his or her ability to do his or her job, but that annoys me anyway.

14 thoughts on “Now Accepting Applications From Search Committees

  1. Brilliant. I have long hoped for such an application response to a job announcement to appear – and would love even more dearly for one to be sent out and hear the committee’s reaction.


  2. “please know that I will be judging every Search Committee member’s every minute gesture for the smallest sign of something that is totally irrelevant to his or her ability to do his or her job, but that annoys me anyway”

    I’ve got a sadistic thing for reading job hunting advice columns, and this is one of the worst offenders often cited in the “it’s your fault you didn’t get a job” category. Body language advice, because people desperately trying to find a living wage job need more to obsess about and forget to be human during the interview.


  3. On the minute gestures: The most awkward on-site interview I had involved a three day trip. On the first day I was told I was going to meet the department head and her husband (who was an academic, just not where I was applying) for dinner. Since I had not met her in person, I assumed this was part of the interview so wore a suit. They showed up in shorts. The following day, a member of the search committee suggested we take a walk around. The 15 minute walk occurred in June, during a heat wave, and again I was in a suit. During the walk my watch band broke to which I responded (no joke) “oh dear” and then brushed it off as though it was not a big deal. I did not get the job but was told (and later confirmed these incidents were the reason for these comments) that I was: a) too formal and not very easy going (apparently the initial meeting was a non-job-interview setting, even though it factored into the decision for the position), b) seemed unduly nervous (due to my sweating during the walk), and c) Had a generally bad attitude (because I said “oh dear”). That’s ok, I decided on the plane ride back I didn’t particularly care for the area and had been trying to convince myself that if I got an offer I could make do.


  4. So, I think you need to come clean my laptop screen, for it is now sprayed with half-chewed leftover pizza. This is, by far, the best fucking thing I have read in a long time.


  5. You should add that once the gauntlet of the application and interview process has been run, the potential search committee should be willing, at the drop of a hat, to come and pay you an extended visit at a time and place of your choosing (you know, like they used to conduct duels in the Old South.)


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