Hey Search Committees Who Haven’t Requested Interviews Yet: F&%# YOU

Dear Search Committees of America who Plan to Interview at MLA/AHA/Similar,

There is literally no reason whatsoever you should not have met already and decided upon your semi-finalists. Your deadlines have all passed. You requested a reasonable amount of stuff (or, if you didn’t, that’s your own fucking fault). Get off your asses, read through that shit, and get back to people, now. I shouldn’t have to tell you why, but here goes anyway.

Conferences cost money and most job candidates will not go unless they have interviews. Most adjuncts and graduate students make under $20,000 a year. Adjuncts receive no professional support whatsoever, and grad students but a paltry few hundred dollars that usually covers about half a damn plane ticket (if that). Area hotels are expensive, official “conference hotels” extortionate.

The average cost of a trip to MLA is $1200. Add in the cost of a new suit (and it has to be a “nice” one, or you’re fucked), and make that $1500. I realize that most of you get travel money, so travel plans for you are all “academic,” as they say, and that you can’t wait to go to the conference and preen around at your old grad-school classmates, erm, I mean “see friends and listen to panels.”

But the annual convention for a job candidate is absolute torture. Honestly, it is agony. If you haven’t been through it, there’s no way to explain just how agonizing it is–though that won’t stop me trying in Vitae in a few weeks, so I’m going to can it here.

So, to review: candidates will not be attending this conference unless you beckon them there with your precious interviews. Candidates should be given the basic human decency of a few weeks’ notice before they blow whatever remains of their Christmas break to smithereens. By waiting until mid-to-late December to send out interview requests like you often/always do, you are being horrible, horrible people, and fuck you.

OH, BUT REBECCA, you say. IT’S THE END OF THE SEMESTER. WE’RE BUSY AND IMPORTANT. We just don’t have tiiiiiiiime. Yes, you do. Fuck you. Do you know how easy your goddamned jobs are? You really think prep, grading and research is a lot of work? I used to, too, until I had to take two additional jobs to support myself. Now I maintain a higher course load than most of you, and I write 7 articles per month (at least) for the national media, plus chug ahead on my larger research projects (at a faster rate than most of you, I imagine, since I don’t have the deadweight of existential misery slowing me down anymore), plus meet with and mentor up to nine clients at a time.

Each of my “part-time” jobs takes more time and effort than yours does, and yet I meet my deadlines with no problem whatsoever, because if I didn’t, I’d be fired. Only in academia is the deadline “optional” and a five-month delay on an article not grounds for permanent blackballing from the entire industry. And for what? What are you doing all day? I’m asking rhetorically, because I’ve had your jobs, and I know. You work a decent, full-time job, but a double-shift coal miner you are not. Spare time you have.

The entire idea that the last four weeks of the academic’s semester is this sacred torture-space during which a precious scholar can’t be bothered to do one minute more of Sisyphean work is patently ridiculous. I have been a full-time, well-paid professor before (and I was on the job market at the same time, which takes an additional ten billion hours a week).  It is only “hard” because the socializing pressures of academia to make sure everyone’s “always working” (“How do you have TIME to sew? How do you have TIME for TV? How do you have TIME for anything that isn’t alcoholism?”) makes you think it has to be.

Yes, finals are a little bit of a crunch and grading is the worst. It is. I’m with you. But you know what? I have three times the grading you do, plus multiple deadlines every single week that are often pushed up, and my articles go through two, three, sometimes four revisions with my editor before they are published, each of which I have to get back to him in a matter of hours, not months. HOURS, NOT MONTHS. It’s exciting, it takes focus and effort, but it’s not that hard. IT WOULD NOT BE THAT HARD for you fuck-faces to just carve out a goddamned time to meet–today, tomorrow, the next day–and go through your applications already. If you requested too much stuff (“evidence of teaching excellence,” anyone?), that is your goddamned problem. 

Search committees of America: the longer you wait to notify your candidates, the more expensive you make their plane tickets and hotel reservations, the more unsure their vacation plans, the longer you drag out their torture, the worse you are as human beings. Honestly, you should be incarcerated for violating the Geneva Conventions.

Currently in my discipline only two of the 20 active TT searches have sent out interview requests, and those are (hallelujah!) by Skype and not at the conference. The rest of you can go eat a bag of John Boehners, honestly. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for your selfish, self-important, preening, bullshit system (and I know it’s “standard practice” to wait until later in December, and that. is. bullshit). I have been you, I know your workload, I know your lives, and there is no excuse.

XOXO,

Bekz

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88 thoughts on “Hey Search Committees Who Haven’t Requested Interviews Yet: F&%# YOU

  1. This made me wonder whether tenured faculty in the cities hosting these conferences could help by offering free accommodations to job-seekers. After all, when I was in grad school I would often stay at a faculty member’s house while visiting their institution for research purposes.
    I’m in Milwaukee so it would be a fair commute to the MLA or AAAS in Chicago, but I have a sofa…

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  2. Thanks, Rebecca, for calling out Search Committees on their excuses. Yes, everyone’s busy, but c’mon, the martyred pretense of faculty is unseemly. Also, kudos to committees ditching the hotel interview for skype (or at least giving the option to the latter format)!!

    I shelled out over $1000 a few times for conference meetings. On one occasion, I was able to access the interview room without having to pay association dues at one big conference (I’d flown out just for the interview). However, a couple of years earlier, at the AHA, there was no way I could access the interview room WITHOUT having paid the association’s membership AND conference fees!!! That tacked over $200 to the ticket & hotel price tag! Never even got a “thanks but not thanks” email/letter out of that interview. Shameless.

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      1. But then who’d bother going to the conferences and seeing the papers on representation of desserts in 17th C Luxembourgish religious tracts, compared to the same in Star Trek: Enterprise ?!?

        I’d actually love to see numbers on that. On non-job market attendees. I wonder how much smaller the MLA would be.

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      1. I shared this post with my 2 BFFs from my program, one in a TT job and one a VAP on the market again and we all yelled an AMEN at your post and the bullshit we have to endure for a job. The two of us on the market are giving it til next Wed and then saying SCREW IT if they wanna interview us, it will be by skype or phone, because neither of us can afford to just drop whatever dollars to go to MLA.

        To be honest, I am only half-heartedly in the search anyway, even though this is my last year as a grad student. It’s really… interesting… watching my friends go through the job search in earnest. And infuriating. Anyway. Thank you for giving us a voice. ALL THE HUGZ.

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  3. YES.

    I have the last day to cancel my MLA hotel reservations marked on my calendar. It’s next Thursday. It would be really nice if I heard back from all the schools before then.

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  4. I’m a VAP in search year three, and I just want to say “thank you!” for saying it out loud. I keep thinking it.

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  5. “It is only “hard” because the socializing pressures of academia to make sure everyone’s “always working” (“How do you have TIME to sew? How do you have TIME for TV? How do you have TIME for anything that isn’t alcoholism?”) makes you think it has to be.”

    YES! THIS! I randomly met a professor at a bar recently and he was cracking jokes about how academics have easy jobs compared to lots of other things so it’s time to shut up already. So refreshing! In my opinion, the answer to “How do you have TIME?” is “I do my work efficiently.”

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    1. The kick-ass Clarissa from clarissasblog.com pointed that out to me like six months ago (whilst reprimanding me!) and she was right. It’s not the work that kills you at all. It’s the existential dread that comes with precariousness. Now that I do that work with no ambitions, it’s easy as fuck. *THE MORE YOU KNOW*

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  6. I did something quite … um … sneaky. I didn’t believe the reports of how many hours tenured faculty *actually* WORK. I spent a month observing colleagues, having chats with them in the hallways, asking them about what they did the evening before, observing and noting their arrivals and departures from the office, asking them where they’re going/what they’re planning to do. They usually responded with “OH I am SO tired this semester is just SO taxing I just have SO much grading to do and SO much research and SO many meetings I just need to go home and start working on research.” Should I even bother mentioning that it’s the same routine every day with them? Come in three days a week, teach two hours on those days, then run out the door moaning about how burdened they are by their privileged, upper-middle class, full-time, white collar, Ivory Tower, secure, HIGHLY flexible job?

    The consensus among my respondents is that every tenured colleague “works” at least 175 hours out of every 168-hour week, but according to my data, the average tenured faculty member works only about 20-30 hours per week in terms of actual productive hours spent working (including teaching, research, service, meetings, advising — with small, two-week bursts of productivity once the research paper is just finally due). The not-yet-tenured (and never-will-be-tenured) work their butts off, though, to the tune of the normally reported 60+ hours per week, which I can believe, since most of them come in at 7am and stay until 6-7pm, and then go home and work work work. I suppose tenured faculty feel that they’ve paid their dues or some stupid shit like that.

    At any rate, yes, thanks for this. I’m stepping off the job market train this year. I ain’t no holler-back girl!!!!

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      1. Surely it counts as research, right? 😉 What can I say. Adjunct high jinks. Remember, tenured faculty: Your untenured colleagues spend a LOT more time in the office than you and notice these things.

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  7. Neither my current institution, which is doing a search, nor the dozen or so institutions to which I applied have sent out calls. And all asked for all dossier materials up front because it was allegedly going to allow them to make those calls faster. So, I call bullshit on that rationale for making candidates shell out to send entire dossiers.

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      1. Ok, so conferences are expensive, right – but _if_ there is a job market there people don’t go if they don’t have an interview and/or they are spending unnecessary money. Having recently attended (and enjoyed!) 2 conferences without job markets, why not create a new model – The Job Market Conference. Search committees pay if they even _plan_ on interviewing someone, and interviewees pay a reasonable fee for accommodations and that’s it. I actually hate Skype interviews and would gladly pay a _reasonable_ price for an interview market – but a conference is not supposed to be a job market (otherwise ALL conferences would be, which they Are Not) and not the ridiculous conference presence and membership fee and everything else.

        It could be done differently, even without Skype. Of course, that would mean doing things differently.

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  8. Wow. We interview all our post-doc candidates by Skype, and bring staff scientist candidates on us on an actual airplane. And I work for the FEDERAL FRICKIN GOVERNMENT. If we can figure out them skype-o-webs, any one should be able to.

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  9. I’m in a field where there are no job interviews at the major annual conference held in March (maybe there are some VAP interviews but it’s not an official job market). This removes the problem of grad students making the decision to attend a conference based on a job interview.
    I totally agree that the MLA has a terrible system which is supposed to make the process more efficient and more transparent, but it doesn’t. I hear that many hiring depts at the MLA will interview 12-25 people and invite 3 to campus. That’s a lot of people traveling for an interview with a low chance of making the cut. When I’ve been on search committees, we have phone interviews with 6-12, then invite about 3 to campus. No one travels unless it’s serious. And the college pays for the travel! As it should be. The odds are still ridiculous but at least the applicants do not endure hotel rooms until the campus visit!
    I think you’re on to something with the point that academics feel this sense of self importance about their precious time. Getting a group of academics to agree to a meeting time is hell; few academics acknowledge that it’s their JOB to meet in search committees and such. I would speculate the reason that applicants haven’t heard anything yet is because the search committees haven’t even scheduled a meeting yet!

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    1. Let’s talk this numbers game. I just had a conference interview for a department that in the first round interviewed 19 people (skype and in person). 19! Now, granted, I was already going to this conference to present, it was not a huge expense (staying with nearby family) but I’m sorry, “narrowing” to 19 does not impress me.

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      1. Yes, this idea that it’s worth it to go to the conference to be one of 25, or even 15, is ludicrous. In what other situation would you readily shell out $1500 for a 10% chance or less of getting a job (and a shitty chance of getting a callback, even)?

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  10. The only plausible excuse (and I speak as someone’s whose dept has already made its calls, thankyouverymuch!) is HR/admin bullshit. And there’s a ton of that. Some depts have to meet — the entire department, in person — to vet the hiring committee’s interview list, and then it has to be sent to HR/Affirmative Action for approval, and as often as not HR will suddenly produce some new form or format that they dreamed up last week and that’s never been used before, tell the committee the filing has been done wrong, and send everything back for resubmission. Or the Dean (who also needs to sign off) turns out to be out sick for a week and holds everything up.

    That’s ultimately no excuse, and I’m on your and job candidates’ sides 100%: committees should plan for delays and the job candidates are unquestionably the ones who are harmed by dragging things out. But there are delays that are not of the committee, the Chair, or even the department’s doing.

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  11. Disagree about the Skype part. I want to actually meet people I’m hiring, and I want candidates to meet me/us. And when you don’t get enough institutional funds to fly multiple people to campus, it’s the only way.

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    1. Guess what? Your inconvenience is not as important as the straight-up agony of the 15 people who will pay $1500 to fly out to your precious conference so that you can “meet” the terrified, besuited, not-at-all-like-them-actually “them” and pass irrevocable judgment upon them after asking them aggressive tribunal-style questions for half an hour.

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    2. Wow Eric Why-Not-Land — you need to do the screening interviews of 15-25 candidates in person? You can’t narrow it down to 3 by Skype and then meet those three in person? If your institution is so cash strapped, can you possibly imagine how much more so the job seeker is? You’re in higher ed; I bet if you really really put your mind to it, you could figure out how to narrow down your candidate list through Skype interviews. Come on, you have a Ph.D., don’t you? You can do it, Little Engine that could. FIGURE IT OUT.

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      1. Hi Joy. As a PhD student, I did travel to a conference hotel, got zero interviews, spent a ton of money, and felt like shit. I agree that there might be some good role for Skype, narrowing things down from paper. That’s a good suggestion. But I don’t agree that it should replace the face-to-face interview, which seemed to be Rebecca’s suggestion.

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      2. I think it should replace the f2f interview, because the benefits outweigh the risks, which are all extremely minor. You can barely “meet” someone in a conference hotel room for half an hour. It hardly makes a difference at all. I’ve been interviewed over the phone, in person, on Skype, in hotel rooms and in the “interview room” and they were all far more similar than they were different.

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  12. “And when you don’t get enough institutional funds to fly multiple people to campus, it’s the only way.” No, the only way is Skype. Do you know your level of upper middle class entitlement???? Don’t be such an arrogant jerk. No other industry expects candidates to fly on their own dime for an interview…and we’re talking semi-finalists here, really. Your delusional thinking is what has gotten the humanities into such a bad-going-on-suicidal predicament. Your selfishness is disgusting.

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    1. Hi DM. I’ve been a unsuccessful conference job candidate too, so I’m not sure why the vitriol. MANY industries expect candidates to travel on their own dime for an interview. I said that conference interviews are the only way to meet candidates face to face, unless you can fly them to campus. Skype isn’t that. Perhaps Skype’s benefits outweigh its costs. But don’t pretend that there’s no downside.

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      1. Eric, remember if you can to the agony of being on the job market. For interviewers, Skype is marginally worse than f2f. For interviewees, it can be the difference between suicidal agony and humanity (as it was for me). The vitriol comes from the agony many job seekers are feeling right now, as their futures once again dangle amidst the fancies of several dozen randos they’ll never meet, and whose opinions should not determine their self-worth.

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      2. Which industry, exactly, expects candidates to shell out $1200 for a preliminary interview???? I’ve yet to hear that one from anyone working in the corporate world or a non profit. And I have plenty of family members in both worlds. Every single one of my none-academic family members and friends stares blankly and in disbelief when I mention that people don’t get reimbursed for these interviews.

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      3. Dear Eric,
        Perhaps a medium could be reached. I agree that interviewing on Skype is nerve-raking — though going to meet a room full of men I’ve never met before in a hotel suite is hardly a picnic. But for my Skype interviews I haven’t had to fly 3000 miles cross country. When it was over, I was at home.

        I’m an adjunct teaching at 3 colleges and earn less per year than I did as a grad student. Going to last year MLA cost 8% of my gross annual income (yes, before taxes). My family support me with all their hearts, but they can’t give me any money, and realistically I’m an adult and they shouldn’t be expected to, especially at the holidays.

        I suspect you didn’t mean it to sound the way it did, but your comment about institutional funds stung. I know the odds of me getting a TT job in my field aren’t good. But to be priced out because I can’t afford Interfolio and a cross country plane ticket is hard to bear.

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  13. This was made funnier for me when I remembered that as a grad student I was stuck grading the 10 page essays assigned as the final for an intro class while the upper level seminar the prof had to grade herself was a multiple choice/short answer test.
    I also clapped when I finished this.

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  14. It’s a collective action problem. Think about this also from an individual department’s point of view. It could do conference interviews or Skype interviews. If it does only Skype interviews, but most other departments do analog interviews, then candidates will tend to prefer departments whom they’ve met face to face, and the Skypeing department may lose out on their preferred candidate. To avoid this, they have some incentive to do face to face interviews, even if they are indifferent. To implement Rebecca’s suggestion, professional organizations (e.g. MLA) would have to strongly discourage conference interviews, this to get the departments in line. That might work to the greater good.

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    1. No candidate prefers a f2f conference interview, ever. Everyone I know dances a jig about phone/skype, and has a nervous breakdown about MLA. I will begin this year a VERY strong and VERY loud push to the exec director of MLA, who is friendly with me, to start doing exactly that, for exactly the reasons you state.

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    2. Candidates want a job. Do you actually think that, given the state of things, any candidate gives a crap about a face to face or skype interview? Please!!!!

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  15. “No candidate prefers a f2f conference interview, ever.” Seriously? I met lots of PhD students who say they prefer f2f to Skype, especially those with Skype interview horror stories. Maybe philosophy is weird. (Wait, of course philosophy is weird!) But I support your efforts with the MLA. That’s the right level at which to push.

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      1. Strange! I did tag you. Oh, it’s because I posted to only my Philosophy friends, so that other people (ahem, family) wouldn’t have to see it. I’ll fix that now. Sorry!

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      2. Yeah, I was 1 for 5 at conference interviews. HATED them. The last one was good, though. I also rocked one telephone interview. So I should be pro-technology. But…you know…I’m a “arrogant jerk” whose “selfishness” is “disgusting”, so go figure.

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    1. Face to face is fine, Eric, I like it too except when one has to pay $1200 for a “preliminary conversation” (talk about BS lingo that gets made up for ‘pay 1,200 but don’t expect crap’ procedures). I’d still find it reprehensible to pay $1200 if I were a finalist (and all finalists get reimbursed), but $1200 for a PRELIMINARY CONVERSATION is shameless and selfish indeed.

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  16. I had ONE MLA interview last year (Boston) among nearly ALL the jobs in my humanities field to which I applied. I remember spending almost $1,500 to fly from my smallish campus town to Boston, changing two flights each way, and putting up in the swank conference hotel (the Sheraton), wearing the only suit I had purchased (Christmas sales), and the feeling of knowing I couldn’t afford any of this. Also interviewing with a bunch of strangers in a stranger’s hotel room is creepy and weird. I didn’t get the job. My colleagues in another humanities sub-field (Rhet/Comp) had Skype interviews, so even if there is a rejection the financial after-effects are negligible.

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  17. I’m a junior faculty at a prestigious school that is doing a search . We received over 250 applications. I prep 4, two hour lectures a week, all new. And I am writing a book along with multiple articles. Mind you, we received 250 applications. Which of those should committee members not have read closely to avoid this blog post. Jesus, have a seat….

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    1. DID YOU HEAR THAT, everyone? A FACULTY member at a PRESTIGIOUS INSTITUTION is demanding we settle down. IF you don’t have an extra $1500 to go to MLA, then you aren’t worthy of being In The Field To Begin With, amirite? Never question the system again, minions!

      Guess what? I’m not on the job market anymore and I don’t give a flying fuck what any search committee full of strangers thinks about me, so I can and will say whatever I want. This shit is all true and you know it. Your workload sounds intense, but you can still manage to do the search. You should have started earlier in the semester. You sound like you’re very bad at managing time–I coach people just like you so that they can manage their time better. You should hire me. I’m expensive, but worth it.

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      1. To suggest search committees at prestigious institutions are reading through 250 applications, as Professor Have-A-Seat claims, is hypocrisy. They use a straightforward heuristic to shortlist candidates by cover letter alone: Has this applicant received the PhD from a prestige institution (similar or higher ranked)? Don’t believe me? Take a look at the faculty pages of any Ivy League/Top 20 department. Is there a single asst. prof. with a PhD from a public R-1 or R-2?

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    2. Dear Have A Seat,

      I teach 105 first year writing students as an adjunct at 3 colleges and universities. That means when this semester ends, I will have read and commented on 420 essays and another 1,000+ journal entries. In addition, I’ve proofread 3 academic books / journals. This is what I’ve done this semester to earn a total of $12,000.

      I am also working on a book, journal articles and a contracted book chapter. Oh, and have written letters of recommendation for my community college students who are applying to 4 years schools and served (unpaid) on writing instruction committees and prepared syllabi for my courses for next semester, which, as I’m an adjunct, I won’t find out whether or not they’re going to get enough enrollment to avoid being cancelled (thus dropping my earnings from $12K to $4K until mid-December.

      This semester, I’ve applied for 33 jobs, spending at least 2 hours on each application (this does not include the time taken to construct the application materials or to politely remind my letter writers to get their letters uploaded into Interfolio) and paying more than $300 for dossier services.

      I’m not unique. There are likely 250 job candidates like me in pile on your desk or your virtual desktop. Think about what this is costing us before you tell us you’re too busy to do your job right now.

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  18. The job search is so desperate that people have lost sight that this is the conference to attend as a person in the field. You have to start attending mla as a grad student before you go on the market. The most important place for you to go (multiple times) during the conference is the book publishers room. This is where careers are made. This is the time to get out the credit card or student loans as an investment. One day you’ll be on the tenure track and you’ll need “outside” letters to review your tenure file. This is the place to start making connections. My advice is to forget MLA searches as a grad student. You don’t have a chance. In the spring a desperate dept will search quickly to replace a retiring prof before the college president just erases the job. Get that t-t job first (skip MLAs and VAP positions). Then go on the MLA job search as a professor — in that case your school pays for you to attend plus your membership fees, etc.
    Rebecca, this is an excellent post–you are a goddess of truth. But we have to disentangle the conference from the desperate job search. Candidates need to stop lying in their letters that they will be attending MLA. If you’re not, just say you’re available to interview via Skype in the cover letter and include your handle. I know plenty of depts that are flexible if you ask (and you won’t get the job either way–sorry to insert the truth–so why fret).

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    1. If you want to “make it” in the field–well, there’s little chance of that. But if you want to even have a chance of “making it” in the field, folks, this is some sound advice. Not the part about me being a goddess, the other part. Although to be honest, the path you set out sounds like a decade or more of hell on earth, and I honestly do not understand what level of “love” one would have to possess for The Profession to put herself through it.

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      1. No, not ten years–just four years with spousal hire(!). And only one year on the market as a grad student paying for MLA on my own and I’ve never been an adjunct. Anyway here is a tale from inside the search process: Once I was on two late searches that popped up in May. SC profs were so worried the searches might bleed into summer vacation plans, they scrambled like mad. If this were fall, they would have drawn out the whole process into MLA etc. Instead with a May search, we hired one of our adjuncts (with a PhD)!!! We only put the ad out locally so he was the only applicant saving many people from the process of applying for an inside job. And then quickly brought two candidates to campus visits for the other position and hired the one we preferred that same week. Yes, it was “hard work” yes it is sad work looking through job apps for so many qualified people. But guess what? a search can be done quickly and thoroughly without wasting candidates’ time or money!! I can’t wait to chair a search committee. I’d change all the rules and end up hiring all of you!

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    2. “Candidates need to stop lying in their letters that they will be attending MLA.”

      Excuse me – when I write “I will be attending the AHA in January” in my letters, the CLEAR implied second half is “if I have an interview.” The idea that I am taking some kind of solemn oath to attend the AHA come hell or high water is ludicrous.

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      1. Back when that line became standard in letters, just about everyone *did* get an interview or two, and could count on going to the conference. Now, with more PhDs and far fewer jobs, many, *many* candidates get zero interviews. That is a reality that nobody wants to admit, and people should start.

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      2. Fair enough – but even though this person seems to be mainly on our side, I resent anything that implies that implies that applicants are at fault.

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      3. Also – I didn’t mean to put my full name here! Oops – can that be edited (and this comment not posted)? Thank you.

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      4. I am super flattered that anyone thinks this blog gets read closely enough to hurt them–but that’s the überparanoia of academic thinking. NOBODY GIVES A FUCK, I ASSURE YOU–but I will delete your comment anyway, because I understand.

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      5. Here is a true story. Back in 2010, I received an interview request the week of Christmas. The SC asked if I was going to MLA then we could interview there or if I wasn’t, they were allowing skype interviews because they were calling candidates so late. I thought I would have a better shot at the job if I were at MLA so I went last minute spending way too much and didn’t get the job. I should have requested skype. So should candidates who are not already presenting or not going for the book room. Last year a friend was interviewed at MLA and two search committee members for one job were present via computers on skype. Pretty soon the whole conference will be via skype.

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  19. It’s the MOST wonderful TIME of the year. I have landed two interviews, and -praise be to the first round gods- phone and skype. These choices give me faith that these departments/institutions have sense. In fact, should I receive a last minute MLA invite, I’m not taking it, and will explain why, including a link to this very piece of wisdom.

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  20. I’m interested and heartened to see evidence for a preference for Skype interviews among job candidates. The last time our dept. did conference interviews at MLA was in 2009 (also the last year for the old dates. ..ahh. . .good times). At that time we considered using Skype but we were concerned that it would disadvantage us with candidates (also, to be fair, the technology may not have been as robust 4 years ago). In subsequent searches (2010, 2012, 2013) we have used Skype and so far, those searches have been successful. We bring two or three finalists to campus (at our expense) and that seems sufficient for us to get to know the candidates (and them us).

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    1. I’m very partial to Skype/Phone. Gives just as much of a sense of who I am, and lets me keep my $1000 and my soul. (Plus, of all the Skype/Phone interviews I had, I got either a campus visit or an offer; with MLA, BUPKIS b/c they were going to hire someone from Ivies the whole time).

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  21. These comments have largely centered on the merits of MLA vs. Skype, but I think it’s important not to forget how problematic the increasingly late search timeline is. By the time grad students have learned they have no job, they’re often out of stipend payments as well. This might look different, however, if search committees followed the model of some of the more prestigious postdocs, which have application deadlines of 10/1 and interview finalists in January, as opposed to March/April.

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  22. Given the level of anger and rightfully so since you will never join the ranks of the tenured, the next course of action is Direct Action against the exploiters through subtle sabotage.

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    1. That already happened with #ButtScan! And believe me, I could not be happier not to be in the ranks of the tenured. I’m a columnist for Slate now, and I am LOVING it. I am highlighting issues that matter in higher ed, and fighting on behalf of people who deserve it, and cock-punching (TM Eric Garland) those who deserve it too. I still get to research and write–but now people actually read me. I could not be more delighted with how everything actually turned out, and would encourage more disgruntled academics to start speaking their minds.

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  23. First I wanted to say that I completely agree with a lot of what you said here, and with the general sentiment about the job market process needing to be completely overhauled. I also agree that we tend to over play the end of the semester as this “sacred crunch time” where everything else must grind to a halt.
    But, please just because you can accomplish so much, don’t make the leap that those who don’t are just making excuses. I am particularly referring to your writing production. I could not work at your job, there is no way. I write slowly. I love academia (even as I am well aware of its many many problems and hypocrisies) but the portion of the job that requires writing is very difficult for me. I still want to do it- I still want my peers to read and respond to my ideas, which is why I have not entirely abandoned the idea of trying to get published and just focused on teaching. My point is I think most of what you said was true and worth saying, it just hit a nerve when you implied that anyone who does not publish at your pace is somehow lazy, and I’m not sure that it was necessary to go that route to make your point.

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    1. I’m sorry! That’s not what I meant at all. I just meant that my jobs now are just as demanding as any junior faculty’s (minus, however, the existential terror), and that I’ve been a junior faculty before, so I know. I was a painstakingly, miserably slow academic writer at times. I would imagine that if you were doing something other than academic research, you might be able to crank things out a tad faster.

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  24. The title of your piece reminds me of a Schnapsidee I had recently as I watched The Aristocrats. I should stress it is a Schnapsidee, please feel free not to delete this comment or to ignore it altogether. It just strikes me that the Aristocrats joke stems from a job interview situation as desperate as the MLA interviews. I also remembered that you mentioned wanting to write on the topic of the MLA interviews. Might it be as funny and as much of a release to invent an MLA version of the Aristocrats? The act of course would need to be confined to a single person, and much of the out-of-bounds humor may need to be tamed if the piece is for a specific news outlet we all know, but the punchline (and what do you call yourself) could quite fittingly be: The Ivy League!

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  25. It isn’t so much that I think you have regular readers on search committees – although you might, you never know! 🙂 – as The Google. Thank you.

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