teaching, Uncategorized

Happy Halloween: It’s Job Market Season

Happy Halloween: It’s time to find that job! Isn’t this just great.

Unfortunately, it’s been some time since I’ve updated this blog. Fortunately, it’s because I have been extraordinarily busy with teaching, researching, writing, and, of course, copyediting!

Now I have entered the time of year where I have to do the job market dance. In academia, the job market is, well, it generally feels like an ongoing hazing ritual that may or may not end with a beneficial outcome (a positive outcome is too much to hope for). So we dance.

We work through the endless personal statements, teaching statements, research statements, curriculum vitae updates, evaluations, interviews, and more. My experience so far, after sending out upwards of 40 applications last year, is that while there are jobs, there is no money. One interviewer for a job I was offered, in a very expensive city, told me that I may have to get a second job to make ends meet. Yeah, I didn’t take that job.

Another job at another university had their funding pulled for new hires after they told me they would like to hire me. Fun times. Most I didn’t hear back from at all. I am not a fan of ghosting, and it is especially frustrating when you have to go through so much to apply and hear nothing back. Application packets in academia can be up to 10-15 pages long or more. It’s frustrating.

So I am, of course, considering the non-academic track because, well, I like to eat. And pay my bills. And save money. And get that oil change I so desperately need.

Witch of All Hallows Eve

Sometimes, I just want to wave a wand, do a little jig around a cauldron, and swoosh: Hello Dreams! I’ve been so eager to meet you! Where have you been? Too bad magic is not real.

But I’ve been thinking of ways to plan my job market strategy because, well, tis the season. In between Halloween candy and teaching statements, I have to find a way to maximize my time so that I can do an effective and efficient job search. Plus there is all the writing that I have to do (and the writing that I want to do, which is probably not appropriate for the academy).

This season I have been thinking about costumes, more specifically, personas. If you are the type do dress out, Halloween is all about trying on something different, exploring a side of yourself. Putting on the costumes and makeup is an aspect of the rigmarole you have to do for the job market, minus the fun. The strategy here is simple: put on the face and hope for a good outcome. Pablo Neruda said it best in his poem, “Parthenogensis”:

Well, I’ll try to change for the better:
greet them all circumspectly,
watch out for appearances, be dedicated, enthusiastic—
till I’m just what they ordered,
being and un-being at will,
till I’m totally otherwise.

And so we dance!

Figuring Things Out

Despite the web of crazy that is the job market, it is an interesting challenge because it really is about deciding not just who you want to be but also how you want to be for a period or maybe even for the rest of your life.

I know for sure what I want to be—a writer and copyeditor—but there is so much more to life than just work. That’s the other thing that Halloween represents—an opportunity to make the day something more than every other day.

Recently, a student came to me to say that his best friend was killed in a tragic auto accident. He said that he just could not bring himself to do any work at all. I understand that. This kid was 19 when he died. My student is also 19, and he said, crying at this point, that he has never had to deal with someone’s death before. He doesn’t know what to do. He kept asking me what is the correct thing to do.

It all got me thinking about Halloween and having fun and living life and personas. And I realized that my job plan has to be a life plan. Yet, life is unpredictable, so the best thing about Halloween is the energy, the spirit of fun that surrounds it. That has to be a part of the job market plan and the life plan too.

Happy Halloween, folks!

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Do You Ask Questions During Your Job Interview?

I have a job interview today for an instructor position at a great university in a great location. In my preparations for the job, I have been trying to anticipate the types of questions the interviewers would ask, and fortunately, it is not too difficult to find a variety of interview questions via a quick Google search. From there, it is not too difficult to get a sense of the kind of questions that interviewers will ask.

While doing my Google search, I started thinking about the tone of a job interview. Interviewees can absolutely set the tone of an interview. In fact, they should. Interviewees should always want to give the impression that he or she wants to actively participate in their working environment. Participating in an interview means anticipating the interview questions and asking questions about the culture of the workplace.

At the end of every interview, there is always that moment when the interviewee has the opportunity to ask questions of their prospective employer. Too many interviewees let the moment pass without asking any questions, and that is not a good idea.

A job is where we will spend a good portion of our day. It is a good idea to know a bit about the company environment before accepting the position. Knowing what questions to ask are important, so while prepping for a job interview, job candidates should take some time to think about what questions they need to ask of the interviewer. These questions can range from how companies evaluate and measure success to what type of challenges a new hire might face.

Here are some of my favorite sites and articles that give great tips and sample questions that interviewees can use:

While there is some overlap in the questions that each article recommends, they all offer great insight into why these questions can help the interviewee know if their prospective employer is a good fit.

In any case, take the time to prepare for the job interview and, most importantly, prepare for the place you are going to spend a good deal of time. Make sure it is somewhere you want to be.

-K