Saturday, April 26, 2014

unusual job market advice

Oops I forgot I had one more job market post.

Miscellaneous advice for the job market that I haven't seen on the many other compilations of job market advice, and is therefore surely less important, but hopefully less redundant:

  1. Among the miscellaneous possible questions you might get asked on top of the standard fare, "When and where are you planning to submit your job market paper?" was very common. (I think I had a good answer, luckily.)
  2. In hindsight, it was very dumb of me to not include a line on my CV saying I graduated from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. Having gone to Caltech and Berkeley, almost everyone assumed I was a California native who didn't want to leave the state, which surely hurt me. Schools care a lot about how likely they infer you are to want to move there; being American is bad enough on the international job market and being exclusively Californian is so much worse.
  3. Along the same lines, definitely definitely include any information about why you want to go to a particular school that isn't a top department or isn't in your country in the first couple sentences of your cover letter! Ok I slightly lied, because this is something I have seen in other advice lists, but I also saw the opposite advice several times, and many people said cover letters don't matter at all. Several schools specifically mentioned these things that I wrote about locational motivations. This is probably mostly important for students from top departments, because lower ranked places are really insecure about their chances of recruiting someone from Berkeley, so you have to convince them you want it.
  4. I lied again, this is another thing I read beforehand but there was a small degree of conflicting advice and I really, really don't think people take it enough to heart. Apply broadly! Apply anywhere you would accept if it were the only job you were offered. And when establishing that, you should be open-minded geographically! Even if you have to move to Podunk North Dakota at first, you have the rest of your career to move somewhere you prefer; it's much harder to re-enter academia if you leave it to stay in a nice city.
  5. Elaborating on the above point, here are some statistics that you can infer what you like from: I applied to 263 places, which led to 26 interviews, 15 flyouts, and 7 official offers. Of those four numbers, the percentages inside the U.S. were 68%, 50%, 40%, and 29% respectively. Clearly, being open to moving to other countries was very very helpful! (The last number is misleading, however, since of the offers I was likely to get if I hadn't cut them off by accepting one, a majority were in the U.S. Although a couple more flyouts I likely could have gotten if I'd still been jobless in March were outside the U.S., so who knows.)
  6. Expounding further... there is so much randomness and inefficiency in the matching process, applying broadly is the only way to get a distribution of interviews/flyouts/offers that is truly appropriate for you, and hopefully a couple in the upper tail.
  7. Schools often state a particular field they are targeting, but don't trust them. I got several interviews and even several flyouts (including the job I accepted!) from places that did not appear at first glance to be open to hiring someone like me.
  8. Don't just bring one extra pair of pantyhose, have two in your briefcase and another several in your suitcase. I went through about a dozen all told, and my all-time record is three uses for a single pair; these stupid things should be priced much more appropriately for the disposable items they are.
  9. Get a travel iron. Hotels outside of the U.S. often don't provide them.
  10. Leg warmers. These make skirt suits wearable when it's 11 degrees outside.
  11. I was utterly clueless about attire-related matters, and this article (mostly specific to women, but some stuff relevant to all) is very helpful. Over the top, but hey, I'd rather be safe than sorry.
  12. Get several small spray bottles that will pass airport security and refill them with downy wrinkle releaser. This will be useful when you have to go straight from the airport to an interview. (Several, really! I used several ounces at a time before it was truly effective.)
  13. Get over your imposter syndrome before you go on the job market.
  14. And have fun!!! This is very very important, not just for your sanity but for your job prospects. This was the main advice my adviser repeated to me several times and he was completely right.
  15. If you're dealing with a two-body problem, Do NOT accidentally watch "The 5 Year Engagement" when there are no better options on an international long haul flight...
  16. Schedule international flyouts adjacent to weekends so you can explore the area. I was dreading the job market, but not only did the actual interviews end up being more fun than I expected (which every former candidate says, but I was skeptical because I'm much more than averagely introverted), the (free!) international travel was awesome.


Rebecca te Velde said...

Best, cheapest pantyhose, sturdier than most: L'Eggs--I get the multi-pack at Walmart or drugstores.

Matt said...

Does N. 8 apply to men, too? Because if so, I've been totally blowing that, and it would be nice to be able to blame some of my poor job market success on it.

Vera L. te Velde said...

better safe than sorry :)