Commonalities and Reflecting on Application Packets

So one question that came up (offline) about how to follow up on the Job Tracking posts and to help make sense of this whole job process was to talk in a bit more detail about the job. I'll broaden it a bit to talk about the jobs.

Really, there isn't a lot of similarity between the two positions I was offered. One I could do; one I really wanted to do. But the approach to applying was largely the same for me in both cases. Both applications asked for the basics: a letter and a C.V. In this case, both of the jobs that gave me offers asked for contact information rather than letters of reference. Though both were ostensibly Research I positions, only one wanted samples of my research; that school also wanted statements on research and teaching. The other asked for a teaching portfolio (whatever that means).

In my case, the teaching portfolio has been something I've struggled to make work. I used to send them the kitchen sink, and as you can imagine, that seemed to do nothing. Now, I've begun to tailor my portfolios. This is possible, in large part, because here at my SLAC, I've taught a wide variety of courses with many outside of my traditional area. That gave me more flexibility in terms of the jobs I could apply for than I might have otherwise had. And I believe it accounts for why the two jobs I received offers from were so markedly different.

In the teaching portfolio, I include a short statement about each class - things I want someone to know going in (for example, I teach Research Methods and have worked to align that with another class taught in my current department, and you wouldn't know that unless I explained). Then I include the most current syllabus and the most recent class evals. I'm pretty anal about this part, because having been at a SLAC on a 4/4 load, teaching has to stand for a lot. So I chose the order of presentation carefully, picking courses that were most relevant to the position and then a single course that I thought would add something to the position that I particularly would like to bring with me.

Research packets, since it's early in my career, are easier to deal with: they get the kitchen sink approach, and a line in the letter offering a full copy of the current draft of the book if the committee would like to wade through it (unfortunately, my book doesn't have any easy to break out chapter).

The other area that I was particularly meticulous about was making sure I kept a copy of the letter I sent, with notations about what was included in teaching packets if one went. That helped in phone interviews because it often meant I had a better sense than the interviewing committee about what I'd sent and where it fit in. That made prepping for interviews - phone and otherwise - easier, because it meant I could come up with very specific questions and examples related to the programs and people I expected to talk with.

Hope that helps a little bit. I'll try and tackle Ash's question about dealing with the current job and controlling the spread of information while on the market tomorrow. As always, feel free to send more questions, and I'll try and answer them.


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