Applying Myself
copyright 2017 by Dave Van Domelen

    This isn't really an essay, it's a series of lists. During my job hunts starting in 2012, I kept track of my applications on Post-It™ notes so that I wouldn't accidentally apply to the same position twice. When a school shows up more than once, either they had two different jobs (a tenure track position early in the season, and then instructor positions a few months later), or they re-listed the position after not finding anyone the first time. This piece is basically an attempt to reconstruct the timeline of this process, before I forget all the details. I also went back to the 2010-2011 searches prior to the handwritten notes.

    If I got an interview out of the application, it will be noted as "phone" for an interview over the phone or Skype, and "site" if they actually had me come out there. I'm not entirely sure of my own scribbled notations, so I may be mis-remembering some of the phone/Skype interviews, I put a question mark in those cases. An "X" afterwards means they did me the courtesy of specifically telling me I didn't get the job, rather than letting me assume it (although I may not have consistently scribbled out the ones that told me, especially the ones near the end of a search phase where I didn't see much reason in continuing the notes after accepting a position. If I list a date, it's when the application was due, otherwise it was an "open until filled" ad. "Underway" means I found out about the job a bit late but applied anyway. The lists are in order of application, as far as I can reconstruct. I think that when I put a checkmark next to something it meant I got a phone or Skype interview, but some of them I don't recall having ever talked to, hence the ? next to them. I do remember all the ones I physically visited, though.

    It's worth noting that I never got to choose between two offers, each year I had either one or zero offers. And when you see a Big Name school in this list, odds are I was applying for a Lecturer position (aka a Professor uses grant money to pay someone to teach his classes). I rarely applied for anything explicitly adjunct or part-time, and those usually only in the desperation times of June and July.

2010-2011 Season

    These are pre-sticky-note applications, and I'm going on the cover letters I have saved. So any job that didn't require a cover letter will be missing from this list. I also don't have any notation of phone interviews, but I'm pretty sure I remember the site ones. They're in order of the dates of writing the letters. I have no records of the application due dates on any of these, they weren't all "open until filled". Similarly, I don't have any notes about which ones specifically told me I wasn't getting the job, but I'm assuming that the ones that gave me site interviews did so.

    In this round, I got a position without a cover letter, a one-year instructor position at University of Nebraska at Kearney. I applied July 1 because me about-to-be-former boss had gotten a request from the UNK Physics department head asking if he had anyone who could drop everything and drive up, I interviewed on July 19, was offered the job by the time I got home, drove back up to apartment-hunt on August 1-2, moved August 14, started classes August 22. That...was a hectic month.

2011-2012 Season

    I got overconfident and was certain I'd get the permanent position at UNK, so I applied there and nowhere else until it was WAY too late in the season to have much of a chance. Unlike "real world" jobs, the hiring cycle in academia runs mostly on an annual basis, with most jobs hiring for the Fall and taking from October through the next July to hire people (more prestigious positions hire first, "panicked temp hires to fill gaps" in late Spring and even Summer as I experienced in 2011). Once the due dates drift into August, I was already applying for jobs in the 2012-13 season, but these were jobs I applied for while I was still actually employed at UNK. UNK is not listed below, but I did apply and got a phone interview but not a site interview.

2012-2013 Season

    This year, frankly, sucked. I was unemployed, had to worry about accepting Spring-only positions that would require moving in the Winter and then going back on the job hunt for Fall, and I ended up teaching a single course at UNK in the Spring because a former colleague failed to get tenure and just left in mid-semester (I didn't earn enough to exceed unemployment benefits, though).

2013-2014 Season

    While I (falsely) felt good about getting the permanent position at Cottey, having been burned at UNK did get me motivated to apply for jobs as soon as the season started. This was an unusually small group of applications leading to an offer, but it was also the first job since 2002 I'd been offered during Spring as opposed to getting an offer during the Summer term. It helped a lot that Cottey has a two-week Spring Break, I spent it almost entirely on job interviews (two site, two phone/Skype).

    And that's it. There's generally a lull in postings in March-April, and Amarillo College moved fast on my application, hence the paucity of applications after AC. If this seems like a really long list of applications to get two one-year jobs and finally a permanent position...then you're probably not in academia. While my experience may be on the crappy end for Physics, it's probably still better than a lot of college educators have had.

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