Tenure-track job searches: the academic equivalent of dating

Very little can destroy an ego like a tenure track hunt. After the immediate flurry of out-right rejections a few months ago, I settled into the gradual trickle of “While you were generally considered to be an excellent candidate, we received more than XXX applications this year. Therefore, we will not be pursuing your application any further” letters. The past few weeks, I’ve received just enough contact to indicate my application is still moving along at some sites, if not at the dreadfully slow pace of a snail.

Perhaps the only thing comparable to this process is dating. You spot an an attractive job in the want ads, and do a little research to find out if it’s worth pursuing. Then you give out your digits, which are waaaaay more involved than what you hand out to a stranger in a drunken stupor at closing time. Academic digits are a full-blown package – past performance, future interests, plans for financial stability – all designed to woo your target job.

Next you wait for a call. This part sucks. My best advice? Don’t sit at home waiting by the phone. Get out and keep yourself busy. Look for other jobs. Do things to enhance your package (get your mind out of the gutter). Whatever you do, don’t become a stalker. Say thank you for any updates you’re lucky enough to receive, and then wait. They’ll call you if they’re interested…no need to call them repeatedly and make sure they have your info, or you might end up sounding like this guy:

Please, don’t end up like Mikey!!

Dating begins once you land an interview. I know very little about this stage and beyond – just what I’ve seen from the uninformed departmental side of past searches. But I’m sure the obvious applies. Put your best foot forward and show your interested in a long term relationship. But don’t come on too strong, and don’t give away too much too early (I’m lookin’ at you, job whores). If you’re lucky, dating will lead to an offer (aka – the proposal). After some negotiation, you move in together. If you’re really lucky, 6-7 years of trying things out will result in tenure (aka – marriage).

It’s not a perfect analogy, and I’m sure those “experienced” researchers out there can share more about the dating and subsequent stages. At this point, I’m still a job search virgin.

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One thought on “Tenure-track job searches: the academic equivalent of dating

  1. Pingback: The hunt: the tenure-track job interview | The Tightrope

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