September 03, 2009
Advice for Faculty Appointments Candidates
Posted by Darian Ibrahim

As a first timer on the appointments committee, I wanted to add my two cents to the great advice for candidates already out there in the blogosphere. Please take it with the caveat that it’s just me talking, not my appointments committee, and that my wealth of experience is all of four years in academia (which does include one lateral move). But, while I may not know as much as others, I am in the throes of the selection process right now, so maybe some of this will be helpful.

--To entry-level candidates, write directly to schools you’re interested in. I seem to recall one blog post saying it might not matter, but for candidates on the borderline for a DC interview, I definitely think it helps.

--To lateral candidates, do not write directly to schools you’re interested in, and do not go through the AALS process. You do not want to appear anxious to escape your current situation, even if you are. The best way to get the word out that you’re open to a move is to let your well-respected friends at other schools know that. These folks will inevitably be contacted by appointments committees looking for people who might be moveable. Also, the standard advice about going to conferences, publicizing your papers all holds true. If you’re doing good work, getting yourself out there, and are at a school from which one would reasonably assume you are extractable, you’ll get calls.

--To entry-level candidates, I predict that the whole process is on its way to mirroring the lateral process. It started with the rise of the VAP, which has produced far more sophisticated entry-levels, but now it’s more than that. You should not only do a VAP, but also go to conferences, especially those like the Big Ten Aspiring Scholars Conference and similar venues where you can present your work and mingle with those already in the academy. I like the idea of guest blogging somewhere too, but really take some care in your posts – it will likely be your first impression on the academic world. I recommend taking these extra steps because great candidates might not be picked up by a FAR search for any number of reasons. Also, there’s obviously a right way to go about all this without overdoing it. But it never hurts to have those of us on this side of the table know your name, think that your work has promise, and be able to pass it along to friends at other schools.

Good luck to all!

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