Archive for June 3rd, 2009

In Monday’s post I highlighted a few of my thoughts on the ASA’s employment service.  The short version is that I think it is worthwhile and that, like the job market in general, a sort of confident detachment is extremely helpful.  Other people’s opinions can be found within last year’s Scatterplot discussion of the topic and New Soc Prof’s post from last summer (see point 5).

Perhaps the most comprehensive overview of the experience is courtesy of Pitse1eh’s “ASA Speed Dating” post.  To this list I would add that you should sign up for the employment service as soon as possible and begin requesting meetings with the schools that interest you most.  I ended up with fewer meetings than I intended last year because I waited until just before ASA to start scheduling them and, by that time, many school’s schedules were full.  I assume the situation will be similar this year with candidates hoping to get ahead in a tough market.  Also, once you have scheduled a meeting, you can see who the interviewers are scheduled to be and jot down a few notes about the school, department, and faculty that will be useful during the interview.  As an aside, you should be aware that until ASA ends there are two lists of job postings that are updated independently – one for the job bank and one for the employment service.  Schools that list their postings on one will not necessarily list them on the other, so you should watch both lists for postings and deadlines.

My final (for now) thoughts on the employment service are related to preparation.  As I said in Monday’s post, you need to be prepared to answer questions about your teaching and research in short, coherent statements, making this a good time to start practicing responses to these frequently asked questions.  Along these lines it may also be worthwhile to spend 20 or 30 minutes sitting in the employment service staging area covertly listening to the questions that are asked at the nearby tables.  I ended up having a free block of time between two other meetings last year during which I overheard a school ask a candidate which five classes she would most like to teach and which book had most influenced her sociological thinking.  Because of this, I wasn’t surprised by these questions when I met with that school.  Also regarding questions, New Soc Prof points out in her post that you will be doing a lot more of the asking than you might expect.  This is in line with my own experience and my view of the employment service as a fact-finding mission.  For these purposes, these questions to ask might come in handy.  I imagine that bombing an employment service interview doesn’t have the same emotional impact as bombing a phone or campus interview, but you will still probably want to avoid responding to a question like, “What can we tell you about our school?” with “Blllluuuuuuuuhhhh…”

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