Archive for: September, 2013

Don't waste at least 270 people's time

Sep 27 2013 Published by under [Education&Careers]

Once again my department is putting together a job ad. There's been much discussion over the wording of the ad and exactly how we want to phrase every last detail. Frankly, the minutia of picking one word over another because of subtle differences in implication is rather pointless in today's job market. People aren't worried about the exact phrasing including or excluding them because it doesn't.

One thing I always fight hard for, however, is that we not ask for letters of reference, up front. Why? I mean, maybe an LoR is so good it puts someone on the shortish list! But do the math. Let's say you are advertising a specialized position and you get 100 applications. Three LoRs per application gives you 300 LoRs. If you plan to phone interview 10, there's a really good chance there's nearly 270 LoRs that will never or barely be read.

It does not take much time to send off an LoR, this I know. But it's one more deadline for busy people. In fact, unless the job candidate is a special snowflake, there's a pretty good chance that it's 30-40 more deadlines for busy people. And for what? So the committee can maybe argue a little longer over numbers 10 and 11 on the list? Please.

If you are involved in a job search, do your community a favor. Don't ask for LoRs until the shortish list. Those 30 people will actually feel like they are helping the candidate rather than mailing out fliers for a job-a-thon.

22 responses so far

The transition cloud

Sep 18 2013 Published by under [Et Al], [Life Trajectories]

Kindergarten. Who knew what giant hot mess it would make everything?

Change is often tough on kids and affects some more than others. Even the anticipation of change can set off some pretty difficult behaviors. This is what we have been facing for about 3 months now, since we made the decision to transition our older daughter out of the preschool/kindergarten program she was in, to a K-5 school not far from campus. It was a good decision - the right one - but we've been paying for it ever since like a gambling addict pays their loan shark. Suffice to say, it's been a painful transition.

I don't know if it's the age, the school switch or some magical pu-pu platter of child angst, but it's a challenge just to keep the daily tantrum total in the single digits. And bed time? Holy fuck, bed time. I would worry that our neighbors think we run some sort of insane asylum/slaughter house combo if they didn't have kids in roughly the same age bracket.

It's exhausting. To keep your composure while your child yells at you, hitting and screaming. To not give in to the urge to just lock the kid in their room and go drive for an hour. To not question whether you're a terrible parent raising a future rage-junkie. And the worst part of it all is that it is causing me to dread spending time with her - and that kills me to admit. I never imagined having to force myself to spend time with my own 5yo.

And yes, we've tried what you're going to suggest. One-on-one time, sports, time outs, hugs, etc., etc. My guess is that time is the only thing that is going to work. I'm sure there will be a time when we look back with perspective and think this was no big deal, but right now it's the black cloud that hangs over ever breakfast, every dinner prep, every bath time and every bed time. While tolerable for a while, eventually it's like living in 1980s Elizabeth, NJ.

17 responses so far

Every year

Sep 10 2013 Published by under [Education&Careers], [Et Al]

I totally thought I had this semester all handled. I was prepared, I was ready, I had things rolling! Oh right, then the students show up.

Just when you think you have shit figured out, it is ON.

One response so far

What are you looking forward to this semester?

Sep 05 2013 Published by under [Education&Careers]

The new semester has begun. I'll be the first to admit that the transition from summer to semester is not entirely smooth. As a group, I think this gives the professoriat ample material to complain about, whether it's the increase of meetings, teaching, or traffic. We're good at complaining, it's kind of a thing.

BUT, I'm more interested today in what you're looking forward to in the upcoming semester. What's got you excited for the coming months?

For me, I enjoy the class I teach in the fall and I look forward to that. I'm also excited to see how the people in my lab develop their skill sets as we transition into a slightly different phase of their learning. There's new challenges ahead and it'll be awesome to watch these challenges met.

Finally, I'm excited by a few new collaborations that are developing. I see fertile ground for some new work and the planning stages for a few grants has already begun.

How about you?

12 responses so far


Sep 04 2013 Published by under [Et Al]

2 responses so far