Friday, December 12, 2008

Dear Search Committees

Dear Search Committees,

It has come to my attention that most of you really and truly will only consider hiring candidates who already have a PhD in hand. In many respects, I see the reasoning behind this approach and do not fault you for limiting your searches accordingly (a bird in the hand, and all that). However, none of you - and I really mean none of you - found it appropriate to include this little tidbit in your job ads. Rather, your ads indicated that one needed to have the PhD in hand by the time of appointment, which basically means that ABDs will be considered. In fact, some of your ads explicitly said "ABDs will be considered." It seems that, unless an ABD candidate is from an Ivy league school or has multiple publications already under his/her belt, no ABDs are, in fact, going to be seriously considered.

This, Dear Search Committees, is where I get upset, for I could have avoided much time, stress, money, and efforts expended had I been aware of what your actual practice would be. I am finishing my last chapter, I have an internationally-known rock-star advisor writing my letters of recommendation, I have seven years of teaching under my belt, and yet I have no shot at even getting an interview for one of your job openings (even those that come with a 4/4 load in a town that's in the middle of nowhere) because I'm still ABD. My complaint is not that this is how things are, but that you don't have the decency to acknowledge in your ads that this is how things are.

I feel confident that you know what the appropriate solutions are to this problem (more honest job ads, helping to reverse the flooded market by starting with your own departments, etc.). I feel equally confident, however, that you'll continue this practice and feel all the while like you deserve a big pat on the back for all the time you spent poring over all the application packets...oh wait, you probably didn't pore over all of them. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I kinda hope you break your arm while giving yourself that pat.

Yours most sincerely,


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