A scan of my web stats shows that my recent Academic Job Market Notes post has already received more traffic than any other single post in the past 12 months, and almost twice as many pageviews as its closest competitor. Wow. This leads me to wonder if there any other advice that I ought to share.
The truth is, most everything that really matters and which is generally applicable to just about everybody has been covered already by Chris Blattman’s original post on the academic job market. I wholeheartedly endorse all of this, especially the parts about increasing returns for the main chapter/paper and the absurdity of concept of the “limited market” or “going selectively on the job market.” I applied to more than 100 jobs the first time around.
That said, I can think of two additional, disconnected points that probably deserve separate emphasis.
Practicing the Job Talk
Your file gets you an interview, but your job talk is the single most important part of the interview. Lots of things can prevent a fly-out from turning into an offer (your competition, search committee/department politics, funding, etc.), but your talk is one that you can control. I advise students to practice delivering the complete talk at least once a day, every day starting September 15. Do it on skype with your friends or family, or in front of a mirror, or just sitting at your computer. Note what that means: you should have your talk to be ready by September 15 so that you can practice it. I’d advise even earlier. Shoot for Labor Day.
Once a day for at least a month probably seems extreme for many readers, but I stand by it. Here is personal note to explain why. I practiced my talk in 2007 at least 50 times before the first time that I delivered it “live” in an interview. I practiced it so much because when I was younger I struggled with stuttering, and in high pressure situations my stutter returns. Now that I’ve had years of lectures and conferences and presentations in other languages, it doesn’t bother me so much, but I am positive that having practiced my talk dozens of times made it easier for me to deliver, even if practicing was nothing more than a psychological crutch. I don’t regret for one second the time that I invested in practicing that talk.
Now, most people don’t stutter, but my advice still stands. The broader point is that you want to be so familiar with your presentation that you can move fluently through it, especially when you are presenting anything complicated (which you almost certainly are). Fluid delivery projects confidence and comfort, with your work and with yourself. It puts the audience at ease and helps them to focus on you, which is exactly what you want your talk to do.
The Variety of Academic Jobs
The more “job market advice” that I read, the more I realize how little I know. Most advice targets tenure-track jobs at the most research intensive, PhD-granting departments. That’s the advice that I’m qualified (I guess) to provide. From time to time I see advice from other types of academic jobs: community colleges, liberal arts colleges, departments that offer a master’s degree but no PhD, public policy schools, interdisciplinary departments, plus the global academic marketplace (a PhD granting department in the U.S. looks very different than one in England, to say nothing of Europe or emerging Asia). PhD candidates on the market ought to know that people like me are not the best people to provide advice on applying to those kinds of jobs.
Here are the Top 10 Indolaysia posts between 10/30/2011 and 10/29/2012:
2. Academic Job Market Notes
3. If It Rains Tomorrow, I Save
4. Identification is Neither Necessary nor Sufficient for Policy Relevance
5. OMFG Exogenous Variation! Or, Can You Find Good Nails When You Find an Indonesian Politics Hammer
6. Graduate Study in Southeast Asian Politics at Cornell: Advice for Prospective Applicants
7. Chinese Indonesians, Then and Now
8. Methodology in Southeast Asian Studies (Part 2 of 2)
9. About the Author
10. About Indolaysia
Also interesting are the top ten sources of web traffic, by city: Ithaca, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Unknown, Singapore, New York, Washington, London, Oxford, and Cambridge (MA).