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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Academic Job Market Advice (via Madisonian.net)

Mike Madison at Madisonian.net provides some on-target advice for new job candidates in the academic market. He's gearing it towards law school jobs, but most of it also applies to finance/econ jobs. Here are some of his best tips:
Tip #1-A — Be familiar with the scholarship of faculty members of the interviewing school who write in your field, especially if those faculty members are on the interview team. Know what buttons you’re pushing when you make certain arguments, because you may get push-back from the author of the responsive argument, who is sitting in the room with you.

...Tip #1-C — Do not get defensive if someone attacks your work or your ideas. Engage! These interviews are often tests of your ability to have a charged but thoughtful scholarly dialogue, not tests of who is right and who is wrong.

Tip #1-D — Anticipate the inevitable academic’s question: “So, what are you working on now?,” and know that it refers not only to the draft that you mentioned on your CV, but also to the piece that comes next, and why.

Tip #2-A — The softball interview can be deceptive. Social fit matters to a lot of law faculties just like it matters to law firms. Stay on your toes, and don’t undersell your scholarly interests even if you’re not asked about them directly.

Tip #3 — Despite the fact that this is a ruthlessly competitive environment, be courteous to absolutely everyone you meet. In the best of all worlds, you will get the law faculty appointment of your dreams, and you can put the meat market unpleasantness safely behind you. Still, your scholarly reputation across the profession will begin at the Marriott Wardman. You will encounter many of your interviewers and many of your fellow candidates in the future, as colleagues at other law schools. Give each of them every reason to respect you when they see you or hear about you again.
He's got lots of other good advice, too. You can read it here.

I'd definitely second #3. Never show "attitude" to anyone. Almost every academic subdiscipline is a pretty small pond - if you act like a jerk to one person, you never know who they know (and who the people they know know).

I view the inital foray into the job market like a "coming out party". You get introduced to a lot of people at a lot of schools, and you'll also meet a lot of your "competition". Some of the other candidates I met during my first foray into the market are now among my closest friends. In fact, one of them was responsible for getting me an interview at one of the schools I'm currently taklking about.

So, you never know, and it pays to play nice with the other kids in the sandbox.

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