Early this summer, we (authors Brandon and Amanda!) planned a post about job search materials, but finishing up the draft got delayed by several weeks. In the intervening time, a small Twitter debate on the subject of academic job advice occurred, and we ended up holding off this post for a few months while discussing how to do it well.
The debate in question: someone shared the job advice they generally give students on the academic job market, and folks responded with frustrations about the prescriptiveness, privilege, and goals of the academic job advice genre. Since then, we’ve also appreciated inspiring work being done on the topic by Hannah Alpert-Abrams. The Academic Job Market Support Network that she spearheads shares a lot of the spirit behind what we intended to do with our job search materials, so we’re taking this as an opportunity to revisit the post we had planned. We have both uploaded cover letters from our pasts to the AJMSN (Brandon’s letter here and Amanda’s letter here), and we talk a bit about our reasoning below. We’ll offer some general thoughts about job searches in digital humanities, and annotate each other’s cover letters. We thought the latter might be a useful exercise beyond just sharing them.
Slightly Better Job Advice, Take Two
Framing an academic job search exclusively in terms of handy tips undervalues the degree of luck that goes into any search. Do these things, such advice seems to suggest, and the just and right meritocracy will reward you with a job. But the academic job market is anything but just, and anything but a pure measure of merit. The same is true, of course, for job markets beyond academia. Digital humanities job searches, be they for faculty positions or otherwise, suffer from the same issues. Internally we’ve had a lot of conversation about how to share job advice with our students. We’re frequently called upon to do so, and we want to do it well. So we thought it worth sharing a few of the things we try to consider below. Keep in mind, of course, that this is not an exhaustive list.