(How) do ‘little things’ make a difference on the job market?
(How) do ‘little things’ make a difference on the job market?




In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a PhD student writes:

In the post about the VAP treadmill, a commenter said the following:

“In my experience in our searches, probably the top 20-50% of the applicant pool would be successful in the job and be an adequate fit for the specific role. The differences between the person who gets the job and the person who is 15th on the list are often small and hard to characterize.”

I would love to hear from people who have been on search committees (or ppl who were told by someone on the search committee why they were hired) some examples of the tiny little things that ended up making one candidate get the job over the other equally-qualified candidates.

If these reasons are silly or arbitrary (e.g., this person just “seemed cooler” or had one more publication than someone else), all the better, since it helps us to remember just how much randomness there is. If some of the things are tiny things that others (like myself) can somehow imitate, then that is great too!

This is a great query, and I’d love to hear those who are in the know weigh in. One reader submitted the following reply:

Not a really practical advice, but making one’s CV and/or cover letter unforgettable in the right way helps. According to my future employer (I’ve explicitly asked why they decided to hire me), apart from a promising research project (from their point of view) and institutional fitness (which played a central role in the final decision), I received a prestigious prize during my phd candidature and this really helped me get into the interview stage. Judging from other people who got a job, prizes help. At least everyone I know who got a prestigious prize (like from a journal or from some philosophical association) eventually got a TT or permanent job.

And another reader submitted this:

[H]ere is a tiny thing that might matter – imagine a position is advertised for Business Ethics, with an AOC in history of philosophy. The two finalists are matched on Business ethics, but the one has a broader range of history competence (early modern AND 19 C); or the one has early modern and 20th Continental and the other has early modern and 19 C. – and you think, a course on Nietzsche will fill seats, let’s go for that one. These are small things that cannot be anticipated, and when a decision for ONE and only one candidate is required they become the difference maker.

Any other readers have good examples of ‘little things’ making a difference in the hiring process?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More