Hermits Rock

Go to content Go to navigation

Failed Job Applications, Pt. 4

Breathe easy. This is not the cover letter series resurrected. Even though the publishing of those letters, torn from my soul as they were, gave me release from the oppressive silence that is a job search, I know you hated them. Even though, since the day I published the most recent installment, several applications have passed the sixth month mark, I will not publish more. I understand that the series was unpopular. It was also poorly conceived, with “Failed Job Applications, Pt. 3” the most egregious example. I admit my ignorance and parochial quainthood; readers, you admit your fickleness—that same fickleness you demonstrated with the slow groan you released when you saw this title. Be more forgiving! I am a lowly blogger, miniscule in the eyes of the world. Know that, rather than a resurrection of a failed series, this is a job search report card.

It has been just over a year since my search began. I have been involved in searches that lasted more than two months and in others that took less than a week. I was beat out of one position by an Emmy. I lost another because I didn’t know that some employers don’t believe it necessary to schedule full telephone interviews. I once wrote a detailed response to student essay, in the process articulating at length a complete pedagogical philosophy of written response, only to sound like a fool in a face-to-face interview. I have tweaked my resume, written better letters than I ever posted here, and revised writing samples at length only to hear nothing at all. I have on more than one occasion had my hopes raised by gentle hands, fed lavishly, then crushed into the sidewalk with the leather heels of Italian pumps.

After all of that, here is where I now stand:

  • Since this time last year, I have lost nearly 25 pounds—almost all my PhD fat save for a little, which I’ll probably keep to fill out my sentences and make them substantial.
  • I have not had a haircut in three months.
  • I am still indignant about an e-mail I received a few weeks ago, which said Thanks, but no thanks, and concluded, “Unfortunately, this position requires an extensive journalism background plus fluency in editorial Spanish.” Also unfortunately, neither extensive journalism background nor fluency in editorial Spanish was included as part of the job description.
  • I cuss a lot more than I used to.
  • I have had at least a favorable reply to more than half of my applications, 42 percent of which have resulted in interviews. According to anecdotal testimony by others of their job searches, this is not a shabby response rate; on the other hand, only one of those interviews has resulted in a job offer, which was summarily withdrawn for mysterious reasons, leaving my success rate for interviews at nil.
  • Surely academics know the following, but then, the academic job market is its own strange animal: the length of interview does not a job offer make. My longest topped out at 4.5 hours. They said, “We have two more interviews to go, then, after that, we will meet to decide who to hire. It may be a while.” That was last October. I never even received a courtesy dismissal.
  • It’s difficult not to feel incredibly guilty when, unemployed, my time is occupied doing something other than searching for work. Speaking of which, The Historian is a pretty good novel. So is Portrait of a Lady.
  • When the search is going poorly, even when it seems to go well, it is very difficult to answer the question, “What’s your prospect?” or, worse, “How did your interview go?” If I knew the answer to either of those questions at any single moment, I think I would no longer be looking for work. In truth, a job search is very little about what I know. I work on my applications at length, then I send them into unknown hands. There’s no guarantee the person those hands belong to will read the resume I send. Moreover, I’m a little superstitious. I worry that if I talk about the applications I send, it will suggest I know more than I do. The whole process is way more uncertain than shooting friends quail with the Vice President. I know that those who ask mean well, but I prefer they not ask and, instead, offer sympathy, perhaps a story that lets me know they know it’s none of it easy.

For all I know and don’t know, my prospects may change in a moment. So let these observations be recorded for posterity: a moment, a job search one year in the making.



I’m getting close to no haircut in three months, but that is because I might be playing Jesus again this year.

T complains…she hates the beard…E, on the other hand, loves it.

I think it was K who truly hated the series.

Yes, she did hate the series, and she complained about it, probably about like T complains about the beard. On the plus side, K loves beards.

PS. I always loved that photo. So… Jesusy!

i love beards on my gorgeous husband—though he refused to grow one for me this winter—and good beards on other men as well, but not ratty ones.

i love this picture. it looks like it could be a still from a movie.

and yes, let’s hope the dreaded failed job applications series is over (fingers crossed).

i love the photo too, esp j’s (or, J’s) outstretched hands.

not sure where to post this…
ok, I have had so much fun with the Etymology Dictionary, but it is not giving me the (desired) answer to a serious question I have. Acc. to the ED, “confinement” did not take on connotation of childbed until the 18th century; however, I want to make the argument that it had that connotation in the previous one. does the word geek who posted that link know of any other similar resources?

there is this site

but that is the only real etymological dic that i can find.

they got it from the OED, who else.

this is what it says…

4. spec. The being in child-bed; child-birth, delivery, accouchement. (The ordinary term for this in colloq. use: see CONFINE v. 6. The ME. equivalent was Our Lady’s bands, bonds, or bends: see BAND1 1c, BEND1 1d, BOND1 1c.)

1774 MRS. DELANY Corr. Ser. II. (1862) II. 15, I feel uncomfortable not to be able to come to her when she is under her confinement. 1811 PARK in Medico-Chirurg. Trans. II. 298 Mrs. S. whom I was engaged to attend in her first confinement. 1861 F. NIGHTINGALE Nursing 41 Women who had difficult confinements. 1870 E. PEACOCK Ralf Skirl. III. 211 Just recovered from her confinement.

But, don’t you think that you can make the argument that simply because this is first “remembered” time it is used in writing doesn’t mean that it is the first time it is used in this manner.

In fact, the OED cites

Delany, Mrs. Mary
The autobiography and correspondence 1779–88 (1861, 1862)
Letters…to Mrs. F. Hamilton 1779–88 (1820)

I would think Mrs Delany did not invent the term, but is using it as a rather commonday euphemism. it could just be an example of a “woman’s” word eluding “male” recognition, or something like that?

J’s last might be right. It might be nessa to dig into the diaries of midwives to check the origins for sure. I wonder how many such diaries there are? There’s Martha Ballard’s, for one, but she’s all 18th c.

Do you ever get performance anxiety when you’re about to put on the purple robe, J?

Also speaking of performance anxiety, why hasn't GR come out of the internets to offer me or J a cut?

Curious: Do you (anybody) prefer to cuss or to curse?

To keep or restrain (a person) within his dwelling, etc.; to oblige to stay indoors, or in one’s room or bed. Said of ill health, stress of weather, etc.; usually in passive. Const. to

can be found as early as 1634 in correspondence.

I was hoping that by linking to a bunch of people we’d go pop...especially since they’ve all been about CoC belly-button gazing…oh well.

(J, Perhaps it’s that you were about a week behind a big wave of navel gazing, which occurred just before the ACU lectureship. Maybe you should draw a line and shout, “C’mon, fools! Cross my line! I can stare at your navel longer than you can stare at mine!” You might accomplish this with several successive link posts. e.g. I bet you could call out theoblogia by dissing his favorite books on successive days. You could be personal, too: I went on a date, of sorts, with JTB once, and I could start appealing to that at every chance. Or you could berate the trendiness of thouse who put ultrasound photos online. What if that's not really those people's baby, but somebody else's ultrasound? Who's really gonna know?)

speaking of GR…his cowboy post is really nice

oh…i’m always behind the times… i’m working on perfecting this.

notice how we’ve utterly avoided talking about your post :)

Yeah, why is that? Don’t you want to dissect how unemployed I am? Aren’t you at all curious about how I got beat by an Emmy?

Incidentally, I also like that little essay of GR's. A little thing I’ll put up someday (maybe soon, maybe not soon) will have been inspired by that, actually…

I’m sorry I’ve been lacking in my duties, Greg and Jeremy. Finals begin next week (such a fun time to be a law student!), so I’ve spent a lot of time brewing coffee, scratching my head, and wondering why the hell I decided to come to this godforsaken school.

And I, personally, would love to hear how you were beat by an Emmy, even if no one else cares.

Know that I’m always reading (or at least scanning and judging), even if I’m not always commenting.

oh stop it now! GR, i’m blushing…(at how shameless greg and i can be)

i do hope exams go well… oh, how glad i am to have passed that time like so much montesuma and his revenge!

those were the times when i’d curse, even imprecate!

Imprecatory I know, but is imprecate truly a present tense verb? I see it and I can’t decide on a pronunciation: like implicate or like intricate? (don’t bother to look it up: I can do it myself, thank you. I just refuse because I’m lazy.)

GR: Law school, eh? That explains the PBR. :) I, too, wish you good luck on finals. You’ll do well.

So far as the Emmy is concerned, I applied for an editorial position in Pittsburg, and a few weeks later I got a telephone call: “Hi, Greg. We really liked your application, and we thought you might be right for us, but then somebody with an Emmy applied, and we had to hire him first.” Come to think of it, the whole thing is much better when it’s only a hint of a story than when it’s all told…

thanks for humoring my stupid word search, all. I like the women’s word argument, though I’m not sure it would go unnoticed for 100 years.
Greg, is there a way to find out what the Emmy was for? And did you really want to live in Pittsburgh?

I would have liked to live in Pitt if I were doing the job I applied for, otherwise, meh, take it or leave it. There’s no tactful way to find out about the Emmy yet, but, probably in a month or so, when there’s a bio published, we can know.

Cussing sounds very provincial and middle-schoolish. Cursing sounds pretentious. Which to use depends on your social and geographical context, but I’m deeply unhappy with both.

which is why imprecate, maledict, anathemize, and execrate work so nicely…though, they remain quite pretentious.

but that is only because they are so greek and latin.

Imprecate the vengeance of Heaven on the guilty empire.

maybe beshrew, a good middle english word, could be a nice alternative

JH, that’s precisely what K & I decided last night! She said it made me seem either like a hick or a kid from the projects. At the time, it seemed more natural to write cuss; I didn’t think about it at all until I’d read the whole through a half dozen times. I suppose I could have gone the swear route, but it didn’t come to mind. Swearing, at least, is more bourgeois than either cussing or cursing...

Or, what J said: why not dig deep into linguistic history…

Cussing’s great advantage is that it only means one thing: to utter one or more of the set of English words which may not be uttered in polite company. Cursing and swearing have other viable and common meanings in modern english. I always had a deep distate for people who said things like “swear-words” when I was growing up, can’t explain why, just visceral. As Jeremy hints, the old words are really unusable unless you’re trying to impress at an Oxford cocktail party. Or, in other contexts, trying to get your ass kicked.

Distaste for the euphemism “swear word,” or for the actual swear/cuss/curse?

Is an Oxford cocktail party really all that? At Iowa, such sausage fests occurred from department to department particular departments, less so at cocktail parties, although there’s always the one guy who has to talk shop all the time…

For the euphemism, not the swear words themselves.

I went straight from Searcy to Oxford, so my knowledge of cocktail parties is more or less limited to what I learned here. Maybe it is common to all university environments. Particularly in the humanities. Particularly in English departments.

Good to know that English departments spit! are the same on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet another reason to steer clear of them in principle—excepting the one in which Mary teaches, of course.

We had few cocktail parties, though, and none which commingled with faculty, who were on the whole standoffish to the nth degree.

But all that is even yet a sore subject in our house, which I don't want to think about—not today, anyway. Returning to the cussing divide?

mary steers clear of her current department as much as possible, so no need to issue a disclaimer for it.

i like “swear” as the verb. then again, i am an english teacher.

Oh, well, I was referring generally to the department in which you profess, which may or may not be your current one, under the general assumption that your presence is redemptive for all your colleagues. A sort of ad hoc mariology, if you will.

if you’re gonna do something as puerile as use adult language… do it with an old world flair… and yes, you’ll get your arse chewed up and spit out if you do… but that’s the risk.

when doing graduate work in spanish, big words (palabrotas) are par for the course.

the cursingist persons i know are priests and ex-priests. things like shitting in the virgin’s milk could be heard quite often.

this following bit should not be read by prudes. it is, in fact, NC17… and I am no James Frey making stuff up to be a part of the conversation.

one professor, a puertorican, would often grab her tits, boobs, chest and/or touch herself when she wanted to express exasperation with some theorist or another. barthes, she would say, as she affected _joissance_, knew nothing about it it all. and lacan should, if he were so lucky, get a taste of her milk.

also, professors often held parties at their houses. not only were we expected to attend, if we didn’t show up and get on the dance floor, we were considered uncollegial. these drunken orgies were considered part of the official activities of the department. they were kind enough, though, not to expect us, though we were more than welcome to, to sneak off onto back patios and toke it up with them.

but, the wines were always of very good cata and the whiskey, single malt…who would want to teetotal?

i would hate to slander my grandmother’s island.

thisi professor spent her formative years in spain studying with nuns…

so, now, rather than riling a rash island of puertoricans, who are still mad about 1898 and the bombing ranges of vieques, i’ve only maligned and defamed the catholic church and spaniards.

i feel better. i can live with that libel

Since I’ve visited the comments page here several times today, I really feel I must join the chorus and say how magnificent the Jesus pic is.

The 70s style Jesus-as-hippy, the joyful hoi polloi shouting hosannas in their made-by-soccer-mom-this-is-what-they-dressed like-during-Bibletimes costumes, the sheer jubilation and pageantry…

It is both ironically self-conscious and naively sincere. I love it. It’s an icon of everything that is good about modern American conservative Christianity.

Jesus: as only Jeremy could play him.

Or, if we want to go all indwelling,

Jeremy: as only Jesus could play him.