what to say to whom

Dean Dad gives excellent advice to folks who have applied for other positions but not yet received offers:

If you’re in a setting in which being ‘found out’ would be awkward but not fatal, I’d adopt a two-pronged strategy of “need to know” and “strategic evasion.” Tell only those folks you would need as references, and stress to them that you consider the matter confidential. When it leaks – which it will – simply don’t answer the question directly. Don’t lie, but don’t compromise yourself, either. “I have no plans to be anywhere else next year” is technically true, since you don’t have an offer in hand. (Administrators and politicians can do this in our sleep.) If your skeptical interlocutor keeps pressing, change the subject. Think of it as cultivating an air of mystery.

As far as I know, my dean doesn’t know that I’ve applied elsewhere, although ever since I finished my Ph.D., she’s been saying to me, “You won’t be around here much longer.” So she certainly suspects.

Dean Dad’s correspondent found him/herself in an icky situation when his/her chair, who knows of the job search, apparently mentioned it to another colleague who mentioned it to correspondent. This happens all the time. Many times I’ve told my dean something in confidence and been asked about it later by a colleague who apparently spoke to the dean. I don’t know if this kind of breech occurs in other workplaces, but it seems to be rampant in academia. As I said in my comment on Dean Dad’s blog,

I think it is extremely unprofessional for [the] chair to have mentioned [the job search] to a colleague and extremely unprofessional for the colleague to have said anything about it to [the job searcher]. But this is exactly what would happen at my institution. People can’t keep their mouths shut. The colleague should have said to the chair, “That is none of my business. I am going to pretend I don’t have this information,” and then should have erased it from his mind.

It’s called professional courtesy.

Published in: on January 26, 2008 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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profs are a dime a dozen

More on the dust up over whether it’s ok to look for a job once you have one. Slaves of Academe notes that “because in the end, they (the university, your department, whatever) couldn’t give a shit, and will use and abuse you, then discard you like the first wife.” Ain’t that the truth. Face it, English profs are practically a dime a dozen. If I leave, I can easily be replaced.

Published in: on November 8, 2007 at 1:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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to market, to market

As I said in the sidebar, I’ve been at Middleland long enough to get tenure, get comfortable, and get bitter. Funny how the bitterness just kind of crept up. One day I was fat and happy and the next I was gearing up for a job search. Nothing in particular has happened to inspire my job search, beyond the unsettling realization that I am bored in my job. In my opinion, there is almost nothing worse than a bored faculty member, so I have taken my boredom as a wake up call.

Given my entry onto the job market, I’ve been fascinated by the discussion over at Dr. Crazy’s about whether or not looking for a job when you already have one constitutes treason. I’ve been on my share of search committees and the hiring institution does invest a fair amount of resources in a search. But, come on, an institution would be insane to think that once a person is hired, the decision to sever the relationship can only be made by the institution. That’s not good for anyone, including the institution.

In my particular case, my institution has been generally good to me and I have mostly positive feelings about the place. I genuinely respect and admire my colleagues and students (admittedly, I have mostly negative feelings about the administration—just in case you thought I wasn’t actually the GripeDoctor). But as I said, I’m bored and that ain’t a good thing for either me or my institution. Not that I’m doing the institution a favor by looking for another job, but I think people like the insane senior faculty who are posting comments to Dr. Crazy about her being selfish to look for another job are missing the point. It isn’t good for an institution to have unhappy or unfulfilled faculty.

Is there a possibility my boredom will pass and I should stick it out with Middleland? I’ve considered this possibility. I have been happy here for many years. But in the last couple of years, I’ve been asked by my institution to turn down a few excellent professional opportunities, opportunities that would allow me to have a larger presence in the profession at large. These types of opportunities will dry up if I keep turning them down, and every time I turn one down I sink deeper into boredom and deeper into bitterness about the limits my current institution puts on my career. Is my attitude healthy for me? No. Is it beneficial to my institution? Again, the answer is no. Clearly, it’s time for me to move on.

Published in: on November 7, 2007 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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