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Many readers sent me the link to ask for my reaction. This post is my response.
That is not to say that I agree with everything Philip Howard writes. I will comment on each of the twelve sentences in turn. I would like to be considered for the position of [title copied from job ad] in [exact department name from job ad] at the [exact institution name from job ad].
I am an advanced doctoral candidate in [your department]. Yes, indeed, except that this sentence contains feeling-talk I would like that job candidates routinely overuse. Actually, what gets you hired is SHOWING, rather than telling, that you have pursued an energetic course of research, publication and teaching, without recourse to cheap emotion words.
My doctoral project is a study of [cocktail party description]. Much of the research on this topic suggests that [characterize the literature as woefully inadequate].
But I [demonstrate, reveal, discover] that contrary to received wisdom, [your punch line].
Search committees need to know what you examined. Deliver this information crisply, factually, in no more than 2 sentences. I have completed [X] of [Y] chapters of my dissertation, and I have included two substantive chapters as part of my writing sample.
This is ok, although telling them what chapters you have finished in the dissertation is less important than telling them a concrete defense date in the first sentence, in my view. I have well-developed drafts of several other chapters, and expect to defend in [month, year]. He is mostly right about the too early to go on the market, except that sometimes it is good to go on the market early to get your worst mistakes out of the way while your still have a cushion of time, affiliation, and, we presume, support.
Although my primary area of research is [disciplinary keyword here], I have additional expertise in [another disciplinary keyword here] and am eager to teach in both areas. In the next few years, I hope to develop courses in [X and Y]. How does that help us?
Again, other people will resting their cases on exactly the same feelings. Give us facts and specifics instead. For the most part, my approach to research is through [social science or humanistic method keyword here], and I would be interested in developing a methods class on this approach to research.
All candidates need to be prepared to teach both specialized classes related to their research, and bread-and-butter classes such as Intro, Methods, and Theory.
Thus, he is correct that you should be able to discuss a methods class. How do conversations help anything? Talk is cheap, and anybody can converse, particularly a grad student, about his dissertation.
That does not distinguish you. Those are peer-reviewed and your attendance at them will set your record apart. Never hang your hat on service. In the next few years, I hope to be able to investigate [reasonably related problems or questions]. Everybody needs a second project. There Is No Try.
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