I often refer to The Professor is In blog and now book to help me prepare my job application materials. I've been thinking about employing Karen Kelsey to look over some of my materials, but would have to pay rush fees, so I'm trying to decide if it's worth it. Have you used her? If so, what service did you get? Did it result in you getting an interview or a job? Thanks!
Date: 25 Sep 2015 13:44
Number of posts: 23
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I used her services last year, which was my first year on the market, and ended up with one skype interview out of about 25 applications. I think the lack of interviews doesn't reflect her work but rather my publication record at the time I was applying last year. That said, while she was helpful for things such as cutting my teaching statement down to one page and clarity on my cover letter (she reviewed my letter, teaching, and research statements), I did feel a bit by the end of the process that my documents were more reflective of her process than my own perspective on my work. Maybe that's not a bad thing if her thoughts on not being yourself on the job market are valid, but I know I feel more confident in my documents this year having reworked them to better reflect my own position on everything. I do know folks who swear by her and have landed great interviews/jobs after working with her, and I know folks who have done the same without working with her. I think if you're really lost on creating your docs then perhaps it's worthwhile, but if you know what direction you want to take your materials, perhaps it's better to just have your supervisor/colleagues read over your work and give you feedback. If money is an issue, you could also look into working with an editing service that is less well known—there are definitely many other people who work specifically in academic job coaching.
Wow. For real? I have heard of this for applying to undergrad, but for a faculty job?
It's for real. And apparently quite lucrative.
Honestly, this is what your mentor is supposed to be for. They have intimate knowledge of your field. I don't think Karen is a psychologist and spending time to get a teaching statement to a single page doesn't seem like a good use of time. Maybe that is the norm for humanities? But I commonly see psych teaching statements at 2 pages (mine was and currently is and I was successful on the market).
Your mentors likely served on psychology search committees and know what psychologists want to see in statements.
I know some mentors (grad/postdoc) may not invest this kind of time, but surely there is a former member of your lab who was successful? I often review materials for friends/colleagues and do so free of charge.
As the first anon noted…no amount of crafting a beautiful statement will overcome a poor publication record. It's just lipstick on a pig.
Yeah, I am faculty and often look at students' statements free of charge. I just find it funny that someone would pay for this kind of advice since what search committees are looking for is often esoteric. Seems like a huge waste of money.
Apparently we should start charging for what we do as part of our jobs!
Wow. Do not do this. I'm shocked that applicants are even thinking about this.
Just ask a respectef PhD advisor, postdoc mentor, or colleague. You'll get more personalized advice
I became aware of The Professor is In when I was on the job market to make a lateral move to another teaching institution. While I didn't pay for editing services, I did thoroughly scour her free blog posts and did pay for a webinar on job interviews.
The reason she exists and makes so much money is because many advisors DO NOT do the things they are supposed to — including providing realistic and thorough feedback on ALL parts of the application package. I went to an R1 for my PhD and even though I knew I was applying for teaching jobs, my advisor SWORE that the research statement was THE most important. He did not provide any feedback on my teaching statement and could not provide concrete suggestions for the cover letter. I truly believe he didn't think it mattered as much.
When I applied to my first job, my research statement was ridiculously long. I'm surprised I got any bites given that I was focusing my applications to teaching schools. Surprisingly, my application did result in one interview that translated into my first teaching job. After working in my first job for several years (and sitting on search committees), I saw how flawed my first application package was. When it came time to re-apply, I relied VERY HEAVILY on Kelsey's blog — specifically for the cover letter.
Some of the most helpful insights I think she has are for women — particularly in using submissive language in the cover letter.
e.g., I would be most honored to…
I am very passionate about…
I would be willing to teach…
She highlights the importance of rephrasing statements that illustrate your capabilities and knowledge. She argues that everyone has to teach — so it's part of the job — you don't need to be honored or willing to say what you could teach.
She reminds you to QUIT LISTING things and really spell out in concrete terms what you have done or provide examples to illustrate what is on your CV. This is probably the BIGGEST FLAW/PROBLEM I see on most cover letters… you're just listing what's on your CV… I can read your CV… but your list of publications doesn't tell me your process or if you involved undergrads. I can see that you got great teaching evals — BUT WHY? What did you do in your class that was so awesome and amazing?
I wish I would have known about her for my first time on the market. I probably couldn't have afforded personal services, but she had a lot of great tips on her blog that were free. She also occasionally offers cheaper topical seminars on various parts of the application process.
Unfortunately, so many graduate students don't have helpful advisors — and even if they do — they may not have the knowledge to help apply for non-R1 jobs. To the OP, if you're feeling like you haven't gotten decent feedback or that your application is all over the place, I could definitely see paying for her assistance. At minimum, make sure you've read all of her free blog posts.
@teachingprof: I little while back, I was at a meeting between a university visiting committee (mostly made of successful businessfolk) and a committee of postdocs. When the visiting committee asked the postdocs what they needed, the postdocs said "more formal mentoring."
The visiting committee seemed visibly confused, and the conversation moved on. In business — and, I'd argue, academia — successful people are the ones who are good at seeking out the mentorship they need, whether it comes from their boss, someone in a different department, or someone in a different company entirely. And it seems to be rare to have one.
When I applied for faculty positions, I had detailed advice and feedback from five faculty across three institutions. And I talked to *a lot* more people than that.
i've also used karen last year (my first time on the job market). although she was somewhat helpful, her advice and feedback were generic— it didn't seem like she put a lot of thought into them. DEFINITELY not worth the hefty price tag she charges. i also don't really like her curt and condescending tone. i think the free materials she has on her website are sufficient. good luck!