Placement Services FAQ
Prepared by Tziporah Kasachkoff
Placement Committee Head: Noël Carroll
Many students who are near completing their graduate studies want to enter the job market but are unaware of what sorts of placement service they can avail themselves of, both here at the Graduate Center and through the American Philosophical Association. This page will provide that information by addressing those questions most frequently asked by students who are looking for a job.
Students may also be interested in reviewing the Program's recent placement history.
The first thing you will need is a curriculum vitae (CV).
Your initial contact with a department in which you seek a position will in all probability be through a cover letter indicating that you are applying for a job there (more about the cover letter below) accompanied by your CV. How well you present yourself in your CV will in all probability determine whether your candidacy for the position is further considered. It is therefore very important for you to construct your CV in a way best highlights those aspects of your education, training, and experience that make you an attractive candidate for the job that you are applying for. To this end, your CV you should include the following:
Your educational experience, i.e., where you went to school and what you majored and minored in;
Any degrees you have earned (along with expected date of completion of your Ph.D. if you have not yet completed it);
The title of your Ph.D. thesis. (Including the name of your thesis advisor or the people on your thesis committee is also a good idea.);
Honors and awards that you have received (including money grants);
Academic publications: books, journal articles, book reviews, Introductions to others' books, collections of articles that you have anthologized and edited. Include publications of which you are the sole or the joint author or editor, but indicate which publications you have jointly authored or edited (and with whom);
Talks you have given (at colloquia or at conferences);
Jobs that you have held that have provided you with experience relevant to the position that you are now applying for, including teaching assistantships, grader, and working as a tutor or substitute teacher;
Two or three people who may be contacted and who can speak to your achievements, potential, and suitability for the job. Make sure that each of the persons whose names you include agrees to be a referee for you. It is also a good idea to have these people write a letter on your behalf that should be placed in your Placement file. (More about your Placement file below.)
All the items in categories 1-7 should be listed chronologically, with dates specified.
It is a good idea to bring in a hard copy draft of your CV to the Philosophy Department Placement Officer who will go over it with you and, if necessary, make suggestions for its improvement.
The second thing you will need is a cover letter.
Although one and the same CV will serve for most jobs that you are applying for, the cover letter you send as part of your application should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for.
Nonetheless, it would be useful for you to construct a "template" which could be filled in in various ways according to the specification of different jobs. One of the reasons that it is good to have a template ready is that sometimes jobs are announced with little time to assemble all the documents required for application. It is best to have as must prepared beforehand as possible. Your cover letter should indicate the exact position to which you are applying and, in general terms-the details will be supplied in your CV), your qualifications for the job. State when you will be available for an interview and where you can be reached. Finally, if someone known to the department suggested that you apply, it is a good idea to include the name of that person.
The third thing you may need is a writing sample.
Note that this is not always required.
The sample might be a short paper that you have done for a course or some article you have sent in for publication. If you are applying for a position at an undergraduate institution in which your duties will be primarily teaching duties, do not send in a very technical paper as your sample. On the other hand, if you are applying for a position at a research institution where you will be expected to be teaching graduate students as well as undergraduates, a detailed and technical paper as a writing sample is appropriate.
The fourth thing you will need are recommendations.
You should assemble at least three letters from those who are professionally qualified to judge your work and who will attest to the quality of your work and your attractiveness as a candidate for a position in philosophy.
Choose as your referees persons who are well acquainted with your work so that they can write about you in some detail. A letter from your dissertation advisor is advisable as s/he is likely to know your work especially well. In addition, if you are already teaching, a letter from the department head or from one your colleagues who can attest to your teaching abilities and value as a faculty member is a good idea.
Letters of recommendation are almost never sent directly by you to the place you are applying to. They are either sent directly by your referee or, if you wish, via the Placement Services of the Graduate Center. (See the answer to the next question for more information concerning the GC Placement Service.)
If you use the Placement Service of the GC, make sure that your letters of reference are up to date, especially if you are applying for a position long after your reference letters have been written and there is relevant new information that should be included in your letters. Updating your letter may take the form of having your referees write new letters, having them write addenda to letters already written, or having new referees add to the stock of letters you already have on file.
Three letters of recommendation are usually deemed sufficient.
To use the placement services of the GC, go to the Office of Student Affairs (located on the 7th floor) and fill out a card that will initiate the opening of a file for you. You will also be asked to fill out some standard forms with biographical information about yourself (such as the course work you have completed, work experience, citizenship status, educational background, etc.). Once you have established a file in the Office of Student Affairs you may ask your referees to send (or fax) their recommendations directly to that office. If you have your recommendations sent by fax to the Office of Student Affairs, have it directed to the attention of Judy Koster, to be placed in your file. (The Student Affairs office has special forms that can be given to your referees, but your referees can also write their letters of reference on official letterhead.)
Once you have established a file at the Office of Student Affairs you don't have to bother your referees every time you apply for a position. All you need do is request that the Office of Student Affairs send out a copy of your recommendations (or entire file) to prospective employers. (The Office of Student Affairs will, however, act only upon a written request containing your name, department, and exactly what you would like mailed out, i.e., all reference letters in the file, some letters in the file, or the complete dossier.) You must supply duplicate labels for each mailing-one for the mailing envelope and one for the file. For fewer than 10 requests, there is no charge for the service that the Student Affairs office provides. Requests in excess of 10 are charged a $1.00 per request fee.
Note that other materials of your application, such as your CV, transcripts, and writing sample, etc. are not handled by the Student Affairs office, but are sent separately by you to wherever it is that you are applying.
Since many of the documents required in an application may take considerable time to assemble, it is best to embark on the construction of your dossier as soon as you have made some headway on your dissertation and have people who can and are willing to write on your behalf. Do not leave this till the last minute.
Webmaster's note: Since the original publication of this FAQ, the Graduate Center now provides Dossier Services through Interfolio Inc. This service stores and delivers applications materials.
Job offers are made known to students in various ways: sometimes job offerings for adjunct positions are phoned in to the department and then made known to students through the Assistant Program Office, Rosemary Iannuzzi. This is true for many positions at the various CUNY undergraduate campuses, as well as for non-CUNY colleges within the metropolitan area.
The best source for a listing of full-time positions- both academic and non-academic -that are on offer in philosophy is through the American Philosophical Association's Jobs for Philosophers. Jobs for Philosophers is published 4 times a year and is mailed free of charge to all APA members who request it. The publication can also be accessed (by APA members) through the APA Website.
The listing of jobs in Jobs for Philosophers is by geographic location. Each listing contains a description of the position on offer including the nature of the courses to be taught and the course load, the area of specialization and/or competence sought, departmental duties other than teaching (for example, thesis supervision, curriculum planning, and departmental meetings), the rank and salary range, the essential and the desirable credentials and qualifications for the job, and whether the position is a tenure-track one or a Visiting position (and for how long). Each listing also details the documents that must be sent in as part of the application, the deadline for receipt of the application, and the address to which the documents should be sent.
Job listings that come in too late to be placed in Jobs for Philosophers are posted on a bulletin board at the Eastern Division Annual Meetings, usually under the heading Job Postings. (See below for using the Job Postings and the APA Placement Service.)
Students should be aware that although Jobs for Philosophers is probably the best source for philosophy jobs, The Chronicle of Higher Education also contains a list of academic and administrative positions for which philosophy graduates may be qualified. (The Graduate Center library, as well as most public libraries, carries The Chronicle.)
a) Practice being interviewed.
Most departments fill their job vacancies only upon meeting and interviewing a number of prospective candidates. For this reason it is best to learn how to present oneself to one's best advantage in an interview. This is a skill best worked on before the interview when a prospective job is not at stake. To help you prepare for your interview, the Placement Officer can set up a mock interview during which some faculty members from the Placement committee (or chosen by the Placement committee) will "interview" you, asking the sorts of questions that are typically asked of job candidates. You will learn how you field different sorts of questions, the sorts of things you should be thinking about (for example, how you would answer the question of what you would include in an introductory philosophy course for non-majors; how you would explain your thesis to members of a philosophy department to which you may be applying but who do not work within your particular field of interest; how you would construct a seminar around a particular topic that you might be asked to teach). At the end of the mock interview, the interviewing faculty will talk with you about the strengths and the weaknesses of your performance and answer any questions that you might have.
From what students have told us, the experience of the mock interview is one of the most helpful services that the Placement Committee offers. It gives you critical, but constructive and supportive feedback on a part of the job search process that is often one of the most harrowing for candidates.
b) Practice teaching.
Sometimes, as part of the application process, a department will require that a candidate teach a class while on a campus visit. Getting some teaching experience is invaluable preparation for this. (If you have already taught at an institution and have had positive peer and/or student evaluation reports, it is a good idea to include these in your dossier, to be sent out by the Student Affairs office as part of your file.)
The APA has a Placement service that coordinates institutions that wish to fill vacancies and persons wishing to fill those vacancies. However, to take advantage of this service (described below) you must be a member of the APA and you must also register for the Eastern Division Meetings at which you wish to use the Placement service.
The way the APA Placement Service works is as follows:
You register for use of the Placement Service either in advance by mail, or once you have arrived at the Eastern Division Annual Meetings. If you want to register by mail you will find the application form included in the APA Proceedings that contains material relevant to the Meetings. Once you have sent in your registration, you will be issued a Placement number (that will be on the back of the name-tag that you are issued at the meetings). If you do not register in advance, then upon your arrival at the Meetings, go to the Placement Desk-where you can find information about and instruction for using the APA Placement Service. You can register at the Desk and receive a Placement number. (Since you must be a member of the APA in order to use their Placement Service, APA membership applications are usually available here as well as at the Registration Desk). Your Placement # functions as an "address": Each person registering for Placement has a file folder with his or her number on it. That folder will contain information regarding where you can be reached during the Meetings (on a form that you will be given), as well as "Request for Interview" forms. (Usually about 10 "Request for Interview" forms are in each folder. You can obtain more at the Placement Desk.) Fill out a 'Request for Interview' form for each institution that you would like to be interviewed by, attach a copy of your CV to the form, and deposit it in the designated place (usually a box marked "Request for Interviews" in the Job Candidate's area. (Note that some institutions do not accept 'on site' arrangements and only interview candidates with whom they have made prior arrangements. Some agree to accept CV's but not interviews requests. A list of institutions who are using the Placement Service will appear on a bulletin board along indicating whether the institution is accepting on-site requests for interviews.)
Each institution looking to fill a position will review the requests forwarded to it and respond either positively or negatively to your request for an interview. That response will be placed in your folder. It is therefore important for you to check your folder frequently to make sure that you receive invitations for interviews promptly.
Interviews may be conducted in any one of a number of places: at tables assigned to institutions who register for this purpose-a list will be made available of the tables that have been assigned to interviewing institutions); hotel rooms; or elsewhere. Please note that interviews may be scheduled during hours that the Placement Desk is closed.
Make sure that you bring multiple copies of your CV to the Meetings in case you have the opportunity to have an unanticipated interview.
If you have a problem or a complaint concerning the Placement Service you can make an appointment with the Placement Ombudsperson. He or she can be contacted through the Placement Desk.
The department generally does have several of its faculty at the convention, and we generally have a table at which faculty and students can gather in the evenings. You can find out the number of the table assigned to us by asking one of the APA staff for a list of the numbered tables and the institutions assigned to them. (This is a good way to look up friends at other institutions, too.)