How to Maximize Your Prospects at an R1 School

Prof. Jennifer Glass 3/6/14
How to Write a Vita to Maximize Your Prospects at an R1 school:
Context: We had over 300 applications for two assistant professor positions, and TWO
WEEKS to narrow that list from 300 to 6 interviewees. For our committee of 5, that meant
that each member personally reviewed and rated 120 applications so that each application
got at least 2 ratings. If you did not get both of these people on board to move your
application to the next stage, your application was pretty much doomed. The vita was the
first and most important document we initially perused, and it alone was mostly used to
make the first cut.
1. Put the most important information you want the hiring committee to see on the FRONT
page. Do NOT make the reviewer search for crucial information.
What is crucial information to ME?
 Degrees received, year, and institution
 Dissertation Title and advisor, brief description if there is room on that page
 Research specialties or areas of concentration on doctoral exams
 Awards, honors, fellowships, etc. but only if they are strongly competitive
(national, association, university, and departmental, in that order)
 Publications – this does NOT mean conference papers; this means papers in
whatever stage of peer review and published papers
2. How to list publications?
Put authors in correct NOT list titles first and then put (with Jane
Doe and John Smith) in parentheses. I will AUTOMATICALLY ASSUME that
you were not the lead author and your contribution to the paper was
List publications with full author list and date first, then title. It matters if the
paper was recent.
Do not pad your publication list with non-peer reviewed works. It “dilutes”
the impact of your publication list rather than helping it. We know what is not
peer reviewed or will assume that book chapters and encyclopedia entries
and not peer-reviewed. So maybe put peer reviewed in your heading and
non-peer-reviewed in another heading for the other published works.
Famous line from Jerry Maguire, “Help us help you.”
Do list works under review but do NOT list the journal you sent it to unless
you have a conditional accept. We don’t care if you sent your work to AJS or
ASR if it isn’t accepted yet. I’m ambivalent about the r&r stage but would
advise putting that down only if it’s a really good journal.
3. Save things like service contributions to the department, conference presentations, and
public sociology until the second page...I will only want to see that stuff if the stuff on the
first page is interesting enough.
4. Teaching information is incredibly helpful, as is research experience, but only put on the
first page for a teaching intensive institution. Otherwise put at the top of the second page.
You should list courses independently taught first, indicating title and course
List classes that you t.a.’d for next, indicating year and course instructor (esp.
if that person is known in the subject field, this is where name-dropping
5. Make sure that you list your personal references, preferably at the end of the vita where
the information is expected and again, easily found (that is where I go when I want to know
more about who this person worked with).
You can either list your entire dissertation committee if its filled with
impressive people (again, name-dropping helps) or just list your letterwriters.
BUT THESE NAMES COUNT; Halo Effect can be huge so choose your letter
writers carefully. You may love that assoc. professor no longer professionally
active, or that new assistant without much name recognition yet, but your job
is to get noticed at this early stage.
It is REALLY SUSPICIOUS when you claim to work in a particular area, and
the most famous person in that area in your department is not listed as a
reference. “Why is this student not working with the obvious mentor given
their interests?” is NOT a question you want search committees to be asking.
[they don’t have to be your advisor, but off the committee entirely raises a
red flag unless the dept. is super huge]
6. Outside Accomplishments need a clear connection to your career aspirations
Don’t list your 5 year service as a tutor to an underserved elementary school
or your volunteer work for a domestic violence shelter unless this is clearly
linked to your research interests (soc of education or criminology/gender).
As great as it is to be a good public citizen, its distracting on a vita unless it
helps shape your image as a scholar
Blogs, op-eds, and other forms of pubic sociology are things to put near the
end of a vita, and again, only if they connect to your scholarly fields
7. Do list service to the profession but not on the front page – reviewer for journals or
grant agencies, ASA section service or other prof organization service should be noted,
8. Do NOT pad your vita to make it look longer. You just look desperate and it will not help
you. It will annoy the reviewers because they have to hunt to find the relevant information
in the midst of all the padding you put in.
What About the Rest of the Application?
A. Chill out about the teaching and research statements for an R1 school. They will not get
read if your vita is not compelling enough. Even if they get read, they will not be enough to
push you into the next cut.
The research statement will be most important for an R1 school; the teaching
statement for liberal arts colleges and most non-PhD granting programs.
The statements should be SHORT – no more than 2 pages and preferably 1.5
or so. For research, concisely explain your dissert. and current research plans
for the next 2-5 years. This is not the place for elaborate explanation, or an
exegesis of your intellectual history, unless you overcame some significant
obstacles to complete graduate school. Point out what is unique about your
training or research capabilities, and [for both statements] what
distinguishes you from everyone else. If there really isn’t much that
distinguishes you AT THIS POINT IN TIME, then keep the statement short
and sweet.
B. Carefully select writing samples; include ANYTHING peer-reviewed unless it’s from your
undergrad days and you no longer work in that area.
Don’t send unedited chapters from your dissertation that cannot be
understood without prior material
Don’t send conference papers that you have not vetted with your advisor or
revised following feedback
Don’t send anything over 50 pages, period. It won’t get read.
C. Letters are really important but will not get read until the vita has made it past the first
Do try to get letter writers who are known in your field but do not ask people
to write for you unless they know you and your work pretty well
Don’t be shy about getting letters from professors at other institutions if they
know your work well and they are well known in the field
Most letter writers write exemplary letters so the content is not terribly
important unless they say something coded – damning with faint praise is
quite common. THIS is the reason to avoid people who do not know you well
enough, and avoid those with “difficult” reputations in their dealings with