|From the Supplement to the 123rd Annual Meeting
Don't Panic! Frequently Asked Questions
about the Job Center
If you are a candidate on the history job market, or a search committee member, then you already know that the Job Center (formerly known as the Job Register, the “meet market,” or other less charitable names) is the place to be. Here, search committees connect with job candidates to collect c.v.’s and conduct interviews to fill open positions in their departments. As the hiring process can be a harrowing experience for both search committees and candidates even under the best of circumstances, here we provide a hopefully useful FAQ to make the experience a bit more pleasant.
Do I need to be registered for the annual meeting to use the Job Center? Yes, job candidates and all search committee members need to be registered for the meeting to use official Job Center facilities. There will be no exceptions.
Where will my interviews be? Under the best of circumstances, search committees will contact candidates prior to the annual meeting to discuss where the interview will take place. If the search committee has arranged space through the Job Center, the interviews will be in one of two places. First, if the search committee has arranged for a free table, the interview will be in the Hilton New York’s Rhinelander Gallery. Candidates should just show up about 10–15 minutes before their scheduled interview to sign in with AHA staff and have a seat in the waiting area, drink some water or coffee, and try to relax and focus. If the search committee has arranged for a private interview room through the Job Center, it will also be in the Hilton New York. Upon arrival, candidates should contact the search committee to find out where the room is, or visit the Job Center Information Booth outside the Rhinelander Gallery for that information. About 10–15 minutes prior to their scheduled interview, candidates can head right up to their interview room to wait. The search committee should have a chair outside where candidates can wait while they finish their previous interview.
If a search committee will be conducting interviews outside of official AHA Job Center facilities, such as at a different hotel, they are responsible to ensure a professional environment. It is critical that candidates acquire contact information (cell number, e-mail) from a member of the search committee beforehand in order to find out where the interview will take place. The Job Center Information Booth will have information for all schools that reserved official Job Center interview space, and it may also have information for schools interviewing outside of official AHA facilities, but sometimes departments don’t provide that information (some in fact make a habit of it). If a candidate does not at least know the name of one search committee member, and the hotel he or she is staying at, the Job Center staff will be unable to assist them in finding the interview location.
The Electronic Search Committee Locator System, a monitor scrolling all known information about searches being conducted at the meeting, also will be in the Hilton New York’s Rhinelander Gallery, right next to the Job Center Information Booth. It is updated throughout the meeting by Job Center staff as more information becomes known.
When is the Job Center open? Interview tables will be open Friday, January 2, 12:30–6 p.m. (prearranged interviews only); Saturday and Sunday, January 3 and 4, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Monday, January 5, 9 a.m.–noon. The Job Center Information Booth is open during these same hours. Private interview rooms will be available Friday, January 2, 1–5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, January 3 and 4, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.; and Monday, January 5, 8 a.m.–noon.
Is there free internet available to contact search committees/candidates? Yes. The Internet Center will be located in the Hilton New York’s Americas Hall II. You will need to be registered for the annual meeting to use the Internet Center facilities. For other wireless options in New York, see this blog post from Elisabeth Grant at AHA Today: http://blog.historians.org/annual-meeting/628/free-wireless-internet-in-new-york.
What do candidates need to bring? One of the services that the Job Center provides is to collect c.v.’s for open searches. The C.V. Collection Booth will be in the Hilton New York’s Rhinelander Gallery. Candidates may be able to get an interview by submitting their c.v. to an open search at the booth. Candidates should bring multiple copies of their c.v.’s and get them in early (Friday or Saturday), so the search committee has time to review them and to schedule an interview. Candidates should remember that many institutions leave before the end of the meeting, so getting a c.v. in later means fewer options. How many to bring is up to the candidate—if you’re in a popular field, you’ll obviously need more. We recommend candidates make their copies at home, because photocopying services at the hotel can be expensive.
Candidates should also bring dissertation chapters, letters of recommendation, cover letters, teaching evaluations, or any other supporting materials that search committees may require. Candidates should save those for their interviews, however, rather submit them at the C.V. Collection Booth. Search committees collecting c.v.’s usually have many candidates to review (especially in popular fields), so too much paperwork may actually hurt rather than help. Candidates should save supporting materials to help make their case at the interview.
Candidates should also bring a notepad and pen (or electronic personal planner like a BlackBerry) for taking notes and writing down interview locations, a cell phone so they can be reached, and business cards, if available, for networking opportunities.
Should I come if I don’t have any pre-arranged interviews? That’s up to the candidate. While there are usually 50 to 60 schools conducting open searches (collecting c.v.’s onsite), there is no guarantee that a significant number of them will be in a particular field (and the field breakdown won’t be known until we get to New York). Less popular fields may only have three or four open searches. Popular fields such as 20th-century United States will have many open searches, but also many people submitting c.v.’s. Of course, there are a host of other great experiences at the annual meeting beyond looking for a job, and we don’t want to discourage anyone from attending. Candidates should weigh their chances of getting an interview versus the other benefits of attending an annual meeting—browsing the exhibit hall, attending sessions in their field, pursuing professional development (such as attending our interviewing workshop), and hearing about the latest historical research—and use their best judgment.
What else do I need to know before going through this? Candidates and interviewers alike should review the AHA’s Guidelines for the Hiring Process before the annual meeting. Participants may also want to review the appropriate sections in the Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct. Both documents are available on the AHA web site. Also, my AHA Today blog post from August 2008, http://blog.historians.org/from-archives/572/from-the-archives-guidelines-for-the-hiring-process, reviews some of the Association’s other publications on the hiring process.
Is it as bad as I’ve heard? Don’t panic, it probably is not. In truth, a little bit of professionalism and a little bit of empathy go a long way. Candidates should be on time, dress appropriately, and try to relax. As a candidate, you want to present yourself as someone the search committee would like to have as a colleague! Dismissing a school out-of-hand as “not on my career track” won’t get you anywhere. Also, remember that search committees sometimes have to sit through 50 or 60 interviews over a four-day weekend to pick just one person to be their next colleague. Every year search committees tell us “there are so many qualified historians” or “I wish we could hire them all!” It is natural to be anxious and pessimistic about the Job Center, but thousands of historians have gone through the Job Center already, and thousands more will in the future.
Search committees, remember that you were once in your candidates’ shoes. Insecurity about the future of one’s career is not a feeling anyone wants to experience. Respect your candidates by paying attention to their presentations and asking follow-up questions about their research. Be honest about the status of the search, the committee’s timeline for a decision, and the candidate’s standing. Familiarize yourself with the AHA’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct and treat your candidates as the colleagues they could become!
Best of luck to everyone involved. See you in New York.
David Darlington is associate editor of Perspectives on History and is a co-manager of the Job Center.Last Updated: December 15, 2008 2:52 PM