News and Views

Another post on our Academic Job Boot Camp

Amy King, a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian at the University of Bristol/Bath, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and currently working on oral history project @bristoldockers, has written a short post about her (positive!) experience at this year’s boot camp:

Amy King presenting on her research“I was fortunate enough to attend the Academic Job Boot Camp five days before an interview for a university post. Having sent in my CV and cover letter, made my slides for the presentation, and planned for the mock interview, I felt as prepared as I could be for the training day. It’s not often that training allows for one-to-one sessions and advice for each and every attendee, but the Boot Camp gave us just that. No matter how much interview preparation you do at home, nothing beats having the feedback of experienced interviewers on your delivery, the way you sell yourself (and if your CV/cover letter is matching up!) and your approach to answering questions. The presentation session was equally as useful, and a reminder of how important it is to clearly communicate a subject that is all too familiar to us, but perhaps new to our audience. It was also a great opportunity to recognise (and adopt) some of the impressive presentation tricks used by peers! Thank you to all involved for their generosity in the time they gave each of us for personal feedback. I’m absolutely sure this training helped me to get the job!”

Academic Job Boot Camp 2018

Meritxell Simon-Martin is a Marie Curie Fellow at Roehampton University. She is writing a monograph on Barbara Bodichon’s epistolary Bildung in collaboration with the Schools of Education at Roehampton University and at Goethe University (Frankfurt). She is also Research Associate at the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes (ITEM), Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, where she carries out a critique génétique project on Barbara Bodichon’s feminist publications and a translation of her works from English into French (Classiques Garnier).

The following was originally posted on Meritxell’s own blog.


On 19th May I attended the Academic Job Boot Camp sponsored by History UK and supported by History Lab at the Institute of Historical Research in London. What a great event!!! It shows a genuine willingness from the part of the organisers to make transparent and comprehensible the process of recruiting early career researchers. I truly appreciate the opportunity I had to learn both from the organisers and the other candidates!

Twitter

In order to participate, some weeks before the event I applied for the imaginary lectureship in history that the organisers had created. I sent my CV and cover letter as we would normally do for a real job application. I also prepared a 5-minute presentation on how my research informs my teaching. The day of the workshop we had the opportunity to take the steps real shortlisted candidates go through: the 5-minute presentation on teaching, the face-to-face interview and the interview lunch. The best of this mock application was that we had the opportunity to get tailored useful feedback, not only from organisers but also from peer participants – the latter wrote anonymous comments.

Here’s a summary of some of the tips we were given on the dos and don’ts when applying for a lectureship in history:

Which positions should you apply for?

For any lectureship in history really! Newly awarded PhD candidates are rarely offered permanent lectureships, but a fixed-term position may lead to a permanent one. Also, the job description might focus on a sub-field in history out of your scope of specialization but, believe it or not, sometimes recruitment committees simply end up making up their minds for the best candidate, regardless of her field of expertise. Why don’t give it a try then?

CV

What should your CV look like?

Academic CVs are long. They can have up to 10 or 15 pages. But recruitment committees have piles of CVs to read on their desks. So, a good academic CV is one that provides two readings: skimming and in-depth scrutiny. Panellists will first scan your CV to decide whether to place it on the “maybe shortlisted” pile or to the “definitely no” one (i.e. the bin!). In order to help them take this first decision, a CV should show clear headlines with key words in bold. If they are interested, they will want to know more about the different academic experiences you put forward. The CV should therefore provide short paragraphs explaining these outcomes and skills. Don’t forget to highlight what research you will be submitting for the REF. If you run a blog or are a social media user, make sure you upload an updated version of your CV!

What should your cover letter look like?

Contact the head of the committee only if you have a specific question about the position. Otherwise, write a catchy 2-page cover letter addressing the criteria of the job description. Do some on-line research on the institution, the department in question and its members. The cover letter should look like a presentation of the skills you have and how you can contribute to the department’s curriculum and research output. Be succinct, use an engaging writing style and make sure you proofread the text for spelling, typos and… the right name of the institution! If you have a template cover letter and you adjust it to specific positions, make sure you name the appropriate university! Ask colleagues and friends to read it for feedback. And ask yourself: is this the self-image as an academic I want to convey?

How should you prepare for the presentation and interview?

Reread the job description and the skills they are looking for in the future colleague. These rereading will give you a sense of the possible questions you might be asked. Think of 3 or 4 messages you would like the panel to retain from you: An award-winning-book author? A researcher capable of attracting funding? An international versatile team worker? Then think of at least 2 questions per section (e.g. teaching, research, yourself as a colleague, public engagement) and prepare an answer that includes these messages. The idea is to have a clear view of how you want to project yourself (how you wish the panel perceive you) and transmit this image via the messages you include in your answers, no matter what the question is. Frame your answers in a way you convey these self-presentation messages but don’t forget to fully address the question asked though! You can also prepare a sheet describing a teaching course: with its title, content, objectives, timescale, assessment, pedagogical approach, the module is part of, etc. If you have the opportunity, you can distribute this handout to the panellists when discussing what courses you could contribute to and how they would fit within the department’s curriculum.

Interview

How best to perform in the interview?

Don’t take for granted panellists have read your CV. It is often the case they are given information about the candidates only hours before the interview! Think of the key elements of your CV you want them to retain and mention them during the interview. Don’t focus too much on past achievements. Convey rather an enthusiastic but realistic mid- and long-term statement of ambition. What are your book projects? Be specific about what you will submit to REF and why you think it is going to be 4*. How do you envision strengthening your teaching skills? What are the skills you want your students develop and how are you going to achieve this? Be specific about your teaching approach. How you mean to lead, design, run and assess courses and modules is as important as what you can or intend to teach. Can you prove you are a skilled and inspiring lecturer? Quote from students’ feedback questionnaires! When answering questions, frame your replies positively: show how unique you are and turn any weakness in your CV into an asset if presented from a different angle. Be respectful when referring to former work places and colleagues and be polite to the panellists. Remember they will ultimately be asking themselves: Will she be an easy-going department colleague? Is she a lecturer likely to raise complaints among students? Ultimately, if you are asked if you will take the job, say yes! Make sure you show them you really want to work with them!

What next?

If you are not shortlisted or you were not successful during the interview stage, don’t take rejection personally. Some recruitment committees provide constructive feedback. Use this precious information to think about how you can do better next time! Having said that, each university has different recruitment criteria and often panellists disagree on who the best candidate is. Conclusion: take on board criticism to ameliorate (self-improvement should be a personal motivation throughout our lives anyway!) but be yourself. Sometimes it is simply a question of connecting with people spontaneously, of being in the right place at the right time.

 

I hope you find these tips helpful. If you want to test them live, sign up for next year’s edition of the Academic Job Boot Camp!

Best luck to candidates, including myself! 1f609

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN: Launch event for the refreshed Guide to collaboration between the archive and higher education sectors – 12th June 2018 at The National Archives, Kew

Over the past few months, HUK have been working with The National Archives to update the Guide to Collaboration between the Archive and Higher Education sectors that was first published in partnership with RLUK in 2015 and will know that a project is underway to refresh the guidance to reflect key developments in the academic landscape, notably, REF, TEF and Doctoral Training Partnerships.  The refresh has been undertaken in partnership with TNA and has been led by Paddy McNulty Associates.
 
We are delighted to invite you attend the launch event for the refreshed version which will take place on 12th June 2018 from 11am-4pm at The National Archives, Kew. There is no charge to attend and lunch and refreshments will be provided. Details of where to find us can be found here:  http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/visit-us/how-to-find-us/
 
This one-day workshop will introduce the revised guidance highlighting key areas of change. It will also explore practical ways to identify, develop, and sustain cross-sector collaborations. It will include:
• Understanding the archive and higher education sectors – drivers, initiatives, support, and language
• Identifying organisational and project priorities

• The collaborative lifecycle

• Understanding outputs and outcomes – mutually beneficial and sector/organisational specific

• Measuring impact in cross-sector collaborations

• An outline of recent updates to REF, TEF and Research Councils
 
In addition to the above it will be a great opportunity for people from both sectors to meet and network.
 
For more details of the programme for the day and to book your place, please follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/come-together-developing-collaboration-archives-and-higher-education-tickets-46109624127 

Guide to Collaboration between Archive and HE Sectors – 12th June

Guide to Collaboration between the Archive and Higher Education Sectors – Refreshed Guidance Workshop – SAVE THE DATE : Tuesday 12th June 2018
Dear Colleagues,
 
The National Archives and History UK have commission Paddy McNulty and Mairead O’Rourke to refresh the 2015 Guide to Collaboration between Archive and Higher Education Sectors.  During Spring this year, we carried out desk research and a consultation with the archive and higher education sectors to inform the refreshed guidance.
 
We are now in the process of editing and refreshing the guide so that it is up to date with developments in both sectors.  The refreshed guidance will be ready in early June 2018, and to support it we are running a free one-day workshop on Tuesday 12th June at the National Archives, Kew.  This workshop will introduce the refreshed guidance, work through the case studies, highlight best practice, and provide participants with advice, guidance, and top tips for developing archive/higher education collaborations.  It will be of particular interest to those who wish to develop new or existing collaborations with higher education institutions.
 
We will post more details of the event soon, but in the meantime, we ask those who are interested in attending to save the date in their diaries.
 
We look forward to seeing you on the twelfth of June. 
 
Kind Regards
 
Paddy and Mairead

Academic Job Boot Camp – Saturday 19th May 2018

We are pleased to be running the Academic Job Boot Camp again this year. It follows the success of recent events. All early career historians are encouraged to apply, with preference being given to those who have already completed their PhDs.

  • Are you starting to think about applying for your first lectureship in history?
  • Submitting applications and never hearing back?

The Academic Job Boot Camp is a free half-day event for early career historians sponsored by History UK and supported by History Lab. It will help you to structure your academic CV, hone your cover letter, rehearse your job presentation and undergo a mock interview, as well as demystifying some of the processes around academic recruitment. The experience, feedback and advice you receive at the event is designed to improve your chances the next time you apply for an academic job.

How will the boot camp work? You will take part in a simulation of all stages of the job application process up to and including being interviewed as a shortlisted candidate. There you will be interviewed by experienced academics drawn from a dozen universities nationwide. You will also deliver job presentations to other early career historians.

You will receive feedback on your interview and presentation. You will have the opportunity to observe how others fare. The event will end with a roundtable, after which there will be drinks and a dinner(*) at a nearby pub and restaurant.

Itinerary (all locations at Institute of Historical Research):

13.00 Welcome (Wolfson II)

13:15-16:00 Mock Interviews (incl. feedback on interview and application, conducted by a pair of academics)

13:150-16:00 Job presentations (Lead by an experienced academic and in front of other early career historians who provide written feedback)

16:00-17:00 Dr. Sara Wolfson to lead a session on ‘Top Ten Tips for Securing an Academic Job’ (Wolfson I)

17.00-19.30 Networking event in a nearby pub and dinner(*)

This event is free and sponsored by History UK, History Lab Plus and the Institute of Historical Research.

* Please note that dinner will need to be covered by participants.

To participate, you will need to apply for an imaginary lectureship in a real history programme. Please read the job advert for the Imaginary Lectureship in History here and the further particulars for the job http://bit.ly/2o696yy, then submit a letter of application and CV to Sue Davison at Sue.Davison@sas.ac.uk.

Questions should be directed to Lucinda Matthews-Jones l.m.matthew-jones@ljmu.ac.uk.

The deadline is noon on Tuesday 1st May and applicants will be contacted by the end of that week to let them know if they have been successful.

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