Sunday, 24 January 2010

i ask too many questions

I am getting tired of constant rewriting of my CV. (Not that I did any this year, you understand, but this is besides the point.) But then, I am easily tired of any repetitive useless work. Why don’t they have an analogue of OpenID in the world of CVs? That would save everybody’s time and effort, right? Right. And the answer is: maybe they (whoever “they” are) don’t want to save anybody’s time and effort. That will put all those CV writing agencies out of business, and it’s bad for the economy.

Consider this template for application for employment. The template itself is only six pages, however I guess the complete application should be the size of a short monograph. Here are some highlights (colouring is mine).

The application must be structured as specified by the template below,
or else.
Describe your vision and your plans for the future with respect to both scientific and educational activities, within the framework of the employment sought (maximum one page).
5.1 Description of research activities
(maximum two pages). <...> The description should include an assessment of the applicant’s independence and productivity.
6.1. Self-reflection over the role of teacher

The description of teaching expertise should make clear not only what the applicant has done but also how it has been done, why it was done in just this way, and the results. The applicant is to state his or her fundamental educational principles and the way these are expressed in practice.
What could be the “results” I wonder. “90% of my students became managers”?
The self-reflection is to have a maximum length of five pages when applying for employment as professor or senior lecturer, and a maximum length of one page when applying for employment as postdoctoral research fellow or associate senior lecturer.
You see, even poor research post-docs are not free from writing this nonsense.
The applicant should describe his or her own personality in a manner that makes it possible to assess the ability to work with others, and the suitability for employment as described in the job announcement.
(Isn’t it the job of the evaluation committee to decide on the suitability for employment? Is anyone going to write “I am not suitable for employment” anyway?)

My first reaction was: are they bonkers? I mean, who is going to write all this rubbish? And perhaps more importantly: who is going to read it?

Calm down, I tell myself, there must be some sense in it. I can think of two reasons to insist that the application conforms to this template. First: to reduce the number of applicants. Most people have better things to do and therefore won’t even bother. Second: to pre-select those candidates who are ready to sacrifice a few days of their lives to write a long meaningless document that nobody is going to read. It gives the prospective candidates a taste of things to come. In academic world, it is not reading that counts, it’s writing.

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