Blog Archives

Publishing opportunity for grad students?

Brian LePort JohnDave Medina commented earlier today on a good opportunity for grad students through Logos Bible Software.

Logos Bible Software has opened an invitation to graduate students to publish for the Lexham Bible Dictionary. There are already scholars who have agreed to contribute, but I suspect the lines are still open. From the ‘Participate’ page:

But, even though I think this might be a good opportunity, I have to admit that I’m also a little ambivalent to such “publishing endeavors.” If you just want to support a work that you think has legitimate value for the Christian community, great. We need good resources, and it takes good people willing to invest their time to put them together. So, by all means, participate if you want.

But, please don’t do it because you see it as “a great way to earn publication credits,” as the website apparently touts. I read resumes on a pretty regular basis and I have to admit that I skip over anything that has to do with publishing in a “dictionary.” Sure, it may make your publications list a little longer, but anyone who’s paying attention can tell if you’re padding your resume with publications like this. (By the way, book reviews can be viewed the same way.)

Again, I think it’s great to support a needed resource. So, if you want to “give back” to the community, please do. But, don’t do it just to make your resume look a little more impressive. It doesn’t.

Flotsam and jetsam (12/29)

Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?

How much has the evangelical movement changed in the past 100 years? A quick review of The Fundamentals suggests that evangelicals 1) have shed some unfortunate biases of those bygone days, 2) continue to struggle with similar intellectual issues, most notably evolution, and 3) retain a common message of grace through Christ.

  • In a Wired editorial, “Wake Up Geek Culture. Time to Die,” Patton Oswalt argues that the internet makes it to easy to be a geek and that is detrimental for creativity and culture.

I’m not a nerd. I used to be one, back 30 years ago when nerd meant something.

forgiveness is neither just a therapeutic technique nor simply self-regarding in its motivation; it is fundamentally a moral relation between self and other.

Advice on applying for a teaching position

In a recent Inside Higher Ed article, Thomas Wright offers some job-search advice based on some of the mistakes he made when applying for a teaching position. Let me summarize his main points and offer some of my own thoughts.

  1. Get to know the school. This just makes good sense. You can’t even put together a compelling application without getting to know the school, and you’ll look like an idiot in your interview if you don’t have some sense of its mission, purpose, history, student body, denominational ties, etc. You don’t have to spend months on this, but at least familiarize yourself with what’s on their website and in the school’s catalog.
  2. Don’t be afraid to apply for a position. I’ve made this mistake. You see the description of the position and you don’t think you really have a chance. Now, sometimes you’re right. If the description calls for 10 years of higher ed experience and you’re just getting started, don’t bother. But, sometimes you’re fully qualified for the position, but for some reason you don’t think you’ve got a shot (e.g., the school is too “prestigious.” Don’t sell yourself short. If you’re qualified for the position and you think you’d like to teach there, go for it. The worst that can happen is that you’ll contribute to the growing deforestation problem and global warming.
  3. Don’t be too humble. I hate this one, but it’s true. When you’re applying and interviewing for a job, this is not the time to reveal your tendency to turn everything in late, mock student questions, or dress as Little Miss Muffet every Halloween. It is the time to highlight everything that you do well. You’ll have to come up with at least a couple of “weaknesses” so you don’t sound too arrogant (e.g., I work too hard, I care about my students too much, etc.), but your main focus is to sell yourself. Usually, no one is going to do it for you.
  4. Proofread everything. Seriously, if you send in a CV or application with typos, you deserve not to get the job.
  5. Personalize your letters. This goes along with the first point. Take the time to find out who will be receiving your application and address your cover letter to them. It shows that you’ve done your homework and you’re not just blanketing the academic world with random applications.

There are a couple of things that I would add to this list if you’re applying for a position at an evangelical college/seminary in America, since that’s the context I know best.

  1. Read the doctrinal statement carefully. This one is probably the most obvious; but it’s important. And, beyond making sure that you could actually sign the doctrinal statement, I would pay particular attention to how the statement is constructed. Are there things in the statement that you don’t think should be there? If so, does that suggest an approach to things that will be narrower and more restrictive than you would prefer? Or, have they excluded things that you think are very important? If so, does that suggest anything about the direction of the school (current or eventual)?
  2. Find out about theological hotspots early. This can be difficult if they don’t make it explicit in their doctrinal statements (and they often won’t), but the best way is usually just to ask around. If a school has really staked out some territory on a theological issue, people usually know about it. You should also check out the list of faculty and do some internet searches to see if any particular issues pop up. And, don’t just do this in your area. Even if you’re a NT specialist, if there’s a hot-button issue among the faculty, they’ll expect you to know about it and have something intelligent to say.
  3. Check out the academic/ministry balance. Every evangelical school worth its salt has to deal with the balance it wants to strike between academics and ministry. Some will lean more toward one or the other, but most try to develop what they think is the best synthesis of the two. You want to identify that mix for two reasons. First, you’ll want to know if you resonate with that approach and will be a good fit for the school. Second, you’ll want to make that the way you present yourself is consistent with that perspective. Again, the best way to do this is to ask around. But, you can also get some good hints by reading between the lines on their website and in the catalog. Pay particular attention to what they’re not saying.

And, of course, the single best way to apply for a teaching position is to have the inside track from the very beginning. Name recognition works in academics every bit as well as it does in politics. The more people you know, the better positioned you’ll be when the time comes. Take advantage of every opportunity to meet people and get your name out there.

Flotsam and jetsam (5/26)

Tips for the ThM – Part 13 Writing the perfect resume(s)

Most of us will at some point need to find a job. Sad, but true. In academic circles, there is no doubt that the best way to land the right job is to know someone involved in the process. (That’s how I got mine.) Lacking that, you need a good resume. Actually, as this post points out, you’ll probably need a couple. The market for academic positions is so competitive that you really need to be able to present yourself as a viable candidate for various kinds of positions (i.e. don’t focus exclusively on positions for specialists on the book of 3 John). But, to do that effectively, you need to tailor your resume to highlight your qualifications for different kinds of positions.

Suppose that you’ve done extensive work in both Old and New Testament studies, but your preferred job would be in New Testament. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, unless you don’t mind waiting a while to find a job, you probably won’t want to exclude Old Testament positions (or multi-disciplinary positions) as well. However, you don’t want to distribute a resume focusing on your New Testament skills if the school is looking for an Old Testament professor. So, you will need different resumes that will highlight different areas of your background.

And, that’s what the author of the above post wants you to do. She argues that you need to balance the need for multiple resumes tailored to highlight the most important aspects for your academic (and ministerial) preparation with the limited amount of time you have available. So, she recommends that you approach the job hunt with at least two active resumes. If you try to create too many, you’ll burn yourself out. Approach the process with just one, and you’ll limit your opportunities.

But, to go back to what I said at the beginning, you are your best resume. If you are hoping to find a job at the end of your academic journey, get out there and meet people. Attend conferences, present papers, kiss babies, hand out candy, and buy advertising space on billboards in Times Square. Or, just make sure that you are networking effectively. The more people you know, the better your chances of finding the job at the end of the rainbow.