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FALL 2019

John Sweet
Director of Graduate Placement

Welcome to the job search! The job search is the process by which you identify what opportunities are out there in the world, decide which ones you want to pursue, and figure out how best to represent yourself to potential employers.  The History Placement Program is here to help you take control of this process.

Our workshop series is designed to introduce the basic structure and demands of the job market and to suggest some strategies you can use to strengthen your applications. Be advised: the job search can be a long process and it can require a substantial investment of time and energy. But such investments can reap handsome rewards. You can’t control how search committees make their decisions. But you can control which committees see your application and how effectively your application communicates your abilities, accomplishments, and interests.

See below for a schedule of Placement Program events this fall and for links to a variety of potentially useful resources. A final note: I’m always happy to consult with individuals about the job market and applications.  In addition to my regular office hours, I will post special office hours this fall for people looking for feedback on drafts of cover letters, c.v.s, etc.  And you can always make a specific appointment with me via email:


THE JOB SEARCH: GETTING READY.  Wednesday, Aug. 28, 3:30-5 pm, Hamilton 569.

This meeting is designed for everyone embarking upon the job search. Those just curious or planning ahead are also welcome. We’ll begin with an overview of the hiring year: What happens when? And what will I need to do to be prepared for it?  We’ll discuss how to find advertisements for various kinds of jobs—and consider what we can do to discern “what they’re really looking for.” We’ll hear from veterans of the job market about what they wish they knew before they began this process. And we’ll end with some practical advice about how to set up your placement file and what to keep in mind as you begin drafting the basic components your application documents.

EFFECTIVE TEACHING PORTFOLIOS.  Wednesday, Sept. 11, 3:30-5:00 pm. Hamilton 565.

If you don’t already have a teaching portfolio in development, you very likely should. In recent years, the teaching portfolio has become an important document for many professional historians—and a crucial component of most job applications. The teaching portfolio allows you to showcase your experience, strengths, and interest. And it allows you to do so in some depth—and to back up your self-representations with actual evidence. This is a terrific opportunity, particularly for those of you who have accumulated a lot of teaching experience here at Carolina and elsewhere. We’ll consider the basic components of a conventional teaching portfolio and discuss some basic strategies for presenting your track record effectively. Even if you are a year or two from the job market, beginning a teaching portfolio now can be very useful.  Ideally, everyone should bring a draft teaching statement, but come with whatever you have.

CRAFTING COVER LETTERS. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 3:30-5:00 pm.  Hamilton 569.

When search committees meet to make their “first cut”—taking a pile of applications and winnowing it down to the dozen or so candidates that seem most promising—they have to make their decisions based on very imperfect information. They don’t know you. All they have is a very slim paper representation of you—a few pages of cover letter, c.v., and letters of reference. The good news is that you can do a lot to control how effective your cover letters and c.v. are. In this workshop, we’ll consider some basic strategies for conveying your qualifications and interests. As with any important writing project, it helps to get started early so you have time to experiment a bit, solicit feedback, and refine your drafts.

COVER LETTER WORKSHOP. Wednesday, Sept. 25, 3:30-5:00 pm.  Hamilton 569.

To prepare for this workshop, take a draft of your cover letter and CV and get specific written comments on them from your adviser or someone else whose judgment you value. Bring to the workshop a) these marked up drafts and b) three clean copies of your application materials. Be prepared to share and receive constructive feedback.

Interviewing Workshop Wednesday, Oct. 2, 3:30-5:00 pm.  569 Hamilton Hall.

The further you go in the job search, the more interactive and in-person it typically becomes. In most cases, when search committees like to briefly meet with or at least speak to a dozen or so leading candidates before the commit themselves to a handful of finalists. Sometimes, these interviews take the form of face-to-face meetings at the AHA convention; sometimes they take the form of conference calls over the telephone. Whatever the format, search committees generally look for pretty much the same kinds of information. In this workshop, we’ll consider the kinds of questions interviewers are likely to ask, the components of effective responses, and some practical strategies you can use to prepare.

MOCK INTERVIEW DAY             Thursday, 5 Dec. (Reading Day),   565 Hamilton