What’s It Like to Work With The Professor? Information for the Curious

I thought I’d take a moment and write a brief post on what working with me actually entails, for the benefit of anyone who has been contemplating it. I know that reaching out for help in your career can feel awkward and kind of scary, and so I want you to understand what will happen once you make the call (ie, send the email).

Typically what happens is that a client sends an email briefly introducing themselves, and describing their experiences on the job market to date, and indicating what they feel they need help with, and their timeline.

I respond with information about different kinds of services that would seem to meet their needs, and their costs, and then the client decides what he or she wants to do, and I send an invoice on Paypal, and we get started. To date I have worked with clients in all major institutions in the United States, as well as in Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Turkey, South Africa, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Singapore, China, and Qatar. I am alert to issues related to the job market and academic expectations in different regions, and work to make sure my advice is adjusted to local conditions.

I have worked with clients in all of the Ivy League institutions in the U.S., as well so-called Public Ivies, the major research institutions, regional teaching institutions, small liberal arts colleges, and community colleges. As a general observation, my clientele tends to most often come from higher ranking institutions, but I do not privilege any rank of institution. I work with all clients with equal commitment, and tailor our work to the rank and profile of school to which the client is seeking to apply.

Most clients wish to work on their job documents. One document is one hour of work. When working together we will go back and forth through four edits. I have found that four edits is enough to get nearly everyone’s documents to their optimal state.

Most people ask me to work on 3 documents–job letter, cv, and teaching statement–and so that will come to 3 hours of work; please check the rates page for the current rates that apply. I always offer a 10% discount for 3-4 hours and a 15% discount for 5+ hours on a single invoice.

A good pace for completing work on one document is 8-10 business days.  I require a min of 24-48 hours for my edits, and you usually take 24-48 hours or more for your edits, so moving through up to four drafts takes 8-10 business days. I always work sequentially and prefer to start on the cover letter, to get a good sense of your overall profile.

If you want to work on postdoc applications as well, that will typically be about 2-3 additional hours, depending on what is being demanded by the postdoc application. Postdoc editing rates are posted elsewhere, but a 1-2 page research proposal is 2 hours of work, 3-5 page research proposal is 3 hours of work, and so on.  The postdoc cover letter will be an additional hour, as it is substantially different from a job cover letter.

To manage the intense demand for my services and large client load, I have several policies about document work that are firm and non-negotiable:  1) I work on one document at a time, sequentially through 4 drafts, to completion before moving to the next document; 2) each draft # (# 1-4) must be marked in the file name of each draft that you return; 3) because I make many small unmarked edits for style and clarity, clients must download and edit from the exact document that I return to them so as to retain all edits moving forward; 4) work on any new document must be pre-arranged on the schedule and cannot be launched into on the fly; 5) clients need to demonstrate what I consider to be a reasonable level of improvement in each draft–I need to see real and consistent effort to understand and execute the editing principles that I recommend; 6) Quick Review clients must submit a document that has been completely overhauled to follow the principles explained in the blog posts, models, or accompanying PDF, and be correctly labeled as QUICK REVIEW in the subject line (as explained in the instructions upon purchase).  If I find that a client consistently ignores my policies, I cancel our work together and refund 50% of paid fees; rush fees are non-refundable.

Now assuming you are successful in all of this, and get an interview, I offer an Interview Intervention. The Interventions have been nothing short of amazing. Some of the testimonials on the Testimonials page talk about how they work. Basically, you provide me with a few questions that you expect to be asked, distinctive to the job, or that you’re particularly worried about answering effectively. I add those to the set of questions I know are typically asked in academic job interviews (covered in my Facepalm Fails posts), and then we role play the interview, with me playing a rather severe and skeptical search committee member not entirely convinced of the appropriateness of your candidacy.

After each answer we break, and deconstruct the answer for effectiveness, clarity, tone, length, and any sort of self-sabotaging “graduate student-speak.” I explain what standard interview questions are really asking for, and identify any ways that you are failing to provide the needed information concisely and assertively. We go deep into your specific research and teaching profile, and the questions you provide ahead of time as well as my own research on the department help me to frame questions targeted to the actual interview itself. We repeat your major responses until you have made them second nature, and learned to resist rambling and digressions, undue self-deprecation, and excessively informal or inappropriate speech patterns.

The conversion rate of Interview Interventions into tenure-track job offers has been impressive. Obviously, there’s no magic guarantee. But it’s effective. Sometimes clients discover that one Intervention isn’t enough to thoroughly banish all their bad habits of professional self-presentation, and then, when possible, we squeeze in another before the actual interview.

Now, if after all of this, you are offered a job, I also offer Negotiating Assistance.  This is invoiced on a weekly basis, and a week is all that is necessary in nearly all cases. Most of my N.A. clients have substantially increased their offers in annual salary, research support, moving, conference support, and summer salary, as well as the other perks such as first year teaching release, guaranteed junior sabbatical/leave, and even spousal and partner hires.

I also help with  third year review and tenure cases, particularly the writing of tenure statements.

To repeat, all clients get a 10% discount for 3 or 4 hours of work paid at once, and a 15% discount for 5 or more hours.

A word about rates: Many readers have written to tell me that just reading my blog posts has given them the information they needed to succeed in their grant applications, conference efforts, and job hunt. This is very gratifying to me. Although I charge for services in working with me personally, it pleases me to also provide much-needed information at no cost to all readers.

If you do wish to work with me, my rates reflect the value of the services as a long-term investment in your professional future. I’m not cheap. And I am also not as expensive as I could be—because I am determined to stay in range of financially precarious graduate students and Ph.D.s from all kinds of institutional settings, not just the well-funded and privileged ones.

The work pays off in both immediate and longer-term ways. As one client said, “The change in my application fed into a change in how I carried/understood myself at conferences and in the workplace – for the better I would think. It’s like I clued into a form of cultural capital I was blind to previously – so obvious in hindsight.”

We also have a post-academic wing at The Professor Is In, with a team of post-ac coaches ready to help you envision and execute your transition out of the academy.

And lastly, with regard to rates, I also provide the Job Seeker Support Fund to clients who are in particularly dire financial straits, such as living on food stamps or unemployment, or enduring an insecure housing situation, or a health crisis. I contribute my services at half-cost, and then generous donors among all of you, my readers and clients, provide funds to help cover the rest. Job Seeker Support Fund clients pay for 2 hours of work with me at 25% of the normal rate, and then can have two more hours at 50% of the normal rate, for a total of four hours (limit four hours per client).

Some clients pay me through their institutional research support funds. I’m happy to work with your budget manager to make that possible.

I’ll end by reiterating my point at the top about scheduling. Because I am often booked out by one or two weeks or months, it’s important you get in touch early enough to get a date that meets your deadline.  My team and I have worked with over 5000 clients and demand continues to increase. I do offer rush services on an availability basis, but  I cannot accommodate all prospective clients who get in touch with short deadlines, at the last minute. I don’t want anyone to be disappointed, so I hope that this post will give you the information you need to plan ahead, and get on the schedule in time.

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What’s It Like to Work With The Professor? Information for the Curious — 3 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Letter From a Reader | The Professor Is In

  2. I have been enjoying reading your materials and considering whether I should hire you to assist me as I complete my dissertation and work towards an academic position. As opposed to many recent Ph.Ds, I have been in the workforce a long time, including several decades as an administrator in higher ed. I just wanted to say that I was thrilled to see that you were once with the University of Oregon, since that is where I lived as a child and where I earned my Bachelors degree a long time ago. Once I figure out my next steps, I look forward to experiencing some of your other products and services. Many thanks!

    best regards,
    – Erin

    Erin Rae Hoffer, BA in Mathematics U of O, soon to be PhD in law and policy, Northeastern University.

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