How much will it cost to work on my job documents?
One document is one hour of work. When working together we will go back and forth through edits by email, through several drafts until the documents are in short-list-worthy state. Up to four edit drafts are included in the one hour of work.
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; at $100/hour, with the 10% discount for 3+ hours, that currently comes to $270. If you need to add a fourth document, such as a 1-2 page research statement, the total will come to $360. If you have more things you want to work on, there is a 15% discount for 5+ hours paid at once. But I am always happy to work on just one single document as well. There is no minimum.
In our job letter work we will tailor at least one letter for a job, and may well have time to tailor one more. Beyond that, typically, additional hours will need to be paid for. However, many clients find that after working with me on one or two tailored letters, they can handle future letters on their own.
What is the Interview Bootcamp?
The Interview Bootcamp is a 50-minute intensive mock-interview, on Skype. Kellee Weinhold, the TPII colleague who handles all Bootcamps as of mid-November 2012 (as described in this blog post) asks you to provide 5 questions that are distinct to your work/the job/the campus you’re interviewing with and/or that reflect issues you’re particularly worried about addressing effectively. She adds those to the basic arsenal of interview questions (several of these are described in my blog post, The #Facepalm Fails of the Academic Interview), and you move through a mock interview, stopping after each question to evaluate every answer for its strengths and weaknesses in terms of brevity, spin, word choice, tone, body language, etc., and refining it for effectiveness. For some basic questions, you may repeat your response 2-3 times until perfect. It’s grueling, but very effective. The job-conversion rate of Bootcamp clients has been nothing short of remarkable.
How much will it cost to work on a postdoc application?
Most postdoc applications, if they require a 5-page or so proposal, plus accompanying letter, etc., will require a minimum of 3 hours work, and sometimes up to 5. Again, 3 hours is $270.00, and it goes up from there, depending on how much work YOUR proposal needs. I offer a 15% discount when you pay for 5+ hours up front.
How much will it cost to hire you as a general career coach?
As of January 2013 I have discontinued skype career consulting and now work entirely by email (I did this to reduce my work hours as a result of a health issue). General career coaching is $200 for 5 substantive email exchanges. “Substantive” means that the email addresses a real problem, challenge or decision with great thoroughness, in contrast to business emails finalizing the work plan, etc. (I am often asked about this distinction).
What is Negotiating Assistance?
If you have been the recipient of a tenure track job offer, I will assist you in negotiating your final contract. It is currently $250 per week, and in no cases to date has more than one week been needed. As a former department head, I have been on both sides of the negotiation process many times, and I know what to push for and how hard to push, and when to stop. Clients have generally been able to negotiate salary increases of $5-10,000 over the initial offer, and thousands of dollars in additional research funding, as well as teaching releases, summer salary, and even positions for their partners/spouses. Because negotiating happens on a very abbreviated time frame, I make myself available on email and gchat for ongoing exchanges in as close to real time as I can manage.
How do you work when editing journal article mss. and book chapters?
I don’t do close copyediting! I am a “developmental/critical” reader, and I read for soundness of organization, clarity and effectiveness of writing, persuasiveness of argument, and so on. I am vigilant for chronic writing errors, flaws of argumentation and logic, and inconsistencies in evidence, citations, etc. However, I am not a fact-checker or grammar-wonk.
Do you do writing coaching?
I have come to realize that I am more the hare than the tortoise and as such, am better with shorter-burst endeavors than long-term projects requiring careful monitoring of progress. Therefore, I no longer offer writing coaching services.
Why do you no longer offer services for applications to Ph.D. programs?
I have come to feel that Ph.D. programs in the humanities and social sciences are perpetuating the over-production of Ph.D.s with no real potential for secure employment, and are inadequate and irresponsible in the training of the graduate students already enrolled. I do not wish to play a role in the funneling of yet more people into the Ph.D. granting apparatus as it is currently constituted.
Do you refund fees?
Yes, if you find that you no longer need my services, I am always happy to refund any unused fees that you paid, minus a $30 appointment hold fee.
Why, as of May 2012, do you no longer offer the $25 initial consultation?
Demand for my services has escalated to such a point, as of May 2012, that I can no longer manage both to meet with all clients on skype and execute the work that they are asking me to do. I am offering webinars on a regular basis so that anyone so inclined can get a sense of how I work, and determine if they feel comfortable with my style. As always, the document work itself continues to be done through email exchange; that has not changed.
Can I hold hours “in the bank” and use them later?
Yes, I’m happy to hold hours that you pay for but don’t use immediately for some future purpose, such as a later interview bootcamp (after you find out if you’ve been shortlisted), editing a journal article manuscript, working on a grant application, etc. All I ask is that you keep track of the unused hours. I can always go back and check my records, but I find that having two sets of eyes on these things is the best guarantee of accuracy.
Do you accept payment from university research fund accounts?
Yes I do. You will have to work it out with the budget manager at your department, but I’m happy to fill out paperwork to be an “authorized vendor” or whatever is required so that you can utilize your writing support or professional development funds to work with me.
Are you scary?
I am really, really blunt, but people don’t seem to find me scary. So far, people seem to appreciate the bluntness, which seems to be in short supply in academia. I promise to always tell you the truth about your work to the best of my ability—-and that includes telling you when it’s absolutely awful and needs a complete do-over. By the same token, I am my clients’ biggest fan and get really, really EXCITED when they finally produce the very best work they’re capable of.
Here is part of a testimonial from the Testimonials Page that speaks to this question:
“Some have asked me whether Karen is ‘scary’ or ‘mean’ or ‘condescending.’ None of these describes her at all. Rather, Karen is honest in a way that is refreshing in an environment in which advisors too often offer platitudes about how great and wonderful their students are. Karen tells you what you need to hear. In fact, my conversations with Karen were empowering, rather than condescending. They inspired me to respect myself enough on the market to get what I want, to judge healthy and unhealthy situations, and above all to be more confident in my own intellectual identity.”
How quickly do you turn stuff around?
Four days is my maximum guaranteed turn-around time, but I always try to get it back sooner. During the job market deadline season, I aim for 24 hour turnaround. And when we get into the final stretch on a document, we often go back and forth on email virtually in real time.
Do you work with people outside the humanities and social sciences?
Yes I do. While the bulk of my business is with clients in the humanities and social sciences, I have also worked with clients in Chemistry, Biology, Business, Engineering, Computer Science, Digital Media, Journalism, Communications, Education, Creative Writing, and the Fine Arts, and the list grows longer monthly. These clients have been very successful as well.
I am very careful to tailor my advice to field expectations, and to always seek additional information and background as to field conventions and practices. Oftentimes I will ask clients from other fields to do some leg work and find materials from senior colleagues that were successful, so that we both can thoroughly understand the field-specific expectations. I am also ready to admit when I feel I cannot be of assistance because the area is too far out of my realm of expertise. There have been a handful of those cases too.
Do you work with senior people?
Yes I do. While the vast majority of my clients (by intention) are Ph.D. candidates, newly-minted Ph.D.s, young academics seeking permanent employment, and assistant professors seeking tenure, I do dedicate a part of my business to working with tenured people on grants, the mid-career job search, and writing. I do this on a case by case basis, since I always want to be sure that I can offer meaningful assistance. I encourage anyone senior who is wondering about it to contact me directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
Do you work with men?
Yes I do. While my somewhat Suze Orman-esque brand of self-empowerment through clear goals and a great haircut seems to speak with particular clarity to many women, and women are certainly the most visible in my comment streams and Facebook page dialogues, I have a lot of male clients, and enjoy working with them a great deal. In terms of percentages, I suppose my client list breaks down to about 65% female, 35% male.
Do you help with non-academic job searches?
Yes I do. This is not a large part of my business, but I have worked with clients on writing cover letters and resumes for non-academic positions. As in the case above, I do this on a case-by-case basis to evaluate how helpful I can be, compared to others who may have a greater specialization in this area. I have been particularly successful in helping clients whose work bridges the academic and business worlds, such as those seeking marketing positions on a university campus, or those who seek to work in some area of the educational materials business.
Do you post your success rate?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any means of tracking the success of my clients because unless they get back in touch to tell me the results of their search, I have no way of knowing. Many of them do get back in touch, and I always post those results on the Facebook page (anonymously of course, but with field and rank of school included). Not all of my clients are successful in gaining tenure track employment by any means, but many of them are. And what I find most compelling is how many of them tell me that regardless of the outcome of the search, they can see how vastly stronger their documents and self-presentation has become from working with me, and how much more confident they feel in their career efforts.
Do you help people transition out of academia?
Yes I do. As I always tell clients, I don’t have a horse in the race. I know that an academic career can be rewarding and well compensated (at senior levels). And I know that it can be soul-crushing and miserable (at all levels). I didn’t leave academia because I hated academia, and I have no bitterness toward it as a career. I left because other avenues of life came to interest me more. I will work with clients to evaluate the level of their commitment to an academic career, and to evaluate their potential for success in that career, and to evaluate their options for work outside of academia. I support both staying in academia, and leaving. It is truly a personal choice that rests on a variety of individual considerations. [Update 1/13/13: I have discontinued general career consultations, including on the question of leaving academia. A not-serious but distracting health issue has caused me to cut back on work hours from Winter 2013. I hope to resume the skype consultations at a later date.]
Any other questions? Email me at email@example.com. I love to hear from clients and always respond.
~~~~~“I have never been so greatly challenged as an academic as I was by Karen. She encouraged me to aim high and pushed me to follow through and achieve the results that I wanted.” 2009 Ph.D., R1 University Advisor