Oft Asked Questions

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, until the documents are in short-list-worthy state. Up to four edit drafts are covered by a basic initial payment; more can be added in the unusual event that more are needed.

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 $125/hour, with the 10% discount for 3+ hours, that currently comes to $337.50.  If you need to add a fourth document, such as a 1-2  page research statement, the total will come to $450.  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 one letter for a job.  Additional versions for other jobs are charged at .5 hour for each.  However, many clients find that after working with me on one or two tailored letters, they can handle future letters on their own.

Ack, you’re booked up past my deadlines! What do I do? 

I am generally booked up 1-3 months in advance, so I’ve created 2 options for work on a “rush” basis.  The first is, pending availability, you can get on the calendar for full -review document editing earlier with the payment of a rush fee.  This rush fee, above the basic rate, is $100 for a single job document, $200 for up to three, and $300 for 4-5 job documents/6-10 pages of postdoc/grant editing work. As a last option, for those in a great rush, you can consider the Quick Diagnostic options for your CV and Cover Letter, Job Application Research Statement, and Teaching Statement, as described on this page on the website: http://theprofessorisin.com/store/.  Be aware, these do not provide for a full review of your documents–just a single edit–but they are guaranteed to be quick.  (And they direct you to blog posts and a Guide to the job letter that gives you all the information you need to produce a strong draft on your own for my final edit. They have proven amazingly effective.).

Do you refund fees? 

If you find that you no longer need my services and write to cancel them at least one week in advance of our scheduled start date, I am happy to refund any unused fees you paid, minus a $35 schedule change fee.  If you cancel within one week, I refund 50% of your payment. Please note that rush fees are non-refundable.

If you do not submit your material for editing on your scheduled date on the calendar, you have two week’s grace period to get it in.  After two weeks, you will have to be rescheduled, and given my calendar, this may entail the need for payment of a rush fee to meet your original deadlines. If you decide at that point to cancel services, they will be refunded at 50%, minus payment for any work completed. As above, rush fees are non-refundable.  The only exceptions to this are if you get in touch with me ahead of time to arrange a different timeline or pace of submission.

If you start work with me and then decide in the middle to cancel, I refund 50% of your payment minus any work completed. Rush fees are non-refundable.

You are welcome to pause work in order to recommence at a later date, either my earliest open date or the following year, as long as you inform me that you wish to do that, and we mutually arrange a plan, and you pay the standard $35 schedule change fee.  If you just disappear and then show up again hoping to resume work, you will be scheduled only at my new earliest open date, which may well be too late for your deadlines.

Regarding the Interview Intervention: Once an I-I has been scheduled it is non-refundable. It can be rescheduled up to 48 hours in advance; after that  it cannot be moved.

Do you help people with post-ac and alt-ac job searches?

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. At the same time, my own transition out of academia was one of the most rewarding and gratifying things I’ve ever done, and I am excited to support others on their journey away from an increasingly untenable and unsustainable academy.

As a result, I have gathered a group of Post-Ac Experts who post regularly on the blog on the post-ac and alt-ac job search, and the emotional and practical challenges of transitioning out of academia.  They provide consultations, editing services for job documents, interview preparation, and ongoing coaching.  We also offer webinars related to the post-ac transition, including “Starting a Small Business: The Other #Postac Option.”  Please email us at postaccareers@gmail.com for more information.

What are your rules for the work?

To manage the intense demand for my services and large client load, I have several policies that are firm and non-negotiable:  1) Your deadline is not my emergency. I require 24 hours minimum for all edits, and sometimes more.  And, I do not work on weekends. I will not respond to hysterical demands for faster turnaround; 2) I work on one document at a time, sequentially through 4 drafts, to completion before moving to the next document; 3) each draft # (# 1-4) must be marked in the file name of each draft that you return; 4) 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; 5) work on any new document must be pre-arranged on the schedule and cannot be launched into on the fly; 6) 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; 7) 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.

What is the Interview Intervention?

The Interview Intervention is a 50-minute intensive mock academic interview, on Skype with me, Kellee Weinhold, or Petra Shenk, trained TPII colleagues who are introduced here, or another highly-trained TPII staff member.  The cost is $250.  We ask 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.  We add 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 II clients has been nothing short of remarkable.  Read some of the testimonials on the Testimonials page to learn more.

Once an I-I has been scheduled it is non-refundable. It can be rescheduled up to 48 hours in advance; after that the slot cannot be changed.

How much will it cost to work on a postdoc application?

If you want to work on postdocs or grants as well, that will typically be about 4-6 hours, depending on what is being demanded by the application. A 1-2 page research proposal will typically take 2 hours, 3-6 page proposal will take 3 hours, and a 7-12 page proposal will require 4 hours. A postdoc cover letter will be an additional hour, as it is substantially different from a job cover letter.  This work is also $125/hour, with the same discounts mentioned above.  If you want to work on postdocs, I’ll need to know the number of postdocs applications, the number of docs required by each and their page length, and how much overlap you think is possible between the applications.

How much will it cost to hire you as a general career coach?

I offer career consulting by email.  General career coaching is $300 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.

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 $400 per week, and in only a couple of 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.

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 Intervention (after you find out if you’ve been shortlisted), editing a journal article manuscript, working on a grant application, etc. However, as I’m often booked 2-3 months in advance, you may not be able to get on the calendar in time for your deadlines, if you delay scheduling.  I always ask clients to keep track of unused hours, which I can confirm through Paypal. 

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’ve even worked with a couple of Deans!  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 gettenure@gmail.com 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?

As of February 2014 I’ve turned this work over to the panel of postacademic experts listed on my Post-Ac Services page. They assist with all types of non-academic job searches, including high school teaching, non-profits, museum and alt-ac work, running small businesses, working for the federal government, and corporate positions.

Do you post your success rate?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any means of tracking the success of my clients because unless they take the time to 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. 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.

Any other questions? Email me at gettenure@gmail.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


Oft Asked Questions — 1 Comment

  1. My daughter is in her senior year at Berkeley. She is majoring in Cognitive Science, minor in education. She thinks that she would ultimately like a career in academia but of course this could change — all she knows for sure as of now is that she’s passionate about teaching but doesn’t want to do it in middle school/high school traditional programs. Do you give advice to college seniors about attending or postponing graduate school, which programs make the most sense, etc. Thank you.

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