The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sell Myself

Posted by Seeking Solace |

One of the problems that I encounter in the JD/PhD battle is that there are academic positions that I could do but the positions clearly state that a JD is not an acceptable degree. Usually this happens with Criminal Justice programs.

It's frustrating because when I look at some of the courses and their descriptions, I don't see why I can't teach these courses. Many of them are based in law, such as criminal law and procedure. which I am perfectly qualified to teach. There are some other courses at the seminar level which I have experience with, because of my coursework in law school (My emphasis was criminal practice, so I have courses in Death Penalty, Psychology and Juvenile Justice). And, I practiced Criminal Law as an attorney.

But, no. I can't apply because I don't have the right letters after my name.

Or can I?

I found an Assistant Professor position at a college out of state which is located in an area where Husband and I have friends and is on our list of places we would like to go. The add states that they want a PhD. It's doesn't have the "JDs need not apply" stamp. But I worry that if they see my JD, they will just file my CV under "Hell No".

So here's my thought. What if I explain in my cover letter how despite the fact that I have a JD, I have the ability to teach many of their courses. (I checked their course requirements and I could teach at least four required courses). I could explain that I have taught CJ courses in the past (At Former College), have coursework from my law school days, and I have practiced criminal law. In essence, I would be explain how my degree and background could work for them.

So blog friends, do you think I should give it a shot or do you think it's a waste of time?


Anonymous said...

I would do it. you never know.

rented life said...

I agree. Apply. Don't sound defensive in your cover letter, just say that you are capable of teaching courses a, b, c and d and here's why. I wouldn't even say "despite my JD" because then you're admiting that all those idiots are right. Instead focus on how you can bring the real world into the classroom.

Seeking Solace said...

Rented Life: Good point about "despite my JD."

Astroprof said...

Generally, the requirement is a graduate degree, and a JD certainly fits. Even though they may have advertised looking for another degree (similar to what the last person with that position had), they'd be fine with your credentials. However, you need to make sure that they SEE your application. That means contacting the department, NOT just the human resources division. Often our HR people will discard applications from perfectly qualified people simply because they didn't fit exactly what was advertised, and pass on people who are totally unsuited for a faculty position because they had the right degrees. For example, they might neglect to tell us that an MD or DVM had applied to teach anatomy because that course is taught with a BIOL prefix, and HR was looking for someone with a biology degree rather than an expert in anatomy.

So, (I know this is long), go ahead and apply, but send a copy to the department itself, or at least call them and tell them that you are applying and want to make sure that they get the application from HR.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Yes, I agree that you should definitely raise these issues in your cover letter, really directly. Be really specific and yes, mention the specific required courses they have that you can teach. And I agree that you want to avoid "despite" my JD - how about "because" your JD? (You also have an MA, yes? IIRC it's in another field, but it might be worth highlighting it in your cover letter so that they know you have experience with academic research, too? That's not meant as a knock at the JD, but if they're concerned that it's too "professional" [despite wanting someone who can teach "professional" courses!], the MA will help make you look sufficiently "academic," if that makes sense.)

I have to be honest, they might still toss your application if they're set on a PhD (there might even be a university requirement to hire a PhD). But it's still worth a try, I'd say.

BrightStar said...

I say GO FOR IT!

Does the job announcement have contact information for the search committee chair? If so, perhaps you could have a phone conversation about this issue with her or him.

I agree with not being defensive about the JD in your cover letter -- because of your JD rather than despite it is the right approach!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I too think it is a good idea.

You might want to send a copy of your cover letter as an e-mail to the search chair and/or the department chair with your CV and sample syllabi in an attachment.

I might even go so far as to explain at the top of the e-mail that your unique experiences make your JD applicable to the coursework, but you worry that the automated systems will reject the application because you don't have a PhD.

Really, all you need is one actual person to be engaged and interested in what you have to offer -- and you'll be in good shape.

Seeking Solace said...

Thanks everyone! You all have some great suggestions and feedback.

The posting calls for all inquiries going to HR. But, I agree that I should contact the department.

Regarding my MA. I do have a MA, but it is so far removed from what I do. It's in a "European Language" and Literature (I don't want to out myself, so I will just say a European language) and I have not engaged in that field since I earned my MA. But I do see New Kid's point. It does show that there is more to me than just a JD.

Bellona said...

Go for it. You never try, you never know. And I agree with calling up the HR to check if your application has been received. It gives the employer the impression that you're proactive and that you want the job. It worked for me. =)

Psych Post Doc said...

I think you have received excellent advice here. I just wanted to add my support to the go for it team and wish you the best of luck.

Prisca said...

Go for it! You are definitely qualified to teach this stuff. Depending on the institution, if they have lots of students who are 'pre-law' having an actual attorney teaching might help sell the course and dept. to both students, parents, and admin. You've got the war stories that motivate etc. Much will depend on the school...but you know that. ;)

JaneB said...

Loads of good advice here. I'd just say that the only way to definitely not get the job is not to apply - so go for it!