She Couldn’t Play Dead in a Western: Communicating 101

he couldn't play dead in a western | new faculty


This weeks post is brought to you by one word:


Seriously, don’t do any of this story. To anyone. And if it happens to you. RUN. As fast as you can.

Please use this story on your own students and add it to the list of “what not to do” repertoire you’ve already started.

I got an email about a phone interview for a position outside of academia. The email said, “While you’re resume and experience in the field is impressive, I worry you may be overqualified for the position.” (why in gods name did you pull me then????) AND…shouldn’t you want to recruit talent that is “too qualified” or would be a good challenge for you and your organization? It would be like trying to “marry up” in a good way or recruit the BEST of the best to your program. Opening with a line like that is weak sauce and it’s showing that the person sending the email is highly INSECURE. It then went on to say that the salary range was probably not high enough for me.

My thinking, “Can I make the decision if I want to speak with you? I have a brain, I’m perfectly aware of my CV, my work experience, and I’m happy to let you know if I’d like to speak with you. You have already pretty much cornered yourself here.”

D- kids…solid.

Also, I have a phd–it’s a CV or Curriculum Vitae, not a resume anymore because I’m an academic. You are clearly not and that’s ok, but if you’re courting me for an interview, get it together. Seriously. But, hey, not everyone is in academia. I’ll let it slide….
The woman in ‘charge’ emailed an office admin by mistake (no big deal). The person did NOT bother to look at the contact information CLEARLY marked on my CV. In bold, centered, AND highlighted as a hyperlink. The admin forwarded it with no issue. The school letterhead has her listed as the office admin w/ her email because she is the ‘boss’ of me in many ways. Again, this was NOT an issue for the office admin or myself. She forwarded it within minutes and I sent the initial email from my own account within an hour. This is usually protocol for many things because as we all know: our office staff and support staff make the world go ’round. The office staff can cripple me without saying a word and I respect them like my own parents. They are amazing people.
Office admins: A+
I emailed the woman at the museum to pick a time (that she had outlined in her message) and recommended she use my real email in the future and that it was no big deal, “nonetheless, i welcome speaking with you about this position.” <—that’s the line I used in the email.
The woman came back w/ a snarky ass note about how the letterhead shouldn’t have the office admin’s info on it (fine–no big deal again). She lost points for class and professionalism because her two sentence email was a mini-lecture, filled with contempt, and extremely rude in tone.
F….big F
I replied, “Are we confirmed for_______?” I did NOT bring up the email again, I felt the issue was finished and she was clearly trying to have a “who can be ‘right’ contest” which I have NO interest. I also got my spidey sense tingling that this was PROBABLY going to be a personality clash from square one. Maybe square 3/4 before it even started.
She replied and withdrew her request.
I replied to her extremely rude note with one word:
Fresh faculty, grad students, anyone who has found this blog in the Internet universe:
Don’t open an email saying that you already feel bad because I’m educated, have a good work history, published, and not sitting around waiting for my academic career to start. Don’t tell me your finances are not enough for me. Let ME be the judge of that. I didn’t apply for your job thinking I’d get rich, retire early, and eat bon bon’s on the beach. You can see from my packet that I LIKE working. I LIKE working really HARD. I’m not lazy. Did you read my CV at all?
If you’re intimidated or feeling insecure because of your own career shortcomings, don’t put them on a potential candidate.
DON’T BE THIS PERSON. EVER. Have some class. Have some self-respect. Represent yourself and your organization with more professionalism than a sack of ants.  I’m sure this person is very nice in real life, but in this moment, I could only think of one saying I heard a few weekends ago:
“she couldn’t play dead in a western movie.” 
It was truly an interaction for the books. In fact, I plan on telling every undergrad and grad student when I use this as an example of how NOT to behave. Thanks lady….fresh teaching material!
**steps off soapbox**
**goes to find stiff drink or more likely some melted cheese**
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