Are You a Newly-Minted Ph.D in History Looking for a Position in a Private School?
If the answer is yes, than listen carefully. My department is currently looking to fill a couple of positions and we are getting swamped with applications. Compared to years past we are seeing a sharp increase in the number of applications from people who have recently earned a Ph.D in history. I assume the increase has something to do with a contracting job market in the academy as well as the state of the economy.
While I’ve strongly encouraged young Ph.Ds to consider a teaching career in private schools I think it is important to understand your competition as well as the expectations of most search committees. First and foremost, do not send the same resume that you would send to a college or university search committee to a private school. It should be obvious, but we are looking for very different things. You need to emphasize your teaching experience beyond any publishing you may have done or grant writing. In fact, if your publications are extensive you may want to consider widdling it down a bit. Your resume needs to reflect a history and continued interest in teaching and interaction with students rather than any scholarly accomplishments. That’s not to say that your publications are not relevant; in fact, most history departments in the private school sector are looking specifically for candidates who have a mastery of the content rather than a long list of workshops on the latest pedagogical fads. Don’t just mention in passign that you were a teaching assistant or grader for a specific class; briefly describe your responsibilities and the extent to which you worked directly with students. You may also want to limit the number of academic presentations and professional memberships in your application. There is nothing worse than having to read through a long list of esoteric paper titles. It only works to make you look like an asshole. Again, message is everything. Applications that fail to take these recommendations seriously send the message that the candidate is going to leave at the first opportunity. In short, you will not be given serious consideration.
Other recommendations: Most private schools are looking for coaches. Indicate those sports that you could coach and those that you feel comfortable assisting. To the extent possible do some background reseach on the school that you are applying to. Check out the history curriculum as well as the electives offered. Indicate in your application those subjects that you can teach and consider suggesting electives that will compliment those already being offered. Finally, check out the clubs that are offered and indicate which ones you would like to be involved with. The more student oriented your application looks the better chance you will get that phone call.