As I have been perusing a stack of CV's this week, I am struck yet again by the strange way that some people present themselves in a CV. I'm not going to rant again about the lists of 'in prep.' papers and non-peer reviewed reports listed along with published/submitted papers or even about the strange choices of reference-writers; I've done that before.
Instead, what I am thinking about is how some of my own students and postdocs want my advice on constructing their CV's and research/teaching statements for job applications, and some don't. I should say that I am happy to provide comments on CV construction and on general issues of what goes in a research/teaching statement, but I do not edit the statements. The content and writing style of the statement accompanying an application have to be an accurate reflection of the candidate. I don't ask to see application materials for my own students and postdocs, though I make it clear that I'm happy to if anyone wants me to. Sometimes it's tricky navigating that path between being an advisor who wants to help and letting an advisee know that you think they are ready to go out on their own.
The ones who don't want my advice on their job applications are also the ones who get upset when I have lots of critical comments on their manuscripts and informal talks. And I imagine that for them, getting reviews of papers and proposals - and perhaps also teaching evaluations - will be a continual source of anguish as they continue in their careers. At least my comments are kindly intended and kindly worded, even if I tend to have a lot of them. I wish I could do more to provide all of my students and postdocs with the necessary medium-thick skin needed to deal with a life of reviews, not all of which will be positive or even 'constructively worded'.
A few of my students never completely realize that they will be continually subjected to criticism and evaluation in an academic career. I don't know how they don't know this after years of being in this environment, but some just don't. Example: A couple of years ago, one of my grad students was extremely upset when his co-advisor and I had many critical comments about a document he'd written (sort of a proto-manuscript), even though he had worked very hard. I said that I didn't doubt that he had worked very hard, but the result was far below what was acceptable for even a rough draft of a manuscript, both in terms of writing and content. Our critical comments were intended to help him take the draft to the next level. By that point, he was in tears, and said that I didn't understand how awful it felt to be criticized and he couldn't wait until he could be at a point in his career when he didn't have to go through this anymore. When I told him that we all are continually evaluated, he didn't believe me. I showed him some recent paper and proposal reviews, but somehow these didn't convince him either because they didn't have anything to do with him. Strange. He's still around, but he's not working with me anymore.
And then there are the negative comments you get when you have a blog -- it's sort of like asking for more 'reviews', as if we don't get enough already. Oh well.. bring it on.
9 months ago