Attend a CSGHS-sponsored panel! This one: on writing job-related statements

Join us on Sunday, January 6 from 8:30 – 9:45 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency – Roosevelt 1  for what promises to be a practical roundtable requested by graduate students to shed light on the many statements one must write to successfully navigate the job market: 627: Storying Statements: Writing research, teaching, and diversity statements.

Here’s our pitch:

As graduate students and recent graduates of Ph.D. programs prepare materials for job applications, they are often told to consider the rhetorical situation of their applications, shifting their narratives to appeal to specific details in job advertisements and to speak to the details of campus and departmental cultures they can glean from websites. As they do so, their sense of their own narrative trajectory from graduate school into the job market can get muddied. While they may have a demonstrated passion and competency for research and teaching, otherwise articulate young scholars may falter as they consider how to best represent themselves in a high-stakes situation. In recent years, the need to draft cover letters, along with researching, teaching, and diversity statements have only added to the confusion as graduate students question: which details of my C.V. belong in each? How do I make a compelling case for myself without resorting to vague clichés or sounding too esoteric? How do I connect my teaching and research?

This roundtable, presided over by a CSGSH committee member and current graduate student, draws upon the experience of five professionals in the humanities as three discuss how they advise graduate students as they write such statements, and as two discuss how they recently and successfully drafted materials that landed them tenure-track positions in a competitive job market. All five will address the ways that graduate students might successfully approach writing each of these statements as unique documents which also align to construct a persuasive story about their capabilities as researchers, scholars, and administrators.

Below, find some of the questions, drafted and compiled by graduate students, that the speakers will respond to:

  • How can graduate students effectively communicate their research, teaching, and diversity goals without resorting to clichés? By extension, what are some examples of over-used phrases or ideas that applicants ought to avoid?
  • How can graduate students connect their statements so that they speak to one another without a great deal of repetition?
  • How can graduate write effectively about their specialized research for a hiring committee which might contain both specialists and generalists in their field?
  • How can graduate students effectively integrate their scholarly identity with their approach to teaching in their teaching statement? For example, how can graduate students express the connection between their dissertation topic/Ph.D. specialization and some of the less specialized tasks of many jobs, such as teaching first-year language classes or composition?
  • How can graduate students effectively communicate their teaching philosophies in a clear, interesting way if they have been forced to use a common syllabus or assignments, or were not the instructor of record for many classes during their Ph.D. program?
  • Are diversity statements meant to show the applicant’s experience working with marginalized communities, or are they meant to be more of a ‘vision’ statement? By extension, how can graduate students show, rather than simply tell, how their service, teaching, and scholarly experiences have prepared them to contribute to institutional diversity of thought?

More questions you’d like us to consider? Email Kristina Reardon at ahead of the convention, and as presider, she’ll distribute the questions to panelists ahead of time and also pose any that are not addressed in the panel itself.


Roya Biggie (Knox College)

Julia Istomina (Yale University)

Elizabeth Lenaghan (Northwestern University)

Sushil Oswal (University of Washington)

Kristina Reardon, CSGSH member, presider (University of Connecticut / College of the Holy Cross)

Niko Tracksdorf, CSGSH member (University of Rhode Island)