Dr. Skallerup, at College Ready Writing, has an interesting post on Real-World Experience, Teaching Contingently, and Academia.
The whole thing is interesting, but the part I am responding to is this:
We are told, repeatedly, not to include any sort of non-academic (or tenuously academic) positions in our job applications. We also need to police our non-academic interests (be it past paid employment or current interests and hobbies) lest we appear unfocused or lacking the dedication necessary to make it as an academic. Never mind that for most of us who are off the tenure track, the second job is a necessity and our hobbies and interests get sidelined because of a lack of time and resources. So when, as an academic, we appear single-minded or narrowly focused in our pursuits, professional or otherwise, we need to take some blame.
Skallerup knows that I’ve been where she is now. She also knows that I am one of those people referred to as unfocused.
Non-standard Items on my CV
My latest CV, at least the latest one sent out to a college, has a list of items which show that I am not focused on a single research area or area of interest. It lists my copy editing experience, my community service, and non-academic work experience. The copy editing is mostly relevant, since I am in rhetoric and composition, but the other work and community service is not at all related to my academic career.
Also, the most-recently-used CV lists additional graduate courses I have taken outside of my degree plans. (Why, yes, I do like school. How can you tell?) I actually have 39 hours of graduate hours outside my degrees, in four interesting, but not exactly related to my degree, fields. Six of the hours were in technical writing, so that’s really in my field, but not from my degree-granting college and the hours were garnered after I left my PhD institution. Even if you leave those out, though, I still have 33 hours of classes outside of my degree, outside of my field, and mostly only very tangentially related to my teaching.
I added the community service because community service is a requirement for tenure at the school to which I was applying. It seemed to me to make sense to show them that I am involved in the things they value.
I added the copy editing because I figured it could be related to business writing, which I like to teach.
The overview of my non-academic work experience (or really all my experiences, but simply with a line each) was to account for the large gap in time between my MA and my PhD.
The extra graduate courses, while mostly outside my field, do relate to one of the types of classes I wanted to put myself forward for teaching at this particular SLAC and/or show that I have experience with one of the aspects of the position which is unusual and was highlighted in the job ad.
Non-standard Listing of Conference Presentations
To further complicate this particular CV, instead of simply listing all the conference presentations I had done in the previous two years by date (which is what most people do, I know), I organized mine by topic. I am not focused on a single aspect of my teaching and the conference presentations show the diversity of my interests. These include technology, composition and rhetoric, professional writing, teaching and scholarship, literature (Old English and 20th C American), speculative fiction, and creative writing.
I have no idea if the CV’s unusual presentation had any repercussions. I don’t know if anyone disliked the shotgun approach to scholarship indicated by both my presentations and my publications (which were listed more normally by type of text–article, book, chapter, creative writing piece).
I do know that the chair of the department which received this CV said, “She truly is a generalist.” This didn’t turn out to be that great a thing, since they want a rhet and comp person.
However, I did get an interview and a job offer from this unusually transparent and not particularly standard or academic CV. So, while I think it is true that in general people shy away from the non-standard, obviously I did not and, equally obviously, it did not hurt and may have helped me get an interview and a job offer for that position.