Tomorrow is my last day with Max Planck - day after, I will join King's College London. This is exciting in many ways - and it will be the first time that I am permanently employed. In academia, this means I won the jackpot, cracked the lottery. How did I do it? That's what today's post is about. Four insights:

The first truth is that I did not do it. Means I did not crack the lottery - I just got lucky. After 68 permutations, resulting in six shortlists and 67 rejections. Consequently, the most important lesson of the last two years is that the faculty job market is completely crazy. Does excellence count? Yes. Do publications count? Oh yes (but not in Germany - see below). Is teaching really irrelevant? Sadly yes, at many places (luckily not at King's). Do you have to network? But of course. Do you need to fit the expected profile? Kind of, but not always.

It's application season again, and I find it hard to keep a sane head with all the self-marketing, tailoring, record keeping, quantifying and showing off citations and alternative metrics of the impact of my work on mankind (and on that subset called academia). I also at times find it hard to swallow my fair share of rejections and the dismal HR practice that seems to flourish in universities.

Luckily, I came across a way to cheer me up: the practice of keeping a "shadow CV", a list of the jobs, grants and prizes one did not get, of the publications and conference papers that were rejected and hence never make it to one's official record. The shadow CV puts things into perspective - and hey, now I can not only add a new line to my CV when I achieve something, but also when I don't!

The idea seems to have originated, befittingly, in the comment thread on a post on desperation, addiction and the CV, but google it and you will find plenty fine specimen. So without further ado, here comes my list of failures, in mildly anonymized form, last updated on June 24, 2019, and of course to be read alongside the official glorious and glamorous list:


2009: did not graduate in my theology minor, despite initial enthusiasm


2016: Denmark, permanent assoc prof level position in Sociology, voted 'qualified' and interviewed, but came in close second

2016: Germany, fixed term position in South Asian Studies, offer declined

Finally, I received my author copies, an actual book, with my text in it and my name on top. Happiness! But: a book is only good when it is being read, and to find readers (as well as catalysts such as reviewers), one needs to engage in some marketing. Which can feel a bit awkward - academe rests on and yet despises selling oneself and one's intellectual produce. So I used the adrenalin and joy of the moment to write this series. And thought about what else to do.

Congratulations! After weeks of waiting (two for this post, but probably many more for the readers' comments on your manuscript) a press offered to publish your book. You must be delighted. I for sure was.

And then I was frightened. Once the offer from SAGE was in, it dawned upon me that I would now increasingly loose control. Until now, it was only me who read the text, some supervisors, some friends, the publisher, and his external reviewers. But whatever they read was a draft. So far, I managed to deceive myself into believing that all could still change. This time was over now. Now was time to let go - and quickly so...

Many authors, especially young ones like me, seem to be afraid of the peer review process. To be honest: I wasn't. Once SAGE decided to read the full manuscript for my book on Muslim peace activists, I knew that acceptance creep would set it. They were ready to invest effort, some money, and their network to check my book - and would not have done this if they had not seen potential in my proposal. Moreover: whatever the readers had to say would likely improve my work even in the unlikely event of not leading to a contract. Your book's first honest readers are its reviewers. I knew the road ahead was still long - the marketing department would have to go over everything, for instance, before I were to be offered an actual contract - but I was in.