Monday, May 11, 2009

Temporal Gappiness in Philosophy Careers

In comments, Cross the Breeze asks,
I've had a bunch of interviews and short-lists and jobs cancelled out from under me etc but still don't have anything for next year. It's a strange situation: to come so close one minute to having a dream job and then staring at having nothing for fall the next. Now I'm not sure if it's worth trying again: a gap on the CV won't look too good. Or is this worry overstated (I can't seem to get a straight answer on this)?
My sense is that it will probably look somewhat bad, maybe even pretty bad, but not so bad that it's definitely not worth trying again. Anybody else got any ideas?

--Mr. Zero

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll probably be on hiring committees over the next few years and I can say that I wouldn't hold it against an applicant if she/he had a gappy CV. I wouldn't hold it against someone in better times and wouldn't hold it against someone in these times. Someone who is willing to keep fighting for a teaching job is the sort of scrappy person I'd want as a colleague.

Anonymous said...

It definitely is not as bad as you fear. Anecdotal evidence: A friend had such a gap, worked an office job for several months, and then got a really great TT position. Don't despair. given the economy, it'll probably be even more common this year.
That said, do try to find an adjunct job; it may be better not to have a gap if possible, even if a gap truly is not the end of the world.

Anonymous said...

I've been on a fair few SCs, and gaps *do* look bad, all else being equal. But all else ain't equal: no one sensible is going to be counting people out for having short gaps in their CV for the next couple of years. It's a crap couple of years - we know it.

Anonymous said...

There are two worries:
(i) Why the gap,
(ii) How to close the gap.

You have to get a job to actually have a gap, but... The thing is, if you publish during your gap or still go to conferences, then life should be okay and you will have a gap b/c you will get a job. If the gap is caused by the fact that you are not what you should be in order to get a job. Well, then you are SOL.

What ever you do, work on philosophy during that time. Ask your graduate program if you can still use them as an Academic Home.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'll second everything above. I was just on a S/C where we invited someone with a more-than-minimally gappy CV for an on-campus interview. While there was concern about the gaps, this clearly did not override enthusiasm about him as a candidate. And though he didn't get the job, what did him in was not the gaps but his performance in the interview. Gaps are probably much more of an issue at an R1, is my guess.

Anonymous said...

(1) Necessarily, an object cannot survive across a temporal gap.
(2) Therefore, a career cannot survive across a temporal gap.
(3) Therefore, temporal gap = annihilation.

Anonymous said...

As a member of a SC, I would assume that someone who had a year or two gap in their teaching experience would be out of practice and maybe even a little jaded about academic philosophy. I would not want colleague who was a poor teacher due to lack of practice or who had a chip on their shoulder from being left without academic employment for so long.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

A gap of a year or two isn't horrific.

I would suggest doing an adjunct section or two if it really worries you. Look at the CC websites, send CVs to a few of them and see what happens. Every indication is that CCs will have huge enrollment increases next year, so having your CV at the top of the pile may be beneficial.

The nice thing about sending CVs to CCs is that you don't have to do a full package -- just the CV and a cover letter clarifying your teaching experience.

Asstro said...

Can we clarify what's meant by 'gap'?

If you're flipping veggie burgers for a year or two, this kind of gap isn't necessarily terrible.

If you're not publishing, on the other hand, and you have nothing to show for several years out of the academy -- that's a gap that you may never recover from.

At my University, no publishy, no worky. Even if you're well-liked at the department level, the dean will kick your ass across the street faster than you can say, "But, but, but...!"

first year tt guy said...

I expect to be on my first SC at my LAC next year. I don't think gaps look that bad on the CV IF the rest of your CV is strong. AND anyone paying attention to the market this year will know that the gap says more about the market than about you. Since you indicated that you qualified for numerous interviews for positions that were cancelled this year, it seems likely that you will be in a similarly strong position next year.

However, while I don't think the gap is a major problem, you need to do something to add a year's worth of accomplishments to your CV. If you land a couple decent conferences and an article or two for the year, that should keep you competitive. Or get some more teaching experience via adjuncting if you can. If you don't then the ABD or brand new Ph.D. with a year's less opportunity who has the same CV in all other ways will look better than you and be likely to get the interview instead of you. Good luck! Remember, this is an endurance race!

Anonymous said...

What are publication expectations? I've never had a good sense of this. I assume that it varies depending on a variety of factors: type of school, department, and teaching load. What should a VAP with a 3/3 or a 4/4 expect to publish a year to stay competitive? What about a GAPer?

cross the breeze said...

Thanks for all of your helpful input (I asked the original question). What I take from all of this is that a gap - assuming that I am productive during it - will put me at a disadvantage, at least at some places, but isn't necessarily fatal. I haven't entirely given up on finding a VAP for next year, and a few jobs have come up lately, but it's good to know there is still a chance even if I end up with a gap.

"As a member of a SC, I would assume that someone who had a year or two gap in their teaching experience would be out of practice and maybe even a little jaded about academic philosophy."

This is a fair worry. I am a little jaded right now. Not because I think I am entitled to a job, but because I did everything that one is supposed to do to find a job (I've published in decent places, I've defended, I have teaching experience etc) and still didn't get one. In fact, this is part of the reason I am so pessimistic about next year; if I've already done everything that I'm supposed to do, then how can I become a stronger candidate for next year? I suspect my bad attitude would disappear quickly when I signed an offer though.

"(1) Necessarily, an object cannot survive across a temporal gap.
(2) Therefore, a career cannot survive across a temporal gap.
(3) Therefore, temporal gap = annihilation."

I'm not sure that (1) is true. And even if it is, I could just say that I have had two distinct careers.

Mr. Zero said...

anon 4:41's premise (1) is pretty obviously question-begging.

Anonymous said...

No, it isn't question begging. The first conclusion doesn't follow logically b/c careers aren't objects!

Anonymous said...

Re: 4:41's attempt:

Whether or not premise (1) is true, there's a more important question:

How do you explain "resurrected" careers that supposedly should have been annihilated given a temporal gap? I know at least a few professional (employed in academia) philosophers who have gaps in their CV/career.

Further, how does time even do something like that--how does it destroy? (But this is the point of questioning premise (1), which seems moot given the above problem.)

Anonymous said...

cross the breeze: if you keep on publishing, the gap will be easily overlooked. i think that's the conclusion for all of us. and don't fret too much - the market was awful this year and everyone knows it. as simple as that.

the spice extends life said...

cross the breeze:

"This is a fair worry. I am a little jaded right now. Not because I think I am entitled to a job, but because I did everything that one is supposed to do to find a job (I've published in decent places, I've defended, I have teaching experience etc) and still didn't get one."

I am in the exact same position, and your statement that I have quoted at length above actually makes me wonder just how many of us there really are. I am guessing it is more than some might think.