Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bring on the major leagues

Waiting to get officially baptized into what will be my first full foray onto the job market. Most assuredly it won't be my last given all the doom-y prognostications. 120; really? For how many candidates? Let's get an over/under on this shits in the comments.

Nonetheless, I'm feeling a bit manic. I'm ready to blow this motherfucker's windows out with my sheer attractiveness as a talented philosopher.

I mean, at least I *think* I am ready and talented. I'm not just kidding myself, right?.


Who am I kidding? I'm not ready.

-- Jaded Dissertator


Anonymous said...

Here's a question for your readers. Who among you honestly believes they are unusually talented? And why? The job applications I read would suggest that the great majority of applicants are competent at best but not doing work that demonstrates unusual talent, or even work that distinguishes the candidate from hundreds of others. And yet the most comment sentiment expressed on this blog is that the job market process is unfair. Do most people believe they deserve a good job more than the next guy, due to unusual talent and superior training? That would explain the snarkiness, if people conclude they are being unfairly prevented from getting a good job which they deserve, or are being forced to go through an unnecessary process to get that job. But can so many of the readers of the blog really be so self-deluded? Perhaps they have the more modest belief that everyone deserves a good job, and the circumstances are such that not everyone can get what they deserve? Then the snarkiness might be misdirected but understandable. However, I've seen no evidence that either of these claims are true.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'm very talented, but I believe that many philosophers in good jobs are very bad:) How's that for snark?

This actually leads me to get more confident year on year, but only because my estimation of the competition goes down, not because my estimation of my own work goes up.

If the job market were a perfect mechanism for allocating good philosophers to jobs, I think I'd theoretically be all for a reduction in the size of the field.

I predict some very snarky messages in response to this... ah the joys of anonymous blogging.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi anonymous 8:47,

I keep up with this blog pretty regularly. I'm not aware of complaints of the sort you describe. Speaking for myself, I think that the process is unfair, but not simply because I don't have a TT job.

I think it's pretty obvious that the job market is unfair because of unfair procedures. The search committee chair at the Harvard of the Proletariat recently wrote an article in which he strongly suggested that he gave serious consideration only to bourgeois applicants. That strikes me as patently unfair. Women, ethnic minorities, and the vertically challenged must cope with a well-known set of unconscious biases. That strikes me as unfair, too. And the E-APA is unnecessary. In what other industry to job candidates fresh out of trade school spend their own money to fly to New York two days after Christmas in order to stay in the Times Square Mariott? Does that really seem necessary to you?

Furthermore, I wonder why you don't think we have the "the more modest belief that everyone deserves a good job, and the circumstances are such that not everyone can get what they deserve?" Why wouldn't that be incredibly distressing to those of us who are not getting what you admit we deserve? Why wouldn't people in that position be a little snarky?

Seriously. Read the post you're commenting on, for fuck's sake. Does that say, I, like everyone else here, deserve a good job more than the next guy, due to unusual talent and superior training? Or does it say, I would like a good job, even though I know the odds are long and it's an incredibly shitty year and an incredibly shitty process and it's killing me inside? Because I think it's (b).

Anonymous said...

"The great majority of applicants are competent at best but not doing work that demonstrates unusual talent, or even work that distinguishes the candidate from hundreds of others."

This is academia in general. Say you're a new PhD and have 4-6 publications in journals everyone has heard of. Are you a "hot-shot" candidate? I don't know. Most people would say so, but, in reality, most of the work (i.e., articles and books) being produced by most philosophers (you included probably) is stuff that is somewhat interesting, but is pretty much meaningless to the progress of humanity and will probably never be read by more than 7-10 people. This is reality. Neither me nor any of my colleagues have subscriptions to journals (I have a position at one of those Leiterific schools). No one is really excited when the new issue of /Nous/ comes out. We all operate in our own fields, read relevant articles when we're doing our research, and go about our business.

How does what we're doing separate us from what most of the people applying for jobs have done? Most of the applications I've seen have some usual amount of publications, presentations, etc., and most of these appear to be fairly non-extraordinary (as your correctly identify). However, from my own observations, for the majority of job searches there seems to be little difference between the intelligence/aptitude of these applicants and the intelligence/aptitude of the people who are evaluating them.

Anonymous said...

Dude --- I just got this e-mail from the APA:


ANNOUNCEMENT-APA Website Construction. The APA National Office is in the midst of transitioning our website and its services to a new hosting facility. Due to the transition, the APA website may be temporarily down for a few days. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our members and the philosophical community and we’d like to thank everyone for their on-going patience while we continue with our new construction.


Will this delay the JFP? OH .... my life just keeps getting better and better.

Jaded Dissertator said...

Oh, how quickly the comments hinting at a sense of entitlement come out. Let's set some shit straight, without snark:

I know that even if I were to be assessed purely on philosophical acumen, in Punt, Pass, and Kick style competition, the shots would be long anyway, even in a good year, even if we weren't sometimes assessed on somewhat mysterious and moving criteria in addition to skill when applying to jobs.

I'm confident that there are *a lot* of people out there who do good work and can probably punt, pass, and kick it farther than I can. I know quite a few of these people. But, that doesn't preclude my having confidence in my own abilities and thinking I can *at least* compete.

So, I guess I'm with Mr. Zero on this one: most of our readers believe this too and it's nice to have a community of talented people who, more often than not, wish each other all the best. I'll be happy when any of us gets a job because, as we all know, it's a fucking accomplishment to even get a Ph.D and secure interviews, much less a job.

Best of luck to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, and in response to the comment about the APA email. Whose genius idea was it to move the hosting facility anywhere close to the publication date of the JFP? I mean is the APA comprised entirely of saso-masochists?

Anonymous said...

spell check: saDo-masochists. You get my point...

Anonymous said...

The original commentor here. My comment has been misinterpreted, so it may clarify to say: it was a sincere question. There are unpleasantries and inconveniences in the job market process but I’m uncertain whether this alone explains the vitriol and degree of anxiety that many of you experience. So I wondered whether the post’s joking claim about having talent was something a significant number of people honestly believed. It’s something I’ve wondered independently, from reading the blog from time to time, and from supervising flesh and blood grads. Mr. Zero’s final paragraph is not as well expressed as it might be, since I made no claims about the content of the post in the original comment, but if the intention is to claim that this is why people in fact do feel anxiety - they want a job, the process is excessively unpleasant, and they doubt that they will get a job – then I’m uncertain whether this is in fact the cause. I doubt whether one would be quite so anxious about the job market process, if one entirely suspended beliefs about one’s own merit. I myself would like many things I don’t deserve, but this causes me no anxiety. I suppose that I invite futher misunderstanding if I go on to make the observation that, if very many job candidates hold the belief that they especially merit a good job, or that all candidates equally merit a good job, then at least some of those job candidates are mistaken. But I don’t say this to put down any one of you in particular. I’m sincerely uncertain as to the causes of the anxieties many job candidates experience, and hoped this might be a good forum to discuss the issue.

Mr. Zero said...

Dear anon 8:47/1:05,

Sorry if I misinterpreted you. It's just that I have literally no idea what could possibly be confusing about where this anxiety is coming from.

I don't think I have to find myself to be deserving of a job to be stressed out about whether I'll get a job, and I don't think that I have to find myself especially deserving or deserving in a way that sets me apart from my peers in order to think that I deserve a job. I think it just has to be important to my professional, personal, and financial well-being.

There are excellent a priori reasons to doubt I'll get a job this year. Add to that worries about an ongoing economic disaster, the role of pedigree and latent cognitive biases in hiring decisions, an annual post-Christmas pilgrimage to the east coast that I cannot afford at all, the fact that hiring decisions are, by necessity, made on the basis of insufficient information, the APA threatening to shut down its website the day the JFP comes out, and anonymous commenters coming on to my blog to tell me that my anxiety is evidence that I'm self-deluded about my own talents and abilities. And you're all like, where's this attitude coming from? It's a mystery. If you could only realize how much you don't deserve a job, you wouldn't have this anxiety. How sure are you that the problem is us and not you?

Anyways, I knew I wasn't ready the first time I went on the market, but this didn't ameliorate my anxiety at all. In general (and I think this is like, really obvious) S's anxiety about x is not closely related to the degree S believes she deserves x; it is related to the degree to which x is important to S.

But maybe you have some passages in mind whose vitriol and anxiousness are so excessive that no explanation other than self-delusion is possible. If so, I hope you'll indicate which ones they are.

Anonymous said...

I myself would like many things I don’t deserve, but this causes me no anxiety.

This is a clue that our feelings about our own deservingness play no role in our anxiety.