Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Exercise in Self-Deception

Well, I can't declare my first job market season to be an unmitigated disaster and I'm not complaining about that fact because that would just be dickish: I'm happy to have what I have. That said, I'm holding out hope for a more positive/lifepath-and-project-affirming response from those Postdoc/Humanities/Teaching fellowships that won't be interviewing at the APA and we'll be hearing from sometime in January.

Still, I'm not sure why I'm holding out hope. One can only assume that one's apps will fare even worse once the field is widened to include every other humanistic discipline out there. But, then again, maybe I'm wrong.

I'm holding on to that 'maybe'.

-- Jaded Dissertator

Update: PFO received from a Postdoc/Humanities/Teaching fellowships no more than an hour or so after this post:
We received over 750 applications for our positions this year. This meant that we were faced with the difficult task of deciding whom among a large selection of very fine candidates we would choose to interview for a small number of Fellowships. I am sorry to inform you that we were unable to list you among our finalists.
Irony doesn't seem like the right word in this situation: Gutpunch? Reality check? Hi-larious? The latter, I think.

/laughs to keep from crying

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I got that PFO too. What gets me is the last line: "...we were unable to list you among our finalists." Really? Unable? As in, they were about to put my name on the list and the pen ran out of ink and they couldn't find another one? Or, an evil demon kept intervening to stop them from putting my name on the list? I'm pretty sure they were able to put my name on the list... they just didn't want to because they didn't think I was the best candidate for one of those spots.

BunnyHugger said...

My Nth job market season is thus far a disaster, as I have no APA interviews this time around. However, since I'm sitting in a non-tenure-track position that probably isn't going away anytime soon, it would also be dickish for me to complain, since I know a lot of people would trade a kidney even for that.

Anonymous said...

Is it the _announcements_ of the fellowships/postdoc openings we're expecting to hear in January, or the _decisions_?

Anonymous said...

I just (6:50PM) canceled my Marriott reservations for the APA starting Dec. Sunday 12/27 through 12/30 at the conference rate of $158. If you call the hotel direct (212) 398-1900 tomorrow morning (they closed tonight at 6PM but reopen in the AM) and ask for the conference reservation office, you may be able to get this room at the conference rate (I don't know how it works). Or you may be able to get the room tonight at the regular rate by calling the national reservation # 800-266-9432. I don't know how this works either, but thought I'd let folks know the room may be available. Good luck!

zombie said...

Never give up; never surrenderrrrrr!

I'm leaving Boxing Day to drive two days (can't afford to fly) to APA for one interview at a school I'm not even sure I really want to relocate to.

My first APA interview. I figure I'm a longshot for this one -- their AOS is my AOC, so not sure why they picked me. Not getting hopes up too high. Thinking of this as a learning experience for next year, when my fellowship is over and I'll be desperate.

Anonymous said...

Sigh...my second year on the market is (so far) as unmitigated a disaster as last year's. At least I didn't bother to make plans to go to the APA this year.

Good luck to everyone who has interviews!

Polacrilex said...

Last year: interviews
This year: no interviews

For some reason I have a feeling that fresh blood has an easier time getting interviews, but not necessarily an easier time landing a position.

Regardless, each year there are more of us and fewer jobs. I think the number of PhD programs/graduates to number of available job openings in the near (1-10 year) future has reached the tipping point. We might need to start drowning fresh ABDs.

Anonymous said...

My first year on the market was a zero interview disaster. I also just cancelled my Marriott reservations. So, those who want to pay the student APA rate might want to call Marriott now. good luck at the APA.

Anonymous said...

Can we have a thread on food/beverage recommendations near the conference hotel? I'd especially like to hear about places which are affordable, healthy and/or vegetarian, off the beaten path, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are good water-related uses one could put ABDs to instead of drowning them:

1. Dunk tank: always good for a few bucks.


OK, make that 'use'.

Anonymous said...

does anyone understand the clues on philosophersanon?
(not that i want to crash their boozefest, i just got so frustrated!)
http://philosophersanon.blogspot.com/2009/12/boozefest-apa.html

Anonymous said...

According to a comment on Phylo, Wesleyan will be interviewing at the APA. Does anyone know if Wesleyan's already scheduled their interviews?

Anonymous said...

Are those PFO's coming in by email? Or are positions seriously mailing out letters *this* late before the APA (or MLA, etc for the humanities things?). Out of curiosity (and unmitigated self-concern), was that PFO from the Washington University humanities post-doc?

Anonymous said...

Third year running (second with PhD in hand) and not so much as an interview. Three strikes, I'm out?

Not that I ever had much chance. Eight positions advertised in my AOS this year, one of them canceled.

What was it that made me do this again? Oh yes, "love of wisdom." But note, not: "wisdom."

Truly:

"The passion is waning /
'Tis time for retraining"

Mr. Zero said...

Third year on the market, first APA interview. Trying to see it as an accomplishment, given the economic climate.

I've been pondering Spiros's answer to the Da Vinci Code, but I'm no Robert Langdon.

See you in NYC.

Anonymous said...

Re: Wesleyan

I'm waiting on that one too, so I looked at their academic calendar. They just wrapped up final exams today (Tues the 22nd). That, coupled w/ the fact that the wiki comment about APA interviews being a go was from nearby Hartford, makes me think we will hear either the 23rd or maybe even 26th or 27th. I'd guess they're meeting the morn. of the 23rd...

Anonymous said...

Curious--- how many people, on average, will a school interview at the APA?

Also, what would people say is a good or strong number of TT interviews to have in this market?

Polacrilex said...

Anon 10:01 -
Number of candidates a school will normally interview at the APA ranges from 10-20 (I have heard numbers as low as 6, but I doubt that, especially given how much it costs for a school to interview at the APA).

Good or strong number of TT interviews to have? At least one. That's all it takes to make it to the next round. However, odds are in no one's favor. There is no way to game the system.

FWIW - Last year someone from my program had recently published a book. He had 9 interviews. He got no campus invites. I had fewer interviews, but got a campus invite. There's no logic to this madness.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:01 - My friend, in case you weren't following, a single interview is a strong showing in this market.

In fact, I like to think that my "zero" is a stonger zero than that of many others.

Anonymous said...

Why can none of us get a job? We're not members of the ruling class: http://www.hulu.com/watch/112523/the-american-ruling-class

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:05, I bet you anything my zero is stronger. It was a successful job hunt for me. Strong zeros are hard to come by in this market.

Anonymous said...

Just got the (unsurprising) PFO from Boise State. 588 applications!!! Good grief. Now I really am thrilled to have my one APA interview. I mean really, 588 applications?!

Anonymous said...

Holy shit: Boise State received 588 applications for their position. 600+ applications for the job at City College CUNY in 2009 is one thing: that's NYC, and there are few who wouldn't want to live there. But just under 600 apps for a job in Idaho? (Nothing against Idaho; I've never been, and it might be a great place to live. But, rightly or wrongly, it doesn't have the cache of NYC).

Anonymous said...

best PFO ever (i'm not being sarcastic). i actually believe they wish me well, for once:

We regret to inform you that your name has not been included on our list of finalists. We judged your application to be among the top 13% of the 588 that we received. We were confronted with an almost impossible series of decisions when it came to narrowing it down further to a list of 12 people to interview in New York City.

The fact that you didn't make it onto that list should in no way be construed as a negative judgment on the quality of your application.

Thank you again for your interest in the position. We wish you well in your scholarly pursuits.

Anonymous said...

So, a PFO from Boise State mentions 588 apps received. Hello!

Anonymous said...

I came out of a top program, and so the in-house view, at least in previous years, was that a strong showing was usually 8 or more interviews (with the top candidate(s) nabbing anywhere from 12 to 20 interviews). Last year was a bit dimmer; having half a dozen was a relatively strong result and the top candidate(s) were getting only 10-12 (if that). So with the crunch this year, I suspect that 5-6 interviews (depending on specialty) would be a pretty strong result. Of course, quality counts as well, but in the end, interview numbers matter for shit. One official offer beats the hell out of 20 interviews, 8 flyouts, and no offer. Give 'em hell, gang!

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for you guys. This is my 1st year on the market, ABD from a Leiter-respectable school, and I have 5 interviews. I do have very marketable AOSs though.

Also, I just received the Boise State PFO. It states:

"We regret to inform you that your name has not been included on our list of finalists... We received a staggering 588 applications for the position. Consequently, we had no choice but to pass over many well qualified applicants such as yourself."

I hope they didn't send that same email to everyone. My guess is that at least 100-200 of the applicants must have been ill qualified.

BunnyHugger said...

Last year I got two APA interviews. One turned into a campus visit, the other didn't. I also ultimately had two other campus visits with places that phone interviewed. (These were all for tenure-track jobs; as I am in a reasonably secure renewable position I don't bother with VAPs.) I didn't get any of the jobs. I felt quite optimistic at the end of it, though. Surely if I had three finalist interviews I must be right on the cusp of actually getting hired somewhere.

This year, as I said, no APA interviews. Honestly, my primary feeling is relief that I don't have to go to APA. My secondary feeling is mounting pessimism.

Anonymous said...

I got an email rejection: they said they had a "staggering" number of applicants. 585 of them.

Other numbers mentioned in my rejection letters were "over 300," 175 (the department where I currently adjunct), 258, and another mentioning around the 300 mark.

Just goes to show. This is a lottery, folks. Nothing more, nothing less.

How do you choose (fairly, reasonably, or with not a bit of partiality) from among five hundred some applicants?

Anonymous said...

How do you choose (fairly, reasonably, or with not a bit of partiality) from among five hundred some applicants?

Well, that's the trick, isn't it? The short answer is pedigree. Whether it's used early in the process or later, if the hiring process really is a lottery or involves too many applicants and subjectivity in evaluating writing samples and interpreting grades, letters, etc. to conduct a truly fair search that identifies the best candidates, then pedigree is an understandable proxy to use. Totally justified? Maybe not. But natural and compelling to many. Basically, we're doomed.

Anonymous said...

How do you choose (fairly, reasonably, or with not a bit of partiality) from among five hundred some applicants?

And, more to the point, why should search committees choose fairly, reasonably, or with not a bit of partiality?

It's pretty clear that most job searches yield lots of qualified applicants. Moreover, the interview process is flawed, and unlikely to determine anything like the impartially best candidate. Many of us would thrive given the support of well-endowed institutions with low teaching loads, including many of us who either have or will end up in 4-4s or worse in poor places. Many of the lucky few who thrive in cushy jobs would flounder in more teaching- or servive-demanding circumstances. Departments need only hire someone who can teach in a minimally competent way, and who don't make their lives miserable in department and faculty meetings. They need not burden themselves with finding the best 12/15/18 candidates to interview at the APA. They need only find some people they think they would like to meet, and pick a satisfactory few to bring to campus. And there's no need to read all the files fairly, reasonably, or with not a bit of partiality in order to do so.

As lamentable as it seems to us job-seekers, I don't believe that departments have any responsiblity to us to read all of the files, and figure out some way to determine who are the best candidates. Such an attempt would be a quixotic waste of committee members' time. They would be better served just to dump the most obviously unqualified and pick a solid 15 or so.

If search committees knew the above, then the results of our application process would seem nothing better than random. Oh wait, they do.

Anonymous said...

I'm still exercising self-deception by continuing to believe that some jobs *still* haven't scheduled APA interviews.

Anyone heard from Toronto, Rochester, Maryland?

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:21 AM,

Pretty much everything you just said applies to not only pedigree, but also gender, race and class. Which shows that it can't be acceptable.

(BTW, the original comment you were responding too goes a bit too far when it says "not a bit." I'm pretty sure anyone would recognize a role for at least a *bit* of partiality at some point in some circumstances.)

Anonymous said...

Anyone, what does "PFO" stand for? (I mean, I understand that we are talking about a rejection letter). Obviously I'm not an insider if I don't understand this simple term, even though I have plenty of "PFO's" this year.
Ok, also "SLAC" what does "S" stand for in "SLAC"?
thanks.

Filosofer said...

Contra Anon 10:25, I don't think that "pedigree" is the simple answer to the how do you choose? question. I'm on the market this year. I have a Ph.D. from a Big Ten school that isn't Michigan, and I landed six interviews for tenure-track positions, plus one for a two-year teaching fellowship. I also know of at least one piece of anecdotal evidence that contradicts the Pedigree Thesis--I'm acquainted with someone who just accepted a TT job from the summer JFP, and that person graduated from a school that isn't ranked by Leiter.

Do I know how these search committees operate? Nope. But at least some of them aren't just pitching your c.v. when they see that you went to Florida State. Whether that is reason to rejoice or reason to despair, I leave to you to decide.

Anonymous said...

The rumor is the Toronto has a short list of like 6 or so. Dunno about Rochester or Maryland.

Anonymous said...

Anon @10:14:

My guess is that PFO means 'Piss the fuck off' But that's just how I've thought of it...maybe it doesn't mean that?

SLAC definitely means 'small liberal arts college'

Anonymous said...

I also got a PFO from Boise saying I am at the top 13% (see the entry December 23, 2009 2:49 PM below). Anybody else at the top 13%? Could you please pass the taters?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:08, "Piss the Fuck Off" is great, so apt. Thanks. Anon 3:18, I got my own Piss the Fuck Off from Boise, but no mention of 13% or of 23% for that matter. Yours is a paradigm "strong zero" from Boise. But joking aside, good work Anon 3:18.

Anonymous said...

PFO = please f*ck off

Anonymous said...

'PFO' stands for 'please fuck off'.

Polacrilex said...

PFO = Please Fuck Off

BTW - BunnyHugger, I feel as though we are in the same boat, especially given similar situations last year compared to this year. I'm not quite sure what happened in between, but I am not doing this again next year if the spring doesn't pan out. Law school has become a realistic option now.

Anonymous said...

"The rumor is the Toronto has a short list of like 6 or so"

Well, that's a sentence that could make itself true. Was there anything to the rumor before 10:52 a.m.? I haven't seen anything on the wiki.

Anonymous said...

I'm that naive anon who asked to explain what PFO stands for. Thanks for the input, everyone. Should we have a PFO contest? Two categories: the shittiest and the most thoughtful. (Or is this suggestion a bit nutty? I sincerely feel this right now.)

BunnyHugger said...

Polacrilex: I too am thinking that if I don't get anything this year I will not bother next year. I have debt I need to dig myself out of, I don't need to be spending hundreds of dollars pointlessly sending out job applications (and maybe hundreds more on APA). I don't know about law school, though. I keep hearing there's a surplus of law school grads too these days. I'll probably just keep on spinning my wheels in my current position until Minerva's owl comes home.

Anon 4:15: I like that idea, but don't have any candidates in mind.
Slightly less dismally, maybe I do just need a break from the job market for a year to regroup, polish my CV, and restore my morale.

Polacrilex said...

Bunny Hugger: The combination of economic concerns with a Hegel reference... nice. I agree with you concerning avoiding paying so much to go on the market. In the end, I believe I simply wasted a lot of money that could have been used more wisely on the stock market or even in Vegas.

Anonymous said...

We have a winner: Alexander Jackson (Rutgers) hired by Boise State University. AOS: Epistemology, Metaphysics.