The conventional wisdom appears to be that because the super shitty economy has been causing a below-average number of people to get jobs every year for the past several years, it is going to take longer for our Ph.D.s to go stale. That is, future search committees are going to see that we've had trouble getting jobs, but they're not going to hold it against us because they'll understand that we were caught up in the recession. It's not us, it's George Bush, they'll say.
I have found myself wondering (and worrying) whether this is really true. For one thing, it's not as though there are no new Ph.D.s being produced during this time. A lot of these newer Ph.D.s will have less teaching experience and fewer publications than I have, but they'll definitely seem fresher. Not jaded and worn out. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And someone who finishes her dissertation, doesn't defend it, and stays in grad school for a couple of extra years is going to have more time to devote to publishing than me.
And it's not as though nobody is getting jobs right now. There have been people getting hired the last couple of years, just not as many as usual. Maybe future search committees will think that the hot-shots got hired and whoever was left over must be some kind of a cold-shot. Now, a smart, diligent search committee might play moneyball and try to find a talented person who'd been overlooked by an inefficient job market; but a lazy search committee might not. And everyone I know hates being on search committees.
I don't know. This is more doomy-gloomy than I want to be right now. But I've been wondering and worrying about this for a while, and I wonder what the Smokers have to say.