I wrote this post a while ago, but didn't feel like posting it just then. I'm not sure I feel like posting it now, but I figure, what the hell. So, here's what I hope is my last annual "I didn't get a job this year" post:
Although I haven't received any final word on any of the jobs I interviewed for this year, I have some pretty convincing data that suggests that I'm out of the running for every job I applied for so far in this year's job cycle. There's one school I haven't heard a peep from but is listed on the wiki; another I haven't heard from and which isn't on the wiki but whose department website lists a suspicious number of colloquia by junior philosophers who work in my area; another who sent me a nice "we'll be glad to hire you if the folks we invited to campus don't work out" note. (Seriously. It was a very nice note, for a note that says "we invited people to campus, but not you, though.")
This is a real bummer. I mean, that's obvious, but it's also worth repeating. What a fucking bummer.
When I arrived at my first full-time teaching job out of grad school, I had two goals. 1. To learn how to do this job well—to do a good job of teaching while at the same time carrying out a productive research/publishing program; 2. To compile a record that demonstrates that I am capable of doing a good job of teaching while carrying out a productive research/publishing program. I feel good about what I've accomplished. I'm proud of what I've accomplished. My teaching is going well; my publishing is going well—I had no idea that my publishing would ever go as well as it has; but my job search is not going well. And I am bummed.
Last fall, someone asked me in comments how I can continue to muster the energy to keep applying for jobs year after year. I didn't answer at the time because I wasn't sure. How do I keep this up? It's hard to say. One important factor is that my family is very supportive—Mrs. Zero is behind me all the way, as are my parents and my siblings and what subset of my extended family has a clear idea of what's going on. My friends, both in and out of the profession, and particularly my colleagues here in my department, are supportive, too.
The other thing that keeps me going is that I really do believe in what I'm doing. I feel like I'm doing good work. I like teaching and I believe in my classes. I like writing papers, and I believe in the papers I write, and I am able to place them in good journals. I have compiled a record that I am proud of in the time I've been here. I believe in my record. I believe that my record proves that I can do this job. But my job search is not going well.
In years past I have been able to shrug it off and channel the disappointment into an effort to do better next year. This is the first year I've been genuinely discouraged. I'm not sure what else I can do. I realize that, at a certain point, I just have to get lucky. There are a lot of us—a lot of people who look good on paper. Good enough to interview, and good enough to hire. In order to get the job, you have to look good in all the right ways, and be one who happens to connect in all the right ways. And it's frustrating, because there's not much you can do to make yourself get lucky.
So, I wouldn't say that I'm ready to throw in the towel or anything like that. But I thought about it this year more seriously than I usually do. And I find myself muttering curse words under my breath pretty often.
So, that's what's going on with me. How are you?
P.S. God damn it.