Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We turned 6 last week [+ New Job Market Thread]

This was our first post. Our stats are below.**

I cringe a little looking back at some past posts. I probably wasn't as funny/clever as I thought I was (Seriously, referencing The Shining in our first post? Real fresh, bro.) or as thoughtful as I should've been (I'll leave it to the reader to find those). And I probably got, like, too raw sometimes (again, for the reader to find). Such are the risks we run archiving our growth as bloggers, scholars, and people (?) on the internet.

Thanks to everyone who reads. I remain pleasantly surprised by our audience, our commenters (we've published over 22,000 comments and counting), and more generally by the little community that's popped up here.

Big-ups especially to our co-moderators, Mr. Zero and Zombie (once commenters, themselves) who kept the blog running through some of the lean years and still keep the blog running more than I do (I've been seduced by microblogging). So happy to have them!

Okay. Okay. Who cares about this, right? Use this as a new job market thread. My stats, excluding the 20 PFOs I got from Wooster, a job I didn't even apply to (not really; though someone in the comments below said they got 4 identical PFOs from Wooster and counting; oof):
Current Position: Yearly; sorta secure(?); they'll keep me around if they can/the budget permits/the need persists (so it seems; they just want to keep it casual still, you know?).
Publications: Not enough to make me competitive for most jobs; folks coming out the last few years are really crushing it; keep it up (or knock it off? I'm torn).
Teaching experience: Plenty.
Applications this year: A handful.
PFOs this year: None official; one silent.
Interviews this year: None (but see applications).
Plan B: None. But I could see doing other things, finally. Especially if those other things don't require me uprooting my life every few years chasing the dragon.
-- Jaded, Ph.D. 

**6 years in, here are our stats (first one from Google (only from 2010 forward); second from Statcounter; click to embiggen):


152 comments:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever had a job interview and came away with the impression that the committee members were total assholes that you really, really can't see yourself getting along with? I had one like that today and I've pretty much decided to bow out of their search (not for this reason alone, mind you--the job is less-than-ideal to begin with). If you're in the running for said job, you'll have one fewer competitor. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

an interview question. what do yall think of thankyou emails to interview teams after the interviews? how long after the interview do you send them? Do you send them to everyone on the committee separately or as a group?

i dont want to seem brown-nosing/desperate, but I also want to express my continued, strong interest in the job/department.

Anonymous said...

I have opted not to send thank-yous. Is this a bad idea? Will some search committee feel snubbed if I do not send a thank you email?

The only one I sent was in response to a committee sending me a question, I answered the question, then thanked them for an interview. I feel like an email out of the blue ("Hey, me again! Thankyouforthefascinatingdiscussion!") would feel forced, and not my style. Any thoughts on this?

Anonymous said...

@12:13 PM, damn, they must have been real assholes! I've never heard of someone voluntarily removing him/herself at this stage, unless they have something already in hand, or that they know will pan out.

That said, congrats to you. You don't want to accept a job and be miserable. It ain't worth it.

I've had the opposite experience so far. I've had two Skype interviews and everyone seemed very nice. At one place, in fact, they seemed *too* nice, which might suggest that they're disengaged and not really interested in me. Hard to tell.

Anonymous said...

1:06--12:13 here. Full disclosure--I have a stable employment situation and can afford to be selective. I don't mean to be insensitive, as I realize many if not most are not in that situation. That said, yes, they were REALLY bad. I have never considered voluntarily opting out of a search before this interview. It's not a decision I make lightly.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I'd send the "thank yous." Sending a simple "thank you" would never be seen as a negative, and it *may* even be positive as it shows that you are attuned to social graces. It will never get you the job (obviously), but if everyone else is doing it, and you are not, it's better not to be the odd person out.

Anonymous said...

Personally I sent out my thank you's as soon as the interview was over. To me it's just politeness, and that should count for a lot (it does in my book, it's the first sign someone isn't a jerk, which is one thing I'd be looking for in a candidate.)
And I don't think you should worry too much about brown nosing. Honestly I think that the more interested in them you seem the better for anywhere that's not Leiterrific. If a teaching school is rational their first worry should be that you're going to split if you get a chance.
Here's one I was uncertain on: If you don't feel that you quite answered a question quite satisfactorily should you just ignore it and hope they didn't notice as much as you did or take the chance to clarify what you said in the follow up note? I made a judgment call on that one, but since second guessing ourselves is every philosophers favorite hobby I'm wondering what others think?

Anonymous said...

12:13 -- Make best use of that anonymity: name and shame!

Anonymous said...

@12:13 I had an interview last year that felt that way. I did not bow out, but I was neither shocked nor terribly disappointed when my candidacy did not move forward. On paper the place seemed great, and prior to the interview it was a job I was really excited about. I know a couple of other people who interviewed with the same school and had similar feelings. So, no, you aren't crazy.

Anonymous said...

@12:13: Yep, I've had that experience too. Glad not to have gotten hired by them.

@12:24: I've served on several search committees, and my own view is that thank-you emails are neither helpful nor harmful. Send 'em if it feels right to you; don't if not. I don't think you'll be judged either way. (Unless, of course, you say stupid things in your email. Just say thanks.)

Anonymous said...

12:13 here. Glad I'm not alone. I will, however, refrain from naming and shaming. Just not my style.

Anonymous said...

"Has anyone ever had a job interview and came away with the impression that the committee members were total assholes that you really, really can't see yourself getting along with?"

Twice. One conference, one fly-out. By the end of the conference interview for one job, I told the committee that I would not take the job if they offered it. By the end of the fly-out for another job, I told the dean that he was a moron, and gave the department chair a ridiculous salary demand that he would never meet.

If I witnessed their best behavior, their "company manners" as my grandmother used to call it, fuck that.

Anonymous said...

12:13--I definitely had that experience on a campus interview. At one point, I seriously considered saying "I think we're done here" and just leaving...but I was afraid that they wouldn't reimburse me for my travel expenses if I left. (And yes, of COURSE they made me pay my own way and get reimbursed months later.)

zombie said...

My second year on the market, I had an APA interview with one of the Rutgers-es (sadly, not New Brunswick!). They called me on the 22nd, and I had to completely change my holiday plans and get to APA for the one interview.

One member of the SC asked about my future research plans, which, as it turned out, I had been thinking about a lot on the way to APA, so I had an enthusiastic and well-considered answer. He audibly (and visibly) scoffed at my response.

He has since retired, and I have done quite well in my scoffed-at research, thankyouverymuch.

So, that was a department I was not, at the time, very enthusiastic about. Luckily, they felt the same about me.

But I only ever bowed out of a search when I had an offer in hand.

Anonymous said...

Any news yet about the NYU Bersoff postdocs?

Anonymous said...

I once got up and left about 10 minutes into an APA interview. I only had a one year lectureship at the time, but the interviewers were such a bunch of condescending blowhards that nothing could have enticed me to take a job with them.

Anonymous said...

One committee once asked me to explain my 5-year research plans, for a 1-year non-renewable position.

By this time, I was so done with their shenanigans that I answered, "phoning in the teaching so I publish myself into a permanent job."

I didn't get a fly-back, but one committee member did chuckle.

Anonymous said...

PFO from Leeds.

Anonymous said...

Tulane... Come on

zombie said...

How many PFOs from Wooster are we up to now?

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard anything from Davidson? No action on the wiki, but it's been a while.

Anonymous said...

More questions about interview thank you emails: very concretely, what do you say? Thanks for the questions and discussion, I'm still interested?

Ok, now that I wrote that, that seems the obvious, natural, fine thing to say.

I just interviewed with an *utterly* delightful SLAC department where I think I would fit in really, really well. There's a small chance they may perceive me as a flight risk/not really interested in a SLAC job, though I'm not certain of that. Should I just SAY i'm still really interested in the job?

Anonymous said...

Davidson has contacted people for Skype interviews.

Anonymous said...

@9:25 -- I had the same experience -- I'm terrified we interviewed at the same SLAC! :/ But, I wouldn't say "I'm still interested" -- I would strongly imply it, though. "It was a delight speaking with you all, please convey my thanks to jim bob and sheila as well, and do let me know if there are materials or information from me that would be helpful to you as you construct your shortlist" ---That's what I say.

I mean, uh, tell them about the other schools schools you are interested in. "You know, I've got a lot of options, so I would appreciate it if you would hurry up and let me know. THANKS." SLACs love it when you play hard to get.

Seriously, I hope we are talking about different schools and that we both get the job!

Anonymous said...

UCSD has contacted people for M&E flyouts.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard from Syracuse--TT or postdoc? Illinois--Value Theory? UCSD--Ethics/Social Political? LSE?

Anonymous said...

Anyone hear from Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Hampshire, or Benedictine?

Anonymous said...

Wow! The wiki really pummeled me this morning!!! :(

Anonymous said...

Great news on the wiki today - on-campus interviews scheduled without me!

Merry fucking Christmas.

zombie said...

Re: thank yous

I don't think they're necessary. As someone who is on a SC right now, it would not make any difference to me or my decision-making.

However, I think it is worth telling the committee, if you think they have some reason to consider you a flight risk, that you are still interested, since that COULD make a difference. You could say something along the lines of "It was a pleasure speaking to you and the committee last week. Please let me know if you have any further questions for me, or would like additional materials, blah blah blah."

Anonymous said...

You know what's really frustrating? When a school is hitting up your webpage like crazy for the better part of a month and gets your hopes up and then decides not to interview you. GACK!

Anonymous said...

Did UCSD (ethics) notify by email or phone?

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how many candidates UCSD is flying out for each of their respective searches (in m/e and ethics/pol)?

Anonymous said...

"We turned 6 last week."

Since everyone here seems mostly concerned with posting about jobs and stuff, I just wanted to say "Thank You" for all the work you guys have done over the years. I am a faculty member and I have come by this place to read your posts and sometimes commented on the issues raised. It really has been helpful to get a sense of what other people think and to (sometimes) hear useful advice from commentators. So you guys should get a gold star for helping the profession and making my evenings more interesting than they would otherwise have been without you.

Cheers.

zombie said...

1:37: I totally agree. Amherst and Minneapolis, don't toy with me!

Anonymous said...

"You know what's really frustrating? When a school is hitting up your webpage like crazy for the better part of a month and gets your hopes up and then decides not to interview you. GACK!"

I agree. But on the positive side, at least you were considered.

I had three institutions hitting my website (although not for the better part of month), and nothing came of it. However, in each case, there were features of the job ad that made me a plausible but not perfect candidate.

Anonymous said...

@1:37 This definitely happened to me. Last year academia search hits correlated pretty closely with interviews. This year I got a half dozen hits each from places near the two schools I was most excited about. Did not get an interview request from either one. It made it that much more heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:37 PM, I know the feeling. I have a hypothesis about heavy site counts from specific departments not translating into interviews. I've had this happen several times in the past. My suspicion is that I was very near the top of their long list or perhaps a contested candidate. In my experience, the departments that have invited me to interview with them almost never visit my website. They are persuaded by the application materials alone.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:23 PM,

Thank you for your insights. On reflection, your hypothesis seem quite plausible.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what is happening (or what has happened) with the position in continental philosophy at Eastern Michigan U? It's not even listed on the wiki and apparently never has been.

Anonymous said...

Question about faculty 'helping out'---do phone calls, emails, etc., to members of the search committee in support of a candidate make a positive difference? I'm worried they could do more harm than good, but it's hard to turn down someone offering to help in any way. Are they good at one stage, bad at another? Can people who have experience on search committees weigh in?

Anonymous said...

I'm on a SC this year. (At a SLAC.) I was horrified to read 12:13's comment. Good lord I hope we were not that search committee. I'm quite fond of my colleagues so it's hard to imagine someone thought we were all assholes. But one never knows I suppose; and we did interview on Wednesday.

Perhaps we were the utterly delightful SC that 9:25 and 9:40 mention. (Not likely but one can hope.)

I have to agree with those who have suggested that thank you notes are extremely unlikely to make a substantial difference. However, I confess I do appreciate them and while I don't think it would alter the decision-making process, it might reassure members of the committee that a candidate is interested in the position.

(On a related note, we have lots of candidates who might appear to be "flight risks" but ultimately that just isn't something we take into account. Second guessing candidates is fruitless. It seems to me much wiser to recruit excellent candidates and if they leave, to wish them well and go back and look for more excellent candidates. Yes, searches are a lot of work. But I don't see how we're doing ourselves any favors in trying to figure out who's most likely to stick around.

I will say that the candidate pool -- at least in our desired AOS -- is insanely deep. Discriminating between the top 25 dossiers was extremely difficult. Discriminating between most of them in a principled way that tracks merit alone was nearly impossible, for me at least.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zombie said...

9:51 -- there has never been a case in my experience where I know one of my references made a call, and it helped me. i.e. I never got an interview out of it.

But I don't know that it hurt either.

Anonymous said...

Last year I interviewed with Lehigh, and I found out from them that I would not be getting a flyout before news that they offered flyouts was posted on the wiki.

I liked that. Departments should notify candidates that interviewed with them that they are not getting flyouts, so that people don't have to either learn from the wiki or wonder through the holidays whether things are just running behind.

Anonymous said...

I've served on 2 searches, so my 2 cents:

On thank you notes: I appreciate them, but forget about them almost immediately. After they come in (or don't), I no longer remember who sent them and who didn't. They are nice, but make no difference to me (or the others I've worked with). Too many other things to be thinking about.

On flight risks: While I generally agree with 10:57, there are flight risks, and then there are flight risks. I assume that everyone who applies to the job wants it. I don't expect applicants to jump through hoops to prove they would suffer employment. However, during interviews, some applicants (intentionally or otherwise) announce themselves as flight risks (examples taken from 2 past searches):
-the applicant who repeatedly noted his desire to eventually live in another part of the country
-the applicant who informed us that he could "learn to accept" teaching our students (we are a small state school with largely open admissions)
and my favorite...
-the applicant who, in discussing his research goals, informed us that he plans on being at a more prestigious school within 5 years.

Trying to figure out what applicants might or might not do is fruitless. But when they tell you directly, I find it's best to move on to someone else.

Anonymous said...

Wiki sez Pitt is interviewing (for the open position). I just got an email telling me that they wouldn't be calling junior candidates until January. Are we sure that Pitt is really already interviewing? I mean, I know they are evil (and I still applied), but doesn't it seem particularly bizarre to lie about their progress in an unsolicited update?

Anonymous said...

I got the email from Pitt that Zombie mentions, but minutes later someone posted on the wiki that Pitt had scheduled fly-outs for the ethics TT. Have they scheduled interviews or flyouts for the TT or is there still hope?

Anonymous said...

Is UCSD now done scheduling interviews? Did they call or email?

Anonymous said...

I know someone who got a fly-out at Pitt, so that email is disingenuous at best.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I would also appreciate PFOs from schools who interviewed me. I put a lot of thought and time into the interview, and it would just be nice to get an update, e.g. "We have chosen several candidates to bring to campus, and we wanted to let you know that at this time, you are not among them. We did enjoy speaking with you, and wish you the best, blah blah ..." Something like that would be nice. Leaving me hanging is a bit rude. Why not provide candidates, especially the ones who took the time to interview, with information? It would literally take 5 minutes to write an email and send it to the rejects.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. Wooster has signed a contract with the application deadline still pending. Cabrini has schedule first round interviews with the application deadline still pending. Pitt informed candidates that decisions wouldn't be made until January after they scheduled on campus interviews. Two leiter-ranked schools have asked candidates not to update the wiki for "really good reasons." Is it just me or does this seem like an awful lot of disingenuous behavior by search committees? They already have all of the power and scores of desperate applicants, why the need for misdirection and bad information as well?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:36,

Why is Pitt evil?

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous @11:16.

Once second-round interviews are scheduled, SCs should send a message along the following lines:

"Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your time.. Second round interviews have been scheduled, though regrettably, etc... Please note that your application is considered active until a final candidate has been chosen..."

Anonymous said...

"Pitt informed candidates that decisions wouldn't be made until January after they scheduled on campus interviews."

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I understood the Pitt email to indicate that senior candidates would be interviewed in December through Spring, and that junior candidates would be contacted for interviews in January. So unless Pitt is flying-out candidates for the Assistant rank (are they?), I don't think the email was disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else think the Ryerson PFO was condescending and tone deaf?

Anonymous said...

@1:07--no, not really. why do you think so? I thought it was as kind and thoughtful as such a thing could be.

Anonymous said...

@1:32 several things, but primarily invoking emotion. I don't need you, after rejecting me for a job, to tell me how I feel about the process.

Anonymous said...

Last year I sent a thank you email to a search committee chair the day after a Skype interview. The SC chair replied back: "Thanks - wish we could hire them all."

I took that to be the indication that they were not going to hire me. And I was right - I never heard anything from them ever again.

Anonymous said...

No PFO is going to please everyone. For any variation on the theme that hits the right notes for most, someone is going to find it thoroughly irritating.

On the other hand, SCs not getting in touch with candidates whom they've interviewed, to keep them informed about decisions, is completely indefensible.

Mike Titelbaum said...

Wanted to echo the thanks above to everyone who has run and is running this blog. It was awesome for me when I was on the market. (The information was nice, but I stayed for the sarcasm.) Now I come to offer words of encouragement/advice when I can, to keep up on information for my students, and to know what to avoid doing when I'm on SCs.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any opinions about (or experience with) taking a spouse along on a fly-out? I have a fly-out coming up, and my partner has that week off and would like to see the town. Obviously, I would pay for the extra air fare and go to the scheduled campus events alone, but I would like for the two of us to be able to share the hotel room (which I'd guess would be no extra cost to the university). Would this be weird or inappropriate? Thanks in advance to those of you willing to share any thoughts on this!

Anonymous said...

I have the same question as @5:31, but I'd also like to know if it's different if you are a lady bringing a husband. Or kids. Or if your spouse is in academia, too.

Anonymous said...

'Last year I sent a thank you email to a search committee chair the day after a Skype interview. The SC chair replied back: "Thanks - wish we could hire them all."'

Academics have no class.

Anonymous said...

@5:31: Not in appropriate, but yes, weird. I wouldn't do it. You want the SC members to remember you for your work, not as the guy who brought his wife along.

Anonymous said...

5:31,

People do it. Ask the hotel if you can have someone else in the room without extra charge first. (Because they will be charging the university for the room, regardless of any offer to pay part of the bill.) Then let the department know, and maybe even pitch it as "my spouse wants to get to know the area," in a way that shows your interest in the area (your interest in the school should be obvious). And make sure that, under no circumstances, does your spouse show up anywhere near any of your interview activities, even if they tell you your spouse is welcome to the social parts (especially if they tell you that "it's not part of the interview").

Anonymous said...

Question about post-interview protocol. Is it ever appropriate to ask the SC chair, "Why didn't you hire me?" I mean this generally, and of course, posed in a less direct way. I guess what I'm also asking is, is it okay to ask for feedback on the interview?

Anonymous said...

So here's a despairing question: Can you really publish your way into a good job or even into a TT job in general? I hear all the time about this as a strategy, but I'm scratching my head to think about concrete cases of people doing this. The reason I ask is that I'm currently in a VAP/Lecturer/Instructor/Teaching Monkey or whatever you want to call it position and my research actually is starting to get some good traction. The position is renewable and barring economic downturn will be renewed so if it's possible to publish your way out I feel pretty good about doing so. Then again if that's just a pipe dream I wonder about moving on to something that has an actual structure for pay raises which my job doesn't.

So yeah if any of you have your own Horatio Alger story of working your way up from the bottom, especially once you were a few years out of the PhD, I'd love to hear it. I don't need to know that it's likely just that it has been done. Right now I'm seriously wondering if the whole you can publish your way out line isn't just another story the arbitrarily successful in our field tell us and themselves to justify their own success and keep us from quitting en masse and leaving them to actually do some teaching for a change.

Anonymous said...

6:23 here, I should specify, I would never think of doing this but I have a breastfeeding baby. Two nights away is a bit crazy and can get really painful.

I'm also wondering if anyone has any experience asking for time and a place to pump in the middle of a visit. I'm terrified to do this, as it's incredibly awkward, gives away my family status, etc. But going for more than a few hours without pumping is impossible. Plus, they might have no idea: "pump? what do you mean" me: "like, milk, you know, for a baby ..."

Anonymous said...

7:47,

I know of a few people who asked for feedback, with mixed results (some never heard back, others for a few pointers). If I were doing it, I'd not my interest in the job, and claim (even if not true) that I am aiming for a job at institutions like that one. And I'd frame it in terms of, "how can I make my application/interview/etc. stronger to improve my chances at being hired at such an institution?"

Anonymous said...

I think it's ok to ask for feedback after an interview that doesn't progress to a campus visit, but I think this should always be posed as a general request for feedback, which would be helpful for you going forward or as you're preparing for other interviews--don't ask for specific information about why you didn't progress for this position (they can always offer such information if they want to).

Anonymous said...

Is it ever appropriate to ask the SC chair, “Why didn’t you hire me?”

You can ask, but don’t expect a useful answer.

In cases where there’s an answer, you’re unlikely to get the truth. You’ll be told, instead, something vague about fit — that every candidate was more than qualified for the position and that the department would have been delighted to hire any from among a fairly large pool. No sensible person is going to tell another person something like, “You rubbed some of us the wrong way,” or “Some other candidates just came across as slightly brighter and more composed during the interview, and we needed some basis for shrinking the pool.”

In many cases, however, it is genuinely the case that there is nothing the candidate could have done which would have changed the outcome. By the time the SC has narrowed the pool down to three candidates, sometimes departments would be completely happy to hire any of them. Whether they admit it or not, it's often just a matter of trying to work out who they think will be the most agreeable colleague. (In my experience, SC members will rarely admit this even to themselves. They will argue for their choices on the basis of what they perceive to be substantial distinctions — e.g. “Candidate X’s research program will likely result in more publications,” or, “Candidate Y seems like they'll get along with our students.” But I’m always skeptical that we’re in a position to make these discriminations accurately.)

In light of all this, what could the SC chair tell a candidate that would accurately reflect the actual decision-making process and hence be useful? “Be more charismatic”? I’m not saying that there’s isn’t useful information to be had in many cases. I’ve often wished I could advise candidates about changes I think would make a real difference to their job searches going forward. But it would be extremely imprudent actually to say something, even when asked.

Anonymous said...

6:23:

I would just explain the situation in that case. Yes, you can't be sure it won't factor negatively into the SC committee's decision. But I'd like to think that, more likely than not, SCs will be accommodating and pleased that you were transparent about your needs. I know that we'd be happy to make room for a candidate to pump every couple of hours, to provide a comfortable space, and to ferry a candidate back to hotel room and a waiting infant, should the need arise.

An on-campus interview is not just an opportunity for the department to get a look at a candidate. It's an opportunity for a candidate to get a look at the department and decide whether this is a place she'd like to work. Perhaps I'm being a bit starry eyed and naive however.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that in some cases (IMO frequently), not getting a fly-out is not really connected to how well or poorly one did in an interview, since the pecking order was more or less cemented before the interview.

Anonymous said...

@6:23: In that case you should absolutely bring your baby, and be clear about what accommodations you'll need. That's entirely different than bringing along a spouse just for fun, which I think would be perceived as silly.

Anonymous said...

9:00,

First, I see no problem bringing your child. I would contact the department secretary (who will be in charge of scheduling campus visits) and letting her (or him) know that you will need some time to attend to your child.

Second, if you are denied such a request, you should file a complaint.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am curious to hear why Pitt is evil.

Dysfunctional and overrated, perhaps..., but evil?

zombie said...

9:00 -- how well such accommodations will be perceived will REALLY depend on the climate and culture of the dept. I'm in a pretty diverse and PC department, and we had a candidate a few years ago who was pumping. She let the chair know, and he made sure everyone who would be taking the candidate anywhere (like lunch) knew that she might need alone time for thta purpose. (She got the job.)

But other departments might get weird about it. Hard to say. But I don't think you really have any choice but to mention it, since you WILL NEED to have that time, and there's really no possibility of sneaking off without it raising suspicions.

zombie said...

Personally, I absolutely would not bring a spouse or my kids to the fly-out. You don't need something else to think/worry about during the fly-out. You will be non-stop busy, except at night, when you will really and truly need time to decompress, review, and sleep.

Many departments will send someone from the department to pick you up at the airport -- that's when the interview begins. I guess you could put the family in a cab on their own at that point, but it just makes everything logistically more difficult. And your spouse and/or kids will be eating without you.

Finally, you might not get the job (it happens!), which is kind of a wasted trip for your spouse, unless s/he just really, really wants to see the area. Alone. Without you. On an effectively solo trip. (In which case, go when the weather is better!)

I took lots of pictures during fly-outs, and copious mental notes about the area so I could relay that info to my spouse later.

zombie said...

7:47: you can ask (how can it hurt? You didn't get the job, after all.)

Don't expect an answer. There is so much potential liability there for the SC, department, and school. HR would scream bloody murder if someone said anything, b/c it could potentially lead to a lawsuit. And anything can lead to a lawsuit.

I'm sure there are times when the SC really would like to offer some helpful advice, e.g. telling someone one of their reference letters is really lousy and not helping them.

Anonymous said...

For those of you that have had fly-outs in the past: What was the relationship between how you thought your interview went and your getting a campus fly-out? Did you expect the fly-outs based on your performance? Were you surprised because you thought your interview went poorly?

Anonymous said...

@2:12: In my experience (more than 10 flyouts), there has only been a negative correlation. That is: I don't think I've ever gotten a flyout for a job where I felt like the interview went terribly. But I have definitely had flyouts after interviews that I thought were rather mediocre. And I've never had an interview that went so obviously well that I just thought I was surely going to get a flyout. (I'm not sure that judgment is ever a good one to make.)

On the other hand, the times I really felt like I nailed the on-campus interview are the times I got the offer.

Anonymous said...

I have gotten a fly-out where I thought the interview went terribly.

zombie said...

I pretty much concur with 3:43, although I haven't had nearly as many fly-outs. There's a correlation between first-rounds that were not very good, and not getting a fly-out.

Two of my fly-outs were straight to campus, no first-round. Two were preceded by Skype interviews that I think went very well, but I also thought the fly-outs went really well, and didn't get the jobs. (And one search I withdrew from before the fly-out.)

Derek Bowman said...

@7:47:

Not exactly analogous, but I know someone in another field who received a generic PFO which had a line indicating that they would be willing to provide applicants with feedback on their applications. Upon requesting such feedback, he received the following e-mail (quoted in full, minus address and signature).

"Thank you for your request for feedback about your unsuccessful application. The appointment panel carefully assessed all applications against the selection criteria. Those who most closely matched the criteria were shortlisted. I am sorry that you were not among them."

Anonymous said...

I've been offered a sabbatical replacement position for next year. Hurrah, work! (Un?)fortunately, I also have a Skype interview for a TT position. I'm expecting the TT search will run into Feburary and maybe the beginning of March. I know it's appropriate to ask for a little bit of time to make a decision, but asking for (potentially) months feels unfair. Dear Smokers, what do?

zombie said...

Ha. That's an HR-vetted feedback letter, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Regarding pumping and babies: if they hired you, they would have to accommodate the pumping. And they are under federal obligations not to discriminate against you for pumping. And it may make them uncomfortable, and it may count against you, and no one will admit taht it had anything to do with no offer. I have had friends interview pregnant (and get jobs), and I had fly outs while nursing, but my tiny person was almost weaned (so I only pumped in the morning and at night, without notice). Bringing your baby, even if you only see the baby in the morning and at night would likely make you feel better. You have to pump, so why not bring the baby (they will already know)?

zombie said...

6:13 -- have they given you two weeks to accept?

You are right that a TT offer would probably not happen before February, and late February at the earliest. But the SC making the one year offer also knows that they are making an offer before anyone could realistically know what other options they have.

Here's what you could do: Tell them you have other interviews already lined up, and ask for extra time. When you have your TT interview (presumably first-round?) let them know that you have an offer in hand, but that you are still very interested in their position (assuming you are). That tells them you need to know sooner rather than later if you are advancing to a fly-out, and it also tells them you are in demand. (Nothing succeeds like success.)

This might still not work out, timing-wise, at which point you have to make a decision. Better to have a bird in the hand? But, you basically have until the ink dries on the contract to back out without harm.

I've had friends who were quite successful at turning an offer they were not very enthusiastic about into offers from other places, so you want to use this to your advantage, one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

@8:15am

I cannot speak out of experience (I'm in a similar position as you), but I can say that in the world of human affairs everything is impossible, until someone makes it possible.

zombie said...

8:15 -- I don't know the answer, but I hope so. (some time ago, someone posted something on this blog about someone --pretty sure it was a female philosopher -- who published her way up. But I lack the essential details, like her name, and when it happened.)

I believe, in my case, I published my way into a TT job (non-ranked grad program, no pubs on graduation, landed a pretty good postdoc and published, published, published), and I'm hoping I can someday publish my way to a better place. But that's a work in progress.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine published her way from a 5/5 teaching load to a nice R1 position. She did it through publishing, but also through being a fixture at every conference for about three years - and, as far as I can tell, foregoing sleep entirely.

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen, it's easier to publish one's way from a lower-ranked TT job to a higher one, than it is to publish one's way from non-TT (adjunct or out of work) to TT employment.

I think all the talk of publishing one's way into a job is a way for TT faculty to convince themselves that the market is a meritocracy.

Anonymous said...

"I think all the talk of publishing one's way into a job is a way for TT faculty to convince themselves that the market is a meritocracy."

Yes, yes, yes ... I wholeheartedly agree. Publications are becoming less and less relevant. And quality and breadth of teaching seem to be less important, too. I wonder ... just what else is there that a candidate could do to establish that he or she would succeed in a TT job?

Anonymous said...

"Yes, yes, yes ... I wholeheartedly agree. Publications are becoming less and less relevant. And quality and breadth of teaching seem to be less important, too. I wonder ... just what else is there that a candidate could do to establish that he or she would succeed in a TT job?"

5:37 here again.

I don't think publications are becoming less and less relevant. Rather, they just aren't enough to wash away the stink of PhD staleness. Nothing highlights success quite like success. Whether they admit it or not, I think hiring committees are biased toward applicants who already hold TT positions, and view non-TT applicants as less successful; if they were any good, why didn't *they* get that job instead of someone else?

Teaching is also not less relevant, but rather TT teaching is seen as more valuable than non-TT teaching, because of the same bias.

Nothing inspires confidence like success. Holding a TT job is "proof" of success.

The problem is that for the very, very few people who do go from non-TT to TT jobs, there are a great many who do not. The former are always viewed as *proof* that it's possible, while the latter are not seen as *proof* of its near impossibility.

Derek Bowman said...

@5:37 and @8:32:

Yes, I completely agree. There just isn't a rational career path in this field anymore. There are things you can do to ruin your chances, and there are things you can do to improve your chances. But the role of random chance, combined with the big chasm between moderate success and abject failure, means that it's not something you can really plan on.

All the more reason for students and job candidates to think about Plan Bs. And all the more reason for the entire philosophical community to think of ways of conceiving of membership in the community in ways that aren't subject to the financial needs of alien institutions.

Anonymous said...

6:13 - If the hiring committee of the TT one-year replacement position does not allow for months of extra time for your decision (they probably won't), you try to get some extra time and see if the TT hiring committee could do your on campus earlier. If that doesn't work out, given the state of the market it seems a good idea to accept the one-year replacement and, if offered the TT job, ask for a one-year deferral (it is not uncommon to grant deferrals for instance, for people who want to finish their postdocs)

Anonymous said...

"All the more reason for students and job candidates to think about Plan Bs."

Thank you. I've been saying this here for years, and tend to get yelled at when I do.

I get that Plan Bs are tough. First, not all skills transfer cleanly. Second, you have to start immediately, and not as a back-up when the market looms. And because of both of those points, it means that time spent explicitly developing a Plan B is tie not spent working on a conference paper, or an article, or picking up an extra section of a course to round out your teaching portfolio, all of which will certainly help improve your chances on the market (which is the reason why you went to grad school in the first place).

Part of this is that nobody works toward the PhD in order to go for Plan B, so nobody wants to take that time away from their work (or from other things, like family and sleep). Starting work on Plan B from the start looks like, to too many people, admitting defeat before the race even begins.

Two things need to happen, and they need to happen right now:
1. Advisors *must* begin advising students to Plan B careers, and drop any stupid pretentious notions that alternative careers are a sign of failure.
2. We *must* stop calling it "Plan B." For far too many people, this *will* be their career. This will be Plan A. Given the paucity of TT jobs, "TT job" is the new "Plan B."

-5:37

Anonymous said...

@7:37 & 7:47

There's way too much pessimism around here.

The movement from a non-TT position to TT is still a viable route. In a non-TT position you get teaching experience, you have (or have to make) time to publish and you can develop other skills that will make you highly desirable to departments looking for a new hire.

Publishing is one avenue toward a TT job - but there are multiple routes and all should be adopted within a successful strategy and game plan. The problem is not that there aren't jobs but that the job seekers (philosophers) lack business sense.

Change your attitude about what it takes to get a TT position and your possibilities will inevitably change.

Anonymous said...

7:37

"I think hiring committees are biased toward applicants who already hold TT positions, and view non-TT applicants as less successful"

Are you talking about "entry-level" TT jobs? They want you to already be in a TT job?? I was told publications would be an advantage, and then I was told having a non-TT job (rather than, say, staying around the department after getting the phd) would be an advantage, but this is the first time I heard the way to get a TT job is by having a TT job already.. Why have I let myself be deceived again and again? GOD the market sucks!

But suppose that is now the way to go.. *How* do I go from one TT job (at a not so good place) to a better TT job? As in.. wouldn't applying to other places right after I start on the new job look bad?

Anonymous said...

Given the following two options, which would you choose:

- A TT at a non-selective (and certainly non-Leiter) state school, 3/3
- A cushy 2-year post-doc at a good liberal arts college (1/1)

Which would serve as a better launching pad to a better TT job in 2 years?

Anonymous said...

"Are you talking about "entry-level" TT jobs?"

There are no more "entry-level" TT jobs. TT is no longer, except in rare cases, the "entry-level" position. That designation should more properly refer to post-docs, term-limited visiting positions, and full-time lectureships. TT is no longer "entry-level" by any meaningful standard.

"They want you to already be in a TT job??"

Ideally, yes. Nothing looks more successful than success. Nothing shows promise better than success.

"I was told publications would be an advantage"

They are, over those who have not published. But from what I can tell, no amount of publications makes you look better than an applicant who is already TT.

"and then I was told having a non-TT job (rather than, say, staying around the department after getting the phd) would be an advantage"

And it can be, to some schools (especially "teaching schools"), but only compared to others in your positions without such experience.

There is nothing you can do to make yourself look stronger than someone who is already in a TT position. To borrow from an old cliche, nothing makes money like money.

"but this is the first time I heard the way to get a TT job is by having a TT job already.. Why have I let myself be deceived again and again?"

As noted above, the new "entry-level" positions are post-docs, term-limited VAPs, and full-time lectureships. It is possible to claw into a TT position from one of those, especially if the post-doc is prestigious.

"GOD the market sucks!"

Yup.

"But suppose that is now the way to go.. *How* do I go from one TT job (at a not so good place) to a better TT job?"

Define "better." In all cases, publish. Publishing *never* hurts you, unless you publish in shit journals. If you want to move to a SLAC, teaching matters, especially innovative teaching. Teaching matters less at research schools, although it should not be completely discounted.

"As in.. wouldn't applying to other places right after I start on the new job look bad?"

No. Until you have tenure, you do not have long-term security. There is nothing wrong with keeping an eye out for other opportunities. Also, even if you decide to stay where you are (once you have a TT job), having other options can help you secure a raise, early tenure, a spousal hire, research funding, etc.

-7:37 (as I am now)

Anonymous said...

" If you want to move to a SLAC, teaching matters, especially innovative teaching."

No, no, no. Teaching matters very little, even to SLAC, "teaching-oriented" schools. Go back to Leiter's list of TT hires last year as an example and see how many hires at so-called teaching schools hired people with extensive teaching experience and/or evidence of innovative teaching. I followed the list last year and there were many people who got hired by SLAC schools with little or NO teaching experience. This notion that teaching matters to non-R1 departments is now a myth. Star power extends all the way down.

Anonymous said...

"- A TT at a non-selective (and certainly non-Leiter) state school, 3/3
- A cushy 2-year post-doc at a good liberal arts college (1/1)

Which would serve as a better launching pad to a better TT job in 2 years?"

Stop thinking this way. Given the realities of the market, you will likely never launch yourself into a better position. Stop thinking about what might lead to a better job down the road. Think of your options in this way:

-full-time, long-term (likely permanent) employment
-full-time, short-term employment

Or this way:

-never having to re-enter the job market, unless you really want to
-having to re-enter the job market in 2 years, where you will have to compete for fewer jobs with more applicants, some of whom will have stronger applications

-7:37

Anonymous said...

7:37:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH
and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Anonymous said...

This is 8:15: I'm going to pretty much ignore everyone here but zombie, who actually has a tenure track job and actually has served on search committees. I assume that everyone else is someone no more and possibly quite a bit less succesful than me. (If I'm being unfair, sorry, but let me know your credentials please.) So here's a question for zombie: What do you think about taking a TT job any TT job over a fairly stable, renewable teaching job in a city you actually like? It's actually important to me as far as this year's job market goes. I really do have a good project and I've got the classes I need to teach where I'm at down well enough that I can do a pretty good job and still have time for research and living like a human being. I figure if I go somewhere else I'll actually be a lot weaker research wise a year or two from now than if I stayed here. (New classes and new preps and the general hassle of moving factored in. There's also the fact that there's just a lot more people who actually have their finger on the pulse of the profession here than there would be at most places.) So if what these people are saying is true and having a TT job is a necessary condition for getting taken seriously then I'm not sure what I'd do. But if more research can do the trick I think it's pretty obvious what I ought to do. Thoughts? (Don't mind if others weigh in but only if you're actually snagged a TT job and preferably have served on a search committee or are a placement director who's actually competent.)

zombie said...

OK, 8:15, no pressure! :-)

If you are happy and productive where you are, and have good reason to think you'll be stronger as a candidate next year, and there is no other compelling reason (baby on the way or whatever) that a "permanent" job would be more prudent financially, then you have good reasons to stay put rather than take a job that (it sounds like) you wouldn't want to stay in.(Keeping in mind there will be even more philosophers looking for jobs next year.)

I agree that your first TT year will be relatively fallow, research-wise, for the reasons you cite. You will also discover that in a TT job, you have other commitments, like committee work, that will take time away from your research. VAPs and adjuncts are often spared those duties.

Here's my experience as a TT prof who is also looking for a job in a more desirable location: out of two jobs last year where I was a finalist (had a fly-out) but did not get the job, in one case the person who got the job was one year into a TT job somewhere else, and in the other case, the person hired was a VAP (with several consecutive positions).

So, there you go: you CAN move up from a non-TT job to a TT job, and you can move from one TT job to another.

Here's my experience so far this year (with a couple of first-rounds, and one fly-out scheduled): the quality of the depts/schools I am now interviewing with is (1) better than the quality of depts/schools I got interviews with last year (e.g. they all have grad programs), and (2) the quality of the schools is better than the one where I am now (e.g. I'm at an R2, and two of the schools interviewing me are R1s, though not Leiterrific). (FWIW, I cannot get SLACs to give me a tumble, no matter how hard I flirt with them, so I have no advice to give there.) Will I get anywhere with these interviews? I'll let you know. If I do, I will consider it a move up.

Maybe I'm deluding myself by believing that the academic job market is a meritocracy (ahem), but I've worked my ass off the last few years. Journal papers, book chapters, blogs. A book under contract. Many conferences. I edited a special issue of a journal. Organizational leadership, organizing events at my uni, I guest lecture in other classes, I develop new courses, work on new programs, apply for grants (Gawd, what a time-suck that is!). If it adds a good line to my CV, I'll do it. I don't know how much service to the profession and my department and school matter when I'm a job candidate. Maybe not much at all. But I'm not a good shmoozer, so I'm trying hard to network and forge professional connections in other ways. (I think it's working, based on opportunities that have come my way in the last year.)

continued...

zombie said...

Part the second...

Finally, as someone on an SC, I can tell you that in my dept, both scholarship and teaching matter. We seriously considered ABDs and PhDs. We seriously considered (interviewed) VAPs, adjuncts, and someone who was already in a TT job somewhere else (although we had reasons to suspect that person is a flight risk, or just looking for a bargaining chip). We considered candidates from ranked and non-ranked programs. We looked at the research, publications, and also the teaching experience.

So, if you are a productive researcher and you have good teaching experience, my SC would have seriously considered you (assuming you matched our AOS/AOC). We got applications from people who, on paper at least, are very strong, with lots of pubs, lots of teaching experience in non-TT jobs. We also got apps from people who are relatively weak, with few pubs (or pubs in really iffy journals, or books with iffy publishers), poor or no teaching experience, etc.

Finally, lastly (I'm almost done), on the issue of staleness. I think you go stale immediately (kinda like a new car) if you don't publish consistently. As a benchmark, say at about the rate you would have to publish to get tenure. (That varies from place to place, obvy.) If you're more than a couple of years out, not publishing enough to get tenure at X University tells the SC at X University that you won't cut it there. (That said, we all know that people from fancy schools with zero pubs get hired. I guess based on their potential. But once you're released into the wild, your potential doesn't count anymore. Results count.)

Did that answer your question?

Anonymous said...

11:34 - Postdoc or so-so TT job? Just some background, I have a TT position at a desirable, research-intensive college. Prior to this job, I got offers for a cushy 3-year postdoc at an R1 (teaching load 1/1) and for a TT job for a 4-year college without a PhD program in philosophy (3/3 load).

It was a tough choice, but I took the postdoc. The reason being, I really could not see myself functioning long-term in the TT job given the geographical location and the lack of job prospects for my spouse (who had no realistic chance of getting a job given the location), and also, the salary was low.

I did go on the market after 1 year on the postdoc (I would recommend that if you choose the postdoc and don't sit out 2 years - too risky). By then I had a book contract and several papers, including one in a top general philosophy journal. The postdoc gave me the environment to get my research off the ground.
It became clear when interviewing for the job I now have that the postdoc really helped to put me on their shortlist, and it would have been doubtful they'd have taken me if I came from an unknown bachelor's degree only institution.

Anonymous said...

8:15 again: Thanks zombie. It's not that I absolutely want to stay here, but I do want my next move to be my last for a good long time. I've a couple of prospects this year that look like places I could be happy long term (we'll see if anything comes of them). But I've an interview at one place where I'd be looking at the door before I even got there. (From what I can tell the students are awful and my limited experience with the faculty has already been bad bad bad.) I guess I'll do that particular interview (more practice can't hurt and the leverage of an offer might turn out to be useful) but I've been wondering if I ought to seriously think about it if I were to get an offer. Suppose I'm getting ahead of myself there.

Anyway thanks for the advice. Don't know if I'll have occasion to use it but it's good to have.

Anonymous said...

5:37/7:37 here.

As far as my credentials go...

PhD from low-ranked school, adjuncted for a few years, landed TT job, where I now have tenure. I have served on 2 searches, both within the past 4 years. (My second book is coming out in 2015, and I have several articles, including 2 in to-ranked journals for my AOS.)

I could easily point to my own career and say, "see, I did it, so it can be done." But I don't. Because I know that my career is the exception, not the rule. And because I know that the system is not a meritocracy. That is, I'm not saying that those who get jobs don't deserve them, or haven't worked very hard for them. Rather, I'm saying that a great many people work very hard - perhaps just as hard if not harder - and come up empty. I worked very hard for my job. As did Zombie, as did others. However, when we suggest that the job market is a meritocracy, we are saying that those who came up short deserved to come up short. It's only a meritocracy is the meritorious are rewarded, and the unrewarded are not meritorious. And that simply isn't the case.

Look, is it possible to get a TT job after adjuncting? Yes. I did it, and others have too. But that doesn't mean I'm going to go around telling people it's possible. Why not? Well, I also have students who want to go to grad school. They ask me if it's possible to get a TT job in philosophy when they finish. I tell them that while it is possible, it's incredibly unlikely. Yes, it's possible that one of my students might eventually get a TT job. (I mean, I did, so it is possible.) But does that mean I should advocate that they try to do so? Should I be sending students into grad programs, instead of helping them find other ways to use their skills to find full-time careers?

Not in this market. Not in this climate.

Anonymous said...

3:46 AM, thanks (I posted about the TT vs. postdoc), that is helpful. It would be a gamble, taking a postdoc in this environment, but given the light 1/1 teaching load (w/ only ~20 or 30 students per class), I would certainly be more research-productive than I would be at a 3/3 (with a lengthy commute, too).

Though I am worried that a postdoc at a SLAC does not give me the same advantage as, say, a Bersoff at NYU, even if I were equally research productive in both positions.

zombie said...

7:41 -- I agree with you. I wouldn't advise students to go to grad school in philosophy right now either.

I don't think there is anything contradictory about saying there is a meritocracy (measuring numerous types of merit), AND that there are highly meritorious people who will not get good jobs commensurate with their talent and achievement. Because there just are not enough jobs in the current climate. If there are five blue ribbons, and ten people who deserve a blue ribbon, five people will get shortchanged.

There is a LOT of talent out there. The current state of academic hiring is going to leave many talentend people without good jobs of the kind that they have trained for. I consider myself pretty lucky to have a TT job, by which I absolutely acknowledge that there was also luck involved.

Derek Bowman said...

Zombie: It's not inconsistent, it's just ambiguous. What do you mean by meritocracy? Do you mean that there's a causal/narrative story you can tell about your success in which merit play a central explanatory role? In that case, sure it's a meritocracy.

But that's not really the most perspicuous use of that term in these contexts where the question is: among people who have (or will soon have) PhDs, most of whom are highly qualified and hard working, what explains whether or not someone will get a job?

In that context, to say that the job market is a meritocracy is to say that merit plays a central explanatory role as a difference maker in who gets a job and who doesn't. But the lack of jobs - combined with the multiplicity of competing dimensions of merit and insufficiently fine-grained means of measuring many of those dimensions - means that merit can't play a central explanatory role in this context.

Perhaps more simply: It is true that merit (in some of its dimensions) is generally a necessary condition for being considered for TT jobs. But not only is it not sufficient, it is almost never the difference maker that explains, among the top 10 (or 20, or 50, or 100) candidates who gets a job and who doesn't.

@7:41 (5:37/7:37): Thanks for these remarks - the exactly match my experience and judgments about the state of the field, and it is important to have as many people as possible saying them as loudly and as often as possible.

zombie said...

"Perhaps more simply: It is true that merit (in some of its dimensions) is generally a necessary condition for being considered for TT jobs. But not only is it not sufficient, it is almost never the difference maker that explains, among the top 10 (or 20, or 50, or 100) candidates who gets a job and who doesn't."

Depending on what constitutes merit, the top 10 or 20 people are probably equal, if not identical, in quantifiable merit (having good pubs, good teaching experience, etc.). That being the case, something has to be the tie-breaker for an SC that can only hire one person. Is the tie-breaker some non-merit thing? Again, depends on what you think counts as merit.

Performance at an interview? Evidence of being a collegial team player? Those count as virtues in this context, and arguably, as types of merit.

Arbitrary qualities like skin color, or eye color would not. Do biases factor into SC decisions? No doubt. They factor into almost every decision humans make. I'm certainly not going to claim that SC's are perfectly objective in their decision-making, or that non-merit-related factors play a role in some decisions. What I AM saying is that you don't get to be in the top 10 or 20 without having merit. So, it is sufficient to be considered seriously for a job, but for any particular hiring decision made by an SC, non-merit factors will unavoidably be introduced. If they were not, it would be impossible to choose only one person for the job.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Derek Bowman can be so confident that merit is almost never the difference maker that explains, among the top 10 (or 20, or 50, or 100) candidates who gets a job and who doesn't.

Derek Bowman said...

@5:26: Because lots of people on search committees say so (see Zombie's comment above and most of these open threads on the Smoker). Because I've seen excellent people succeed and equally excellent philosophers fail to get jobs. Because, given the wealth of talent in the field and the epistemic limitations of human beings, there's no reason to think we can measure
Because I know of people who failed to get any interviews one year on the market get hired the next year even with the same credentials (sometimes at the same school they applied for the previous year). Because even excellent and successful candidates still fail to advance to the interview stage at the vast majority of jobs that they applied for.

etc. etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

zombie says "What I AM saying is that you don't get to be in the top 10 or 20 without having merit. So, it is sufficient to be considered seriously for a job".

The second statement doesn't follow from the first.

In a market where there are way more than 20 people who are all as merited (which I think is true for almost any job in this market), even if you can't get in top 20 without having merit, it is nevertheless sufficient to be considered seriously for a job if you are merited.

Anonymous said...

Because lots of people on search committees say so (see Zombie's comment above and most of these open threads on the Smoker).

Lots also say otherwise. (And Zombie didn’t say what you seem to think she said.)

Because I've seen excellent people succeed and equally excellent philosophers fail to get jobs.

No question about that; not in dispute. But that doesn’t support what you claimed so confidently.

Because, given the wealth of talent in the field and the epistemic limitations of human beings, there's no reason to think we can measure

You didn’t finish the sentence.
>Human beings are not perfect at telling who is better for a job, but we are not useless either. Nobody has claimed we are perfect, but you are claiming that we are useless.


Because I know of people who failed to get any interviews one year on the market get hired the next year even with the same credentials (sometimes at the same school they applied for the previous year).

Which shows that there is some luck in the process – which, again, nobody denies.

Because even excellent and successful candidates still fail to advance to the interview stage at the vast majority of jobs that they applied for.

Right, of course.
You seem to have lost track of what you were claiming earlier, though.

Anonymous said...

What exactly do we mean by "meritocracy"? Is it one of the following?

1. A system is a meritocracy if and only if the most qualified candidate gets the job.

2. A system is a meritocracy if and only if only the most qualified get interviews.

3. A system is a meritocracy if and only if merit plays a central role in the choosing of interview candidates and/or the hire.

If 1 or 2, then I'd think this market is not a meritocracy. Just wait until the new hires are listed in the spring and you'll see that many people with demonstrably weaker applications than others have gotten jobs. I know, I know--but we won't have access to the other candidates. But CVs are available online--Google and find this out for yourself.

If 3, then it's an open question--in part, because of the ambiguity of the word "central." Some seem to think that if merit is a necessary condition of being shortlisted, then this is a central role. Others want to reserve the term for a sufficient condition of getting shortlisted. But then, of course, there is the practical problem of shortlisting a pool in which merit will likely be equal among forty or fifty candidates. So, given the practical problem, departments have to shortlist based on other criteria, which means that merit is no longer a sufficient condition of being shortlisted.

zombie said...

1. A system is a meritocracy if and only if the most qualified candidate gets the job.

No. There are too many equally qualified candidates to make it feasible to hire ALL of them. But SOME of those candidates will be hired

2. A system is a meritocracy if and only if only the most qualified get interviews.

No. Same as 1, except there are still too many equally qualified candidates, so only SOME will get interviewed.

3. A system is a meritocracy if and only if merit plays a central role in the choosing of interview candidates and/or the hire.

Yes. You don't get to the shortlist, or the finalist list, without merit.

I think part of the disagreement here hinges on what counts as "merit." In hiring a colleague, SCs don't just count the number of pubs, or citations, or student ratings, or the PGR ranking of the PhD-granting school, or some other quantifiable item. They consider other things too, like, whether or not the candidate seemed genuinely interested in the department or school, or seemed collegial, or performed well at the job talk and teaching demo -- all things that involve some qualitative judgments. But also all types of "merit" (broadly construed).

Which is to say, "merit" is broadly contrued in the hiring decisions made by most SCs. But I suspect some people here are narrowly construing it. That narrow definition of merit gets you to the shortlist (assuming you actually meet the job criteria). Which means you don't get to be a finalist or get hired without it.

Anonymous said...

3. A system is a meritocracy if and only if merit plays a central role in the choosing of interview candidates and/or the hire.

Yes. You don't get to the shortlist, or the finalist list, without merit.

I don't think this is enough for something top count as a meritocracy. Consider a situation where only men (or only women, or only people whose parents went to university, or only people whose parents earnt over 100K a year, or some similarly arbitrary restriction) are permitted to apply for a job. Now, there are probably sufficient numbers of good philosophers from each group such that even if the shortlist was limited to one of these groups, it would be true that you don't get onto the shortlist without merit. But we wouldn't call any competition with an arbitrary restriction like that a 'meritocracy.'

Derek Bowman said...

Zombie: It's not that I think of 'merit' in a narrow way. It's that I think of the things you mention (performance during the interview, etc) as evidence of merit rather than being constitutive of it. But when you have lots and lots of other evidence of high merit, then I don't think that marginal differences in interview performance are reliable indicators of differential merit.

I also don't understand your use of feasibility constraints in defending the current system as a meritocracy. There are different versions of the anti-meritocracy argument, but the one I (and, I think, 5:37) have defended is based on the idea that it's precisely because there aren't enough jobs for all the qualified candidates, something other than whether you're qualified for the job must determine whether you get one.


12:54:

"Depending on what constitutes merit, the top 10 or 20 people are probably equal, if not identical, in quantifiable merit..." entails that 'quantifiable merit' does not explain why one of those top 10 or 20 got the job over others.

"excellent people succeed and equally excellent philosophers fail to get jobs" entails that merit, in the sense of, 'excellence as a philosopher,' does not explain why the former but not the latter got employed.

My unfinished sentence was just a mirror of a claim I made earlier in this thread: we don't have the ability to measure merit in a sufficiently fine-grained way to accurately measure the differential merit of top candidates in the current market.

As to the rest of my evidence, you're welcome to offer alternative, meritocracy-friendly explanations of those phenomena, but I think they are best explained as products of the insufficiency of merit to explain differential outcomes among top candidates.

Anonymous said...

"Depending on what constitutes merit, the top 10 or 20 people are probably equal, if not identical, in quantifiable merit..." entails that 'quantifiable merit' does not explain why one of those top 10 or 20 got the job over others.

Well, it would, if the expression “Depending on what constitutes merit” didn’t appear in the sentence, and the word “probably” didn’t mean anything.


As to the rest of my evidence, you're welcome to offer alternative, meritocracy-friendly explanations of those phenomena, but I think they are best explained as products of the insufficiency of merit to explain differential outcomes among top candidates.

But nobody denies that it is insufficient. You claimed that it contributes nothing at all to the explanation of the differential outcomes among the top (hundred) candidates. This may be true, but it’s pretty implausible and nobody has given any reason to believe it.

Anonymous said...

"You don't get to the shortlist, or the finalist list, without merit."

Does it then follow that those who are not shortlisted or finalists do not have merit?

Because it seems to me that what some people want to say here is that the market is a meritocracy when you make the cut, but not a meritocracy when you don't.

I'm willing to accept that "merit" means more than the paper application, and I know that jobs can be won or lost in the interview for issues like collegiality, presence, and the ever-elusive "fit." But can we really say that the academic job market is a meritocracy, when so many who possess "merit" (even if defined broadly) go unhired?

Anonymous said...

There's an idiot whose "work" I have to teach in my ethics class who argues that so long as everyone who receives the death penalty is guilty of a capital crime, then there is no possibility of injustice, EVEN IF everyone who receives the penalty is black and there are individuals of other ethnic designations who are also guilty, but never receive a death sentence. We can point out that this is misleading (among other things). If the only people who get kill't are guilty black people, then it appears there is an unspoken, additional, criteria for the death penalty: that you must also be "black". If the criteria for being chosen for death is 1) guilt and 2) "black"ness, and if 2) is an unjust criteria, then, contra-idiot, the death penalty is unjust.

So... if what is required is 1) merit (which most of us seem to agree is reflected in interviewee choice) and 2) "other" qualities (like ethnicity, gender, height, etc) that are NOT merit based, then it would NOT be a meritocracy. To be a meritocracy requires that any non-merit based criteria be, at most, applied randomly and NOT in accord with systemic societal injustice.

I am likely convinced that this means we don't have a meritocracy (I think these other factors play a non-random role). However, I don't know how much blame I place on SC's, etc. It is enough - for me - that SC's be aware of their own bias, and make attempts to overcome it. The greatest impact of such bias is likely applied before the stack of applications reaches the table, anyway, so it's pointless to blame SC's.

And the talent pool is so deep that no one should assume that a hired individual does not posses the basic, mutually confirmable, "merit" that ought to be a necessary condition of hire.

zombie said...

8:43 -- that's not my claim, but I can't speak for others. You don't get there without merit, but that does not mean that having merit will get you shortlisted. Can't happen when the number of people qualified for TT jobs far exceeds the actual number of jobs (or the number of interview slots)

That one must have merit to be considered does not entail that if one is not considered, one is without merit.

Anonymous said...

"Can't happen when the number of people qualified for TT jobs far exceeds the actual number of jobs"

I think part of the reason so many think that the job market is not a meritocracy is that

1. in general, the minimum threshold for qualification for a TT job has risen--a lot--since the downturn in 2008

and

2. we still see people getting hired that don't meet that minimum threshold

In other words, when a person from a prestigious program gets a job with no pubs and little to no teaching, people say, "Oh, but don't forget potential." This is adverting to the old minimum threshold. But when a person from a non-ranked program gets no interviews, in spite of several pubs in less than elite journals and tons of teaching, people will say, "That's the new normal. No one gets interviews without stellar pubs." Meritocracy for me, not a meritocracy for thee.

Anonymous said...

2:22,

You have to remember that, while the market has changed (the relative numbers of jobs vs. applicants), and most applicants have had to change their approach, not all programs have changed their approach to hiring, and those that have, have done so inconsistently

From what I can tell, top programs - R1 schools and elite SLACs - have not had any reason to change their approach to the market. They can still get the kinds of applicants they have always wanted. They can afford to hire based on pedigree and promise; they can also hire productive scholars away from other institutions. Nothing has changed for them. Other programs, however, have been able to raise the bar in anyway they wish (publications, teaching experience, pedigree and promise, etc.).

Applying to top programs has not changed: what got you such a job 10 years ago can get still you a job now. Applying to non-top programs, however, is a crap-shoot; not knowing in what ways they have raised the bar (or which bars they have raised), applicants have no clear goalposts to aim for.

Anonymous said...

D. Bowman wrote:

"It is true that merit (in some of its dimensions) is generally a necessary condition for being considered for TT jobs. But not only is it not sufficient, it is almost never the difference maker that explains, among the top 10 (or 20, or 50, or 100) candidates who gets a job and who doesn't."

FWIW, I can't remember a search in which my department's favorite candidate seemed to any of us even close to the 10th-ranked candidate in "merit" (excluding searches when we couldn't find anyone we liked well enough to want to hire). This is connected, I suppose, to the fact that the main measure of "merit" (in both departments I've been a member of) has been--above all else--our assessment of the *quality* of a candidate's writing.

Every year, people write comments on the Smoker that seem to presuppose that search committees really should assess job candidates by measures that someone who knew no philosophy could employ--as if it's our responsibility as members of a search committee to count a mediocre published paper as more significant than what seems to us to be a great unpublished one.

Anonymous said...

"Every year, people write comments on the Smoker that seem to presuppose that search committees really should assess job candidates by measures that someone who knew no philosophy could employ--as if it's our responsibility as members of a search committee to count a mediocre published paper as more significant than what seems to us to be a great unpublished one."

And it's not just the writing. For those programs that ask for teaching demos, it's entirely possible for one applicant to dazzle in the classroom, while another falls flat. Some applicants can also turn in interesting, thoughtful materials related to teaching (such as well-done syllabi that reflect an ability to teach effectively to non-majors, if that's a major function of the program, or involve innovative teaching strategies while others simply lay out due dates for readings and exams).

It's also entirely possible that the best "on paper" applicants turn out to be real assholes that nobody wants to spend the next 40 years working with. I've seen applicants drop copying off with the department secretary, as if she worked for them, without so much as a please-and-thank-you; I've seen applicants insult members of the department (sometimes openly, sometimes casually); I've seen applicants dismiss students or treat them poorly.

And yes, despite some people insisting that this shouldn't matter, I've seen finalists come to campus having done absolutely no preparation with respect to the department. All our faculty, courses, and related programs are online, as is information regarding our university mission and the various ways we serve our local community. So when someone comes to the campus interview and asks basic questions regarding easily-obtainable information, and another comes prepared, having researched the program/university and prepared thoughtful ideas regarding how he/she can productively work with the existing system, that second finalist has a significant advantage.

I've served on two searches, and one thing I noticed is how easy it can be to rank the finalists after the campus visit.

-7:41 (5:37/7:37

Derek Bowman said...

@8:46: If the merit of your top choices is so clear, did they also reliably get offers (or at least flyouts) from the majority of jobs they applied to?

@5:37: But of course that only works if you've accurately ranked your candidates when choosing who to bring to the campus visit.

Anonymous said...

Derek,

I'm not sure there is any such thing as an "accurate" ranking of candidates, at least not by any clear and objective standard. Because the rankings reflect subjective decisions (whose writing sample was superior? whose letters give a better sense of the candidate? whose cover letter more clearly addresses the needs of the department?), any ranking is going to be "accurate," because it will be based on what the committee chooses to emphasize. It will accurately reflect what the committee wanted.

This is why the campus visit is so damn important, even more so than the conference (or phone, or Skype) interview: this is where you get to see the candidate perform (as a scholar, as a teacher, as a person; yes, to a limited extent, but less limited than paper applications and short interviews).

Of course, my larger point here is that "merit" is not something that can ever by judged by anyone not serving on that particular committee in that particular search. Hiring processes may be fairly transparent in departments, but will never be transparent to ay outside observer.

-5:37

Anonymous said...

derek b. said: "If the merit of your top choices is so clear, did they also reliably get offers (or at least flyouts) from the majority of jobs they applied to?"

given the numbers of people applying to jobs, even people doing really, really (*really*) well won't get offers from the majority of jobs they applied to. 10 percent would be a phenomenal batting average in this game. one reason is departments are looking for different things, different AOS/AOC combos, etc (and they don't always advertise this fact). within AOS, different approaches, etc.

also, there's tons of excellent work that's excellent in very different ways. the presupposition that there is one metric along which candidates' work can be evaluated is false. some work is written in an accessible way, some work is technically sophisticated, some work makes illuminating comparisons between several different existing positions, some work defends highly novel but implausible positions, some work defends commonly held positions but comes to them by unusual routes.

so even if we *just* look at writing and ignore teaching potential, collegiality, geographical/school fit (is the candidate a flight risk), the fact that two departments might come up with very different lists of candidates does not show either department did their job badly. they might both have done quite well.

Derek Bowman said...

@10:31 and @5:37

So I think we actually agree on all the pertinent facts. And jointly, those facts entail that there is no consistent standard of merit that is applicable for the field of philosophy employment as a whole such that merit plays a central role in explaining who gets jobs and who does not. Which was my central claim all along. Perhaps I made some poorly chosen or poorly formulated subsidiary claims along the way that prompted the apparent disagreement here.

I never claimed individual search committees were doing anything wrong - by and large I think most of them are doing the best they can to wade through a daunting pile of applications. The problem is systematic - it's not a problem of a few (or even of a lot of) individual bad actors.

Anonymous said...

has anyone heard from the Juilliard position? In the last thread someone said they knew someone who got an interview--just want to verify

Anonymous said...

I can confirm that Juilliard already did first-rounds.

Anonymous said...

i am curious to return to a previous question in this thread:

is the best way to "move up the ladder" to take a TT job at a small unheard of teaching institution with a 4/4 load or to try and publish and wait till next year hoping for a better postdoc or better TT job.

it seems like it would be very hard to get any research done and do any publishing with a heavy 4/4 load, but also seems to be suggested here that moving from one TT position up to a higher one is the best way to go.... i realize it would be an extreme risk in this job market to refuse a TT job, but also am concerned about the risk of getting stuck at a non-desirable job. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

10:29,

The best way to move up is to publish. In top journals. Do whatever it takes for you to publish groundbreaking work in the top journals.

Don't even bother sending your work to lower-tier journals. They won't get you noticed by top programs. Also, only present your work at major venues. (Invited speaker gigs are preferable.) It can't hurt to get on the editorial board of a major journal, or work as a reader for a major press.

Go through the placements for past few years and see if you notice any patterns. People who move up often do so from prestigious post-docs, or move from one great job to another. It rarely happens that, say, Rutgers hires someone away from Directional State University, Branch Campus.

If a 4/4 job is undesirable, don't apply to them. Use the time you save on applications writing your groundbreaking work to be published in top journals.

Seriously, you know that old adage "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"? Similar thinking here. If you want to swim in the same pool, you have to take off the floaties and dive in. You are done submitting to minor journals, presenting at minor conferences, or doing anything else the Big Boys don't do. Because if you want to show them you can play, you have to do so on their field. Once you're out of grad school, you have to prove that you can do the work. You no longer get points for "potential."

To use a sports analogy: many people seem to think that they can work their way up by publishing decent work in lesser journals, getting their work out by presenting at minor conferences, and racking up local university teaching awards. Nope. They see their first job as a stint in the minor leagues, hoping to be brought up to The Show. But "starter jobs" are not the minor leagues; they are the shitty teams in the major league. Lots of decent philosophers toil away at Directional State Universities, hoping to be called up by the Yankees. However, they realize too late that while it feels like they are playing for the Trenton Thunder, they are really playing for the Houston Astros. (Your PhD program is the minor league team in this analogy. And as with the MLB, some minor league teams funnel players to the Yankees and others to the Astros. If you don't want to eventually play for the Astros, don't sign with the Lancaster Jethawks.)

Anonymous said...

10:29 here. I definitely agree with you, 9:15, that publishing is very crucial. Perhaps, though, I was misleading in my original question: I am not looking to make my way up to a top-ranked leiter school. What I am interested in is a 2-2 job either at an R1 or SLAC where I could still dedicate time to research without being completely exhausted by teaching.

I am wondering if a stint of teaching 4-4 is worth it with the hope that it is a step-up to a future job, but I am not thinking about Rutgers or NYU here.

I am ABD, have one on campus this year at a 4-4 school in a not so bad location, wondering if I should take this job if I get the offer. Otherwise, I can wait until next year with PhD in hand and try my luck again. And in the meantime try to get some more publications out there.... But it seems like an insane risk and an insane idea not to take a job offer in this market....

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps, though, I was misleading in my original question: I am not looking to make my way up to a top-ranked leiter school. What I am interested in is a 2-2 job either at an R1 or SLAC where I could still dedicate time to research without being completely exhausted by teaching."

R1 jobs are, by definition, research jobs. It doesn't have to be top-ranked for it to be a research-oriented job. You will get such a job by publishing, as I noted above. SLACs are a somewhat different beast, but you will still need to publish your way into them. They often have a more balanced approach to the teaching/research split, but any job with a 2/2 load will expect significant publications. So again, if you want to play in their parks, you need to play by their rules.

"I am wondering if a stint of teaching 4-4 is worth it with the hope that it is a step-up to a future job, but I am not thinking about Rutgers or NYU here."

Chances are, in this market, no. In all likelihood, whatever job you get hired at is the one you will someday retire from (if you are one of the increasingly smaller number of people who get a TT job). Sure, it's possible, but it's not likely. t's highly unlikely - statistically speaking - that you will get any TT job. It's even less likely that you will move from that job to a better job.

Go look at the recent hires at the kinds of schools you have in mind. That, more than anything else, will tell you what they are looking to hire. Be that kind of applicant. And if you are missing something from that package, the best way to make up for it is by publishing groundbreaking work in top journals.

"I am ABD, have one on campus this year at a 4-4 school in a not so bad location, wondering if I should take this job if I get the offer."

Looking at the market, I'd say yes. A TT job in a "not so bad" location is better than most everyone else on the market will get. Just playing the odds, turning it down is a bad idea. Bu ask yourself this question: why did you apply to that job? I'm sure there were lots of job you did not apply to (did you apply to community colleges, for instance?). What made that one appealing? And if it's not appealing, stop applying to those kinds of jobs.

"Otherwise, I can wait until next year with PhD in hand and try my luck again."

And a lot of it is luck. The right job could open up, and you could miss out for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with your application. The committee could look at yours at the end of a very long day, only skim it, and miss why you would b perfect for the job. Or yours could be the first they review, before they have coffee, and by the end of the day have long forgotten the details. Dumb luck.

"And in the meantime try to get some more publications out there...."

Remember: top journals only. Nobody climbs the ladder by being slightly less mediocre than others. The field is competitive. You need to be hitting home runs, not blooper singles.

"But it seems like an insane risk and an insane idea not to take a job offer in this market....

Yes, it is an insane risk.

-9:15

Anonymous said...

Dear 10:29:
Take the job. I can say this, without question, because a) I have a similar load at a similarly non-ideal but could-be-worse place, 2) In this market, a bird in the hand makes one a rock star. You are absolutely NOT guaranteed a better job next year, nor ANY job next year.

And I'm on the market while at a TT job. I may not have a full dance card of interviews (I've got a couple), but I DO have a job at a not SO bad place, and can now be selective about the jobs I apply for. I also have some professional funds and health insurance.

And did I mention I have a job?

However, if you are a finalist for any 3/3 jobs this year please turn them down, because it might be one of mine, and I'd like to get the Hell out of Dodge...

Anonymous said...

5:51: how does one go about applying to jobs while holding an asst prof. position? do you have to be secretive with your dept? or are you open about it and get references from your dept? i imagine it would have to be pretty hush hush or people would get upset with you for wanting to leave...

Anonymous said...

10:29: As I (also ABD) would absolutely love to be in your position, can you (without revealing too much) say wbat your c.v. looks like? AOS? Leiterrific ranking? Pubs?

It would be nice to know what kind of ABD's are getting TT interviews...

Anonymous said...

5:51 here:
I have attempted to completely hide my job search. Last year I had 2 fly-outs and nearly blew my cover on the last one. UNLESS YOU ARE AT AN R1 (where such behaviour is encouraged), do not let on you are looking elsewhere.

If I don't get another job, I WILL be needing tenure. If "they" think you are out the door, you will be treated differently, and not in a good way. At my current institution there is a standardized pay scale and the union doesn't allow for any changes. This means that any offer I receive is only valuable as a new job - it will NOT be any kind of bargaining chip.

If you know a senior faculty member/administrator well, and they are understanding and TRUSTWORTHY, absolutely ask them on the hush hush (these are best if they talk about service and teaching).

What I learned last year was that my current job may not be ideal, but it's actually way better than some. One of my fly-outs was awesome and I was 1st runner up (sad face), but the other was one of the most horrific experiences of my professional life.

Take home message: DO NOT fuck up your current gig, until you have a signed contract at a better job.

Anonymous said...

My (unsolicited) 2 cents:

"how does one go about applying to jobs while holding an asst prof. position?"

By sending out applications.

"do you have to be secretive with your dept?"

Depends on your department. Some departments recognize that, if they haven't tenured you, they have not offered you long-term employment yet. Many departments recognize that junior faculty are always on the market (or should be), in part because competing offers is also how you negotiate perks in your current job. Some shitty departments, however, see it as you thinking you are better than they are, and will hold it against you. (I was once told that I could not serve on a department committee because I was on the market, and that was proof I wasn't committed enough to this job.)

"or are you open about it and get references from your dept?"

You'll want to be open about it with some, at least. Applying to one job without any references from your current job is a huge red flag. People reading your application won't know if it's because you didn't ask, or because nobody was willing to recommend you.

"i imagine it would have to be pretty hush hush or people would get upset with you for wanting to leave..."

Depends on the people, really. You would know best about how your colleagues might respond.

Anonymous said...

I'm not 10:29, but I'm in the same position---I got a handful of first round interviews, one on-campus so far. I am ABD, have no pubs, but I have a director who is extremely well-respected, I'm at a good school (not top-10, but close). I think my letters are good. I have lots of grants and lots of service. And maybe people like my writing samples. I'm also wondering if I should wait til next year, as a 4/4 will make publishing fairly difficult, and I think I could publish a couple articles in top journals in the coming months (I have an R&R in one right now) ... I don't know. I have kids. Decisions ...

Anonymous said...

12:35 (and others),

Learn to be realistic about the job market. The vast majority of jobs are at places where you will likely teach a 4/4 load (or something close).

If those schools are interviewing you, but the ones you want to work at are not, take that for the sign that it is: those better schools are not interested in you. They might be interested in you later, but they also might not. All you know for sure is that right now they aren't interested. Accept tit.

If you are lucky enough to get an offer this year, take it. Be employed. Do good work. Feed your children. It's the responsible thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 2:02. In fact, I often say "Accept tit" to my children while I feed them.

Anonymous said...

12:35 here again---The schools I want to work at are interviewing me (first-round), but I think my lack of pubs and lack of a finished dissertation are cutting me out of a campus visit. At this point, I'm kind of hoping the 4/4 won't want me, and I'll get a post-doc (or, I can stay at my home institution grad-studenting/adjuncting). I would also feel a bit weird taking a job I wanted to move on from when there are surely people out there who really want it, would stay forever, etc. But, for the sake of the children, if they offer it, I will probably accept (t)it.

A related question: When is it best to have the dissertation completed? Defend in the fall, before applications are due, conferred in December? Have the degree conferred in August, or the previous May? Assuming I strike out (no job, no post-doc), I'm leaning towards defending in the fall so that I don't have to say I'm an adjunct when I'm applying. I will be a grad student with PhD in hand. Is it correct that this is better?

Anonymous said...

"12:35 here again---The schools I want to work at are interviewing me (first-round), but I think my lack of pubs and lack of a finished dissertation are cutting me out of a campus visit."

Have they said as much? Because if not, don't assume. Remember that your publication record has not gotten any worse between the first round and the campus visit. Chances are, that's not what it hurting you. Chances are, you were not as impressive in the interview as the others.

"At this point, I'm kind of hoping the 4/4 won't want me,"

Then pull from the search. If you already know you won't be happy there - despite never having worked there - don't keep it as an option. You will not be doing yourself or the school any favors by taking a job you dislike before even starting it.

"and I'll get a post-doc (or, I can stay at my home institution grad-studenting/adjuncting)."

Talk to someone about making that happen (the latter; I assume the post-doc is out of your control).

"I would also feel a bit weird taking a job I wanted to move on from when there are surely people out there who really want it, would stay forever, etc."

Who cares about them? Don't make your career decisions based on what might be best for other people. But based on what you want/need from the profession, the 4/4 job doesn't sound like a good fit. So pull yourself from the search and focus your energies on something else.

"But, for the sake of the children, if they offer it, I will probably accept (t)it."

I'd leave that part out of the conversation with the dean if you are offered the job.

"A related question: When is it best to have the dissertation completed? Defend in the fall, before applications are due, conferred in December? Have the degree conferred in August, or the previous May?"

I don't think there's any real consensus. For every SC that wants a degree in hand, there's another that doesn't. It's a risk either way.

"Assuming I strike out (no job, no post-doc), I'm leaning towards defending in the fall so that I don't have to say I'm an adjunct when I'm applying. I will be a grad student with PhD in hand. Is it correct that this is better?"

When you have the degree in hand, you are no longer a student. And everyone already knows this. This is not some parlor trick. Do what's best for your situation (pay, teaching, etc.).

-Accept Tit (2:02)

Anonymous said...

this is a reply to 12:29pm, 1/6, who says that it would be a huge red flag to apply from a TT position without letters from people at your current institution.

I have done this, and I did get fly-outs. My sense is that the places you apply to should, and often will, appreciate how thorny it can be to ask for recommendations from people who may have a vested interest in you not leaving your current job or who may be spiteful.

Of course, if you do not have letters from people at your current institution, make sure that you have material that conveys the relevant information (e.g. teaching data) as reliably as possible.

Myself, I would strongly advise against disclosing that you are on the market until you have an offer. You never know what may come back to bite you one day, and why, and from where and whom.