Sunday, May 22, 2011

How Did This Year Compare with Last Year?

In comments here, anon 8:47 asks;

Did anyone do a total count of how many jobs there were this year compared to last year (and the year before)? My impression is that this year was a bit worse than the last year

I haven't done this, but I have the same impression. Did anybody do this?

--Mr. Zero


zombie said...

Huh. I didn't count either, but my impression was that it was a little better this year. But maybe it was just better in my AOS. Overall, I applied for about 20 jobs more than last year.

Anonymous said...

My purely subjective impression was that the number of jobs available was slightly better than last year, but the number of applicants was much greater, making the overall market somewhat worse.

Anonymous said...

2008-09 is when the market blew-up, and there were approx. 30-35% fewer jobs than was typical for the previous five years.

Both 2009-10 and 2010-11 were significantly worse in terms of total number of jobs (approx. 65-70% fewer than the aforesaid five year stretch). There haven't been nearly as many searches cancelled over the last two years, so that traumatic dimension has dissipated a little. (Remember fall of 2008 when it felt like every other job was getting cancelled?)

For my AOS, this was the worst of the past three years.

Anonymous said...

In addition to "total count" comparisons, the candidate should also consider whether s/he applied for greater or fewer jobs which matched her/his credentials, broadly speaking.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the best way to determine this is based on our own subjective impressions of how things seemed to us. Fucking philosophers.

Anonymous said...

The APA keeps detailed stats of the JFP, including previously listed jobs

It's updated all the way up to (wait for it...) 2002-2003! FTW!!!! Yay for the APA!

interestingly, in 2002-2003 there were 1242 jobs listed (739 + 621 - 118). The low point year in the 90s seems to be 1995-1996 when there were 744 jobs listed (420 + 372 -48)

I seem to recall Mr. Zero complaining about the APA's cryptic numbering system

Anonymous said...

Surely Anon 6:59 is John Doris.

Anonymous said...

The title of this post suggests a wider question than is actually being asked. That is, for the job-seeker, how does this year compare to last year for you professionally (full stop)?

Answers to this question would, I think, be especially interesting from those who were on the market for the first-time this year and those who went on a second time this year, comparing the second try to the first. Or from those who finally got a tenure stream job after however many years on the market. What did these do different? Would it have helped in previous years? What sort of time-saving measures did one discover? Etc.

Anonymous said...

ok, according to my count: the numbers for 2009-2010 vs. 2010-2011 APA ads were roughly the same (not including cancellations and repeat ads)

2009-2010: 911 ads
2010-2011: 862 ads

Vol. 183 + Web: 299
Vol.184 + Web: 324
Vol. 185 + Web: 132
Vol. 186: 64 + 92

Total: 911

Vol. 187 + Web: 155 + 153
Vol. 188 + Web: 331
Vo. 189 + Web: 187
Vol. 190: 36

Total: 862

Note: The 2009-2010 count also includes summer ads (n= 92) and ended Sept. 14, 2010, so 2010-2011 count should go up.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:41. Did you filter out for ads that were repeats from one version of the JFP to the next? This will matter when total jobs are counted.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:41--

Are these numbers for *all* listings, including postdocs, VAPs, etc., or merely for tenure-track jobs?

zombie said...

Anon 11:41, I'm SURE the other posters meant to say Thank You for doing the math.

Anon 6:06: I went on the market initially in 2008, the year of the crash. As I recall, I applied for about 30 jobs that year. 1 TT interview. Did not get a TT job.

2009-2010: Again, applied for about 30 jobs. 2 TT interviews, one fly-out, no job.

2010-2011: Applied for about 50 jobs, almost exclusively in my AOS. 5 TT interviews, 2 fly-outs (withdrew from one search); one TT offer, which I accepted. So from my perspective, there were more jobs in my AOS, and I did significantly better in terms of interviews, and in job offers. But I think what made the difference was publications and postdoc experience.

Anonymous said...

12:17 here. I don't want to come off like a jerk, but I didn't write "thank you" because I don't think the information is particularly useful. The useful information that people would/should be thankful for would require someone to go through and count, filter, and catalog the jobs, post docs, and VAPs.

Anyone with an APA account could log on and do the addition of the totals. This wasn't useful and didn't warrant thanks.

For a while Weatherson did catalog jobs, but I don't know if he has done it recently. If we want to draw conclusions about the market, you have to have accurate, useful data. This wasn't it.

Anonymous said...

"If we want to draw conclusions about the market, you have to have accurate, useful data."

This is true, and so if you really want useful information about the market, don't count number of open positions. The number of jobs has very little to do with whether or not any one applicant will get hired. What would be more useful would be to compile information on those who have been hired in recent years. If you're looking for aggregate data, compile a chart based on commonalities among those who were recently hired. This would be, I imagine, very time-consuming, but may be very helpful to show applicants just how important certain conferences, journals, types of teaching experience, graduate institution, etc., are on the market. Such work may also highlight trends that are not immediately noticeable.

What you're asking for here, 12:17, is something that MBA programs do very well: determine what's demanded by the hiring market and tailor their programs accordingly. Much as MBAs piss me off, they are well in advance of the curve compared to other graduate programs in trying to understand the market their graduates are competing in. Humanities PhD programs (especially, I would argue, in Philosophy) do a terrible job in understanding the market their graduates are entering into, and as a result woefully under-prepare them.

Anonymous said...

First year on the market.

3 tt interviews. 1 on-campus interview. Didn't get it.

1 postdoc interview. Didn't get it.

3 months of nothing. Then, out of the blue, an offer for a 1yr position with a 4/4 teaching load for peanuts. Is it a bad job? Yes. Was I ecstatic to have received a job such as this? Yes.

Am I still hoping that a postdoc will come through for me somewhere? Absolutely.

Zombie, I don't know how you did what you did on 30 apps. I must've sent out about 100 apps this year.

zombie said...

Anon 11:20 -- First off, congrats on the job, and best of luck getting a postdoc!

I have come to the belief that it is a waste of my time, money and effort to apply too broadly for jobs I have no shot at. Those include jobs at schools significantly more prestigious than the school I graduated from (which is a lot of them), and jobs outside my AOS. I think it is more useful to spend more time honing each application, than to apply too broadly and spread my resources too thin.

Although as it turned out, I got a job at a better school than mine, and interviewed at a few schools better than mine. But not top tier schools.

I think I got better at applying, and had a better dossier this time around. It helped a great deal that I landed a postdoc my first year, and have been pretty productive. This year was fortunate for me -- there seemed (to me at least) to be more jobs in my AOS than previously, so I had more jobs to apply for. When I applied for only 30 jobs my first two years, it was because that was as many jobs as there were in my AOS, in locations that were acceptable to me and my family.

Anonymous said...

"I think it is more useful to spend more time honing each application, than to apply too broadly and spread my resources too thin."

Well put, Zombie. The quality of each application one sends out is far more important than the total number of applications sent out.

Anonymous said...

Could you specify what it takes to 'hone' an individual application? I've never been on the market. I'm sure you can tailor the cover letter to each institution, but what can you do other than that?

Xenophon said...

I sort of agree with Zombie, and sort of disagree. Agree: taking one letter and CV and sending it to every school in JFP isn't a good idea.

Disagree: sometimes it's hard to know what a school's really looking for, so if you think you have a shot, send in your materials. I've had a number of interviews in an area that I've got almost no formal training, because it's an area I could teach at the undergrad level and schools seem to recognize that. If I hadn't applied for those jobs, I wouldn't have known.

To search committees that don't like to get too many applications: you all should really ask for a cover letter and CV in the first round. Cut out all the people who you don't like then, and after that ask for evidence of teaching "excellence" (amazing how many people excellent), writing samples, etc. from the rest. These complex applications take a lot of time for us to put together, and a lot of space for you to store.

Anonymous said...

This might also depend on one's AOS. One who does the right kind of phil mind, for example, could apply to the M&E, M&E broadly construed, and even some phil sci jobs.

CTS said...


Re your suggestion to search committees:

It’s a good suggestion, but not one all SCs can take. We are all working on the same rather tight schedule, and departments often do not know if they have funding until late September. Trying to get two rounds of submissions done before everyone leaves for winter break is tough.

Also, although only an anecdote, we tried this one year. Guess what happened? Almost everyone sent us their whole files.

We assumed this was due to one or both of 2 reasons: (1) people feared that others would send everything in and those others would have an advantage; (2) people had their whole files ready and just wanted to get that stage out of the way.

zombie said...

I do not disagree with Xenophon (as usual). There's no reason not to broadly construe your AOS, or to apply to positions where you could teacher undergrad courses if that's all that's expected of you. Really, we should ALL be able to competently teach just about any undergrad class.

What I was told in grad school was that if you ever took a grad seminar on a topic, you could count it in your AOC. I would include having TA'd a subject as well.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:12 asked what one can do, beyond tailoring cover letters, to hone one's application. There have been discussions of this earlier on this blog, but...

One big thing you can do is to tailor your CV. At the very least, I think it's worth having one CV for "teaching jobs" and one for "research jobs," in which you reverse the order in which you present your experience and accomplishments. In some situations, you may want to tweak your AOCs (e.g., listing 'History of Ethics' instead of 'Ethics' or vice versa) or include an AOC that you normally wouldn't. Many recent Ph.D.s could probably develop an AOC in any one of several subdisciplines that they have not previously taught, but you'd look like a jackass if you list all of them as AOCs. You'd also have a lot of explaining to do if you got the interview. So pick one or two of the AOCs listed in the job ad, and amend your CV accordingly. In some cases (e.g., the job I have now), a job will request an AOC that you have that no one else will care about (because it's obscure, interdisciplinary, or otherwise not something you'd teach in most places).

Other than tweaking your cover letter and CV, you might choose a different writing sample, if you're in a position to do so. And you might adjust the amount of cash you send with your application, depending on your estimate of your chances of getting the job, the department secretary's ability to sabotage other applications, etc.