Friday, March 9, 2012

Out of the Hunt

I wrote this post a while ago, but didn't feel like posting it just then. I'm not sure I feel like posting it now, but I figure, what the hell. So, here's what I hope is my last annual "I didn't get a job this year" post:

Although I haven't received any final word on any of the jobs I interviewed for this year, I have some pretty convincing data that suggests that I'm out of the running for every job I applied for so far in this year's job cycle. There's one school I haven't heard a peep from but is listed on the wiki; another I haven't heard from and which isn't on the wiki but whose department website lists a suspicious number of colloquia by junior philosophers who work in my area; another who sent me a nice "we'll be glad to hire you if the folks we invited to campus don't work out" note. (Seriously. It was a very nice note, for a note that says "we invited people to campus, but not you, though.")

This is a real bummer. I mean, that's obvious, but it's also worth repeating. What a fucking bummer.

When I arrived at my first full-time teaching job out of grad school, I had two goals. 1. To learn how to do this job well—to do a good job of teaching while at the same time carrying out a productive research/publishing program; 2. To compile a record that demonstrates that I am capable of doing a good job of teaching while carrying out a productive research/publishing program. I feel good about what I've accomplished. I'm proud of what I've accomplished. My teaching is going well; my publishing is going well—I had no idea that my publishing would ever go as well as it has; but my job search is not going well. And I am bummed.

Last fall, someone asked me in comments how I can continue to muster the energy to keep applying for jobs year after year. I didn't answer at the time because I wasn't sure. How do I keep this up? It's hard to say. One important factor is that my family is very supportive—Mrs. Zero is behind me all the way, as are my parents and my siblings and what subset of my extended family has a clear idea of what's going on. My friends, both in and out of the profession, and particularly my colleagues here in my department, are supportive, too.

The other thing that keeps me going is that I really do believe in what I'm doing. I feel like I'm doing good work. I like teaching and I believe in my classes. I like writing papers, and I believe in the papers I write, and I am able to place them in good journals. I have compiled a record that I am proud of in the time I've been here. I believe in my record. I believe that my record proves that I can do this job. But my job search is not going well.

In years past I have been able to shrug it off and channel the disappointment into an effort to do better next year. This is the first year I've been genuinely discouraged. I'm not sure what else I can do. I realize that, at a certain point, I just have to get lucky. There are a lot of us—a lot of people who look good on paper. Good enough to interview, and good enough to hire. In order to get the job, you have to look good in all the right ways, and be one who happens to connect in all the right ways. And it's frustrating, because there's not much you can do to make yourself get lucky.

So, I wouldn't say that I'm ready to throw in the towel or anything like that. But I thought about it this year more seriously than I usually do. And I find myself muttering curse words under my breath pretty often.

So, that's what's going on with me. How are you?

--Mr. Zero

P.S. God damn it.


Anonymous said...

when i looked at comments on a previous post, my browser (chrome) said somethings wrong because of content from some malware distributing link... what gives?

Anonymous said...

This was my first year on the market and, overall, it went well. I had 5 interviews, and I received and accepted 1 TT position at a small liberal arts school that is mostly teaching oriented.

I know that getting any sort of TT offer is something to be thankful for, and so I am happy for what I got this year.

Nonetheless, despite things working out somewhat, I just feel like my soul has been crushed through the whole process.

I am not sure if I want to stay long-term at the school I will start off at, and I have become pretty bitter and cynical about academia. After years of very work hard getting the PhD, my conclusion is that the professional opportunities open to me given the degree I earned just do not match up with the amount of work I had to put in to get a PhD.

On top of that, I am frustrated at what I take to the be lack of options to advance forward professionally. I feel like my chances of moving up to a better school someday are very low since the market will stay bad for a long time. Moreover, the other natural area I could see myself moving into - law school - is not obviously any better, since the legal job market is very bad now too.

So, in the end, even after getting a TT job, I still do not feel like I have found the happiness and sense of fulfillment I thought I would get, and it is frustrating to feel like there are no clear paths for advancing forward professionally.

Xenophon said...

Mr. Zero, sorry to hear your search hasn't gone well. Giving up is hard for a lot of people -- academics often don't really start thinking about alternate careers until it's pretty late in the game, and then there are two issues to consider: knowing what options we have, and figuring out what we want to do with our lives other than teach. You're lucky to have supportive family and friends. Not everyone does.

I've been amazed how many schools are simply cutting TT lines and hiring full-timers on a year-by-year basis. Things are never going back to the way things used to be, and the folks who snuck in under the wire in the last few years should realize how lucky they were.

This isn't to say you should give up. Stay in the race as long as you want to, as long as you've got the endurance. Unless Mrs. Zero makes $$$, you might want to start thinking about alternative careers, if only to feel like you're exploring your options. But it sounds like you're doing all the right things, and next year is a clean slate. All you need is one offer that you're willing to accept, and there's no reason you won't be the one next year who gets the call. It's partly luck, but luck tends to come to those who are prepared, and it sounds like you are.

Anonymous said...

I know this sucks for you. I'm sorry.

All the same, however, thank you for sharing. Reading about your struggles helps me handle my own. I can't imagine how lonely, frustrating, and soul-crushing the job market would be without blogs like this one.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,

I'm sorry to hear it. I've been following the blog for a long time and you seem to be a good guy (clever, decent, and the sort of colleague/friend most of us would be lucky to have). I don't pray, but if I did, I'd keep you in my prayers. I hope things work out for you.

Anonymous said...

Things would be a bit easier, I would imagine, if there weren't people on here who DID get TT jobs complaining about how even that doesn't seem rewarding enough. Jeez

Anonymous said...

On the one hand, I want to say: 9:13 is a whiny jerk who's cursing his/her good fortune by complaining about a type of job that many of us have dreamed about, lusted after, and failed despite great effort to acquire. On the other hand, I have to admit: I complain about my grad-school-no-job-three-square-meals-a-day situation all the time, even though there are billions of people out there who would kill to have a life like mine. Either we're all jerks, or none of us are jerks. In any case, it does seem that one of the unfortunate consequences of the tight job market is that the people who end up in SLACker situations are precisely the people who can't be satisfied with a SLACker situation.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for all of you who don't have jobs. But sometimes it doesn't get better with an academic job.

I took a job just under 10 years ago. I live in the middle of nowhere. My wife hates it. My kid hates it. There really is no opportunity for any advancement for my wife. She hasn't gotten a raise the entire time we have lived here. It's over an hour to get to anyplace that even resembles civilization or an airport or a doctor. Don't get me started on mental health care in rural America.

Yeah, I have tenure. I am just a few years away from full, but it is miserable here. The state budgets are fucked. The students are terrible. It's just bad. But what can I do?

My wife wants to move back to her hometown with her family, and I cannot blame her. I actually think it is a good idea. Now, how do I punch out of this. I am so invested, and starting over just seems horrible. But staying does too.

Most of the good faculty at my university are trying to get out, but it is so freaking hard. I wish I had stayed at my VAP for another few years instead of moving to the middle of nowhere.

At this point, you might not feel sorry for me. But often I wish I hadn't made it this far. I wish that I had been forced to do something else sooner. There is nowhere to go at this point, and soon, I will have a kid in college.

The job market is just a fucking nightmare for everyone.

For 9:13 AM, be careful. If it is bad, try to get out quickly before you get tenure and a raise. Odds are that you won't be able to make the place or school better, so don't focus your energy there. That was my mistake. Some places are fucked and you should only think about yourself and getting out to a better place.

That's one of the very hard lessons to learn. What the fuck does one do after philosophy has changed you and there are no jobs.....

Anonymous said...

I can't decide which post is more depressing: 9:13 or 10:36. To everyone else, believe it or not, not everyone who gets a lower-than-research-level philosophy job is depressed as shit about it. I teach a hefty load, but make more than enough to support a family on one salary, have lots of time to work on my article, hang out with pretty good colleagues, go to lots of conferences, and most of all, have a job in which I am obligated to be somewhere 12-17 hours a week for 30 weeks of the year. It's this "research job or nothing" attitude that you have to get rid of. The only people I ever meet who seriously believe it are profs at research universities and their newly minted PHD's, but it nonetheless manages to poison a whole lot of the profession. Funny, at my grad school, not even the most successful research chairs were living anything close to what I would consider the good life of a professor: many (though not all) were embittered, back-stabbing, self-absorbed, impossible-to-talk-to nitwits. It's just remarkable to me that someone would be disappointed in a job at a SLAC because he/she didn't have the chance to be among such people. What weird norms we have in our profession!

Advice to 9:13 and 10:36: google the phrase "first-world problems."

Anonymous said...


I had an on campus at a SLAC at an undesirable locatation, maybe the one you got the job at. It was my fucking dream job and I didn't get it. No TT job for me this year.

Would you like to give me your job? Because it sounds to me like they should have hired someone besides you anyway.

Anonymous said...

Either all of us are jerks or none of us are? Talk about a false dilemma. Here's one thing I know: going out of obe's way to complain about "only" getting a SLAC TT on one's first year on the market on a blog where many if not most readers have been at it for several years with no luck is not only jerky: it's *super*-jerky. That's right. I just went supervaluationist on you, Because you deserve it. It may be jerky to complain when there are people worse off than you, but it's far, far worse to complain *to* those who are worse off than you...

Anonymous said...

I think the personal attacks and resentment on this thread need to stop. It is perfectly legitimate to have hard feelings about a job that doesn't fit with one's expectations. It is likewise legit to love one's non-research school job. The bigger point is that while jobs are hard to come by, R1 jobs are even harder to come by. We may think people who want only R1 jobs are snobby assholes. But disappointment with one's appointment is still important info for those out there with these expectations. Think really hard about what you want out of life before entering a philosophy grad school. The current market situation has made getting *any* job a holy grail of a grad school success; but *any* job may not be what you want. I think 9:13's comments are testament to the abysmal job market and what we're forced to settle for. (That's completely compatible with me thinking that the very same job 9:13 doesn't want is someone else's dream job. The point is that the market is such that you have very little chance of getting *what you want*). That's why the opinion is valuable. We shouldn't have to silence complaints just because some people have it worse. That would be dishonest and fails to give others a reasonable picture of how bad the market indeed is.

Anyway- chill out everyone; we're all in this together.

Anonymous said...

11:49's post was so refreshing.

I also tire of the obsession with being at an R1. I received my doctorate from very strong program, was treated quite well by that program and it's likely many thought I was headed to an R1. Privately, however, all I actually wanted was to teach at a SLAC like the one I attended. (And that's what ended up happening, so everything worked out.) This wasn't because I was content to settle for less. It was because I thought that the most engaging and profound work I could be doing was educating smart, motivated young adults. I am in no denigrating research-oriented appointments. I am not only pluralistic about values in this respect, but I think that the work is worthwhile. But quite frankly, it is surprising to me that anyone can seriously entertain the idea that primarily contributing to the heaps and heaps of mostly unread articles is uncontroversially more important and satisfying work than teaching philosophy to undergraduates.

(To head off certain rejoinders: (1) I don't think that teaching and research are mutually exclusive. (2) And more importantly, I don't think you -- whoever you may be -- are shallow or elitist or a snob or a jerk or whatever for wanting a position that allows you primarily to work on your research. Please don't take offense where none was given. Finally, (3) this isn't in any way a response to or criticism of 10:36. I take it that 10:36's concerns do not reduce to wishing he or she had an R1 position. There are lots of happy non-R1 institutions, in livable regions, that would not create the strains that 10:36 is describing.)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to second the sentiments of 11:49 and 12:02. Seriously, 9:13, if your "soul has been crushed" AFTER GETTING A TENURE-TRACK JOB IN THIS MARKET, then I invite you to give up your job to someone who actually wants it. Asshat.

Anonymous said...

The reason why 9:13 should shut his/her pie-hole is because here we have a post from someone who is venting about the job market, not having found success yet. And for some reason, 9:13 decided that this is the appropriate time to share the pain and sadness associated with a successful first-round foray into the academic market.

It's kind of like walking up to someone who is homeless and saying, "man, you wouldn't believe how much it sucks to have my home."

9:13 is entitled to his/her feelings, and we all know that the market will crush your soul. However, is this really the best thread to complain about the woes of employment and success?

Anonymous said...

"Non-tenture"? Apparently that's how the APA spells it. See the parameter-limiting function on the Web-Only Ads on the website.

Anonymous said...

I'm in my second year on the market, and I haven't gotten anything. I have a VAP at a SLAC, which I took last year after getting several interviews for TT jobs that I didn't get. I've consoled myself with the fact that 1) I have a job, which I love and 2) the VAP is renewable, and the institution keeps holding out the possibility that it *might* go TT.

I started this year feeling fine, but then, again, my TT interviews didn't go anywhere--and the longer I'm here, the clearer it is that my SLAC has no intention of making the line TT. Doing so would require them to pay me 10K more a year than they do currently, and they seem to have regular VAPs all over the college, precisely to avoid paying people the wage we should be getting--and I say "the wage we should be getting" because we do *exactly* the same jobs as the TT people. Very often, we do more, because the institution is constantly, and openly, suggesting that if we *prove* that we really want to be here, then maybe they'll make the line permanent. So, this year, in addition to a 4/4, I've done committee work, and served as the faculty sponsor for a student organization.

Here's the thing: I LOVE that stuff. Nothing makes me happier than working with students, and I even love doing committee crap. And frankly, I've even resigned myself to the idea that a non-TT job, if reasonably secure, would be fine. I know what the trend is in higher ed, and I know that holding out hope for the shrinking pool of TT lines is very likely a recipe for heartache. But what is absolutely soul-crushing is that I am just not paid a fucking living wage.

That might sound dramatic, but it's true. The college is a rurally-based, religiously-affiliated SLAC, and if you keep up with the Chronicle's salary tables, you know what that means. Between the debt I took on in grad school (at least some of which was the result of some bad decisions), and the abysmal pay, which is roughly comparable to some highly-paid adjunct positions--I simply can't pay my bills year-round. My partner is a grad student, so during the academic year, when he gets his fellowship, we get by. But what will happen this summer? I have no idea. The way I see it, we have two choices: either we both do part-time retail work to make up the difference (in which case, writing becomes much more difficult--which is what we ostensibly need to be doing in order to improve our situations), or he takes out more student loans (which, you know, is a major reason for our current predicament).

So I look at this situation, and I'm totally demoralized. I have a job that I love to do, but I can't afford to keep doing it. Basically, it seems like the best option is to try to move up--but, as Mr. Zero suggests, that's pretty fucking difficult, even if you're not staring financial disaster in the face.

Right now, my plan is this: go one more year. If, this time next year, I'm in the same position, I'm calling it quits. That would only be three years on the market, which is less time than some people spend, but I can't wait any longer. I just can't afford it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Zero (and everybody else):

Man, I'm sorry to hear things have been so bad for you this year. It's devastating to see not just highly qualified but overqualified people striking out.

I'm not going to wade into the vitriol here; just wanted to express my sympathy and encourage you not to draw any negative conclusions about yourself from you bad luck on the market this year. (It sounds like you're avoiding that particular pit of despair pretty well.)

Just for a little context: last year, I applied to 200 jobs, had about a dozen first round interviews, and two flyouts. No offer from any of them, but I lucked into a one-year fellowship that doesn't do interviews. This year, I applied to just over 100 positions, had about the same number of interviews, and ended up with a TT position that I'm thrilled by. What made the difference? It's hard to say, of course, but I think it was a combination of more publications (including a contract with a major book publisher), a couple more letters from senior people outside my Ph.D. institution, the fellowship, and (this probably most of all) total equanimity while interviewing.

Why equanimity? Because I was 3/4 of the way out of the discipline already, working hard at my Plan B. From that point of view, it was possible to interview calmly and articulately in a way that I couldn't the year before. So this perhaps connects to the "Plan B" thread that went up on the blog here recently. One further benefit of having a Plan B is that it's a balm to the nerves.

Anyway, I don't mean to brag. I just thought you might appreciate the perspective of someone who did end up with some luck, and who completely realizes he might have had no luck.

wv: ontobeet, n., a beet that truly exists

Anonymous said...

To 12:14. Personal attacks are entirely deserved and appropriate when someone intentionally (or even unintentionally) treats others around then thoughtlessly and insensitively. It wouldn't occur to any decent person to go on a message board and vent about their *good* fortune to people who have suffered bad fortune. And to the deserving party: getting 5 TT interviews and one offer one's first year on the market isn't doing "well overall"; it is doing *spectacularly* well compared to most people. That's in part what pissed me off so much about your post. You don't seem to have any clue how lucky you are, and you come on here *complaining* about it...Oh, and we're not "all in this together.". Last time I checked we're all on our bloody own.

Anonymous said...

11:49, 12:37, and yes 12:14 all have good, reasonable things to say here.

I'm a tenured old-timer with a 4/4 who's happy. I suspect to some extent fulfillment squares or falls with expectations from upbringing and educational pedigree. My parents never went to high school. They didn't even understand what philosophy was, yet (mostly) encouraged me as I put myself through the PhD. I love what I do, and have had a good career at my not-so-urban SLAU. One big thing that has enriched my career is the march of technology and (as they say) the Internets, which has kept me in contact with many vibrant colleagues in the profession. The middle of nowhere is not so remote as it once was in academia.

But the reason I write: Mr. Zero, I have always strongly identified with your struggle ever since I stumbled over this blog a couple of years ago. I came out on the market in a time about as bad as this. 70 apps and only 1 on-campus--this one. I got lucky and am in the profession just by the skin of my teeth. But gratefully so.

You belong in our profession by my reading of your posts. I say give it another year or two. Let this damned economy stabilize a bit, and--with some luck--you'll get snapped up. By an institution I'd gauge very lucky to get you.

Anonymous said...

There is a 3 year position going at Massey University in New Zealand. It would be a wonderful place to work, as the campus is just outside of Auckland, and, you know, New Zealand. There is an ongoing position available at Canterbruy, which would be less fun because Earthquakes, but seriously, worth applying for. NZ universities 'only' get in the low 100s of applications. They also offer a chance to get the hell out of the US.

Consider it! (I say this because lots of Americans already do apply for these, so you may as well get on board, because you seem deserving... also, what better place to raise a family than NZ?)

CTS said...

I want to second the comments of March 9, 2012 11:49 AM.

I actually have been at a variety of places – R1 to good SLAC – and I am generally happy that I ended up at one of the latter. I know that my friends who only stuck with big R1s are often very, very unhappy: they hate their colleagues, they are deeply disappointed in their undergraduate students, they never seem to have anything to do with people in other disciplines.

I have not done as much publishing as I wish, but that was largely my decision as I chose to be very involved with faculty governance. I am proud of what I have done and am doing in scholarship, and I love the close relationships with students and colleagues.

This is anecdotal, to be sure. But, perhaps it might give pause to some who think being at a SLAC is failure. It depends on the place and the department, you know.

CTS said...

@Anyway- chill out everyone; we're all in this together.

March 9, 2012 12:14 PM

Well said.

BunnyHugger said...

1:38 wrote:
"And frankly, I've even resigned myself to the idea that a non-TT job, if reasonably secure, would be fine."

As I've mentioned here before, that's where I am. Both the non-TT, reasonably-secure job part, and the resignation part.

My sincere sympathies to all those who did not find what they sought this job season.

CTS said...

Mr Zero:

I want to second the poster who finds your work at PS, at least, wonderful.

I don't know why the market is SUCH a crap shoot, but I do believe it is. I know that is not comforting to most job seekers, but perhaps it might be more comforting if you recogninze that this means it is not simply a matter of 'merit.'

As to 9:13: Please give your new place a chance. SLACs, in particular, put a great deal into their hires and can be severely punished if new hires move on ('too quickly,' which is Admin-speak). They chose you out of who knows how many applicants.

They have given you a rare chance; please return the consideration.

Anonymous said...

I can't think of anyone on this blog who would consider a tt job anywhere at any institution (cc, SLAC, R1) to be a failure. Why are we attacking this strawman?

Anonymous said...

@3:21. This is 12:14. I agree with the comment that 9:13's remarks are inappropriate in response to Mr. Zero's lamentation. Someone made that comment after I made mine and the point is very well taken. But the earlier responses to 9:13 were that s/he has no right to complain at all, not that the remarks were brought up at the wrong time. I disagree that someone has no right to complain at all just because others have it worse. So I hear what you're saying, though I think you're mixing up a lot of issues, and, quite frankly, your attitude is nasty and shitty. I'm sorry you feel like you're in this by yourself. A forum like this is here just so we can have some sense of community in this process. It's too bad so much of this devolves into pissy name-calling and unattractive whining instead of constructive dialogue. For all that, there is much of the latter and I appreciate all of you out there trying to make sense of the madness in a thoughtful, collegial way.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero, as someone who is also a few years on the market now, I agree with some of the commenters that if you are getting your papers placed well, if you enjoy your job and do not see it as a drag (e.g., also teaching, committee work etc), and moreover if you continue to get interviews, do not give up yet. Induction from past experience may lead you to get disheartened. Therefore, mentoring from people senior in your field who know your work well and who you trust can be an important means to get a realistic view of your chances of landing a TT position. This is why I haven't given up yet.

Anonymous said...

to 10:36: You will find much more mobility in administrative work than pure faculty appointments. So try to work your way up the ladder a bit (chair-to-associate dean, director of a faculty teaching-learning center, etc.). Stay with administrative appointments that require a faculty appointment. If you're successful after a few years, you will find yourself marketable at comparable institutions in better locations. A quick review of ads in the Chronicle will confirm that.

And please remember that academia is a rare environment where commuting couples are not that uncommon, especially when both need faculty appointments. Far from ideal, yes, but possible, given the schedule.

And for all "trapped" in undesireable geographic locations (or campuses), take advantage of ways to escape temporarily. Take a Fulbright teaching award abroad for a year. Stretch out your sabbatical to a 1/2-pay year-long absence. Go to an NEH summer seminar or institute every few years. Give yourself some breathing space so you appreciate your home institution a bit more than you do now. And you might get ideas for other things you could do related to academia.

Anonymous said...

One of the themes that comes up in these discussions is the value of appropriately adjusting one's expectations. In that vein, it's worth pointing out something that many of us who have had success on the job market have learned the hard way: not only are many SLACs located in very undesirable places, but many of them attract students whose academic abilities range from mediocre to, well, a lot worse than mediocre. At my school, for instance, the range of ACT scores for our middle 50% of students is a full ten points lower than they were at the school where I earned my Ph.D. In a discipline like philosophy, which--and he's something we can all agree on--requires quite a lot of rigorous thinking, this can make a big difference to how much one enjoys one's time in the classroom. When I was a GTA at a major university, I LOVED teaching. Now, um... Well, I like teaching. Most of the time. And I am genuinely thankful for the job I have; it's far better than I deserve, and living in a crappy place means that I have a low cost of living and can afford a decent home on a professor's salary.

Anyway, I guess the reason I'm sharing all this is twofold. First, there are hints of a false dichotomy in the preceding: either you're R1 all the way, or you like the idea of teaching at a SLAC. But SLACs are not all created equal. Many of our nation's universities are academically lousy. So, someone who expresses frustration about having an unsatisfying job isn't necessarily guilty of treating research jobs as the sine qua non of the philosophical life. (Someone who expresses frustration about a TT job in this forum at this time may be guilty of an astonishing degree of classlessness, but that's another topic.)
Second, on the subject of deciding when to hang it up, one might want to bear in mind that even many of the lucky ones in our field end up living in undesirable places at school where a 24 on the ACT qualifies students for an honors scholarship. For many of us, graduate school may turn out to be the high point of our careers. Just something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero:
I am so sorry to hear that you didn't get a job on this round. You're right to be proud of your accomplishments. I hope you have the courage to persist.

I want to thank you for the significant contribution to our profession that you have made with this blog-- it is a bigger, more important contribution than most any published article, no matter how fancy the journal: unlike those articles, people from all over the profession actually read this blog and glean helpful insights from it.

I want to thank you for your honesty, your indignation and sense of the absurd, your evident passion for what you do, and for turning your anger and frustration over your situation into something that is genuinely helpful for so many people. How many people can say they've done that?

zombie said...

Mr. Zero deserves a job. He deserves it not in some "entitlement" sense but in the sense that he has worked hard to teach well, and to publish well and often, and to develop himself as a philosopher. He has worked to improve those things he can control that make him a more "marketable" candidate. He's done everything right. One of my favorite quotes is "Luck is the residue of design," by Branch Rickey. Mr. Zero has done his best to be lucky.

And then, there's the luck that is the residue of someone else's design, and that's where it's out of Mr Zero's hands. The economy, the changing workspace of academic, the intangibles like "fit."

I still believe that if you work on your own luck, that other luck will eventually go your way, because you'll be ready when that right place/time/job opportunity comes along. But you have to wait for that.

Mr Zero, I am really, truly sorry this wasn't your lucky year. That goes for the rest of you who struck out this year too.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know why the market is SUCH a crap shoot, but I do believe it is."

Academia is not a business in the strict sense, and most departments aren't run in terms of profit and market share. Many people in academia love this 'anti-capitalist' aspect of it, but it has a dark side. In the private sector, talent ultimately trumps all else, as talented employees make money for their employers.

Academic job searches are under no such pressure. Thus, the market is a crap shoot because search committees often hire people for reasons that have nothing to do with merit.

I was involved in 4 faculty hires when I was in grad school. Having seen the kind of insane BS that goes on behind the scenes keeps me from ever taking job market rejection personally.

At my old institution, many of the faculty were such pathetic insecure assholes that they actively campaigned against the best candidates and strove to hire junior ABD scholars or foreigners. I.e. people who would be insecure in their new position and thus easy to control.

Anonymous said...

My soul is as crushed as anyone, but I'm with 12:14. Chill out guys.

In particular, I welcome info from people who live in a place with few opportunities for their families, whose families are unhappy. Responses to such posts along the lines of "Hey at least you got a TT job so shut up you f*king snob" are really out of place. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

"In the private sector, talent ultimately trumps all else, as talented employees make money for their employers."

And if "talent" were the only way to make money in the private sector, this would be a valid point.

Anonymous said...

@10:35 AM

In particular, I welcome info from people who live in a place with few opportunities for their families, whose families are unhappy. Responses to such posts along the lines of "Hey at least you got a TT job so shut up you f*king snob" are really out of place. Grow up.

I like hearing from everyone too and I think almost all of us on this blog do, in fact, appreciate hearing from those who managed to get a job.

But that isn't the issue in this particular thread. This very specific particular thread was about Zero's well placed and appropriately felt anger/disgust/frustration/melancholy at the status of the job market and his thoughts about his future.

This particular thread was not the thread to complain about how terrible the tenure track job was that you just got in your first year on the market. There are plenty of opportunities on this blog to talk about these issues but this thread, this specific thread, was not one of them.

To post about how unhappy one is about their 1st year on the market tenure track job offer at a SLAC, in this thread, demonstrates a failure to appreciate the egregious lack of tact such a response displays. It reinforces the stereotype that academics, and philosophers especially, are so caught up in their own ideas that they forget how to talk to, empathize with, and meaningfully non-academically engage with others.

913's post would be welcome in almost any other thread but this one. IN THIS THREAD, his/her response was rude, entitled, and completely in bad taste. S/he deserved the negative reactive attitudes others had.

Anonymous said...

The people defending 9:13 blow my mind.

Look, I'm pretty much an atheist and am happy and eager to argue with religious people about the matter.

However, if I'm at a funeral and the pastor consoles the grief stricken widow by telling her that her departed husband "is in a better place"...I'm probably not going to take that as an occasion to announce my disagreement.

Zero wrote a moving post about his continuing struggles on the job market, which is a problem shared by many many of us. 9:13 took it as an occasion to post about his/her fabulous experience on the market first time out, but then complained that having lots of interviews and a TT job can be a drag in some ephemeral ways.

That's like telling a kid living in a dirt hovel in Zimbabwe: "Mo' money mo' problems."

I'm not saying 9:13 is a terrible person. Intellectuals often have poor social skills and difficulty understanding what is or is not appropriate in a particular situation. I'd imagine his/her post is a product of that.

Still, it deserves to be criticized.

Anonymous said...

"It reinforces the stereotype that academics, and philosophers especially, are so caught up in their own ideas that they forget how to talk to, empathize with, and meaningfully non-academically engage with others."

"Stereotype"? Seriously, how many people have to confirm the "stereotype" before it's no longer a "stereotype" so much as a well-evidenced generalization? Because to be perfectly honest, this so-called "stereotype" describes the overwhelming majority of academics (in general) and philosophers (in particular) I have known in my career?

I won't name names, but we tend, as a rule, to be total pieces of shit--either poorly socialized Aspergerized rainmen/women, or poorly socialized self-absorbed monomaniacs. The human beings among us tend to be written off as "bad philosophers."

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the vitriol being directed towards 9:13. Especially in light of 10:36's tale, what's wrong with pointing out that people need to be very careful what they wish for?

Anonymous said...

I think we are being a bit too hard on 9.13. I've been on the job market for the first time this year, and have done nowhere near as well as he/she has (2 interviews, no job). I'm incredibly disappointed, and I have found it difficult not to feel irritated with the melancholy of people who have had more success than me, but, when I think hard about it, I do understand how they feel. I have had all sorts of irrational responses to different aspects of the job market this year. This process is incredibly stressful, and leaves almost none of us at our best. The fact that someone has just gotten a job does not make it monstrous that they, like many of us, are struggling to reconcile their actual situation with what they hoped/planned for, and are therefore anxious about their future (even if others have more to be anxious about). Let's give this person a break.

Anonymous said...


There are, I think, some valid complaints here. Yes, it's not the best thread to complain about gainful employment. But if I could address the issue of being careful what you wish you, I'd say this:

Some complaints are valid. But some, I'd argue, are not. For instance, I have no desire to listen to 9:13 complain about how bad things are at a school he *doesn't work for yet*. He notes that this year was his first year on the market, so he'll be starting there in the fall. How fucking precious is this prick that he's already complaining about the school *he doesn't work for yet*? You know, 9:13, don't go. Refuse the offer. Step aside, because I can promise you there are plenty of people who looked at *that very job* with envy. 9:13, I'm sure we all weep for you that a job you aren't working at yet has yet to give you the appropriate sense of happiness and fulfillment. If you;re that willing to write off your colleagues, your students, your administration, and your community *before you start working there*, then I suspect you won't find happiness there.

Anonymous said...

As for 9:13, perhaps the job is in an awful part of the country, and/or perhaps the teaching load is quite high, and perhaps (s)he has good grounds for thinking that because of this, (s)he'll find his/her situation unpleasant. Faced with the difficulty of 'moving up' nowadays, (s)he might indeed be wondering whether a career consisting of a high teaching load at an awful location was really what (s)he signed up for when (s)he entered grad school and spent almost a decade working towards getting such a job. Does it sound like a good deal to you, for instance, to spend a decade working away, only to get an awful job in rural Mississippi at the end?

Now, there is perhaps a lot that can be said about the sort of angst one might feel in this situation, but it's certainly a reasonable type of angst, and an angst that is perhaps even reasonable to have prior to starting the job.

Of course, I'm making a lot of conjectures here, but it does seem that there is a way of filling in the story such that it is indeed a good cautionary tale of us being careful what we wish for.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that Mr Zero. You're in good company, however, as there are loads of excellent philosophers not getting jobs this year. In a (very kind) rejection email, a member of the search committee from a top department said this was the "strongest group of candidates that any of us has ever seen".

Part of what has been so difficult for me is that subset of my family who have no idea what it's like out there. They always seem so supremely confident in my intellectual abilities that they were *convinced* I would land a job, like there was never a question. How exactly do you give them perspective? "Oh, you won all those track meets in High School ... of COURSE you'll medal in the Olympics!"

And from philosophers, the consolation you always get is either: (i) "at least you got close!" or (ii) "bad luck; it's anybody's guess who will get a job from year to year."

As to (i), it's quite possibly more frustrating to be so close! As to (ii), it's not a boost to emphasize that the process was doomed to start. ("Oh, I'm sorry you got wrongly convicted for murder. Cheer up, though, the justice system is completely corrupt anyway! Don't think it reflects badly on you....")

Anyway, I feel for you man. It sucks. I feel like this year I didn't allow myself to get my hopes up, constantly reminding myself not to get too excited about possibilities. And when those doubts are confirmed, it feels like a giant but inevitable disappointment has finally arrived, 6 months in the making.

zombie said...

In case some of you missed it, 9:13 said this:

"I know that getting any sort of TT offer is something to be thankful for, and so I am happy for what I got this year."

Perhaps 9:13 chose an inappropriate venue in which to express his/her frustration with the way his/her employment opportunities turned out. One can still be thankful to have a job -- any job -- without being completely satisfied with the job one has (or will have). Indeed, I would think that's a pretty common sentiment in these tough economic times. And that seems to be what 9:13 is saying.

A little perspective is in order, all around. We don't all love the jobs we have. (I do, but maybe I'm an outlier.) The fact that someone else is relatively worse off than you are doesn't preclude you from being somewhat worse off than you would like or hope to be.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mr. Zero. My deepest sympathies. Try breaking something or drinking something. (I'm at a loss as to what to say.)

Anonymous said...

A question for those more experienced than me: suppose you did not get an offer, but had a few campus visits at very good departments. Is it advisable or inadvisable to list those talks in your CV? It will reveal that you were turned down for those jobs, but show that you were in the final selection at those places. Any views?

Anonymous said...

"Is it advisable or inadvisable to list those talks in your CV?"

Inadvisable. For the same reason that, if part of the interview were to give a teaching demonstration, you wouldn't list "guest lecturer" for those courses.

At best, it's in bad taste to list job talks as invited lectures. At worst, it's CV padding.

Anonymous said...

1:18: I list those under "Invited Talks" on my CV.

Anonymous said...

"Is it advisable or inadvisable to list those talks in your CV?"

"At best, it's in bad taste to list job talks as invited lectures. At worst, it's CV padding."

Nonsense. You gave a few regular academic talks. They should be listed as such. The worst that can happen is that next year SC members will know that you were invited to some very good departments this year. They know what the market is like, and they are likely to be impressed.

Unless you want to present yourself as a worse candidate than you actually are. But then why not leave out some of your publications too?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, sometimes I wonder if the reason there's so much conflicting job advice is that some of you are trying to sabotage others' chances by giving them bad advice.

Case in point: 1:49. A lot of the candidates for the top jobs this year listed their job talks on their CVs, even *before* they had happened! It's not CV padding, and it won't be perceived to be in bad taste by anyone who doesn't have a stick shoved so far up as 1:49.

Anonymous said...

Here's a whiny complaint. I have almost gotten a TT job five times. FIVE FUCKING TIMES! One of them even had a 1-1 teaching load. I know some people don't get that close at all, but there is something exquisite about getting that close and missing. I mean I am glad that so far every year I get very close, but it is truly maddening, and perhaps is leading me down the path to destruction. Reminds me of the Kim Wilde song "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Alright those of you who have not had the luck of getting close, go ahead and hate me.


Anonymous said...

1:49 -

I guess there are many accomplished philosophers who are either exhibiting bad taste or padding their CVs.

Anonymous said...

5:28 AM, I have a similar problem.
Year 1: I get three interviews, one of which lands me the postdoc I'm still on and one on campus. The guy who got the offer is a stellar assistant professor who moved from another university. I was just out of grad school. I hoped he would decline, but he accepted the position.
Year 2: I have some 1st round interviews (forgot how many, 3-5) and one on campus. I'm ranked first. And then the job vanishes because of a lack of funding.
Year 3: I have 4 first-rounds, 2 on campus, where in both cases I'm second choice.

Anonymous said...

I'm fresh out of grad school, got my phd last august. So this was my first year on the job market and unsurprisingly I did not get any interviews, not even any online. So, that's fine, especially after reading what people have to go through, year after year in this awful mess... I'm a little hopeful for the postdoc fellowships to which I applied because some of them are in fields right up my alley. What I want to share and ask is what can be done about the job market? Of course, some of the ideas that come to mind are unrealistic, perhaps bordering on fascist, at the very least just plain horrible. For example, should there be a moratorium on admission of new phd students in the field? Should all faculty above a certain age be forced to resign? Of course, let me say again, these and similar ideas are just plain bad ideas not to mention immoral and unfair. But the job market is such that it makes one entertain such horrible ideas almost as a reflex! Of course, I cannot support such crazy measures. But are we, the highly educated but unemployed people, going to do? I ask this question with the greatest sincerity, because I really want to know...

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:35 said

"I'm a little hopeful for the postdoc fellowships to which I applied because some of them are in fields right up my alley."

That's some stunningly thin grounds for hope. If something is "right up your alley" then it is safe to assume it's also right up the alleys of the other 250-300 applicants. I would never think that having the AOS I have would in any way make me uniquely suited to a given opnening, there will always be another 200-300 out of work philosophers with the same AOS. You do better to find make good connections with your professors, find out where they might have pull and where their recommendations might have weight, and of course to publish in good journals. Those things will set you apart.

Anonymous said...

"What I want to share and ask is what can be done about the job market?"

This burden falls on those with tenure. Those with tenure need to do a much, much better job of defending their departments during budget cuts, redistribution of resources, etc.

One thing that has always amazed me is how bad a job many in the profession do of making their field appear relevant to others. And this can be done in a number of ways. Philosophy courses can be offered as university gen-eds, thus serving the university as a whole. However, far too many faculty have no such interest, and outright complain when they have to teach anything but majors. Faculty can also work to make connections between their areas of specialization and more broader social/political/cultural concerns. However, again, too many faculty hold to the belief that any publications not directed as other specialists are not "rigorous" enough. And anything smacking of "popular philosophy" gets enough bashing that it's simply not an effective way of earning tenure.

At times, it seems that what one must do to earn tenure is at odds with what one should do to encourage growth in individual departments.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:41

Increasing demand for philosophy courses does not necessarily increase the supply of available tenure-track jobs. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that as more and more philosophy courses become service courses (rather than courses for majors), it is more economical to hire contingent faculty to teach them. So, if we should expect to see more of anything, it is more openings for adjuncts, VAPs, and/or full-time instructor/lecturer positions -- not TT lines.

Very little can be done to increase the number of available TT lines, and nothing WILL be done about it. As has been discussed a bazillion times already on this blog, there will be no moratoriums in graduate admissions or early retirements. The problem of demand outpacing demand will continue to get worse unless and until a huge number of job seekers leaves the market all at once, which is unlikely to happen. For every couple of people who leave the race, 20 replace them.

The situation is doomed for those who choose to stay in. It's totally fucked and nothing can be done about it.

Anonymous said...

"You do better to find make good connections with your professors, find out where they might have pull and where their recommendations might have weight"

On the one hand, this is very good advice.

On the other hand, it's a perfect summary of the corrupt rotten core of academia.

Anonymous said...

As has been discussed a bazillion times already on this blog, there will be no moratoriums in graduate admissions or early retirements

The reason there won't be moratoriums is twofold:

1) Grad students provide cheap expendable labor for grading and teaching classes that tenured profs don't want.

2) As fucked up as it sounds, grad school admissions have become even more competitive in the past few years since the economy went to shit as a lot of young people see graduate school as a way to delay having to find a job.

Little do they know...

And let's not forget the giant student loan bubble that is showing its first signs of popping:

Once that happens the academic job market will implode completely. Shitty adjunct gigs will become as competitive as the TT market is now. Not that that will matter—tenure won't survive for long either.

Anonymous said...

Grad students provide cheap expendable labor for grading and teaching classes that tenured profs don't want.

I kind of think that's bullshit. I don't have tenure, but I'm tenure track, and I am in a department with a PhD program. But I never get grading help from grad students. And if we had no grad students teaching their own courses, I certainly wouldn't be teaching those courses in their place. (It's quite possible that the administration would hire adjuncts instead, although I would lobby for new TT hires.)

It's true, some profs in the department do get graders and TAs -- the ones with huge classes. But this isn't why I like being in a department with a graduate program. The real reason is that I like teaching graduate seminars. A lot. It's my favorite part of the job.

Our program actually is reducing the size of our classes, but we certainly don't have a moratorium (which I think would seriously endanger the graduate program altogether).
I think you're being kind of patronizing toward incoming grad students, too. They understand how bad the job market is. We'll place only about 50% of our incoming students, and we tell them so.

Anonymous said...


What's your teaching load? If it's at all typical for a research-oriented department with a grad program, you don't teach more than 2 courses per semester. Am I right? Now, why is that? It's because somebody else (guess who?) is teaching service courses instead of the TT faculty.

If graduate students disappeared, who would teach those service courses? TT faculty might teach some of them--especially if they get a course reduction for teaching graduate courses--but it's far more cost-effective to hire adjuncts and lecturers. So even moratoria wouldn't necessarily open up more TT lines; it would just create more contingent labor.

Anonymous said...

I was once told by a graduate dean that universities lose money on PhD students--- i.e., the labor we provide does not compensate for the money sunk into us. This makes sense to me, when I think of how my advisor probably makes $200K a year (just salary), and one of the courses is a 4-ish person grad course. The university pays an exorbitant amount per course for my education. This, combined with fellowship years, means a ton of money gets sunk into me. Adjunct labor, even lecturer labor is cheaper than funding my education.

This is not to say we are not being used. We are, for any number of reasons: grad programs are reputation builders, and grad students are people faculty can dialogue with. Put crudely, we are ego-strokers for faculty. But we should be clear on what we are being used for and who is using us: Your department is using you, but not university administrators looking to save a buck. It's up to departments to make the push for reducing numbers of grad students and the number of job candidates.

5:11 said...

6:25, but that's exactly what I said. If we didn't have grad students teaching courses, I would not teach them instead -- we would hire new TT faculty, or (more likely) get adjuncts.

9:54, I somehow don't think it would stroke my ego to have you in my seminar. I do get a lot out of the grad seminars I teach. But I don't believe I am 'using' our graduate students any more than they are 'using' me; and I don't think of myself as having been 'used' by my own profs when I was in grad school.

These are just my personal impressions. My experience is very limited, since I've only ever been in two philosophy departments. (Well, plus my undergrad department, but that doesn't count.)

Anonymous said...

@5:11, I wasn't contradicting you--I was just emphasizing the point that graduate students aren't necessary for research faculty to maintain their low course loads.

@9:54, it's hard to imagine an R1 or an Ivy League "losing money" on anything, but your point is taken. I think it's fair to say, on balance, that the "elite" faculty of such schools would have their reduced course loads with or without graduate students, as they need them in order to do research. Graduate students certainly help in this regard, but when push comes to shove, they are not principally a source of low-paid contingent labor. As you rightly point out, elite faculty just tend to prefer teaching graduate students over undergraduate students because it benefits them in other ways. It's all about self-interest. They will not give up their graduate students any time soon, even if it helped the profession.

Anonymous said...

To 4:02am: I (Anon 9:54) should clarify, since I wasn't entirely clear. You're not using your grad students if there's a reasonable hope that a decent majority will secure jobs. But there is no such hope. And for as much as faculty know this and often say it, they don't say it at the moment that matter: when prospective students are getting wooed, or when the number of new admissions is being decided.

There's a decent case to be made that admitting students in these circumstances is tantamount to a form a exploitation. You're getting something from your students they hope to get, and more likely than not, will not get in return, namely the chance to be a bona fide member of this profession.

It's also clear from that CHE article Leiter recently linked that most profs at grad programs want grad students because it facilitates their research or might keep their field thriving. These are lovely motives, until acting on them comes at the expense of a market flooded with students who, despite occasionally being told the market sucks, were being given every indication that this is still a viable enterprise.

If grad programs cared about *students* in the right way - i.e. as persons vulnerable to the hurt, confusion, fear, and prospect of a wasted decade that this market brings - they'd take in less of them, or, at the very least, give them better non-academic professional training and pull out all the stops warning them. But grad programs don't do this, and they don't do it because such realism interferes with our ability to be the kind of students grad profs want to interact with.

Maybe it's harsh of me to think of this in terms of ego-stroking and use, when we students do emerge smarter, more interesting people, and people who've done and experienced something amazing in getting a PhD. But let's be clear, we students are not your direct concern- philosophy, your research, and your awesome job are your concerns. I find this just as disturbing as the (largely false) idea that students are around because some evil administrator wants cheap labor.

Anonymous said...

You're not using your grad students if there's a reasonable hope that a decent majority will secure jobs. But there is no such hope.

Huh? That's false. A majority of our candidates secured jobs this year. I don't know what the standard is for "decent majority", but I suspect that you really have no idea whether there's a hope of obtaining it.

There's a decent case to be made that admitting students in these circumstances is tantamount to a form a exploitation. You're getting something from your students they hope to get, and more likely than not, will not get in return, namely the chance to be a bona fide member of this profession.

I'm not entirely sure what you meant by this, but I think it is not true. Students entering our program do get the chance to be a bona fide member of this profession. Unfortunately it is a smaller chance than I would like. But I don't think this makes the relationship exploitative. It would be exploitative if there were some important sense in which it wasn't voluntary -- including my (our) misleading prospective students.

If grad programs cared about *students* in the right way - i.e. as persons vulnerable to the hurt, confusion, fear, and prospect of a wasted decade that this market brings - they'd take in less of them

The very CHE article you mentioned noted that grad programs are taking in fewer students. It's very strange that you missed this fact. It is prominent in the article.

But let's be clear, we students are not your direct concern- philosophy, your research, and your awesome job are your concerns.

My students' prospects are indeed a concern of mine. They are not my only concern. But again, I suspect you of making assertions that far outstrip your actual knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Here's a simple question: What is the unemployment rate for individuals with Ph.D.'s in philosophy? I imagine that even if we control for various socioeconomic factors, it will still be lower than the unemployment rate for the population at large. If this is true, then why all the hand-wringing about the justice of allowing people to pursue graduate study?

Anonymous said...

I'm working off an assumption, but I suspect a pretty safe one to make.

I wonder how many people would think it's a good idea to admit fewer students to PhD programs if they knew they would be the ones not admitted. That is, I suspect that everyone who has considered this idea assumes that the result would be fewer grad students in their program, not that they would have been rejected. That is, to all those who complain that there are too many people being admitted into grad programs, have you considered leaving to help make the numbers smaller? Have you considered dropping out of the race to help ensure that others get a better chance at success? Because if you are not willing to do so, why do you think it's a good idea for others to be denied the same chance you have?

But I'd also like to ask something else, on a related note. We all know that some people do better than others in their graduate programs, get more publications, present at more conferences, get better letters of recommendation, etc. It happens. Some of us have been those people; some of us know those people and wish we were as strong as they on the market. Given that, how many grad students would appreciate being told by their advisors, "look, you're good but not great, and I think you should consider leaving the profession"? How many grad students would appreciate being told that it's in their best interests not to finish the degree and spend upwards of 5 years on the market before possibly giving up entirely? How many would take the advice and walk away?

Because from what I have seen (and I don't mean just on this blog, but in discussions elsewhere), talk of culling the ranks of grad students almost always means "cutting other people from the ranks so I have a better chance on the market."

Anonymous said...

@ 10:52

Is it not obvious? It is staring right at your face and you seem to be refusing to see it. As we all know, getting a phd in philosophy requires you to give 5-6 years of your life in your twenties while you could be pursuing some other interest, perhaps in a field where you may in fact have some chance of finding a job.

It is the responsibility of the phd programs to let the students know that chances are pretty bad for all of them to secure jobs. That is, if they really care about their students, something that can legitimately be doubted. No professor need take offense. I get the impression that some of the professors here really want to emphasize that they care for their students and that their departments do not use them, because they do know it themselves quite well that grad students are used and taken advantage of by the departments and professors. It's no different than being in bad-old denial.

Another point @ 10:52. I think it is a mistake to compare the unemployment rates of philosophers with phd's to the general unemployment rate of the population. Anybody who has made the sacrifices necessary to get a phd, crappy pay for at least 5-6 years, being away from loved ones, and the caprices of students, professors, and committees among other things, does deserve a good job, or at least some job! Comparing people with phd's and those without phd's is a misanalogy, people who were brave and perseverant, not to mention hardworking enough to get a phd are not on a par with uneducated people or people with cc or bachelor's degrees. We do deserve jobs and the unemployment rates do not change this fact! This complacency of philosophers toward those other philosophers without jobs makes me sick to my stomach, we should be better than this!

5:11 said...

11:12, I think this is a great point. But can I add that your faculty are only highly fallible guides to whether you've got the stuff to make it in the market and ultimately in the profession? I'm thinking of one example of a colleague who confidently asserted of one of our students that we had made a mistake admitting him; two years later it's very clear that's not true. (He had good publications, let's just say.) I'm sure I have made or will make similar mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I know of my people in my program (Leiter top 10) who were given the hard word by faculty that they should leave with the Masters and not pursue the PhD since they would have very little chance of success in the job market.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* First, the question of whether the unemployment rate among philosophy Ph.Ds is lower than the general unemployment rate is moot. (It is, for the record.) Philosophers aren't concerned with finding any old job; they are concerned with finding TT jobs in philosophy. So the salient question is "what percentage of philosophy Ph.Ds have TT jobs in philosophy?" That percentage will be much lower than the percentage of philosophers who are unemployed outright.

Second, all of this nonsense about graduate students is also moot. The question of whether graduate students are or are not exploited, or whether it would or would not be unjust to declare an indefinite moratorium on graduate school admissions, is IRRELEVANT. No moratoria will EVER be declared under any circumstances. EVER. And even if they were, this would not make the job market any better. So why are we even having this discussion?

Understand this: the demand for jobs is going to keep going up exponentially every year as long as the available supply remains as anemic as it has been since 2008 (even a return to pre-2008 levels would scarcely help the situation). The only way the situation will improve is if there is (a) a sudden die-off of employed philosophers; or (b) a sudden die-off (or beg-off) of the job-seeking philosophers.

As I said before, the situation is fucked. Nothing can be done about it. You will either win, or you will lose, but let's stop pretending that the game can be tweaked to improve individual odds. It can't. The odds are stacked against everyone--even the best of the best.

Anonymous said...

"Here's a simple question: What is the unemployment rate for individuals with Ph.D.'s in philosophy? I imagine that even if we control for various socioeconomic factors, it will still be lower than the unemployment rate for the population at large. If this is true, then why all the hand-wringing about the justice of allowing people to pursue graduate study?"

Well, most philosophy grad students are white so that would be a reasonable bit of imagining on your part.

That, however, does little to console someone who went to grad school for 6 year, graded hundreds of papers each of those years for a pittance stipend, and now has to go back to school to become an MRI tech because there are no jobs IN THEIR ACTUAL DEGREE.

And yet you describe moral concerning over people like that and what it means for academic philosophy as some kind of vain "hand wringing"?

At least you're honest about being a prick I suppose.

Personally, I think fresh PhDs who spend years on the market without getting a job should sue the department they got their degree from. It's been happening a lot lately in law schools and their fraudulent recruitment practices, so why not philosophy?

Anonymous said...


"We do deserve jobs and the unemployment rates do not change this fact! This complacency of philosophers toward those other philosophers without jobs makes me sick to my stomach, we should be better than this!"

There's nothing anyone can do about it. Most public colleges and universities are being hit hard by "austerity" measures and don't have funding for new TT lines in humanities disicplines. The lucky departments are able to cobble together money for part-timers and adjuncts. Even a lot of the private schools are feeling the pain and are having to redirect their resources in various ways.

Another consequence of all this is that older faculty are deferring retirement as long as possible, and in some cases their positions are simply eliminated when they do retire.

Unless and until philosophers at non-elite colleges and universities (which are 99.9% of the hiring institutions in the US) country) can convince admins that TT positions, rather than non-TT positions, are preferable, we won't be seeing more of these any time soon. At best, we'll see more part-time and contingent positions. Tenure-track positions in philosophy aren't cost-effective in the corporatized university of today.

sue yurasov said...

Personally, I think fresh PhDs who spend years on the market without getting a job should sue the department they got their degree from. It's been happening a lot lately in law schools and their fraudulent recruitment practices, so why not philosophy?

That really is an excellent idea. You should do it! Or, wait, maybe it isn't their fault... no, it is. Unless... hm. You didn't get into NYU. So maybe you should sue your undergraduate college. If you got your BA from Harvard, I mean. If you didn't, then you should probably sue your high school.
I'm sure you'll figure out who's really to blame. Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...


very few philosophy professors make $200,000. No one does at my (top twenty) private, research university. there are a few. and there are a few schools known for their exorbitant salaries. but again, this is very rare

Anonymous said...

7:32, how do you know what the salaries are if your place is private?
(Not that I'm disagreeing with the general point -- I know you're right.)

Anonymous said...


Various faculty are privy to the spreadsheets that have salary (and other compensation) reported. These are used when one has to go to the dean yearly to negotiate annual raises. Just because when aren't legally required to make these salaries public doesn't mean that they aren't generally known by those in the department. We don't hand these out to everyone. I doubt most junior faculty know what everyone is making. But those that need to know, know.

Anonymous said...

Is it ever acceptable to contact a school to see wtf is up with your application? One case is a November JFP job that I got an 'employee self-identification' e-mail from the school, but the job listing is not on the Phylo wiki and I haven't heard anything else from them. Another case is a local adjunct position with a 'rolling deadline' (i.e., they look at applications as they get them), which I applied for in February and haven't heard anything about yet, even whether they got my application. I'm tired of remembering every few days that I haven't heard from these people and getting pissed off all over again!