Recent discussions of prestige-bias in hiring (see e.g. here, as well as the comments section here), of when one should give up on securing an academic job, and some private discussions got me thinking today about an important empirical question: does improving one's dossier, over time, substantially improve one's performance (i.e. number of interviews, job offers) on the job-market? I think it would be awesome if someone carried out a longitudinal study addressing this question, as it might provide people with a better idea whether it might make sense to stick it out on the market for a few years (to improve their dossier) or give up. However, in lieu of that (such a study is, presumably, unlikely to be forthcoming any time soon), I was thinking it might be helpful to gauge people's personal experiences--as collecting anecdotes can be one initial (although admittedly crude) way to spot potential trends.
What, then, have people's experiences been (people, that is, who have been on the academic market for multiple years)? I'll begin with a set of very general questions:
- In your experience, did improving your dossier, on the whole, result in more interviews (and, eventually, a job offer) over time (that is, over multiple job seasons)? Or, did you see no change? Over what period of time?
Next, what about specific parts of your dossier? In your experience:
- Was getting more publications followed, over time, by more interviews (and, eventually, job-offers)?
- Was getting one or more "top-ranked" publications followed by more interviews (and, eventually, job-offers)?
- Was improving your teaching dossier (e.g. courses taught, student evaluation scores) followed by more interviews (and, eventually, job-offers)?
- Was getting more, or better, letters of recommendation followed by more interviews (and, eventually, job offers)?
- Was improving your dossier in some other way (not listed) followed by more interviews (etc.)?
I realize these are tough questions to reliably answer (as it is very hard to measure/know which additions to one's dossier make a difference), but still, I suspect people who have been on the market a while will be able to provide some evidence in favor of their impressions. My own personal experience is that improving one's dossier can indeed improve one's performance on the academic market over time, and indeed, do so markedly. My experience was also that total publications seem to matter a lot (as the number of interviews I received, over time, seemed to increase in direct proportion to publication numbers). But this is just my experience. What's yours?