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I might add, be realistic. If it took you seven years to get a job, and it took me five years to get a permanent job, then others should approach the market with the same expectations. They should plan to be on the market for about 5 or so years before they get a Tenure Track job.
No doubt this was never made clear to most people when they signed up for graduate school. But that is the reality. So if a five year wait is not feasible, start looking elsewhere for a job.

Marcus Arvan

Anonymous: that is an excellent point, and in my experience (from conversations I have overheard) one that a fair number of job candidates do not sufficiently appreciate. If I recall correctly, in recent years only about 3 in 10 hires have gone to people straight out of a grad school - and for a good many of us it takes years.


Unless you come from a top ranked program, my advise is to get out of philosophy while you still have time, and your sanity.

If you plan to stay in, don't forget the marvels of modern medication. Anti-Deppressants and Anti-Anxiety medication can help.

They saved my life.

Thursday is weird

Remember: there is so much more to life than work or the academia. Go out and run, cook, spend time with your spouse, your kids, your friends, watch movies, read novels, try new beer, give away to charities, be kind, have fun.

Sam Duncan

I'd third the comment Marcus and anonymous made about expecting it to take a few years. No one should think they're a loser for not getting a job right out of the gate and don't stress too much over the perceived staleness worries either.

Not waiting on the waiting game

I've been out of grad school for six years, with increasingly better temporary gigs (none of them adjuncting, but none much more stable or lucrative). I've also been lucky to live in desirable and relatively inexpensive locations. So: not ideal, but better/more lucky than many of us, sadly.

I'm now on the market for the third time, and it's going pretty well; fingers crossed. In addition to taking the long view (suggested in comments above), I'd suggest skipping the market once in a while-- or at least not going on it fully-- if you can help it and if your work is worthwhile in the meantime.

Being on the market this year is rough, but it has been made easier by mostly skipping it last year. Instead, last year I focused on publications, building my network through conferencing, and a lot of non-strategic stuff that makes life worth living in the meantime (relationships, community involvement, exercise/health). I did apply to a few jobs, just to give it a shot and collect 'data' to help me decide whether I should stay in the game or not. But that was much less of a time and energy investment than applying to everything full force and then waiting.

I know that PhDs get stale, and that it's hard to live on little money, or in undesirable places, so it's tempting to constantly go on the market. But if the new economy requires us to take a longview anyway, then we should think seriously about whether to put ourselves (and loved ones) through this process every year. Once I realized I didn't want to do that, I looked for a temporary but relatively long-term teaching fellowship and pursued *that* full force, and got it. In the end, I still may not get a TT job. But in the years where I've sat the market out, I've actually done the things that I wanted to do as a professor anyway, and mostly kept my sanity. I taught good classes, published decent stuff, had great conversations, inspired one or two students, made a difference in my community. If I never land a TT job, I can leave academia knowing that while I didn't 'make it', I actually did do the work, and I didn't drive myself insane by constantly trying to get someplace else. It's also easier to consider non-ac or alt-ac careers when you aren't spending all your time applying to tons of TT jobs.

So my two cents is to consider the long-term, meta- waiting game, too, and think about how you want to spend, not just a few months during job season, but a few years as an early career scholar.

Marcus Arvan

Not waiting: Great comment, and one I much identify with. I took a couple of years "off the market" (well, I applied to a few jobs those years, but only a few) for precisely the reasons you mention. It gave me time to focus on publishing and teaching, and time to enjoy just trying to become better at things. I also did it with broadly the same rationale: that even if I never found a TT job, I could at least know that I did work, teaching, and service I enjoyed that *I* was proud of, even if it didn't get me hired. Of course, taking time off the market for these reasons is not a luxury everyone can afford--but I agree that if it is a viable option given your circumstances, it may be worth considering--as again, some time off the market can in my experience both improve one's well, but also time to focus on improving oneself as s candidate. I guess the only thing I would disagree with is the "staleness" issue. That was something I was very much concerned with several years post-PhD. But it didn't cohere with my experience on the market. The longer I was on the market, the more interviews I got -- so, at least in my experience, as long as one is publishing and teaching well and otherwise improving one's dossier (viz. getting more and better reference letters, etc.), staleness need not be an issue


I've found that developing a Plan B can be really comforting, even if you don't ultimately need that plan. Take small steps like taking online career tests or figuring out what degree/training/further experience you'd have to take to start on Plan B or potential Plan Bs. Thinking that if you don't get a job in philosophy, then your life is over ... well, that's obviously a recipe for disaster. But if you think you have no other real career options, that thinking is hard to avoid.

I also gave myself a limit on how many years I'd do this. Having a firm deadline helped. Just because it can take 5+ years now doesn't mean you yourself have to keep at this for 5 years before you let yourself quit. Give yourself permission to quit "early" if your sanity demands it.

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