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« Teaching Intro Courses Series - Part 1: Stacey Goguen's Introduction to Ethics | Main | Reader query about interviews with deans »

01/22/2018

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Amanda

I think the point about distinguishing yourself is very important. I hear from folks who go on and on about their publishing records and then to try to do better via yet another publication. Publications are important of course. And if you don't have a few these days your odds of getting a job *anywhere* are low. The market's competitiveness has skyrocketed in just the last 5 years. However a list of good publications doesn't distinguish yourself anymore. (and it certainly used to) You must have something *special* to offer the department these days. I have even noticed many hires at research schools lack the best publication records (it seems). They are rather scholars who have something unique about what they do that builds them a reputation. Rather than writing yet another formulaic critique that gets published in a good journal, these scholars are players in their field that contribute something unique and have their own reputation as someone insightful and not just careful. (My caveat to this is I haven't looked into it too deeply, so perhaps I over say things about the research schools)

Of course, one strategy is just to have a strong CV and hope you happen to find a fit. My friend with the one interview, for various random reasons was a *perfect* fit for the job. He was a white male, too, by the way. So sometimes it is just about waiting to find that match. But in the mean time try to find your place and your voice instead of just being one of the crowd. Having a unique teaching ability, other specialty area, even sometimes an unusual job history will help. I have another friend who worked in government 5 years after his PhD, and then went on the market. He got a job against all of those with more publications and more teaching experience. I think a major reason he got it was his time in government offered a unique and interesting perspective the department both considered valuable and hard to find. When he graduated everyone recommended that leaving academia would be professional death, and he was okay with that but followed his own passion. Oddly he might still be on the market if he followed the advice of others.

Lastly, I would recommend having a plan B. Knowing what you are going to do if things don't work out takes a ton of pressure off the job market. After devising a real back up plan I felt much better about everything.

Number Three

Nick asks: how do you not let failure erode your confidence?

The only things that have helped me in this respect are focusing on all of the things in my life outside of philosophy. I have a couple of hobbies that I am good at and that I enjoy, a partner whom I love, and a good family and friend circle. Last job market cycle, I went out and got some interviews fairly easily at non-academic jobs before I ultimately accepted a temporary academic position. Recently, I started my non-academic job search in earnest once again, and I feel so much better about life. So, that's my advice: do and focus on non-philosophy, non-academic things, and start a non-academic job search.

Amanda

Number Three can you say more about what non-academic jobs you were looking into? That has been a big topic here and it is promising you had interviews.

Nick

Number Three - thanks. I fully agree on the importance of finding joy and meaning beyond philosophy. This has, perhaps at a cost, always struck me as something that too many professional philosophers don't care about in the US at least—I've never cared much for passionate discussions about philosophy for the whole duration of conferences and afterwards.

As for starting a non-academic search, I can't do that now. I feel like it would be counterproductive while I still have a shot at finding a stable academic position. But when I happen not to find one, sure, I'll be glad to look elsewhere.

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