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I think taking a year off the market is *really* risky.

I get the argument for doing it: it *is* super time and energy (including emotional energy) consuming. I got sick from last year's market from the travel and stress. I had a mini breakdown, too! (Fortunately I came out on the other side way more relaxed and happy.) It took me away from lots of teaching (I missed 4 Fridays in a row of my MWF class). I felt really bad about that because it was a 3rd year course in my AOS. I had to completely shut down my research during the height of the market (roughly starting a couple weeks before the E-APA).

There's an argument that *if* one took just some of that time and energy and put it into 1-2 publications, then one might be better off taking the year off and doing that than going yet one more year without any significant changes (publication-wise) to one's CV.

However, the market is *so* unpredictable and the chances are so poor. I'm with Zero: maximize your chances by applying to as many jobs, as many years as possible. The median number of publications for TT hires is 1 (although that goes up slightly as one is out of one's PhD for longer).

Good luck everyone.

Marcus Arvan

Rachel: granted it may be risky -- but there are risks no matter which way one goes. On the one hand, if you take time away from the market, you risk passing up jobs you could have gotten. On the other hand, if you go on the market every year, you risk spending a great deal of time and energy (1) not getting a job, and (2) not improving nearly as much as you could have if you had taken time off.

Given that every choice comes with risks, the question is which risk is the most reasonable one to take. For me (and I am admittedly non-risk-averse), I always come back to this: I want to succeed or fail as the *best* me I can be. I would rather:

(A) take the chance to develop myself to the best of my ability and run the risk of failing to get a job, over

(B) not taking that chance and failing to get a job because I hadn't developed as much as I could have.

I realize that not everyone would choose (A), but even given the vicissitudes of the market, I feel like it was the right choice for me, and that it *may* be for others too. As I mentioned in my post, for me the outcome (getting a job) *isn't* all that matters. What matters, to me, is being able to look in the mirror at the end of the day feeling good about the researcher, teacher, and colleague I've worked so hard to become. Even if I never get the job I want, I'll be content with that. But of course I realize that not everyone might share that point-of-view. :)


The question of whether or not one should take time off from the job market depends very much on the job. Suppose one is in a cushy, research-intensive postdoc position at a very good institution. I would say that in that case it is a good idea to take a year off the job market, try to churn out some papers in very good journals or a book with an excellent publisher. The research environment would certainly help to get those pubs, and the job market worries would get in the way of that.
But suppose you are in a teaching-intensive position, such as a VAP or adjunct position. In this case, the prospective applicant should wonder: if one's institution finds one's teaching good enough to employ one as an assistant professor, why not place that person on the tenure track? I know the faculty members themselves have little say in the matter, but still there is no reason why you should not enjoy the security and benefits of tenure.
So your interests are: you want to be the best researcher and teacher you can (I get that, honestly I do, there is the intrinsic value of our work). But you also want to land a position that is secure, that ultimately gives you some degree of academic freedom, some roots to put down etc.
The interests of the school are: you work as hard as you can, doing research and providing the students with excellent teaching. They don't have any advantage if you apply to other jobs.
In the interest of fairness, all of us who are in this situation should *not* take a year off (or many years off) the job market. Try to get the position you deserve and do not satisfice. If all of us did this consistently, perhaps administrators would think twice about slashing tenure lines.
Also, purely for your self interest, being on a multi-year VAP can start to signal staleness, so an extra year would probably hurt you more than extra pubs, EXCEPT if those extra pubs are of such quality (Healy 4 material) that they would make a substantial difference on your CV AND you would not have written them if you were on the job market. Otherwise, I would say go for it. The market is so volatile and unpredictable, not buying lottery tickets for a year could cost you. Remember: no matter how many rejections, it only takes one 'yes', to get a tenure track position, and every job one applies for (no matter how small the chance) is a lottery ticket to this 'yes'.


My experience on search committees. Each year you've been out after your Ph.D. hurts you. With so many good applicants, there will be someone who looks just as good who is just finishing. People know how though the job market is, so it's certainly not fatal. But it hurts. And: if you take a year off to publish, then you better publish! This is a much less certain prospect than some comments here suggest.

Been There

DO NOT Do IT! In today's terrible job market many search committees will understand a year or two of adjuncting. But there are limits. You adjunct in year one because that's all you could get. You take year two off. So now you are in your third year with no tt-job. Not good. But you may well not get a job in year three. Then you are in year four and that really hurts your prospects. You only have a few real shots at a job. You can't afford to waste one.

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