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I went on the market the first year ABD with a defence date set for March (it could have been sooner, but we saw no reason to finish sooner, for funding reasons). I had funding through the end of April, and teaching lined up for the summer (and prospects/promises for the fall).

I had two publications, one in a top-20 journal.

ZERO interviews.

The next year, with degree in hand and 6 publications. I was inundated with interviews, accepted 4 on-campus visits, done within 5 weeks of each other (broken up by the C-APA), and I went to the last 2 with a job offer in hand (they pushed up the dates because of my offer). I even pulled out of the one search *the day after* my on-campus to accept the other job (they wouldn't give me more time).

Was I a stronger candidate the second year? Of course. I had more teaching, more developed letters of rec, and more publications. I also went in for some consulting help on my cover letter. I had also networked like crazy that second year (I know that this was a factor in at least some of the searches). My application package and *me* as a candidate were much stronger.

I came from an un-ranked Canadian university, though. I think it's just nearly impossible to get a job ABD these days, especially from outside the Leiteriffic top 10. You should defend before your application deadline, which means October. There's no "timing" things. I just think that you have your best shot with degree in hand. It just doesn't matter if your letter writers are saying "she'll definitely defend in March and we have no doubt that she'll pass her examination." ABDs are risks in ways that PhDs aren't.


Marcus and Rachel-

Many thanks. This post is helpful. Marcus, your first suggestion seems reasonable. In fact, this is exactly what I am doing right now at the suggestion of my placement officers (both of whom are on my committee). However, I suspect my experience will be similar to Rachel's (I am coming from an unranked Canadian school too!).

Even if it is the case that it is highly unlikely that one will get hired while ABD, it still might be a good idea to go on the market while ABD. Let me explain. My research does not fit nicely into a standard research area (it spans philosophy of psychology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and epistemology), and I have a couple of 'side projects'. Being on the market this year has helped me think about how to explain my main research project, and which 'side projects' to leave out. I attended the E-APA and attended lots of talks, meet some folks, and finished a draft of a paper. I would not have done that were I not on the market. If I am on the market next year, I already have a dossier that I can polish rather than putting it together from scratch. So I think being on the market this year is beneficial for me even if I don't get a job.

(Also, sorry about the typo in my previous comment.)

Marcus Arvan

jmugg: glad to hear you found the post helpful. Sounds to me like you're doing exactly the right thing.

Rachel: fair enough, but a couple of thoughts. First, I had numerous interviews while ABD, and have known many others who have as well -- as well as people who got TT jobs ABD as well. Second, even if you're right, what you say is perfectly consistent with the advice I offered in the post, which is to (A) give yourself one year on the market ABD, defend, and then (B) give yourself another year on the market with degree in hand.


I would definitely recommend going on the market ABD. It is likely to be a strength in at least some places. Here's an anecdote, for what it's worth: I got the TT job that I started last semester ABD, as did the other two recent hires in my department (hired for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 years respectively, although one of them postponed taking up his job for a year in order to take a postdoc).


Oh, I absolutely wasn't saying "Don't go on the market ABD." I'm just saying that one is likely to have drastically better chances with degree in hand. I still think everything you've said, and in response to my comment, is consistent with the advice to defend sometime in October, so that one can be on the market with degree in hand (since October gives time for revisions and to make things official).

Holding out for Health Insurance

One thing that would be extremely helpful is if hiring committees would recognize that department/university policies regarding what resources they can and will offer to graduate students who have already defended varies widely. I know in some departments you can defend in early fall and still maintain student status (and student benefits) for the remainder of the academic year. Other departments, mine included, end benefits (library and gym access, health insurance coverage, etc) almost immediately after you submit your defense paperwork, and the paperwork itself expires if it isn't submitted in a timely manner (i.e. you can't just defend and then hold on to the forms for months). I had to make a choice this year between going on the market ABD or going on the market without health insurance. I would hope that seach committees are aware that many candidates have to make this choice.

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