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Thank you for sharing! As a non-citizen looking for jobs in the US, I especially appreciate the bit on visa-related hassles. And many thanks to Helen for organizing this great series of posts!


Yes, be warned of the hassles related to moving to the USA. At certain times in the VISA and Green Card process, one is restricted from traveling outside of the country. YES! You can be trapped in the USA for months at a time while applications work their way through the appropriate channels. If you do travel, you risk having to start the application process over again.

Anon UK Grad

I really appreciate this series, and this post in particular. There is, generally, too little said about the costs (both financial and emotional) of working overseas, where ever that happens to be for you.

I should also note that, while the OP and commenters have focused on the hassles associated with coming to the US (perhaps rightly given the number of jobs here), there are similar problems with going to the UK. Not every university will support a work visa application (called a Tier 1, if I recall), which means that people who do not have the right to work in the UK are essentially excluded from consideration for those positions on the basis of their citizenship. Worse, however, is that even if the university is willing to support your application, it is no guarantee of success - the Home Office may still reject your application, leaving both you and the university in the lurch.


I do worry that these stories encourage people to stay on the job market long after they should have left. The recent statistics at daily nous suggest that your chances of getting a permanent job fall quickly after the first year.


Rationally people should not stay on the job market for more than 2 (maybe 3) years given the evidence. That is, unless you are seriously willing to risk unemployment late in life with no serious career prospects.

Just because some people get lucky doesn't mean you will. In fact, probability tells you your chances of getting lucky, and they aint good!

Marcus Arvan

Hi blaarg: Actually, the statistics reported don't show that. In order to know "the chances", you have to know the base-rates of how many people are applying each year post-graduation.

The fact that only 4% of TT hires are of people who have been out longer than three years doesn't show one's chances go down. If 90% of candidates give up looking after 3 years, are you are among the 10% that remain, you might have a 70% of chance of being among the 4% hired. In other words, given the change in base-rates (how many people have given up looking after 3 years), your chances could actually go *up*.

The smart thing to do is not look at statistics in making one's decision whether to stay on the market. It is to look at how one is performing on the market. I stayed on the market for 7 years for one reason only: each year, I got more interviews than the previous year. That indicated something to me--namely, that there was evidence I was getting closer to my goal.

On the other hand, if one is not getting more interviews year by year, then one has evidence one is not getting closer to one's goal.

In other words, I think we should worry less about what these posts "encourage" people to do, and discuss when it is smart for individuals to stay on or give up, given their *individual* evidence.

I hope to write a post on this later today.

Sam Duncan


I'm hoping you will write that post. I'd just add that there are reasons besides people dropping out that make it hard to get a job once you're a year or two out. The biggest one might be the adjunct death trap: You need to publish to stay viable, but if you're trying to string together 5 or 6 classes at 2 or 3 schools to pay the bills you're not going to have the time to do serious research or writing. The gut wrenching stress inherent in that type of work doesn't help either. Practically none of the people I know who've gotten caught in real adjuncting gigs (that is by the class no benefits jobs) have managed to keep up any kind of real research for very long. They might manage to get out a paper or two from the dissertation research but that's it. On the other hand that doesn't show you won't get a job if you can publish. The issue here is whether staleness in and of itself kills your career prospects or whether other factors come in that lead many people not to get jobs after a few years. From the evidence, it seems more the latter than the former, and I'm really grateful to you and others here for putting to rest the "staleness as kiss of death" myth. Also, I think it shows just how important it is to try to get a decent VAP job if you don't manage to land a TT job right out of school. I balked on moving to take a VAP/lecturer/whatever you call it job my first year past my Ph.D., but, while this job isn't ideal for research, it's put me in a lot better position to publish than did my adjuncting jobs. I'd also add that the one thing that ought to factor in people's decision to stay in the market is what kind of job they have. I don't think anyone should adjunct in the proper sense of that term for more than a year or two since the jobs are so bad and the workload and environment will likely end up killing your chances to move up if you stay much longer. (Then again if you can manage to publish a lot even in job like that....) On the other hand, while they're certainly nobody's dream job, a lot of VAP jobs really aren't that bad. That ought to factor in when choosing whether to stay or go. I wouldn't be happy to be in my current job five years from now, but I like it okay now and it's not like there's some phenomenal job I'd get right this second if just decided to give up on academia.

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