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I was told the following things helped me a lot on the market (as someone from a non-ranked PhD program who went on the market ABD and got a TT job):
- Strong letters of recommendation, including letters from philosophers outside of my PhD granting institution
- Outstanding teaching evaluations
- A sexy research program
- Evidence of having established a solid professional network

I also worked really, really hard on my dossier materials and used a recently successful job market candidate's materials as a guide.

Just focus on what you can control, and try not to take failure personally. The job market is so unjust, and there is a lot of luck involved. I know we all know this, but it's worth repeating.


I have 2 quick points to make:

One: you had 2 Skype interviews this year: that's already quite a lot given that the job market is so competitive! What happened after those? It is possible you may need to practice your interview skills more for next year.

Two: It seems that you have an amazingly strong CV - how come you are applying to 80 jobs??? If you are applying to *heavily teaching* schools, you are probably wasting your time given your publication and research record!

recent grad

One thing that takes some work is selling your research. It's quite common for people to have a number of good publications but at the same time for their work to come off as really boring to people outside the area. So, you need to try to make sure that your work is not only good, but potentially interesting to non-specialists as well. I'm not saying this is you, but it could be. One thing that helped me in this regard is simply talking about my research in casual ways with non-specialists. You learn what things not to mention, what things to stress, what things to simplify, etc.

Pendaran Roberts

I think we can always try to offer advice. And I don't want to discourage that.

However, I think it's important to keep in mind that there isn't a job market in philosophy in any normal sense of the idea 'market.'

There are less than 200 jobs as year for thousands and thousands of people applying.

In that kind of situation there very well may have been nothing you could have done better.

Stuck, PhD

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful comments. I felt like I was being a bit whiny with my original post, but none of you made me feel that way.

Marcus, since I've tried (1) and (2) and still feel stuck, I think (3) is a great suggestion. As for (4), I would love help from the Cocoon's mentoring project, and applied last year but never heard back. Hopefully my potential mentor(s) were able to match with someone facing greater job market challenges (of the sort listed in the mentor project's details) than I. I'll try again this year though, for sure.

Grateful: I don't think I bombed either interview, but yes, I could certainly work on my interview skills some more. That's a good idea. And even though I don't view myself as some kind of hotshot, you may be right that heavy teaching schools will view myself as a "flight risk." And thanks for calling my CV amazingly strong!

Recent grad: You make great points about making my work more interesting to non-specialists. Although I think sometimes that may be a lost cause: in one of my interviews, the chair said something to the effect of, "normally I don't take people who work in (one of my AOSs) seriously, but with the way you describe it, I might make an exception in your case!"

Pendaran (if I may): It's true, and I appreciate your saying that. It feels like excuse-making when I tell myself there just aren't enough jobs, but realistically, the most effective way to improve my odds of getting a job may just be to try several years in a row.

Marcus Arvan

Stuck: I'm glad you've found the discussion helpful. Please do sign up for the mentoring project again. We tried to match as many people as we could this last go around, but unfortunately we had more job-candidates that we did mentors. As we did this past year, we will put applicants like yourself who previously applied but did not get matched to the front of the line!

Stuck, PhD

Thanks, Marcus. It's a great project and I'm really glad you and Helen organize it.

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