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My default was to assume I wasn't getting the job. That's why I never really understood the wiki, because I already assumed I wasn't getting the job, or even an interview, so I don't know why I would go check a site to find out what I already took for granted. I also think the first round interview isn't much better than nothing, or at least one shouldn't get any hopes up with just that. For a first round interview you are maybe 1 of 16 or 12, and the search committee might already have a pecking order. I knew from some skype interviews I wasn't being taken seriously at all. And I remember another one where I royally screwed up within the first minute and remember thinking, "Well, so much for that."

Once you go to a flyout things are bit more serious, but still, I figure even if the odds are one in four they are still against you. My first year on the market I had 3 flyouts for very prestigious postdocs and I assumed at least one would work out, and not one did. After that I learned that until I have the contract in hand, I really should try to hold back my hopes and dreams. One thing that helps is having some sort of back up plan for what you will do in the fall if no applications work out. Hopefully, of course, you will get some sort of position. But I found it takes a lot of stress away when you already have a game plan for what will happen if things go awry.


Here's a very different sort of strategy, at least at the "I haven't heard anything from anyone" stage. Try to get excited about/attached to as many jobs as psychologically possible. That has two benefits: (1) when you get a rejection from a job you were excited about, you can just think, "Oh well, I'm excited about these 20 other jobs." (2) It will also increase your chances of being happy with the job you get--I think we have more control over our preferences than we often assume, and that we can bring ourselves to like things we initially didn't.

Another benefit of this strategy is that it helps avoid the problem Andrew points out with being detached: if you're excited about the job you're applying to, you'll put together a better application.


latergrad given your suggested strategy, I am curious (sincerely) why would we even bother with philosophy? I mean given it is so competitive and everything, wouldn't it make sense to leave academia and go be excited about whatever job we get out in the "real world"?


Amanda--well, the answer (for me, at least) is kind of boring. Even though I have some control over what I'm excited about, I can still get myself way more excited about philosophy jobs than other jobs. It's not like we can just get ourselves to love whatever we choose. (But I do think that we ought to exercise the same preference-control concerning non-academic options, given the academic market. I.e., we should get as comfortable as possible with those options, even as we pursue academic jobs.)

Andrew Moon

About your first comment, yes, I agree w/what you say!

I'm curious if you actually tried what you suggested. It sounds exhausting!


I see, thanks for sharing latergrad.


Just realized your handle is "lategrad" and not "latergrad". Interesting how our mind sometimes reads things...


I agree with lategrad’s strategy (that’s what I am doing). It keeps me from focusing on the negative aspects of the market and the enthusiasm that comes with getting excited about applying for every job as for a cool job helps with staying positive overall. For example, it helps me see that there are after all many places where I can see myself as meaningfully contributing to something worth doing.
Since this is my first round, I am not sure how long this will last and how this strategy will play out at later stages, but it has brought me through my first 75 applications so far without major emotional distress, which is already something, I guess.

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