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Just to flesh out the reader's worry, as I've experienced it (last year I had interviews in July and August for work starting in September): if you're applying for "late in the game" jobs it can be a bit of a logistical nightmare to pack up and move and find a new place on short notice, or to leave your current place on short notice (How many month's notice do local laws require you to give a current landlord about your move?), etc.

Not to mention that fact that you're spending the summer applying for jobs and being anxious and packing rather than, say, properly focusing on writing a paper or preparing one of those courses you'll (maybe!) be teaching in September.

As for whether anything should or could be done about this - I do think that institutions would get better work out of people who aren't preparing things quite so last minute, and obviously sorting these decisions out more quickly would be better for the lives of workers. But I suspect that the schools running searches so late already realize this, and are running the search late for reasons out of their control (e.g when the university's budget gets set, or someone unexpectedly going on leave.)

Other side

I think the old system was pretty lousy. The old system, which Marcus describes quite well, required that one prepare applications for a great number of jobs - 60 or more - in a very short period of time. Perhaps two or three weeks. It made it hard to customize things, and anyone who sat on a hiring committee has a story about an applicant applying fro a job at place X and the cover letter saying "I would really love to work at place Y" - applications were rushed. And hard copies had to be posted. Further, when the calendar was shortened, then at one point in the season people were in despair because they knew nothing was going to come up until next fall. That was a huge source of anxiety. As it happened I got my first (limited term) job the year I defended my Ph.D. I was offered the job at the beginning of July for a start date of early Sept. I had already committed to teaching a 6 week summer course. So I could not rush my move, and it was a cross-continent move. (I feel like this is a Monty Python skit ... we slept in a cardboard box, and ate broke glass for breakfast). My point was each system has drawbacks.

Marcus Arvan

Other side: Thanks for weighing in. I would add there are some benefits to the current system.

In the old job-market, most if not all of your interviews would take place over the span of several days at the APA. If you had multiple interviews, this meant that you had to prepare for all of them simultaneously and somehow remember stuff about each university, department, etc. It also meant that whatever mistakes you might make in one interview might carry over into other interviews (i.e. you could make the same mistake again, or simply carry over emotions from one interview to the next).

In the current job-market, your interviews may be spread out over several months. This allows you to focus on preparing for one interview at a time. It also gives you time to reflect on previous interviews, on what went well and what didn't, which can help you prepare better for the next interview.

In other words, there are costs and benefits to a more protracted job market (the old way), but also costs and benefits to a year-round market. Like I said in the OP, I am honestly not certain which one is better, all things considered.


I understand the reader's worry. So often when applying for, interviewing, and accepting jobs, I felt like employers had no understanding/concern/or appreciation for practical realities. Examples: moving across the country with no moving budget, waiting 6 months to get refunded when you do have a budget, going from the west to the east coast and having an 8am interview. , being asked to front 2k worth of interview travel expenses, etc. These types of worries, and worries about leases and giving notice, are REAL problems that can make it difficult to do anything else (like research or class prep) than spend time working on how you are going to accomplish logistical endeavors. I can't explain how frustrated I was when I would try to describe my situation to dead ears. So many people seemed to assume that because THEIR personal financial/family/living situation didn't have the same problems as mine, that therefore my problems were no big deal.

The above said, I have no good news. I just honestly doubt anything will change. There is not enough organization or incentive. And there are so many desperate candidates that *some* qualified person will accept being treated this way. The APA, statement, for example, did nothing. And the APA as an organization is so controversial (despised by a large chunk of philosophers) that they have no power. And no one else has power as each university has its own system/bureaucracy.

Also, I don't mean to imply that this is what others were implying....BUT.... just because the old system was perhaps worse doesn't mean this one isn't terrible.


Amanda, I'm curious (having followed your saga via your many interesting blog posts over the years): Have you found a TT job, or at least a position you're happy in? I hope so.

And for the record, I think the APA is an awful, pernicious, unhelpful organization, staffed by greedy and morally bankrupt people. Simply terrible.

Marcus Arvan

YoungishPhilo: I posted your comment, but want to remind you of the blog's mission. I won't post further comments that allege that various people or organizations are greedy or intellectually bankrupt. Anyone is of course free here to make reasoned arguments--including arguments raising moral questions. But I do expect, at least on this blog, that arguments are made with the blog mission in mind: in ways that are respectful of those visiting this forum, including those one may have moral qualms with.


YoungishPhilo - thank you. And yes, I have a nice TT position. Nicer than I ever expected, actually. I think I probably need more time to see how happy I am, but so far I am very grateful. That said, I am very aware that things could have worked out differently, so I try to look at thinks from a variety of perspectives.

Michel X.

Speaking of never-ending, I just got an HR rejection for a postdoc I applied to three years ago.

Marcus Arvan

Michel: oof. I once had a school send me at least a dozen repeated robo-email rejections spaced out over a year and a half! No joke. The first few times it ticked me off. Then I found it endlessly amusing. Like, damn, they must have really hated me. ;)


I am fairly certain I got a rejection letter from a job I never applied to....

Michel X.

Marcus: that's kind of awful. Ugh!

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