Our books

Become a Fan

« Reader suggestion: make sure your contact info is readily available | Main | The Secret Lives of Search Committees, part 23: Top 5 job-market tips »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Hi Marcus
I have to confess that I was strongly disinclined to apply for a job in the same AOS at a College that had already not hired me or shortlisted me for a previous position. I assumed - as you assume others assume - that I was not a viable candidate. This is useful to know - but I am sure many should take the hint and realize they are NOT viable candidates at a particular place.


Wow that is strange. The only reason I wouldn't apply to the same job again (assuming I want it again) is if I had already had a flyout. That just seems awkward.

Marcus Arvan

Guy: I have to confess that I find that assumption fairly astonishing.

My astonishment may be partly because I have served on a few search committees, and have seen how *not* true that assumption is. While there are indeed candidates who are not viable candidates, in many other cases it is a very close call--and a candidate who is not interviewed one year well could be viable the following year.

More broadly, though--following my recent post questioning conventional wisdom in the discipline--I find it truly surprising how willing many people are to simply assume things about the profession that seem plausible to them (e.g. you need to publish in top-journals to be hired, you shouldn't apply again at a place that didn't interview you).

If I had a single piece of advice for everyone reading this blog, it would be: STOP assuming so many things! At least in my experience, so many common assumptions in our discipline have a tenuous relationship to reality at best, and in ways that may seriously undercut the career prospects of those who make those assumptions.


Just a quick follow up. I think there is another thought that ran through my head when I decided not to apply. This is in those cases where the job posting for the same AOS (hence, the same job) is posted one or two years later. I assumed that the place must be messed up if they mishandled the search the first time (alienated the person hired, so they left; or did not renew them after a year).

Recent grad


A rejection is not a hint, because very qualified and very underqualified people both receive the same rejection. So nobody can take the hint because no hint was given. Perhaps if someone was never interviewed despite applying ten straight years to the same job, then that would be a hint.

Recently on the market

Amanda, I applied again to the same school after having had a flyout there. (I liked the school, so I figured why not.) I got a flyout again. I didn't get the job but I have it on good authority I was really close to getting it. The flyout itself was no more awkward than any other flyout.

I definitely do not regret applying again. If you were the committee's second-favorite candidate last time around (and given that they will have already hired their favorite) you may well have a better chance than anyone else of getting this job. But you have to apply!

Marcus Arvan

Hi Guy: I think that's another bad assumption.

In our case, we hired for the same position two years in a row not because of anything messed up about our department or institution--nor because we bungled the hire--but simply because the person we hired unexpectedly received a competing offer from their former institution they couldn't refuse.

If anything, it was the person's preceding institution that made things unnecessarily (and entirely unexpectedly) complicated for the candidate and for us--as if their original institution had their house in order to begin with, the person probably would have stayed there and we would have only had to do one hire. We loved the person we hired, and they loved living here and working for us. Their former institution just sprang a surprise on all of us, and it was one the person could not refuse given the totality of their life-situation.


I have no qualms about applying again and again. I also don't restrict myself to applying to places where I think I have a good shot. I just apply to wherever there's a job, and let the committee be in charge of ruling me out.

I kind of think the reason I do this, though, is that I've spent *a lot* of time reading about academic job searches online (and not just in philosophy!). And I suspect that's changed my intuitions about how one should proceed. So, like you, Marcus, I suspect that people feel like they can't or shouldn't apply again largely because they're making assumptions that don't really track the reality of the process.

I'll tell you what, though. There's one job in particular that's been advertised a few years in a row, and to which I've applied each time, but which has yet to hire anyone or even to notify me (or, I assume, anyone) that the search has been cancelled/whatever. And I do find that pretty discouraging. Having said that, if it comes up again this year, I'll apply.


Recently on the market - thanks that is good to know. I tend to take things too personally when I have meet in person. I assume they must not have liked me enough, which upon reflection, is not a very smart judgement. Obviously there could be all sorts of reasons a person wasn't hired, including it was just a very close call.

And Marcus, glad to hear you seemed to have handled the person leaving (to go back to their old institution, no less...that just seems very odd) well. Having had the very awkward experience of once leaving one job for another, the place I left was not so understanding. Well, some people were, but not all.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Amanda: I'm sorry to hear you had a very awkward experience. I have no idea how our school's higher-ups responded, but our department members are still very collegial (indeed, friends) with the person we hired who had to leave. Her situation was totally understandable.

2nd time’s the charm?

My question about applying again has less to do with whether and more to do with how. To what degree should one acknowledge the previous application and/or interview(s) in the cover letter? Do we talk about accomplishments since last we spoke or do we act as though the application is brand new?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Job ads crowdsourcing thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory