Our books

Become a Fan

« The Special-Skills Fallacy | Main | Teaching a pop-culture philosophy course »



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


Depending on what kind of move the person is trying to make prestige/networking might matter even more than it does at the junior level.

But one thing that I've noticed is that (maybe except at super elite departments?) another thing that could matter a lot is perception of the person's collegiality, what kind of department service they will be doing, leadership skills, etc.. If you're moving at the midcareer stage (at least in my experience hiring someone at this stage and talking to other people), places are likely asking themselves things like "would this person be a good department chair?", etc., since most of us need people like that! My sense in my own department is that this is not considered as much at the junior level (in part because maybe there just isn't enough evidence yet, but in part because there is some pressure to only care about the candidate's work).


(I haven't made a mid-career move but I have been on a search committee that hired an associate professor. I think we cared about, in roughly the following order: (1) how good we thought the person's work was, (2) how good of a colleague we thought they would be, (3) what we thought the person's status was in the profession/how highly other people thought of the person.

For reference I teach at a non-leiter-ranked PhD granting institution. Putting (3) last should not indicate that it didn't matter--all three of these things mattered a lot to us.

Douglas W. Portmore

I moved from one tenure-track position to another seven years out of graduate school. I don't think that it was due to networking, as I hadn't met anyone at the two departments that gave me offers. And, of the four places that gave me on-campus interviews, there was only one where there was someone who I knew. And it wasn't due to prestige bias, as the graduate program that I came out of was ranked at the bottom. It was, I think, due to my publication record, including a recent publication in Ethics. I think that having that high-prestige publication did more for me than the quantity that I had. And I think that it also helped that I had a fairly original research project. At least, one of my now current colleagues said that that was important to him. Of course, I don't want to deny that prestige bias can't be a factor. Indeed, when I arrived at my new position, one of my new senior colleagues said he was worried about the fact that I came out of such a low-ranked PhD program and that he had to ask around to see if I was legit. So, it was good that there were some people who knew my work and respected it, although these were not people that I had "networked" with much. For part of the problem with the job that I was leaving was that it offered almost no opportunities to network as it didn't have much of a colloquium budget and offered only $500 annually for travel if you were speaking. This was all about fifteen years ago.


In my experience research schools care about the following:

1. A reputation in your field. This, I think, matters more than flat publication record. Of course, you typically have to have a pretty good publication record to have a reputation in your field, but the two are different things. One can have a great publication record but do work that nobody reads. Another person might have less publications, or in less prestigious places, but people know them as a person in the field.

2.An interesting research project. This is connected to one, in that generally those with a good reputation have an interesting research project. But some might not have that reputation yet and the project, along with some other things, can push somebody to get hired. There are a lot of late assistant professors or associate professors with great publication records, but an interesting project makes you stand-out.

3.I think Doug is an exception insofar as PhD prestige typically does matter. There are ways to overcome this, but departments want to hire prestigious people. You can be prestigious by your overall research record, or you can be prestigious because you have been riding on your PhD reputation your entire career. I would estimate something like 3/4 of senior research hires are from top 15 places. On the other hand that still leaves 25% of people to make their name another fashion.

4.Networking - although not all hires happen this way, not close to that, it is one way for it to happen. Your adviser knows someone on the hiring committee, etc.

5. I do not think most research departments care whether you are a particularly good colleague. However, I do think they care that you are not a *bad colleague*. So an otherwise promising candidate can have their chances shot because of a reputation of being an ass.

6. Often times departments want to fill a particular need. The dean might only give them a line to hire someone who will help with their bioethics concentration, or certificate in cultural diversity, ethics of war , etc. So it can be important that the general profile of someone matches what the admin says that the department needs to be looking for. I have seen this result in hires when the chosen candidate would have had no chance at all in an open search.

I should say I don't know much about moving at teaching schools. I get the impression this happens less often, but it would be good to hear from people.


To follow up on Amanda's point: it's one thing to move from research school to research school (which seems to require a strong reputation in the field etc.) and quite another to move from teaching school to teaching school, especially after tenure (and *especially* if you don't want to start all over again and have to earn tenure at the new place). To move between 4/4-load or community college jobs seems hard/ rare as an associate prof-- is this the case? I'd be curious to see if anyone has any experience in this regard.

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

Alt-ac jobs discussion thread (2021)

Philosophers in Industry Directory

Cocoon Job-Market Mentoring Program