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08/15/2019

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Marcus Arvan

J: 100% right.

On the Market

While I 100% agree with all the concerns raised regarding bias in Skype/Zoom/Video interviews, I also worry about not having any contact with a department to vet THEM before a longer and more comprehensive campus interview. I also worry that there are mutually bad fits that could have been avoided by mutual contact prior to a visit - is the solution phone interviews? What other mechanisms could improve the process without the pitfalls?

Amanda

On the market. I don't think skype interviews eliminate the potential bad fit. And I think most job candidates are desperate enough for a job that I would be surprised if it wasn't an extremely rare circumstance in which a skype interview convinced someone to not take the job.

I think via CVs and other application material, the job search committee can get a pretty good idea if someone is a horrible fit. Likewise, by looking at the add and other online info, candidates can get a good idea of whether the department is a bad fit. Moreover, in the rare circumstances in which this isn't figured out, it almost certainly will be on the campus visit. And a department flys out 2-4 candidates, so there will be another candidate to choose from if it is a bad fit. I guess the job candidate would have made an unnecessary trip, but agin, I think it is very rare where a candidate would reject a job that they felt comfortable applying to and flying out to in the first place. We can't control for every possibility in life.

OnTheMarket

@Amanda: Agreed- it might not be a deal breaker for the candidate even if they Skype and get a "bad fit" vibe but then get an on campus interview request. I would think it worth still going to that interview (unless a disaster occurred during the Skype or the interviewers seems like truly intolerable humans). But I do think it makes it hard to take the temperature of the search/committee without that data going in, if you don't Skype first. So I think there can be value for the candidate to have this layer. What I should say is: I (personally) found Skype interviews helpful as the job candidate, and definitely helped me learn important data that contributed to my search process. And are they also arbitrary and biased? Hell yes. To be clear: I am interested in the fit assessment from the candidate perspective, not the hiring committee perspective.

worsted

This is my first year on the market and my results have been unexpectedly promising so far: 10 first-round interviews, 2 of which have resulted in campus visit invitations. But I am extremely burned out and unhappy. I have a hard time managing my anxiety and I feel like I can't survive until the end of the job season. I keep thinking that I sent out too many applications, many of which turned out to be good enough fits to get me Skype interviews but not quite good enough fits to get me to the next level. When I was sending the applications it didn't seem like it was much work to send the same material to yet another school, but I have found the doing of the Skype interviews to be terribly taxing. Even after having done quite a few of them, the preparation before each interview and then getting over the painful sense of cringe and obsessing over how it went afterward takes more than a day. And I actually think I have become worse in emotionally handling the interviews since I started, and I am worried that having overburdened myself will hurt my chances for positions that really are a good fit for me (some of which are still up for grabs). So part of me thinks I should be more selective as I go forward and even turn down some interviews if I don't think I have a good chance in them and am not that excited about the position in the first place. But then again the job market is so terrible that I can't bring myself to do that. The advice from people with more experience also seems to be that you never know what the search committees are looking for and you should take all the chances that you get. So I am wondering if anyone has any experience or advice about whether saying no to an interview invitation is such a crazy idea.

Marcus Arvan

worsted: I empathize, as I was in a similar position my final year on the market. I turned down a few interviews for the sake of my own sanity. Given how well you’ve done on the market this year, it seems plausible you’ll do well next year even if you don’t get something permanent this time around. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Do what you feel like you need to do to protect your own well-being!

driving miss daisy

Worsted,
One thing you can do is not take the interviews so seriously. You may find this relaxed attitude actually leads to a better interview result, moving you on to the next phase.
By analogy, I was very nervous when I took my driver's test. Within the first minute the tester was very critical, leading me to believe that I had already failed. So I just said, I might as well just do the test now, as practice. To my surprise, at the end he said I passed!

Amanda

On the market: Interesting. I'm glad you got valuable information out of them. I don't think I ever did. But then again, I never got a campus visit after a skype interview. As things are now, some departments do them and some don't. So maybe it actually optimal to have this variety, given different preferences, skills, and styles of candidates. Maybe. I still personally think eliminating them would be better. But I'm open to that other side.

Amanda

Worsted: I would be more selective with your initial application. While, yeah, there is always that one in a million story of a job advertised in ethics that hired a metaphysician, I think those cases are extremely rare, and the vast majority of jobs are given to those who are a good fit - both re the speciality, and the research and teaching profile of the candidate in respect to the institution. So just apply to those that are the best fits. The problem with applying and then turning down interviews, is that first, there will be incredible pressure to take the interview if offered. There is not any pressure like that re just applying for the job. Second, even if you do resist the pressure and turn down the interview anyway, the stress it caused you to do that might be as bad as the interview. Even more, word might get around that you turned down interviews, which in many respects that I won't go into, can be a bad thing. I feel very strongly that candidates should not apply to jobs if they are very confident the location or the particular position would make them miserable. Once a job is offered, there is all the pressure in the world to take it. I feel very lucky that a particular job to which I had a flyout to was never offered to me, because I would have taken it and been miserable.

Indignant

Anyone email the search committee and never hear anything back at all? I know they must get a lot of emails checking on applications but I just find it despicable that someone wouldn’t quickly fire off a response, even if it’s entirely uninformative. It’s very unprofessional to completely ignore emails from candidates. What do you guys think?

Marcus Arvan

Indignant: totally unprofessional, but sadly not at all surprising. :/

Amanda

Indigent: It's very common behavior. It happens all the time. But it is horrible behavior, rude, disrespectful. We've decided it's okay to be asses, professionally, I guess.

Michel

What's galling about it is that an email address is provided for anyone with additional questions for the committee. It would be fine if they didn't offer any means of contact. But when it's offered, I think it's legitimate to expect some kind of answer at some point, especially for problems with the application.

the outfit is everything...?

I have an on campus interview coming up that's 1.5 days long. First, hallelujah! Second, for the main day, when the job talk happens, obviously I'll wear my interview uniform: a suit. I'm wondering what to wear for the half day... Again the suit, which will likely be kinda smelly after a long stressful day 1? A second suit, which I sort of have, although if they look closely, they might notice the pants and jacket don't quite exactly match, and is arguably a summer suit which might be odd for February? Or is it ok to scale down to dress pants and blazer/cardigan for day 2? Once at an EU interview (where both candidates visited the same day), the other guy changed into a professorly cardigan for dinner, and it seemed like a power move (although I got the job).

Dean

I have a campus visit coming up and I am mystified by the meeting with Dean. What kind of questions will the Dean ask the candidates? Any advice or suggestions will be much appreciated!

anon

I have now met with several Deans. The questions asked vary a lot. Most recently, they invited me to ask them questions. I used to the time to find out about what kind of research support the institution has for faculty. At my first on campus interview, however, the Dean meeting was a more formal interview where they had prepared questions for me. Questions included: "You make claim x in your writing sample, how does this connect to issue y in our contemporary world?" "The philosophy job market is tough. How would you mentor graduate students?" "List a teaching situation you found to be a challenge and tell me how you responded to it." So, basically, the meeting can range from an informational chat where you ask most of the questions to an interview with a pre-set list of questions. I would prepare some questions for them but also be prepared to answer questions about teaching and service and maybe some general questions about what you work on.

Maybe someday I’ll be a behaviorist too

My meetings with deans have varied widely. None asked in detail about my work, but they did tell me in detail about their work. One was a behaviorist psychologist and told me all about his experiments with rats and pigeons (really).

Another one gave me the straight details of what the offer would be, should I receive it: the salary was $X (she followed that up by saying, “There’s some room for negotiation), the responsibilities were such and such. She then told me how the college was struggling to recruit students but she didn’t anticipate any major cuts down the road. Certainly confidence-building for me.

So my experiences with deans have been all over the place and I don’t know how I would have prepared for this interviews specifically, other than just with the other prep I did for other meetings.

OnTheMarket

@the outfit...

I would suggest wearing what feels most like you and also looks "professional" (for whatever that is worth) and fits in with the season. They key is to look polished but mostly to be comfortable enough for no one to be distracted by your attire (you or them). I would also consider what if anything you know or can find out about the place (have you ever met any of the faculty from there and what did they dress like? It might give you a cue about expectations, but might also not).

Here is what I did for two day interviews (and got job offers!): a basic suit one day and a polished simple outfit with a blazer over it the other day, with the same shoes and overcoat each day because packing too much stuff for two days is not worth it. I have seen people have great job talks where they wore something professional that was not a formal suit (and maybe their talks went over better? But I think this depends on the culture of the place...).

I personally wish attire didn't matter so much for all sorts of (bias) reasons (class, gender, gender expression, etc.) but I realize it does, so I tried to go with giving the search committee little info about myself through my wardrobe other than that I own at least two professional but unremarkable outfits. I think other folks have great success wearing something loud that looks interesting and unique, but this is not my comfort zone.

Also: consider finding out if you will be going in and out of different buildings a lot and if you need to wear a lot of warm layers, as this can be a factor in how you dress for both comfort and ease.

Good luck!

grants

I have an upcoming interview with a European university that has mentioned that they will also be asking me about how I will secure grants. Given that I am right out of graduate school and from a North American university I have no experience with grants. So I am not sure what is the best way to answer such questions. Should I be looking up potential grants that I could be applying for later? Should I pitch a project that would have grant potential? Can I mention the one time that I have had gotten a graduate-level scholarship as relevant experience? Thank you so much in advance!

Amanda

I really don't think outfit is very important at most places, as long as you don't wear your pajamas, something with explicit language/messages, or something that would get you sent home from public high school. I mean, sure, there are some exceptions. Like at a conservative Catholic school or maybe even a very prestigious liberal arts school. I'm not sure about the second one. But in general, I think people spend way too much time worrying about this. I was offered two jobs in jeans, so, idk, it doesn't seem a deal breaker.

wingate

Wingate University doesn't appear to have tenured professors, but their job ads refer to "security track" Assistant Professor positions. Does anyone know how these secure track positions compare to tenure track?

anon

If one's research is in social and political and working/published papers explicitly mention "Trump," is this a red flag to search committees at religiously affiliated liberal arts colleges?

dr. blasphemy

anon: I wouldn't worry too much.

To be completely honest, I felt like I had more academic freedom when I worked at a religiously affiliated liberal arts college than when I worked for a public institution in a state with a legislature openly hostile to public higher education.

It depends on the religious affiliation, of course. Some topics might be frowned upon. That said, many religious schools are really open to the free exchange of ideas, including some with which they disagree. IME, it's really more about the mission, and if you can show that you're behind the mission (even if you're not actually religious), it's all good.

european

@grants: Here's advice from a Northern European perspective, not sure how pertinent this would be e.g. for an UK job.

I would mention a couple of items within your research program that would be suitable for applying for grants. Educate yourself about some of the major grants for junior academics, such as the ERC and Marie Curie grants, and specify that you want to apply for this or that grant. It doesn't hurt to indicate an active interest in applying for grants as a group; you might have ideas on what sort of consortium you would want to assemble. E.g., "my dissertation was on group agents, so I'd be interested in studying group agents in the context of political organizations. I know a couple of philosophically minded sociologists in Milan who would probably be interested in forming a multidisciplinary consortium."

Grant writing is a big part of European philosophy jobs (depending on country, department, etc.), and you should be prepared to write or participate in writing multiple grants each year. Given your stage and that you're not an European PhD i.e. not already experienced in grant writing, they know you don't have experience yet, but they want to hear that you know what you're getting into -- that you know which grants you should be applying for and that you have tentative ideas about what sorts of projects to pursue with grants. Finally, you can mention your North American background as an asset and maybe talk about applying for American grants (e.g., Templeton) down the line, as well.

1989

I just interviewed for a TT job at U of X in field Z. One of the interviewers is a VAP at U of X in field Z. Is it common for non-TT faculty to serve on TT search committees?

I’m worried this may be a search where they’ve already settled on an internal candidate, ie the VAP interviewer. But obviously if that were the case this would be incredibly blatant; a search that hires a member of the search committee.

Any thoughts on this situation much appreciated!

Anxiety and despair

What are the etiquette norms about reaching out to schools for an update after a visit?

Rob

Anxiety and Despair, I've always been told not to contact schools unless you have a good reason, such as an offer from somewhere else. If they have not updated you, then they have not yet decided to hire you. Your contacting them is not going to have a positive effect, unless you have a new bargaining chip.

Confused

I just had a flyout at a PhD granting place and never met several of the tenured faculty members who are supposed to vote on who gets the job. They didn’t come to the teaching demo, or job talk, or anything else. Is this normal? Or does this mean I was probably never going to get the job since several voting members of the faculty didn’t even bother to show up for me? (It was never explained to me why they never showed up.)

Anon

Confused, I know someone that happened to. They got the job.

Also Curious

1989,

I had an interview this year with a VAP on the interviewing committee, though the VAP did not have an AOS in the area specified in the job ad. I also had a similar interview situation last year.

In general, I'm inclined to think it's not a good idea for a VAP to serve on the committee, especially if there are other tenure-stream faculty members who could so serve. I'd be curious to hear a justification for the practice from a tenure-stream faculty member.

anon

An observation that I'm not sure is even worth sharing, but today is shot, productivity-wise, and I am creeping toward despair:

It has become clear that I will be striking out this year on the market. Two skype interviews out of nearly 75 applications, and no campus visits. I thought the interviews went well; apparently not well enough. I have one more year at my current VAP, so if I don't get anything next year, I'll be forced to leave philosophy.

I used to think misery loved company, and that I would benefit from hearing that others are in similarly precarious positions as me. But it's not working anymore. It's not helpful when, frankly, I'm crying in my office thinking about how my entire life's work, and the core project around which I've based my identity (for better or worse), is falling down around me. The replies of "join the club/it could be worse/it'll be fine" are products of good intentions, no doubt; but they just manage to alienate me further somehow. It isn't much comfort to know that this outcome is commonplace, that ostensibly good people never find their place. That just makes me adjust my expectations to an even bleaker assessment of my own chances.

Not a Vocation

anon: I'm in the same situation. I had something like 8 Skype interviews this year (around 40 applications), and so far no campus visit (I have still one I'm waiting to hear from). I made a few mistakes in some of the interviews, but I think in general I was pretty good. I had detailed feedbacks on some of the interviews, and what I was told is that campus invitations were extended to candidates with specific combinations of different factors - alas, I had not that particular combination of factors.
Of course, I'm kind of sad about it (especially because I sacrificed research time to tailor applications), but I think that it all depends on the attitude we had about our profession. Sometimes, our disappointment comes from the fact that, deep down, we think we are doing something special that few people can do, and so rejections are rejections of us as persons. We think of philosophy as a vocation, and certainly we decided to go to graduate school with the attitude "I'm not doing a job as any other job/I'm doing something special". However, being an academic philosopher is like working in a post office (interestingly, there is a lot of research on how the profession of the scientist went from being a vocation to being a regular job, but I didn't find anything interesting on the history of the figure of the philosopher). Sometimes it's a little bit more dynamic than working in a post office, and sometimes you get to travel, but it is a job as any other job (or at least that's the way I see it). I don't see anymore rejections as rejections of me as a person; I just see them as rejections of either my quite specific professional profile (a sort of avatar tailored for the specific context of academia), or as rejections of my interviewing performances (as it happens when I have the feeling tat I have performed poorly - and this year I was pretty bad in a couple of occasions). There are many jobs out there (maybe not TT, but several postdoc or non-TT teaching positions), you just had to tailor your professional profile to cover most of them.

On the way out?

To those others commenting about the lack of jobs and difficulty of considering other outcomes, I'll add another voice. I'm in a very good tenure track job, have a good publication record, am well-respected in my sub-discipline, but I have a two-body problem and I'm closing in on tenure. Despite flyouts just about every year, continuing to do "the right things" professionally, and the encouragement of senior folks to stick it out, I am considering leaving academia to be with my partner and live a whole life, not just a partial one. I enjoy my research, but not enough to trade my personal life for it over the next several decades.

I'm also in a situation where, despite not being visibly so, I'm a member of a significantly underrepresented group in philosophy, which has recently been the subject of a lot of ugly controversy in the field. Remaining private about my personal life is important to me, but I wonder whether more so-called "diversity" hires would be open to me if I decided to make this information public. But then I'd be pigeonholed for my career AND subject to abuse, and I'm unwilling to do that--it's hard enough to watch it happen to others. (And it's impossible to know whether this information would make a difference in the decision-making, anyway.)

Ultimately, I've been giving a lot of thought to what I want to do, and what I can do to make money, and how those are linked. Whether I can do the kind of research I am doing now outside of the academy is an open question, but I am optimistic that people who can research, write, and think are important in a lot of fields, and that we can find valuable/engaging work outside of higher ed.

So...chins up, everyone, maybe my position will be open for someone else soon?

a philosopher

I say this with a lot of respect and sympathy for "anon" (@ 02/12/2020 at 12:19 PM), but the contrast between their post and "On the way out?" (@ 02/12/2020 at 03:51 PM) is striking. OTWO has what anon wants, but is perhaps ready to give it up for family. I'm not picking on anon, because they could be almost any of the, what, 600 or so philosophers in the North American job market this year who won't get a job? Most of us (and I'm one of them) are pretty anxious, depressed, and thoroughly defeated by the process.

I guess my first thought is that OTWO's post should give valuable context: the grass really isn't always greener on the other side, and there's more to life than philosophy. I'm sure anon won't really appreciate me saying it, but you've got to have more to your identity than just philosophy. Aristotle and Plato were wrong that the good life is one of doing philosophy. A life worth living is one with a some minimal material security, a few good friends and something of a family, and perhaps a few achievements to hang one's hat on and some leisure time for philosophizing or art or whatever.

That this is right is evinced, I think, by predicaments like OTWO's. Philosophy is not so important as to swamp out considerations of family and friends, and those who find themselves in OTWO's position seem to either mostly be miserable for it, or leave philosophy to be happy.

My final thought is that the contrast between anon and OTWO vividly shows just how many ways philosophy (the discipline) has to make us all miserable. Without a good bit of circumstantial luck and personal maturity and virtue, we often find ourselves either confronting material insecurity and what's effectively professional failure and a lack of recognition, or we find ourselves in ultra high-pressure, high-stakes gigs which are professionally satisfying, but very costly in terms of time, friends, family, and life outside the discipline.

a friend

Anon,
I was in your place several years ago. I wish I had seen someone and/or started taking something for depression. Yes, it's your circumstances, but if it last more than a week or two and hinders your ability to function in your work or relationships, then seek help.

Reluctant

I agree with almost everything said above on anon's post. Anon, I share your anguish but, just like you, reading about yours does not make me feel any better. Indeed, I can strongly say that I feel the pain of all published, successful philosophers without jobs.
But, I also get furious when philosophers with jobs engage in this shameful brush-off when they just say "oh the market is terrible" and then move on to teaching the same courses for the tenth time without any changes or improvements.
I reject with prejudice naming "philosophy the discipline" as the culprit of this criminal state in which hundreds of hard-working, deserving philosophers are left jobless. What is responsible for this abomination is not the discipline but the legions of 60+ year old "philosophers" who are complicit in the crime by greedily clinging to their positions which they may no longer deserve.

a philosopher

Reluctant,

Yeah, people need to retire, but also people need to let go of their graduate programs or retool them to train people who can get jobs outside academia.

To a first approximation, the basic problem is that there are far more philosophers looking for jobs than jobs, right? I would estimate 800-1000 people on the market this year. How many positions were there? 150? I know this number is probably now outdated, but at one point I thought I read somewhere that there were around 350 new philosophy PhDs granted in the US each year. Well, if every year we have fewer than 200 jobs go up, there's obviously a structural problem.

So, either we need to graduate a lot less philosophy PhDs, or we need to retool programs to turn out people who can seamlessly transition to nonacademic work, or both.

Another alternative is for tenured faculty to fight against the continued move to contingent work, and for more full-time, permanent positions.

I know it's crazy, but another way people in the discipline could ease the stress on everyone is not feeding into the over professionalization. For example, if hiring and tenure committees stopped awarding people for publication counts and awarded them for publication quality, we'd lessen the stressful publish-or-perish culture.

In any case, the people making up the discipline need to do more.

I am very thankful for this place, and people like Marcus, who are aware of these issues and doing their part.

Reluctant

Pfo's are a thing of the past. I applied to 29 positions this year and I got only 9 pfo's. But, because I got no skype invitations, I also know I did not make the short list for any of the 29 positions but nonetheless I got only 9 pfo's. So, I guess with so many applications departments will not bother sending the pfo's anymore. They must be thinking "losers don't deserve even a rejection by our hand..."

Person

I want to raise one insidious effect which being on the job market had on me personally, and ask whether other people have experienced this too: that is, the inability to enjoy other people's, even close friends', successes. While I was a grad student, I made friends widely, across many grad programs (and of course my own), and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. But now, being a few years out and on the job market again, whenever I open Facebook or any other social media and see people posting about their successes -- even if it is as mundane as presenting at a conference, or being mentioned by Very Important Philosopher on Twitter -- I feel jealous and anxious. I simply cannot enjoy my friends' successes any more. I always think about how I will have to compete with these very people on the job market, and there is a constant mental battle going on of comparing my CV to theirs. (This is anything but a theoretical issue--I have run into friends when I have gone for job interviews.) So my first question is whether other people have made the same experience.

I've muted/unsubscribed etc. most of my philosophical friends on social media, but that doesn't feel like a solution either. These are nice people which I genuinely would like to be friends with. If I ever make into academia, these will be my future peers, and I will want to be friends with them, and not just for instrumental reasons. But I just cannot bear looking at their profiles. Assuming that people have similar experiences, does anyone have any good strategies for dealing with this, or at least some personal insight?

a philosopher

Person, I've experienced these feelings of jealousy, for sure. What helps me is having things in my life outside philosophy. Since my identity isn't exhausted by my philosophical work and success, I'm not all-consumed by comparing myself to my (many) more successful philosophical friends. Since I've always drifted in-and-out of philosophy from the beginning, I've always had something going on outside philosophy. But I was definitely my most jealous the last two years of my PhD, when philosophy was really consuming my life, I was on the job market for the first time, and it was hard to see anything of value in life outside philosophy. Once I finished the degree, separated myself a bit from philosophy, and began cultivating again my life outside philosophy, that sort of jealousy improved a lot.

Another thing that perhaps helps is keeping in mind the role of luck in these "achievements". For example, being mentioned by Very Important Philosopher on Twitter usually doesn't happen because VIP finds your work out of the blue and independently judges it to be very good. There are references, referrals, and networking involved in these sorts of things: your mutal friends or friends of friends tell the VIP about your work, etc. Likewise, I see graduate students get invitations to submit pieces to prestigious OUP collections, but I know that circumstance (e.g., having a friend of the editor as an advisor) plays a role here. So, anyway, it helps me to think about the role of luck and circumstance in these things: I feel much less bad about my own relative lack of accomplishments when I realize it largely comes down to my worse social positioning within the field.

I guess the thought is: look for context. Don't let your professional academic life exhaust your identity. Cultivate interests and and friends outside philosophy. Keep in mind the broader sociological forces driving professional philosophical success and the role of luck. Keep your philosophical life properly situated within these realities.

Greg Stoutenburg

I think it can be very helpful, personally/spiritually/emotionally, to directly confront the situation one is in.

I wrote a post for this blog several months ago about my own job market failure: lots of publications, good citation count, lots of teaching experience, etc, and just four interviews in four years. (This year I applied for just two jobs--one of them went to an abd with no publications and no teaching experience. It's not me, it's 'the system'.)

Last spring, after a fly-out for my dream job that resulted in someone else getting that very same awesome job, it was time to face the music:

I will never have a TT job, and there is nothing that I can do about it.

It was difficult to acknowledge the fact, but I got a ton of life back by being able to say aloud, with meaning and without any lingering doubt or remaining hope that if I just try this one more thing maybe then...no, I will not have a TT job in philosophy.

I will never have a TT job in philosophy. I can stay in the field in some manner or other, but I will not be a career professor. In five years, I will not be Assistant Professor. In fifteen years, I will not be Associate Professor. In twenty-five years, I will not be Full Professor. I will never be TT Professor-anything. There will be no sabbatical. There will be no invited lectures. Those things will not be a part of my life.

That's not despair, it's power. I have felt much better about my life in general since coming to terms with this. That's not necessarily advice for anyone, and if anyone sincerely wants to keep trying, then of course, do so! But for anyone, like Anon above, who is totally burned out and feels like life is over: it is not over. Maybe the TT career won't happen for you. It may be much better for your life to either find some of the spark that got you in to philosophy to begin with, and let that energy power the job search. Or it may be better to change direction and try something else.

Make friends. Work out. Get a hobby. Go outside. Don't drink too much. Life has a ton to offer.

Anonymous Postdoc

Hello all,

How damaging is going into a fixed term teaching job, if you've already had several successful years in fixed term research jobs?

I'm trying to figure out if it's worth staying in research jobs in living situations I hate, to maximize my chances of someday having living situations I love, vs. fixed term teaching jobs in living situations that would be tolerable at worst. That's a question of my preferences, but part of it depends on how much a fixed term teaching job would lower my chances of a permanent job in my home country.

Marcus Arvan

Anonymous Postdoc: Here's my sense of things. Accepting a teaching job is likely to affect the *kinds* of jobs you will be competitive for in the future. Before I accepted a fixed-term teaching job, I was competitive for research jobs. After I accepted a teaching job, my interviews for research jobs dried up but I got more and more interviews from teaching jobs.

I've written on this before--that is, on how "trajectory" matters. If you want a permanent research job, stay in a research job. If you are okay with permanent teaching jobs (and there are permanent teaching jobs in your market), then feel free to accept the teaching job. Just know that if you do, your opportunities for a permanent research job may dry up.

Anonymous Postdoc

Hi Marcus,

Thank you! That's a very helpful way of framing the facts.

serachless

I believe that it is fairly common for jobs offers to be made for tenured professors without a national formal search. This is also obviously true in the case of spousal hires. Do such search-less job offers ever happen at the assistant professor level under other circumstances? Perhaps to VAPs or postdocs already working in the department? If yes, under what conditions? If not, why not?

Amanda

searchless I've seen them happen but I think it is rare. From what I've seen, it happens when the department has a very special reason to want to hire the postdoc or VAP. In some states it is illegal to do this without a search. So there might be a lot of red tape to jump through to make it legal. I think the legal issues are why this situation is rare. But that is just my sense - I do not claim actual expertise in this area.

Interfolio Q

Did folks have to pay to apply to jobs using Interfolio? It was free for me, but I had an account sponsored by my home institution. Now I'm advising next year's marketeers, and wondering if people at other institutions faced a financial barrier to applying for Interfolio jobs.

Marcus Schultz-Bergin

Interfolio Q:
In my experience, any place that required me to use Interfolio had their whole set-up through Interfolio, so the payment happened on their end. No cost on my part.

However, I think sometimes a committee will ask for letters to be sent via Interfolio, but the rest of the application process is done else how. I believe, in that case, someone would have to pay for Interfolio (or have the cost subsidized).

On the market

Interfolio Q: Marcus is right that it's free to use interfolio to send letters if the school uses Interfolio for their job search. Not many of them do use Interfolio, however.

I believe it's increasingly common for graduate students to be expected to use a dossier service for rec letters. It's also probably in the student's best interest to ensure letters get sent on time given how many applications a student can send out in a season (many friends of mine have sent upwards of 80 applications in one season, e.g.).

I don't know how common it is for universities to sponsor Interfolio access, but my private r1 did not, and it is definitely a financial burden.

anon

I think the most frustrating part of the freakin academic job market is actually getting interviews and then getting vague form responses about why you didn't make the next round.

Like, maybe its because at the end of the day, the reasons search committees use to justify things are just irrational and maybe I wouldn't want to know. But to invest time, energy, and resources and then to get your hopes up with an actual interview only be told "We moved with another candidate who better suited our needs."

Give me a break. Be honest with us. Tell us something to help us move forward. What a joke.

NTT Defender

anon @ 10:50 a.m.

Whenever I have received a flyout and didn't get the job, I asked the search chair for more detailed feedback. In every case, they were honest with me. (Well, except for the one school that ghosted me after a flyout. Screw them.) Try that?

Re: Interfolio

My well-funded R1 university sponsored our Interfolio accounts for several years. I think they're transitioning to another system. In any case, I think it's worth the personal expense, if only for peace of mind at having your letters sent promptly and not constantly bothering your letter writers or secretarial staff.

anon

@ NTT Defender

This was after a first round interview, but I still find it just as frustrating.

Interfolio question

I was on the market this year and bought an interfolio account. But only 7-8 jobs out of the 50 I applied to were hosted on interfolio, so I had to bother my department's placement assistant for the rest to either email the letter to the search chair directly or to receive the letter requests from various online application websites. I am now wondering whether there was a way to send all letters via interfolio and not constantly ask our placement assistant for the letters. Does interfolio provide a service that can be used even for job applications that aren't hosted on interfolio? Thanks!

Interfolio answer

"Does interfolio provide a service that can be used even for job applications that aren't hosted on interfolio?"

Yes, this is actually one of the main purposes of Interfolio. Click on "deliveries" on the side and select "new delivery." You can enter the email address and insert the link to the job ad. They will also send by post.

And you can also have letters of recommendation automatically sent by using the Interfolio-specific email address shown on each letter instead of filling in the faculty email in the online form you fill out at the institution. That email is under "Document Email" and will look like
send.Lewis.1A1234567B@interfolio.com (I just made this one up, I hope it doesn't work...) As long as the letter is generic, this will work, though some letter-writers still prefer to personalize the address and opening, so you might have to ask those letter-writers directly.

These services are all included in the basic subscription for up to 50 electronic and mail deliveries.

Answering Question

Interfolio question: Yes, there is a service called Interfolio Dossier which uploads letters to application systems or emails letters for you.

Different timelines

It's my first time on the market and I am a little puzzled by the fact that different positions have such different timeline. At this point in the season many universities have already made their offers while there are others who aren't close to making their decisions yet. Given that you are often given only a few weeks to contemplate and offer, I am wondering how common it is for job candidates to accept an offer and later back out after receiving a more desirable offer. And if this is common practice, how do search committees deal with it? Do they keep their second and third candidates in the race even after their top candidates have accepted their offer?

Simon

I have known of people who accept an offer and then turn around and back out after receiving a better one. It depends in part on the circumstances. If you back out of a visiting or adjunct position in order to take a TT position, few would blame you. However, if you back out of one TT position for another one, this could have negative repercussions.

I know of two cases like this. In one, a person reneged on a signed contract to go to a better school. They were not happy there, and tried to move on. I know people at two of the schools they applied to, and this person was not interviewed, primarily because of their prior actions.

In another case, an offer was withdrawn when they found out that the candidate had accepted another offer, even though this candidate wanted the second job.

You are not going to get much more than anecdotal information on cases like this, though, because it doesn't happen all that often, and different universities (and different committees) have different reactions...

Seen it

Different timelines: In my experience, this is a fairly common practice. Universities often engage in really bad labor practices. It is expected that people will look out for their own interests. Of course, it isn't appreciated. But in general, if you turn down an offer, you aren't likely to be looked at in a positive light by that institution in the future, whether you reject it before accepting it or after.

Amanda

It is rare and it usually has bad consequences. Maybe in exceptional circumstances with really different offers it might make sense, but people will absolutely hold it against you. The schools don't keep their backup candidates around. If that happens it is typically a failed search or a lost line.

Toss a Job to your Philosopher

47 applications submitted in this round, 4 phone/skype interviews, 1 on campus, and no job. I'm kind of lucky that I'll be continuing on my contract where I'm at, but this fucking stings hard.

Those of you who've been on the market longer, how do you deal with the crushing disappointment? How do you deal with being ghosted by jobs? I know I'm going to be back in the saddle soon enough, but right now this whole process seems like so much shit.

Wishin' and Hopin'

I was wondering about the ethics of accepting a TT job but then starting to apply for TT jobs again in the fall.

This is a job where I suspect I will be unhappy for a few different reasons--no one to talk to about research, isolated geography, and weather.

My dissertation adviser says it is unethical to take a TT job and then start applying. And I am inclined to feel the same way.

But philosophy friends say that in today's market, there is no problem in taking a job one would want to keep applying from.

And that applying from a TT job for another job would give me a leg up. Versus staying in my current VAP job and applying in the fall.

I don't have an offer. I just finished a campus interview. No offer may be forthcoming. But I am just trying to sort my thoughts out about it.

What do people think?

Thanks very much!

Anonymous Postdoc

Wishin' and Hopin',

I don't know any ethical principle that binds a employee to an employer.

woop, woop

@Toss a Job to your Philosophy:

This season: 61 applications (so far), one phone interview, no job. My non-TT contract runs out in May. Fifth year on the market. Leiterific PhD, publications in top generalist journals, great to decent NTT jobs after grad school, good letters from people with brand recognition, teaching awards, great evals, good conference presentations, etc., etc.

The thing that has kept me from completely losing it is that I don't take it personally. I can't. It would be like taking losing the lottery personally.

@Wishin' and Hopin':

Definitely apply. There is absolutely *nothing* morally wrong with doing that.

anon

@Toss a Job to your Philosopher:

This is my third year. I have many more publications than last year but had fewer interviews this time around. My contract runs out mid-summer, although I expect it to be renewed for one more year.

As for why I don't feel terrible, but instead feel relatively good:

(1) I've been worse off, spending previous summers even more on the edge and interviewing in August for jobs that would have wanted me to move for September.

(Lots of people have the feeling that it's "over" at this point, but there's plenty of applicants in that sort of situation every year. Which is a good and bad thing - the postings will keep coming, as will the stress of applying and waiting. And this isn't just NTT stuff, last year there were some spring/summer TT searches, too.)

(2) In my first year on the market I got very stressed, and focused too much on getting a job and then getting everything in my life sorted afterwards. But it makes sense to pursue happiness first and not in a way that's contingent on the TT search.

Former Chair, Regional State U

W&H: I disagree with your dissertation advisor. Go ahead and take the position, and continue to apply for others.

People come and go in our business. There's nothing wrong with that. There's also nothing wrong with testing the waters. Just do the job well while you have it, and give some consideration to the fact that you may ultimately retire from the place. This happened to one of my undergrad profs.

It's also likely going to be the case for me. Fwiw, my advisor called my current position a good starter gig back when I got it. But I've actually come to like the place quite a bit, so I'm still here.

All this said, you may want to think twice about continuing to list your dissertation advisor as a reference if you do take the job and stay on the market.

Intentionally vague for anonymity

Should anyone fear a job offer being pulled due to the COVID-19 meltdown?

Marcus Arvan

Intentionally vague: Hard to know for sure, but if it were me, I’d want to get the contract and sign it as soon as I reasonably could.

It's hard to be a VAP right now.

I'll admit that the frustration and fear is tough these days. I'm teaching a 4/4 at a university that won't renew my contract due to budget cuts. Yet, I still have to move all of my courses online and deal with the mess that COVID-19 left everybody in. Meanwhile, I'm looking at unemployment in two months when the economy is going to be a dumpster fire-both for academia and elsewhere.

My student appreciate the effort that I'm putting in, but part of me doesn't even want to do it anymore. I resent the university asking me to bend over backwards even they aren't even making accommodations for every VAP whose caught in this ridiculous situation. It's not my department's fault (they would keep me on if they could). But it's really tiring. Even more so, now that I've gotten emails about some schools canceling their searches.

a philosopher

"My student appreciate the effort that I'm putting in, but part of me doesn't even want to do it anymore."

It's a freeing thought to realize you can just walk away. There are always ways to reorganize your life to accommodate whatever your situation. We often take for granted that "must" do something, without recognizing that the relevant constraints come from our expectation that nothing else in life be perturbed or changed.

I'm not suggesting you actually quit on the spot ... but, from an ethical point of view, I think there are worse things you could do. Universities won't stop exploiting people so long as there are people willing to be exploited "for the children" (or whatever).

But anyway, my real point is that it may be time to start radically rethinking your options, and especially questioning what implicit or hidden expectations of yours are constraining your decision making and blinding you to alternative paths forward.

For most of us in the shit show of the philosophy job market there eventually comes a time when we need to radically rethink our lives, and that can be very freeing.

on the move

W&H: IMO, the ethics of applying for a new TT job in your first year of having one depends on what that new employer is doing for you.

If it's a great job that is investing a lot in you - a nice research budget, course releases, extra travel money, and so on - I'd feel a bit bad about taking off immediately. Stick around a couple of years and publish some stuff with their name on it.

If it's not a great job with a supportive employer, no harm done. That 4/4 or similar job with below-median pay, crap benefits, limited travel funds, and oodles of service work - no harm leaving that job.

In positions such as the latter (which I've had!) the challenge is to explain to a SC why you see their position as a vertical move over your current TT without being negative. In the not-great jobs, your colleagues may actually support your decision to find greener pastures.

 It's hard to be a VAP right now

I appreciate the thought. But it's a hell of a lot easier to 'rethink' options when there hasn't been a sudden halt in almost all working fields. I'm not freeing. It's terrifying.

Speaking to It's hard

Hi Its hard to be ...
I think you should give your current job the best shot you can. Here is why. First, you probably need the two months pay - I know I did when I was in your situation. Second, you do not know what the future holds. Some opportunity may arise between now and then, and the fact that you did your current job, that is, completed your contractual obligations, makes it more likely that you will get something down the road. Third, there is even the possibility that jobs will open up because of the virus. (this is not gallows humor - it is the reality of the situation).
I wish you luck, and I know it is hard. I was still on the market when 9/11 happened. I can tell you, I did not think that universities were going to hire that year, but that is exactly when I got my job (how improbable). Fourth, by teaching in these challenging conditions you WILL acquire new skills, and these will make you more employable in other sectors.

Gutted

I was a finalist candidate in a TT search that was wrapping up deliberations and they’ve just pulled the position given the coronavirus situation.

Marcus Arvan

Gutted: I am so very sorry to hear that. :( :( I have a tenured job and I am worried that COVID-19 might lead many universities like mine to declare financial exigency and let a bunch of faculty go, including tenure-track and tenured faculty. I can only imagine what it is like to be a job-candidate right now.

These are terrible times, and all of us can only guess what it will do to higher education, our jobs, and the job-market. My heart goes out to you and all of the other job-candidates out there. I am so sorry.

Amanda

Marcus: have you heard discussion about firing TT faculty from actual ppl in a position to do so? It seems that right now, since people are online, the universities have not lost any money. Unless maybe they have to refund students at dorms? The real worry would be if any of this carries into the fall, correct?

Gutted - I have two students that were in the interview process for TT jobs and everything was put on hold. They haven't pulled the positions yet, but it seems a real possibility. It's awful.

Marcus Arvan

Hey Amanda: I have not heard of ANY discussions of firing TT faculty. What I do know is that universities are losing a ton of money from refunds of various sorts. Depending on a university's financial shape (including its endowment), that could be absolutely devastating. But yeah, I am more concerned about the fall right now.

I don't think there's too much more to say on any of this. I just wanted to express solidarity. Suffice it to say, we're all worried: about our health, health of our loved ones, the economy and labor markets, etc. Let's all cross our fingers and hope everything takes a turn for the better.

Solidarity

Man, I'm sorry, Gutted. I was worried about something like that happening to me, as well. (I posted last week in this thread.) Solidarity.

Michel

Amanda: One potential added consideration is international enrollment, for schools that depend on it. We do, and we expect it to *tank* regardless of what happens in the next couple months.

Amanda

Michel yes that's an interesting point. So is the fear both that current international students will drop out, and that new ones won't start? The latter seems more plausible to me than the former.

It's hard for me to gauge whether a university, apart from enrollments, would lose money. I'm sure their is a loss of money from all sorts of events. However, it also seems a ton of money is saved. The cost of operating the buildings, stadiums, dorms, not having to pay for any travel for faculty or visitors, etc. I think it will vary by university a lot. And yes, obviously rich universities, bigger state universities, etc. will be in a much safer position than smaller less wealthy colleges.

Anymous-Z

Has anyone had their offer rescinded or heard of someone who has? (I have not, nor have I heard of anyone else who has)

Amanda

I haven't heard of that. I think once an offer is made, there is a lot of pressure to keep it. But lots of places that already had some or all candidates flyout (whether actually or virtually) have postponed their search. And in most cases, postponed will likely mean cancelled. I even know someone who was told that they were going to get the offer until the school told the search committee to suspend the search literally a day before the offer letter would have gone out.

anon

"Latest from @Stanford during #COVID19 - Undergrads permitted to take Spring leave of absence/get full tuition refund “for any reason including you do not want to take remote classes.” Deadline to request LOA w full refund: April 5" (@tsmullaney)

anon

Schools Announcing a Hiring Freeze

http://theprofessorisin.com/2020/03/24/schools-announcing-a-hiring-freeze/

Thank you, admin, may I please have another?

I recently accepted an infinitely renewable non-TT position. While mulling over whether to accept the position after securing a very slight increase in the modest salary on offer, the chair emailed me during an all-college chairs meeting upon being informed that the college might suspend all searches and freeze all hiring. This was not a pressure tactic. He was genuinely concerned. Well, folks, I took the job. My best to everyone in the humanities. The meat grinder that is the market, I hope, hope, hope, is not about to turn into a black hole.

Defending in 2020

I just want to note that I am really, really not ready to even think about what effect COVID-19's economic impact will have on the job market.

This was my very first year on the market. Although I haven't gotten any offers yet, I was at least kind of pleased that I did get a few interviews, some of which went quite well (I think?) despite my being very green and having no actual peer-reviewed publications yet (working on it, I promise). I'm already busier than I've ever been with running online courses for the first time in my short teaching career (as an underpaid adjunct) alongside trying to finish and defend a dissertation, and I'm worried about the health of my family and friends and everybody else in the world, and I live alone and haven't left the house to do anything besides walk the dog in a few weeks already, and and and. Everything's already so bleak; thinking about *future* job markets is just too much right now.

Amanda

I am very happy that one of my student's has been offered a job. And #COVID2020, they wanted me to inform as many people as possible that they were wearing no pants for the entire 2 day interview...

Yetagain

It is amazing that western academia is still not acknowledging centuries of bias and stereotyping against non-europeans... just go on philjobs and check how many non-whites or non-europeans have gotten jobs...

just saying

I was on a search committee this year. We wanted to hire someone from an underrepresented group (provided they were a good fit for the job, of course.) I work at an R1, and let's just say we had A LOT of applications. That said, as far as we could tell, we had exactly 6 "non-white" applicants. Three seemed to be from southeast Asia, 1 was from the middle east, 1 was hispanic, and 1 was a native American. Of those 6 we offered the job to one of them, (who turned us down) and another one was in the final three.

Just because there doesn't appear to be a lot of hires on philjobs of the type you mention, it does not follow that there is some systematic bias or stereotyping. We must know the total number of non-white and non-European applicants. From what I have seen, it would not surprise me if the hires show that non-whites and non-europeans are getting. hired in proportion to their presence in the job market. But either way, it makes no sense to speculate on it without having at least some reasonable grasp on the number of white vs. non-white applicants. Most studies show that the underrepresentation gap with women and minorities starts with undergrad majors, and stays fairly stable from there. If so, then it is not search committees that are to blame for underrepresentation.

Also I am not clear on what groups count as "western" or "non-European."

Yetagain

Denial will not help. Blaming others, e.g. admissions committees, or history or governments will not help either. I humbly invite all our western colleagues to examine their own experiences (by western I mean anyone born and raised to the north of the Mediterranean and west of Turkey). For instance, have you never had a great philosophical discussion with someone at a conference and then had this surprised, puzzled look when you find out that the person is from Egypt, Iran, or Turkey? That someone from one of those, or other non-western countries, is a professional philosopher comes as such a surprise, but there are many secular and well-educated people in those countries who do important philosophical work. Have you ever thought what effect that puzzled look might have on that person? That they do not belong in their own field, that they are an anomaly in the field they got a phd in, that they are so alien to be invited to lunch at a conference... Westerners may not even be aware of the effects of their behaviors or looks on their faces, but I am just saying, they do... Refusing to say someone's name because it is not western, how is that acceptable? How is that not racist? Please do not be dismissive, just try to empathize and maybe some little progress can be made...

Mercado Uber

I wonder whether anyone has a sense of how bad the job market will be this fall?

I am at a large teaching-oriented state school. Some administrators have signaled that we may have the green light to run a TT search.

Amanda

It will be the worst we've ever seen. I'd bet my house on that. I am glad you are doing well at your place, but most places I know are trying their hardest to not furlough faculty and/or close their department. Hiring is out of the question.

Amanda

yetagain, you completely ignored the other person's point. The point was that there was a very small number of non-western applicants, so you would expect a small number of non-western hires, even if their was no bias or discrimination. Are you saying that this is impossible? That the person was lying and that it is impossible that the number of non-western applicants is comparable to the number of non-western persons hired? If so, do you have any evidence?

Yetagain

amanda, please re-read my latest post. I am asking everyone to think about the structures and practices that lead to small numbers of non-western applicants and of course other racial and ethnic inequalities in the field... If you are going to so vehemently deny there is any racial prejudice in professional philosophy, there is not much to gain from further discussion. Please re-read my latest post and try to empathize...

Covid and the market

I agree with Amanda. Given also how badly Covid is getting in the US, it's very likely that schools will not be in a position to make longterm plans such as hiring TTs

Nicola

Marcus, I'm starting to think that Yetagain is trolling. This is not the first time we've had these discussions with them and they're completely unresponsive to evidence and argument, instead continuing to gaslight and denigrate everyone on this blog.

Yetagain, almost everyone here recognizes that there are structural inequities and biases that end up explaining biases in job applications, and subsequently, hiring decisions, but as noted by others many times, the critical factors at play take place early on. And no one is denying that they are often detrimental and unjust. Still you keep focusing on hiring when no evidence suggests there's the sort of bias you suggest, some evidence suggests there is not, and some evidence even suggests the bias goes the other way (slightly boosting the representation of women and—at least some—minorities among hires relative to their representation among applicants).

Marcus Arvan

Hi Nicola: thanks for raising these concerns - others have raised them too. Yetagain, you are welcome to participate on the Cocoon. However, you have made your point a number of times without providing any clear evidence of the specific forms of discrimination you allege. They are serious allegations, and if you can provide empirical evidence that non-Europeans are discriminated against on the academic job-market, then you are welcome to provide it. Indeed, I would very much welcome it, as I am deeply committed to understanding and combating unjust discrimination.

However, due to the concerns that Nicola and others have raised, I agree with your last comment that continuing this particular conversation is not productive at this point given the blog's mission.

Interdisciplinarian

I wasn't sure where to post this, but I hope someone sees it. I have a somewhat sensitive question related to the philosophy job market. I have a masters in religion and am published in that field. I was wondering if committees typically require *all* publications to be disclosed, or whether it's my prerogative to include them or not in the job application. Which leads me to the more sensitive question: unlike other candidates who have an interdisciplinary background in science, math, etc., there may be departments where, though the candidate is strong in the area of philosophy, the department may be intentionally hostile or unwelcoming to candidates with religious backgrounds, particularly candidates who studied at conservative institutions within religious academia; the religious background offsets an otherwise strong or merely promising candidate. Though I have no examples in mind, I'm wondering how common or unheard of it is for departments to be, either openly or less transparently, inclined to reject a job candidate who discloses such a background on their CV. I would be sincerely grateful for honest answers. Thanks in advance!

asst prof

Interdisciplinarian: I think taking publications off your CV is totally your discretion. That said, I've noticed a few people in the past few years getting R1 jobs with papers on philosophy of religion (particularly philosophy of Christianity). So I'm not sure it would hurt you.

Personal Jesus

Interdisciplinarian,
There is one big risk if you take things off your c.v., like publications. If a committee member happens to find things - through a google search - then you look really deceitful. No one wants you then - even if someone on the committee was backing you, they will drop you like a hot potato, on the risk that you are hiding more or are just a big fat liar. So I would be more forthright with where you are coming from. There are people who are anti-religious. That is the reality. But even if you were hired at a place with such people you would probably find it a very hostile place to work. I saw similar thing happen, but respect to a political piece.

waiting is driving me nuts

How long does it typically take to hear back from a university after all the fly-outs (well, now zoom interviews) have been completed? At what point is it appropriate to email and ask the chair for clarification (two weeks, three weeks, never)? Or maybe the appropriate person to reach out to is the department secretary? Also, if anyone has suggestions for how to word that email, I would really appreciate it Thanks! .

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