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elisa freschi

As written in a post on this blog some years back, "there is no unitary European job market". I worked in Italy, UK and currently in Austria. A few basic points:

1. Research is the main thing, and teaching, being a nice colleague (about which see below, No. 3) and administrative work on their own will not bring you anywhere. Think of Europe as a place in which there are only R1 institutions. (Ok, there are some exceptions, but they are negligible.)

2. Speaking of which, be sure to have many publications and also as many research grants as possible (I know, this is unusual in NA, but try your best).

3. Forget about the 2-days-long interviews you are acquainted with. The process in Europe is mainly based on your cv and publications and all candidates are invited for their job talk (and sometimes also teaching demo) on a single day, without dinner, lunch and breakfast etc. with colleagues.

4. Acquaint yourself with the style of European recommendation letters and be sure that yours are not overemphatic, since this will speak against you.

5. In many cases, and surely in France, knowing the local language is a must. In Austria and Germany this is not the case in principle, but the Philosophy Institutes are all full of interesting debates in German and you surely don't want to miss on them. The situation is different in the Neatherlands, Sweden, etc.

Best of luck!


About France: If you do not know someone who wants you to be part of his/her department, it is almost impossible to get a position. I would recommend you to not even bother to apply. I have been following the hiring processes for a couple of years (you can check the people who is shortlisted and finally chosen here: https://academia.hypotheses.org), and I have seen some candidates from other countries with a great list of publications who were never selected. In general, in France most of the philosophers hired come from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and have the "aggrégation", one of the exams you have to pass to teach at highschool, but that it is "implicitly" necessary to be hired at the university (you can check the homemade survey I did of the profile of philosophers at French universities here, although I need to updated it: https://www.academia.edu/37830809/ESQUISSE_DEMOGRAPHIQUE_DES_DEPARTEMENTS_DE_PHILOSOPHIE_EN_FRANCE). Many of them have previously been ATER (temporary contract for teaching at university), which is a plus. And French is a requirement: I knew there was an international Master in English in Rennes a couple of years ago, but I do not know if it continues to exist. Maybe things will change in the future... I personally do not apply anymore to positions in France, even if I got a PhD from this country, speak French, and have experience teaching philosophy at French high schools... If you want to try, you have to first send an application (in generally in December) to get the "Qualification" (https://www.galaxie.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/ensup/cand_qualification.htm) to be able to present applications for permanent positions, generally in February/March. Then, through the same site, you can check the open positions in all France (Maître de Conférences or Professor), and apply (the AOS/AOC is never open). You can also try the ATER positions (1 or 2 years contract to teach): you do not need to have the "qualification" for this. By the way, the field you work is also a key factor: philosophy of mind for ex. is nonexistent in the calls. I would really suggest you to enter in contact with French philosophers and avoid applying (and wasting your time) if you do not.


i forgot to add that in France you have a government research institution: CNRS: http://carrieres.cnrs.fr/fr/les-concours-externes The position is just to do research, not to teach. You need to acceptance in some research unit before applying, and again, it is not worth it to apply before getting into contact with French academics. A lot of people is shortlisted and pass the interview, so getting shortlisted is not really a big merit, and may consume time and be stressful. The recruitment process is not done through the website "Galaxie" but through the link I mentioned above, and have different dates ( the positions are open in December, I think)


And the last point, related to what Elisa Freschi said: as a foreign, the best thing you can have to get a chance to enter a French university or the CNRS is a great amount of publications and an international reputation in your field.


I second much of what Marina said about the French system. I'll add a few things.

First of all, we hardly have a market. Most of the jobs are accessible through a national, public competition. Departments hire you, but you're hired as a public servant—with lifetime tenure, mind you.

Secondly, with extremely few exceptions, all candidates have to apply by December for “qualification” (in sections 17 and/or 72, which typically are the relevant sections for philosophers). You then apply for jobs in February/March. But since it may be tricky for some foreign candidates to get their credentials approved for qualification, you might want to do that a year early. And even then it's not entirely clear that, unless you have your dissertation and/or articles translated into French, your application would pass muster. I might be wrong, but you would be expected to teach in French, and most of the reviewers may not want to bother reading foreign materials. That doesn't mean there are not institutions where another hiring track might be welcoming (engineering schools, Sciences-Po, business schools, private law contracts even in public schools, etc.).

Thirdly, and most importantly, the hiring process can be infuriating and ridiculously competitive. It is to some extent true that most hires have done ENS and agrégation (but note that the reverse is far from true—most normaliens agrégés don't secure permanent positions in France, at least not promptly). But it's not true of everyone. In fact, I'm sensing that it's changing a little bit. Still, every year nationally there about assistant professor (maître de conférences) 10-15 jobs in philosophy total. And out of those 10-15 jobs, perhaps a couple will fit your AOS/AOC. Yup. Combined with what Marina rightly noted about the importance of connections, or at least of being personally known, and with the fact that having applied for jobs *in France* for many years usually (though not always) counts in your favor, the odds are against a good deal of foreign applicants. Most of the most deserving French or France-based applicants take many years to secure a position, or never secure one. In the meantime, they serve as temporary lecturers (for which connections also count) or teach in high school (but if you're a foreign applicant it's likely you can't since you have to pass a tough, old school, characteristically French competitive exam for that—the "agrégation").

CNRS is different and does hire quite a few foreign candidates, although it's also insanely competitive and does require some persistence (I've never heard of anybody being hired on their first try; again, I might be wrong).

So, it's not impossible, though, and there quite a few philosophers with foreign PhDs in France universities. There's just a few caveats to bear in mind, and that's somethings that requires long-term planning.

On the other hand, Switzerland, the Netherlands, perhaps Belgium, Spain, and other European countries are more flexible. But like Marina points out, they are very much research-oriented. (BTW, I don't think it's true of France: teaching competence might be among the most critical factor in hiring decisions for maître de conférences.)


Thank you very much Elisa, Marina & Nicolas ! This is very helpful.
Yes, I know of the CNRS lottery and I might end up buying a ticket one day, if I have the chance to put together a decent project. I didn't know how to apply to MC positions. Thanks again


Elisa, could you please elaborate on your point concerning letters?

"Acquaint yourself with the style of European recommendation letters and be sure that yours are not overemphatic, since this will speak against you."

What would be the main differences between American and European letters?


"What would be the main differences between American and European letters?"

Something like this.

In America: "JR is a genius and the best student I have ever had, he is the next John Rawls!" (three pages like this)

In Europe: "JR is competent for the job and I recommend him warmly." (three sentences like this)

Both mean that the person writing the recommendation letter thinks JR is a very promising candidate and you should choose him.


My understanting is that many European jobs don't ask for letters. Ans this squares with what many have said in this thread, that the European job markets are small (also in big countries like France) and that networking plays a crucial role (if I already know well the candidate, I don't need a letter).

The difference between American and European letters is absolutely true. I think that European letters counted against strong candidates in a recent search in my department.


Thanks to Marina and Nicolas for providing helpful information about France. A lot of the problems they mention are real. But as Nicolas suggested, things are indeed changing. There is increased pressure for universities to internationalize, and philosophy departments are no exception. The recruitment process is becoming more transparent, and it is certainly not the case that you need to know someone to get a position. My own department at the university of Nantes will be advertising positions in the near future, and we very much hope international candidates will apply. I would be happy to answer questions about the French university job market by email.

elisa freschi

@Charles and @someone: at my department an enthusiastic letter from the US actually counted against the candidate because it was too enthusiastic and therefore unrealistic. Not a single flaw was mentioned and this meant that the letter was counted as void. By contrast, a supportive letter saying that the candidate had managed to try to achieve X, although he could not yet master it, was much better received. Just tell your supervisors whom they are writing to.
A small point: Yes, some/many jobs in Europe don't require letters, but some/many do. I experienced both (no letters in Italy, where one would anyway call your supervisor and ask about you; letters in UK), even in the same country (letter vs no letter in different cases in Austria).

elisa freschi

Again on letters:

Another Frenchman

@Michael, "it is certainly not the case that you need to know someone to get a position" ... if you have either an Oxbridge or Ivy League degree? It is a rather an optimistic statement.

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