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I am not sure I understand the issue. If you are applying for a job, you had better convey to the place you are applying that you really want the job. Do not make it sound like you are just fishing. And, as Marcus says, emphasize your fit.
You MAY be asked at an interview why you are leaving, especially if the move is merely lateral (or downward). Have something to say then - aim towards honesty. It actually sometimes pays.
After being on the market a number of years I applied for other jobs ONLY very selectively. I had market fatigue (as did my family). I did move, though, in the end. It was upward, so no one was asking why, not even at my former institute when I said I was leaving. It was a no-brainer. They shook my hand, and gave me a modest going away dinner.

Reasonably anonymous

Perhaps Frogger might reconsider the idea of applying to “tempting” tenure track jobs. Since they suggest that they like their current job, it seems pretty selfish to potentially deny the opportunity for those of us who don’t yet have secure employment (let along TT employment).

It often happens that tenure lines are not replaced when people move. Moreover, sometimes searches fail when the person offered the job does not take it. In both cases, it can happen that one fewer philosopher will ever get a job. Risking that for a slight improvement in one’s already privileged position seems quite selfish to me. I understand that there are often very good reasons to try to leave a tenure track job that one is unhappy with: one’s colleagues might be difficult, there could be racism or sexism, or one’s partner might not be able to find work in the city, etc. But that doesn’t seem to be the situation Frogger describes. So I ask them, and anyone else in a similar situation, to reconsider this kind of unnecessary lateral move. A small improvement for them might mean that someone is denied the opportunity to pursue their calling. Worse, having many people do this can significantly shrink the already small number of tenure track philosophy professors.


If you are going from a research to a teaching school, you definitely need to explain you reasons in the cover letter. And the reasons should always include how you like the lifestyle of teaching job more (you enjoy teaching more than research, you want to make a difference in students lives.) I have a friend who moved from an R1 with a 2/2 load and PhD program to a regional state university with a 4/4. He told them that because his PhD program was not well ranked and had trouble placing, that he felt bad being a part of that system. He also mentioned location reasons, which are helpful if you have a strong reason to want to be in that location.

The way the culture works, however, (this probably shows how shitty the culture happens to be) you aren't expected to do that when moving from teaching to research jobs. Especially if you have an application that is competitive, i.e., strong publishing record. The assumption by research school search committees, is that, "of course someone wants to move from a teaching to research job." Anyway, I moved this way and didn't say anything, and I know several others with the same story.

I actually think it is getting fairly common for people to move once they have a TT job. I can think of 8 cases in the last 4 years, and I am not a very social person.

Other than that, I would say the same advice applies as would for any other application. The trick is making sure your colleagues don't know about it, as that generally creates bad vibes.


I totally agree with Reasonably Anonymous. Of course if you are not happy with your current job, then it is perfectly reasonable to apply for other jobs. I guess it's kinda of ok if you apply just to get a raiser, but applying just for the sake of applying and see what happens is not that nice


If it helps:

1. The moves I am considering are not "lateral" but "upward."
2. There is more than one body involved.
3. There are family members with health issues involved.
4. The postings I am interested in are tailor-made to my AOS/AOCs. It's like they are searching for ME.
5. To be sure, having gainful employment in philosophy is a privilege. And it's also not fun to be on the market. So rest assured, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't have good reasons.

Thanks for the helpful responses so far!


Come on, liking your current job doesn't mean you're obligated to stay there. No one is putting themselves through the job market another time just for fun.

Frogger: I agree with Marcus - just apply as usual. Highlight the experience you already have. Say something nice about the advertised position or institution. Don't say bad things about your current colleagues (obviously). I've been on search committees and have never dinged an applicant for already having a job (nor for having failed to secure a job yet).

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