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I'm not sure if there are enough jobs this year for the concept 'market' to apply. Maybe better would be "Job lottery discussion thread." I mean the supposed 'market' has always been more of a lottery than a market, but it's definitely not a market this year. Let's stop pretending that it is. LOL

Marcus Arvan

Sadly, your sentiment here is surely right. This is one of the reasons I wanted to post this thread early this year. As I noted in the OP, given just how awful the market/lottery is going to be, it seems to me that job-marketeers may have a great deal to commiserate about this year--ranging from the standard things (job ads, dossiers, etc.) to things like (1) whether to defend dissertations, (2) how to stay in grad programs longer rather than head on the market, (3) how to find and prepare for alt-ac jobs, (4) solidarity/mutual support, and so on.

Exactly how readers use this thread is up to all of you. I just figured there are probably quite a few people out there who could use a place to commiserate.


I may be wrong, but I haven't seen a single U.S. TT job so far. By this point last year there were probably 15 or so.


I think it makes sense to expect those jobs that will be posted to be posted later than usual. Even if a department is angling to make a hire, approval to search is probably slowed down this year.


I second the last comment here from anon. We are doing a search in my department this year, but the decision to approve was delayed two months later than usual and our ad, therefore, won't go live until mid-September. (Though, I do suspect there will also be fewer searches this year.)


I have a tenure track job. I'm early in my career, but have made something of a name for myself. I'll be applying for better tenure track jobs this year. Most such jobs that I've seen in the past still want letters. Who do I get the letters from?


Get letters from the biggest names you can, that is, the best placed people. They should know your work, and you should have corresponded with them in the past.

When the pie is this small, don't go for seconds!

The expected dearth of TT jobs this year has gotten me thinking about something I normally see every other year: grad students from fancy programs who defer TT positions to take up prestigious postdocs like NYU's Bersoff, Rutgers' Mellon postdoc, etc. At the best of times, this practice seems a bit greedy. But in a market like this year's, where there will be so few TTs and recurring postdocs may be the best some could hope for, I think it would be unconscionable for anyone to take away postdocs from others when they already have one of the few TTs out there. When there are so few opportunities to go around, and most available opportunities are already concentrated among a small elite group, hoarding of this kind is just inexcusable. I would hope that this year, the people who have such opportunities decline them, and that departments offering TT positions refuse to allow candidates the option of deferring.

cherry pie

I totally agree with “When the pie is this small, don’t go for seconds!”

I know of very few postdocs that can only be held by people who do not have TT or long-term employment lined up for after, and I think departments that have open postdoc positions should start stipulating something similar.

I also think that folks have every right to move TT jobs if they wish, and some have good reasons for wanting to do so. But given that folks who already have TT jobs have a demonstrated advantage on the (very small) market for TT jobs, I wonder if this practice does not also count as “going for seconds”. If folks who are interested in doing this cannot hold off for a few years while keeping a permanent position, hiring departments should be explicitly discouraged from making such hires, at least for the next few cycles.

More than ever, new grads face the real threat of falling through the cracks due to tactics like these, and especially with so many postdocs being offered to folks who already have TT employment lined up... well, things seem really bleak for folks who are without TT employment and who are not in the selected few elite programs that actually place their students. I struggle to see how the limitedness of the market paired with these practices will not skew things even more in that direction.

anyonymous with a problem

hi cherry pie: many of us applying for TT jobs from other TT jobs have two-body problems or other serious reasons for needing to move jobs or get an offer with which to negotiate. I would think it would be strange to say that we should stop applying for jobs in this harsh market; but maybe that's wrong? I feel like being forced to live across the country from my partner is a good enough reason to go on the market.

Marcus Arvan

Let’s remember this blog’s supportive mission please. Condescension and counter-condescension have no place here. I understand these are fraught issues and debate is fine—but please everyone do your part to keep the discussion within the blog’s supportive mission.


@ cherry pie

"hiring departments should be explicitly discouraged from making such hires, at least for the next few cycles."

Hiring departments pursue, and ought to pursue, the (often explicitly stated) mission of hiring the best candidate they can recruit. Hence they must take into account candidates who already have TT positions elsewhere and whose demonstrated record of research, teaching and service is evidence that they are the best recruitable candidate on the market.

I Kant

I have to agree with what others have suggested above ... there cannot be a moral imperative that one should not apply for a job because one has one.
If there were, there might also be one that says some of those who do not have jobs should change careers, so as not to burden others. No one believes such an imperative exists.
I do think the habit of taking a post doc while also holding a TT job, waiting for you to finish your post doc, is morally suspect. We need Judith Thompson to help us see if this is a violinist like case ... or a older brother with chocolates case, etc.

Marcus Arvan

I would add to what I Kant said that I've known people in TT jobs who say that their work environment is hostile/toxic or otherwise unbearable (due to overwork, etc.), and that they want to move to another job because they are absolutely miserable where they are. It is hard for me to see why someone in a position like this should have to remain where they are--and my sense is that these kinds of cases are far more common that one might expect.


Because people in this profession don't get to choose where they live, and because salary compression is so pervasive, I don't mind people trying to move laterally at all.

But yes, I, too, think that the postdoc-and-TT-two-for-one thing is bad form.


Folks, just wanted to ask if the job-market reporting thread for 2020-2021 season has been opened yet. Some universities (e.g., Hongkong, Princeton, and Yonsei) had early deadlines in late August and early September. Wanted to know if anyone heard from them yet. It's very tough out there. Really appreciate the support from this site.

Marcus Arvan

Anon: I will open it now!


Marcus Arvan: Really appreciate it!


I'm curious how many other folks are seriously considering giving up on the academic job dream, now that this year's market seems likely to be nearly (if not entirely) dry, and next year's is sure to be twice as competitive as years past.

I'm in this boat: currently 2 years post-PhD. In a postdoc for another year after this, but the prospects beyond this are grim. Dipped my toes in the non-academic job market, but struck out three times so far.

Not sure what the next move is. Wondering if there's at least some solidarity to be had.

2020 vs. 2019 so far

Just for fun (sort of?), I compared the number of TT jobs in the US and Canada posted on PhilJobs from Aug 1-Sept 17 in 2020 vs. 2019.
The results:
2019: 48
2020: 11

grad out the door

Do you think we've already seen the bulk of this year's market options? any more to come trickling in or is this largely it?


I think we'll see more in November/December. But not a flood.

Academics in other disciplines are reporting that their hiring authorization and stuff is significantly delayed this year (when it's happening at all, that is), so I expect philosophy is in a similar camp.

Plus, the yearly Princeton and NYU jobs aren't out yet! So there's (probably) that to look forward to.


Grad out the doot,
Someone at the top of the thread suggested that postings may be later than usual this year, given budget uncertainties and general delays related to covid adjustments. I think that's probably right. Even if it isn't, October is usually a pretty busy month for job ads, so I would expect substantially more postings in the next few months, even if we continue to see a highly reduced volume of posting overall.

open position at York

York Philosophy is hiring (open rank/open AOS). The opportunity is open to qualified individuals who self-identify as Black peoples of African Descent (for example Africans and African heritage people from the Caribbean, Americas, Europe).


This position comes out of a broader special hiring program at York that, following the provisions of the Ontario human rights code, is aimed at addressing the substantial underrepresentation of black scholars at York and in Canadian universities more broadly.

one of those guys

How does the York job not violate the APA's stated policy, according to which "Submitters of job ads agree to respect our nondiscrimination policy and relevant APA policies. This includes avoiding all forms of discrimination based on race...", when the job ad states that "This selection will be limited to individuals who self-identify as Black"?

I apologize if I appear to be 'one of those guys', but I imagine that this would clearly be taken as violating the APA's policy if instead of 'black' it said 'white'. I am not trolling, I am genuinely interested in a good explanation, as this appears to me to clearly be a case of discrimination based on race, even if for a good cause.


Does anyone has any sense of how universities are planning to conduct campus interviews this year? Will all of that move online?

Michael Giudice

Regarding York University’s philosophy position. As chair of the Department of Philosophy at York, I inquired ahead of posting the ad on PhilJobs and received this response from the APA executive:

“The APA non-discrimination statement explicitly allows for affirmative action initiatives, which can take different shapes depending on the circumstances in different countries and different kinds of institutions. In particular, while it may be illegal in the US to establish an affirmative action initiative that requires (rather than prefers) applicants to be of a particular race or ethnicity, that may not be the case in other countries. The APA permits job ads that include affirmative action initiatives that are designed to increase the hiring of members of historically disadvantaged groups and that are in accordance with the laws and regulations that apply to the relevant institution.”

Our department believes that the targeted hiring program marks an important progression in our affirmative action hiring practices, and fully supports the objective of improving the representation of Black faculty in our department and across academia.

that guy

Thanks Michael! In light of what you wrote, I read the entire APA statement and I see that I missed the part regarding affirmative action. I can't say that I am entirely comfortable with using race as a criterion in hiring, but I understand the motivation to do this. In any case, it is now clear to me York and the APA did not violate the APA's stated policy. Good luck with the search and hire!


For the record, in the US it is illegal to "establish an affirmative action initiative" that requires OR prefers applicants to be a particular race (not just the former).

York's process would have been illegal in the US. So would a process in which race was not mentioned in the ad, but committee members preferred black (or white, etc.) applicants. That violates the Civil Rights Act, a federal law, so it applies everywhere in the US. (Fun fact: The only time that MLK, Jr. and Malcolm X ever met was to listen to debate on, and voice their support for, the Civil Rights Act.)

Many other US jurisdictions, like my state, have further protections. I have no idea about Canadian law.


WestCoastL, Might MLK and Malcolm X supported the Civil Rights Act because at the time legislation that gave favourable treatment—not merely equal treatment—was so politically unrealistic? That is, that they supported it might not mean they would object to affirmative action practices.



Regarding Canadian law: This type of affirmative action is written in to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under the heading "Equality Rights", Section 15 states that

"(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

And, goes it on to say:

"(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

So, Section (2) is the relevant bit here.

Also relevant is the Employment Equity Act (1995) whose purpose is "to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfilment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences."

So, Canadian law recognises that 'equity' is not equivalent to 'equality'. Affirmative action of this sort is legal, they just call it 'employment equity' (and apparently, it is called this specifically because 'affirmative action' is a US term, and already had negative connotation when these articles were drafted).


that guy:

Then you'd be more uncomfortable to know that applicants with "white-sounding" names get more interviews than "ethnic-sounding" names.

Source from Harvard Business School: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/minorities-who-whiten-job-resumes-get-more-interviews


Evan: I think nobody here disagrees with the idea that affirmative action would be good.

But I doubt that what you suggest is true for the philosophy job market (i.e. that applicants with minority sounding names get fewer interviews). I assume you don’t need to hang out with philosophy faculty too long before you hear “the dean wants us to hire a woman or a minority candidate”.

To the extent that affirmative action is illegal, such disregard for the law is somewhat perplexing, esp. considering that lawsuits from disgruntled white men might be only a matter of time.


Hi kombucha: I don’t have specific data on the hiring practices in philosophy, but it’s not impossible that the same can occur within philosophy to some extent considering that the majority of philosophers make up of (heterosexual) white men in the US. In fact, I highly recommend researchers do research on this for philosophy and let all cards fall down on the table.

Also, some people like that guy have expressed that affirmative action is wrong or at least uncomfortable for them, so the word ”nobody” would be a hyperbole. It’s pretty obvious amongst most libertarian and conservative philosophers that affirmative is somehow wrong. There are even philosophical papers against affirmative action.

It’s also interesting you’d say that ”such disregard for the law is somewhat perplexing” even though you mentioned previously that ”nobody here disagrees with the idea that affirmative action would be good.” On one hand, you acknowledge that it’s good or morally permissible to have affirmative action. On the other hand, you can’t seem to wrap your mind around people committing affirmative action even when it may be illegal to do so.

I raised this dilemma because I’m pretty sure you yourself would support Rosa Parks when she refused to sit in the back of the bus since it was illegal for black people at the time to sit in the front. Some actions that negate certain laws are not so perplexing if we admit that such laws are not ethical in the first place. In other words, there are some people who are more committed to morality or justice than legality. Not all laws exhibit the virtue of justice and not all of them are ethical. Given this fact, people disregarding certain laws is not so perplexing to me.

My Name is not My Name

I also wanted to respond to Kombucha's strange throwaway comment, even if it's not that important. Perhaps I just want to demonstrate that philosophers are not as politically monolithic as they might think.

I am a philosopher who looks at this blog from time to time. I would classify myself as politically left of American liberals. I am opposed to most affirmative action programs, including any affirmative action hiring initiative in philosophy departments in North America with which I am familiar--meaning, I am aware of the rationale, mechanism, and results of the program.


Please, let's not go there.

For the record, I have a European family name which is frequently mistaken for something non-European. It's a conversation-starter, and that's ok.

But you would be pretty shocked at the things other philosophers have said to me, on the assumption that I wasn't white. Often it's clearly just well-intentioned ignorance. But on many occasions, it clearly wasn't (e.g. imagine being called by a racial slur). What's more, I know *many* people who've had similar experiences.


Not to change the subject but....

What sites do people use to find jobs besides philjobs? I feel like I am missing some advertisements. Please help!

Hope to help


Here are three that I recall frequenting when I was on the market:

HigherEdJobs: https://www.higheredjobs.com/faculty/search.cfm?JobCat=89

For jobs in the UK:https://www.jobs.ac.uk/

Another site: https://jobs.chronicle.com/jobs/philosophy/#browsing

If you are religious or part of a society, there might be jobs posted on the site. For instance, if you are a bioethicist, here is where you might look: http://www.bioethics.net/jobs/page/2/

Hope this helps!


In addition to philjobs, I look at jobs.ac.uk, the PHILOS-L listserv, and Inside Higher Ed. (For PHILOS-L, the list of archived messages can be daunting, but most--though I stress not all!--job advertisements have 'JOB' in their title.)

Assistant Professor

@WestCoastL - could you clarify what law(s) and/or Supreme Court precedents you are citing when claiming the blanket illegality of affirmative action practices in the US? I am not familiar with any blanket federal illegality of all affirmative action practices, though many Supreme Court cases have weighed in on permissible and impermissible permutations of affirmative action practices.


Thanks so much, Hope to help and oudeis. There were indeed a few I didn't know about. I really appreciate it. If anyone else happens to see one not yet mentioned I'd be grateful for any additional pointers.


Assistant Professor--

The Civil Rights Act appears to be enshrined in law at 42 U.S.C. Sect. 2000e.

Note two things. First, the claim was that AA programs that "require OR prefer applicants to be a particular race" are illegal. And that's true. Nothing was said about the "blanket illegality of affirmative action practices in the US". For example, I think it's fine to advertise to women in order to get more applications from women. But you can't make a person's gender a point for or against her when hiring. That's a federal civil rights violation.

Second, there are some very narrow exceptions that almost never apply (and never when it comes to academic hiring). For example, if you're hiring an actor to play Martin Luther King, Jr. in a movie, you can discriminate on the basis of race (a "bona fide occupational qualification").

The website of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has useful information about the law.

Assistant Professor

Thanks @Tom2. I take it I misread @WestCoastL's point in their post, which was merely to suggest that the York hiring requirements would be illegal under US law (with which we are all, it appears, familiar).

The curious problem is, of course, how a strict reading of the law competes with other (ethical) values that academic departments, and especially philosophy departments, might think it is just to promote. That is to say, not merely not excluding someone due to facts about their gender, sex, racial, ethnic, ability, religious, age, etc. identities (those things that are recognized protected classes), but how the meaningfully pursue equity within the academy, and within philosophy.

I appreciate York's initiative because it makes its objectives and values transparent. When jobs in the US advertise for an AOS of "feminism" or "philosophy of race" they are likely trying to hire for particular (non-majority in philosophy) identities. But of course a problem with this practice is that not all people who work on feminism or philosophy of race identify as women or people of color, and people who do identify as women and people of color clearly work on many things other than feminism and philosophy of race, so it quickly gets messy in terms of what goal(s) these practices are trying to achieve.


Do folks think that the average time from a position's application deadline to when a department extends an offer will be shorter or longer due to COVID?

One consideration is that departments may conduct final round interviews and "campus visits" sooner than in the past because they won't have to fly candidates out.

Another consideration is that search committee members may be more busy with teaching than in the past because of the transition to online teaching.

Of course this may differ at R1s, large teaching focused state universities and SLACs.


Should I use different page sizes for my applications to institutions in different countries (i.e. a4 in Europe and letter in US) or does it not really matter?

Both sides now

It does not matter. I have worked on both continents. Just be professional in your general set up, etc.


Thank you, Both sides now.

Constant applicant

I withdrew an application because I was told that the university to which I applied would not sponsor a work visa. Is this discrimination?

foreign worker

Constant applicant,
I would think not. I needed a labor certificate when I first worked in the US (as does all foreigners). The university is under NO obligation to do any such thing for you. And, then in time you need a work visa. Because of the relations between my country and the US, I was able to get a cheaper visa (at first). But I had to pay for it. Again, the law does not require institutions to pay for your visas.
Many US schools will NOT pay for work visas.

Constant applicant

Foreign worker,
You don't have to yell at me in caps! I now know for a fact that many US universities WILL sponsor and pay for the work visa if they decide on hiring a foreign candidate. That said, I also understand that they don't have to do this. Those that are willing are the ones that truly value internationalism and diversity. Those that are not willing simply do not...

It's expensive

Constant applicant: sponsoring for visa, in particular h1b and green cards, is a costly process, and not not all schools can afford that.


I have done all my schooling abroad but have US citizenship (that is, you wouldn't know it from my CV). The discussion above has me wondering whether I should find a way to mention this in my applications. Any thoughts?

Born in the USA


I've noticed that it's fairly common for people not from the US to have a 'personal data' section on their CV, usually toward the top, near the contact information. This generally lists citizenship, and sometimes other data like one's birthdate and marital status (which are both weird things to list if you're used to the US system).

I actually added a similar section to my CV listing my citizenship. I'm from the US and am a citizen, but my name tends to raise the 'where are you from?' question.

triple anon

Permit me some complaining, and off topic at that. In addition to the complete lack of job market, it seems that journal submissions this year are taking about five times longer than they have in the past, presumably because everyone is too stressed out to do peer review work (in addition to inherent peer-review problems, e.g., unpaid labor, etc.) I received an r+r about six months ago with requests for what seemed to me to be some easy fixes, but still have yet to hear back about this new draft. The only thing harder than getting a job is getting a job when no one will help you improve your CV by actually reading and reviewing your work!

Okay, rant over, thanks.


Triple anon: my experience as a referee is that the timelines I've been given since April (and I've done a lot of refereeing since then!) have been shorter than usual. Like, one-month turnaround, instead of the three I remember from the beforetime, although I might be misremembering.

As an author, my impression has been that journals are moving a little more quickly than usual (and I've published a lot this year, across specialist and generalist journals).

So: I think there's hope! Maybe you just got a bad batch. In the meantime, I'm sorry it's taking so long. Especially for an R&R, which ought to be faster than the initial submission.

triple anon

@Michel, thanks for the advice and camaraderie, and it's good to feel hopeful.


To echo Michel: I've received decisions on my journal submissions quicker than in the past since the pandemic started. Granted, they were all rejections, but they were rejections with good and detailed comments.

triple anon

@Marian, perhaps I've just had bad luck with my three current submissions.


Oof, three? That's a lot to have taking longer than usual.

FWIW, I discovered yesterday that one paper which I refereed over four months ago still hasn't received a verdict. Since the turnaround deadline was one month, I can only imagine that they've struggled to find a second referee, or someone has managed to drag their feet quite a bit, or both. (I think the paper's a shoo-in, too, which makes the lag even worse!)

I suppose it's possible that it's the same referee or two gumming things up on your end, especially if the papers are clustered on the same sorts of topics? Shrug. Anyway, I'm very sorry.

triple anon

@Michel, that's entirely possible, and in any case I do appreciate the sympathy! I understand why these delays happen, but it's nice to be able to bemoan the minor stress that they cause to a sympathetic audience.


@triple anon,

if you are risk averse it might be good that the journal hasn't got back to you. Although an acceptance looks a lot better than an r and r to a search committee, an r and r looks a lot better than nothing (a rejection).


UNC has an open TT position, the deadline for which has already passed. Today they've advertised another TT position (PPE, broadly construed).

If one has already applied to the open position, is there any issue with applying for the PPE position? I suppose this would just involve a minor change to the cover letter. . I'd assume that a drastic change would come across as too much tailoring, but maybe I'm wrong?

Assistant Professor

@Anun: If your AOS/AOC fit with the PPE position then it seems appropriate to also apply to that position. The committees are likely composed of different faculty so the same people who reviewed your dossier for the Open position would not be the ones looking at you for the PPE position. I would be curious to hear from others what sharing of information goes on between two search committees at the same institution in the same year from those who have had this experience directly.

Given this: I would certainly tailor your cover letter to fit the job explicitly, even if that meant a significant revision, and would send the writing sample that best illustrates your suitability for a PPE job whether or not it is the writing sample you sent for the open position. I would imagine your CV and teaching dossier would remain unchanged, and your research statement is probably still your research statement (if it doesn't fit with PPE already then I would think you are not a good fit for this job). In my mind the cover letter ought to be tailored to each and every job (though from a basic framework that you use as a model each time) and this is no exception.


@Assistant Professor: That's extremely helpful and seems exactly right to me. Thank you!


"Academe’s Disturbing Indifference to Racism"



The Interfolio page for the Hecht-Levi Postdoc in Bioethics prompts applicants to submit *non-confidential* letters of reference. (https://apply.interfolio.com/78660 - I think you have to log in to see what I mean, unfortunately.) I've never encountered this and honestly don't feel comfortable asking my referees to submit their letters non-confidentially. Has anyone else encountered this and does anyone have a suggestion? Thanks guys.


Some community college applications also request non-confidential letters of rec. To handle this I just wrote my letter writers and informed them I would need them to write new letters which met this requirement, and which I would personally upload. I just sent the ad to my letter writers to confirm, and they got it after some initial confusion. I'd just acknowledge that it's weird and uncomfortable but that's the job market for you.

automaton against automation

How do we get the University of Toronto automated recommender system to stop generating letter requests? I am still getting multiple letter requests from the Scarborough job and it is using up my Interfolio deliveries.


I've read several places that the job market this year has many fewer job postings and therefore much more applicants per job post. (This seems right, but) has anyone collected data on this yet? If so, could someone please point me in the direction of said data/analysis? Thank you!


Does anyone have advice for giving a Zoom job talk during an online campus visit? I usually read a paper, but I don't know how I'll read a paper on Zoom without looking ridiculous. Help!

help for helpplz

@helpplz I agree with you that reading a paper is probably not the way to go -- would slides/screen share work for you? Or if you are really used to reading the paper, maybe you could share your screen with a "handout" with quotes on it?


Given that you're committed to reading, I suggest using a teleprompter (or teleprompter software) or a second monitor. It's really easy to set up a second monitor (or someone else's laptop, etc.).

virtual campus visitor

what kind of questions should one ask during the many one-to-one meetings of virtual flyouts? should I ask a question from the dean of arts and sciences? from faculty members? if so, what questions you recommend? what questions you suggest to avoid?


helpplz: How committed are you to reading the paper? My sense is that many search committee/department members will look quite negatively on that whether on zoom or in person, and will infer from it (not saying rightly!) bad things about your teaching.


Has anyone given a teaching demo over Zoom? Any thoughts about strategies are welcome!

Gambling Addict

Zdemoz: I just did one recently. I tried to incorporate a group discussion component into the teaching demo. It didn't go very well since half the audience was physically together in a room and the other half were zooming in from disparate locations and I had no control over breakout rooms. So I'd recommend going over in advance with the committee what you want to do during the demo to see if they can help you set it up.

down the drain

Well, it looks like that's it for me, folks. I struck out, zero interviews. I don't think I can stick around for another year. Time to put my energy into finding another job, I guess.

lottery player n

@down the drain:

It's rough out there. 8 peer reviewed pubs in solid venues, 3 book chapters and a book contract with a top press and I'm in the same boat with respect to interviews. There's little that can be done about it from the applicant's side, it seems to me. If indeed you do find yourself forced to leave the profession, I hope you find yourself in a good place.

down the drain

Thanks, lottery player. I understood this was the almost guaranteed outcome, but it still hurts.

Marcus Arvan

down the drain: I don’t know what exactly your situation is (and I empathize), but good things can still happen. I did not get my first job offer until March, and it was completely out of the blue. And I’ve known people who got full time jobs the *summer* before those jobs started. Job ads can still be posted in the spring too. Fwiw

Your drain is backing up

I am with Marcus. My first one year position after my PhD was not offered to me until July 1 - and classes started in Sept. And my first TT position was only offered to me in late April. Things happen ... it may be worth not throwing in the towel yet!

false hope

I agree that good things could happen, but I wouldn't like to offer 'down the drain' false hope that good things are likely to happen. They aren't. I like the encouraging environment of this blog, but I worry that sometimes it is too much so. I, for one, would not be willing to be looking for a permanent faculty position for years on end. I don't think "throwing in the towel" is defeat or imprudent. I think it is often realistic and wise.

down the drain

I think I'm in the same camp with false hope. Is it within the realm of possibility that another TT job could come around in the spring or summer that I am eligible for and potentially land? Yes, it's possible. Is this possibility anywhere near the realm of things that are likely to happen, or that I should even hold out enough hope for to plan around? No, I don't think so. For personal reasons, I am not willing to apply for short-term positions that would require me to move my family. Given that additional constraint, I think realistically this door is shut.

Had it

It is not only nonsensical but also out right mean to encourage people to stay in the market. it is like telling someone all will be well because they're going to win the lottery and this is not a misanalogy...


How do people feel about the choice between prestigious postdoc vs. mid-level(?) prestige TT offer? I get that it partly comes down to how risk-averse one is but I wonder if there are other considerations to be had before deciding

Marcus Arvan

decisiontime: here's my two cents. I'm inclined to think that the decision should depend on (at least) two things:

(1) How good the TT offer is. Is the job in a place you would be happy living? Does the university seem to have a healthy culture, or is it a mess? How is the university's financial situation? (A really important thing nowadays). I have friends who accepted TT jobs at *very* prestigious places and are miserable there (due to bad culture and unachievable tenure standards), as well as friends who accepted TT jobs in mid-level places who are really happy there (because it's a great place to work, in a great city, the uni provides a lot of financial support, etc.).

(2) How likely are you to get *another* TT offer, or one better than the one you have now? As we all know, the job market is a mess, and it's entirely possible that this TT offer is the only one you'll ever get. On the flipside, if you're a 'rock star', got a bunch of interviews and flyouts, and the prestigious postdoc is likely to get you where you really want to be, then I could see that choice making sense.

One final thing perhaps worth bearing in mind: higher education is likely to be *more* of a mess in coming years, not less. Many universities are axing departments already, and enrollment in higher ed is expected to plummet by 2025, which will almost certainly lead to more 'belt tighening' (i.e. layoffs). Bearing this in mind, my thought is that if the uni you have the TT offer from is in *very* good financial shape (and a stable student market), the job may be worth taking.


"One final thing perhaps worth bearing in mind: higher education is likely to be *more* of a mess in coming years, not less. Many universities are axing departments already, and enrollment in higher ed is expected to plummet by 2025, which will almost certainly lead to more 'belt tightening' (i.e. layoffs). Bearing this in mind, my thought is that if the uni you have the TT offer from is in *very* good financial shape (and a stable student market), the job may be worth taking."

This, this, 1000x this. If you're even asking the question, the TT opportunity it acceptable, in which case you should take it. Also, you shouldn't discount how TT experience will add to your appeal should you decide to "apply out".


@Marcus, @ABC

What you two say make a lot of sense-- I've heard some schools are trying to encourage retirement for senior faculty (?) but maybe that won't be enough to help the market for the next few years...

And I do feel apologetic for the question being somewhat tone-deaf given the difficult market. So extra thanks for your gracious answers

working person

Do not count on people retiring and jobs opening up ... First, many of us in my cohort were on the market so long before getting a TT that we have very little in retirement savings. I will almost certainly work until 69 (and possibly longer). I have a family to support. I am already supporting an aging mother. The costs related to her health and well-being will increase with time. Second, universities do not replace all the positions they free up with retirements. What they do is take the opportunity to do some cost saving.



Are you not able to defer your tt job for a year or two for the postdoc? I know that is a thing that happens. I know people, for example, who negotiated to defer a tt position for year to take a Bersoff and I was a lecturer at a place where an incoming assistant prof deferred for a year to finish the second year their then current postdoc.


Has anyone heard anything about Dartmouth's TT search? The deadline was November 1st but it seems no one has heard from them at all.

Also, I wonder what folks think about the APA providing some guidelines in terms of communicating with applicants. Given the horrible state of the market, it would be a good thing if applicants receive some word or communication from search committees within, say, two months from a position deadline.


@working person: Alas, I hear that. Are these decisions based on enrollment?? i.e. if there were more phil majors or phil classes were otherwise more popular universities would create more lines?

@negotiate?: right, that's the ideal option. I sense they have immediate needs but wouldn't hurt to ask, I suppose.


The latest job posting for the American University of Cairo is strangely sparse: https://philjobs.org/job/show/16718

Even when you follow the link, there is basically no information about the job. I'm not sure if this is on purpose (i.e. for an inside candidate), or what. It's sort of baffling.

At any rate, best of luck to anyone planning to customize a cover letter for a job that has almost no description of the contract (is it TT? NTT? one-year? one course?), no stated AOS/AOC, and no details about the general expectations of the position, etc.!

(If anyone knows folks at AUC, perhaps it would be worth inviting them to add some detail to their posting!)

working person

Enrolments can affect whether a line is renewed when someone retires. But it is not always a good strategy for a department to try to build up enrollments in "popular" courses. You find you are all teaching a bunch of bullshit that appeals to students who are "consumers" and concerned with "popular" issues. I left a department that was going up in flames, as jackass colleagues were choosing to go down such a path. They have less than half the TT lines they had when I was there. It was largely their own doing.


Anon re AUC...reading the philjobs ad, it seems to say quite clearly that it is a " fixed-term, one-year position" with open AOS/AOC. Not sure what the confusion is about

Want to move to Egypt for one year?

@anon2 The advertisement was updated yesterday to include all that information. @Anon was right that initially it included no description at all.

no winning

@working person: ugh, that's terrible! I'm glad that my department did not go that route.

Instead, we found ways to get our gen ed and minor courses stuffed with students. It didn't help: they still took lines for us and asked us to increase the enrollment caps.

There is no winning.


Naive question: What is a "line"?

straight talk on lines

A line is a TT job in a department. A department might traditionally have 5 TT positions (or 10 or ...). When someone retires or moves elsewhere, or is denied tenure there are two typical ways this can affect a department. They can retain the line, and hire a replacement in a year or so. Or the line is lost - and they are now a department of 4 TT positions (or 9 ... or ...).
Who decides: often it is precedent, but ultimately administrators decided. That is why it is important to make good hires. To hire and have someone move on, or not get tenure can be a disaster for many years to come.


I know this is a perennial issue, but it bears repeating: if you are on a search committee, and you interview someone, and you tell them you will be in touch in X days, and it's 3X days now, that's incredibly rude.

In general, I don't find it compelling whatsoever that departments have to abide by various HR requirements, and thus, cannot share more details, etc. There are ways to inform candidates where they stand without violating HR requirements. There is no reason to string them along, and then ghost them.

If you are reading this and are a search committee member, or will be in the future, please consider finding ways to show some humanity to the people you interview. It's already such a miserable, soul-draining process. There's no reason to make it worse through neglect and indifference.

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