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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.)



what do people think?


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.


As I expected, the silence is deafening...

Not reluctant

Reluctant, what kind of discussion are you aiming at? There is a lot being said about the VT hires on Daily Nous, so what angle of it do you wish to discuss here? Also, why do you say the silence is deafening?


My response to reluctant’s question:
Congrats to Va Tech on a great set of hires, especially given the financial effects of the pandemic!

Also not reluctant

Reluctant, I think it is very good that six people were hired at one school in the current environment. I'm not sure what else there is to say.

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.

Reluctant (had enough)

How hard would it be to pursue applications by members of minorities a little harder? Don't most people agree that departments should do that? In this job market, six hires are made and not even one is a member of a minority. If that does not bother anyone, I am at a loss for words. I'm not saying the VT hires were made because of racist bias, but it is a social psychological fact that in our day and age this looks pretty bad. The deafening silence means that very few people are bothered by this. I would have thought that at least some people who frequent this blog would be disturbed by how this looks... Apparently not... So, people here are not bothered if American professional philosophy has been, and will keep being, under this suspicion of racist bias... Very sad... Rest assured, I will not say anything more to disturb your slumber in your imaginary world...

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.

ye it's a trend

The phenomenon pointed out by Reluctant is certainly not isolated. (And apologies Reluctant that I didn't speak up earlier. I assumed you wanted to talk about the number and so I didn't even look at the names closely.) It's definitely something me and my other non-white friends have noticed. While I don't doubt that the market is incredibly brutal for white men, it's also true that many jobs me & people I know have applied/interviewed for went to white men. There is certainly an increasing feeling of "I guess perseverance & being told & regarded as good philosophers is not going to carry us after all".


I basically agree with the comments that Thomas Sullivan and "Grad student 4" make in the thread on Daily Nous. It is one thing to think that philosophy has a problem with racism or bias in hiring, etc. and it is another thing to think that looking just at the hires Va Tech made reveals that.

Why not instead be appreciative that in the VA TECH case, there were some spousal hires (which are likely expanding the number of positions - at least at the Universities I've been affiliated with they've created jobs where none existed before), as well as at least one case where someone who had been adjuncting/temporary had their position converted to full time. That's a good thing, in this day and age whether is a big problem with exploitation of adjuncts.

What I'd like to see from "reluctant" and "ye its a trend" is evidence that the proportion of hiring of whites, etc. is significantly different from the proportion of applicants in the overall job market. Of course there could be bias even if these proportions are comparable, but that would be a start. Otherwise, one suspects, as Thomas Sullivan suggests, that much of the problem of racism and bias occurs before you get to the point where you're applying for TT jobs.

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.


Reluctant writes, "six hires are made and not even one is a member of a minority." Six are hired and not even one is a member of a racial minority in the US. There are other types of groups that are also minorities in the US. There are other types of groups that are under represented in philosophy departments. We have reasons to care about such groups as well. I don't think Reluctant meant to suggest otherwise. I'm just trying to remind us.

Also not reluctant

In response to reluctant: no I don't particularly care about things "looking bad". If I had some reasons to suspect that VT wasn't pursuing minority candidates or were somehow biased in their searches, I would be angry. I don't have such reasons, and in fact I have known several VT philosophers and spoken with them about their department. As a result, I have positive reasons to believe the opposite. Finally, I have no conclusive evidence of their new faculty members' races. I didn't actually know that they presented as non-minorities until you mentioned it, since I didn't go hunting for headshots like you. Save your condescending remarks about "slumber" and "imaginary worlds" for someone else.

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.

grad out the door

@Post-Doc: Yeah, I'm in a similar boat. I'm finishing my PhD this year and so far there is only one job I'll be applying to (there are a couple of others I'm potentially qualified for but for a number of personal reasons will not be applying). And I have a sneaking suspicion the one job I'm applying to is designed for an inside hire. It's unlikely I'll spend another year on the academic market. I'm putting most of my efforts into networking with people in careers outside academia and working on my resume. This is probably it for me.

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

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