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I had four serious years on the market (100+ applications), and two selective years. I had 0-1 interiews every year save one: the year I got two interviews was the year I got my current (NTT but stable) job.

I think it's just a pretty normal pattern, especially outside the more in-demand AOSes. Most of the people I know who have scored TT jobs went 0-1 or 1-2 interviews a year for years, and eventually one of those interviews yielded the job.

I don't have any advice on 'getting over the hump' and converting the interviews into a job, but perhaps I can reassure the OP that the pattern seems normal to me, given what I've seen and heard. Just getting an interview is a victory, and getting them consistently is fantastic.


I agree with Michel: I don't think you should take only getting 1 or 2 interviews a year as a sign that you aren't doing well on the market. My first year on the market was the 2014-2015 academic year. I earned a TT job in 2019. In none of those years did I have more than 2 interviews. Most of my friends in my subfield tell similar stories. I strongly expect that in today's market, 1 or 2 interviews a year means you're exceptionally competitive, and that it's probably a matter of sticking it out. I also strongly expect that the days of people other than those at the very very tippy top getting more than a few interviews per cycle are over.

Marcus: I clearly recall you saying things in the past about how, if you're doing it right, you should get lots of interviews. I'm curious to know if you still think this. (Of course clearly more interviews=more right, but I think it's 100% clear that the balance has changed from when you were on the market. I mean, I think it's clear it's changed dramatically from when *I* was on the market.)


Can I ask roughly how many publications you had when you finally landed your tenure-track job 7 years post-PhD? (Same question goes for anyone else who landed a TT job after a number of years on the market.)

I completed my PHD without any publications, and I've been playing catchup the last couple of years, trying improve my CV. I'm aiming for at least 1-2 articles in well-respected journals per year, and I'm wondering whether that's enough to stay competitive. I know a lot depends on the specific job one is applying for, but it would be nice to get a better sense for the ballpark publication numbers of people who land TT jobs.

Marcus Arvan

Hi TM: Sure thing. Here's what my path looked like. I first went on the market in 2007 while ABD. Like you, I received my PhD with no publications, and it took me a few years to find my stride with publishing. My first year, I got a research postdoc. The next year, 2008, the Recession hit and the job market tanked. I got no TT interviews, but took a renewable VAP at a teaching-focused university in the US so that I could live with my spouse. The next several years, I didn't get many interviews. There were a few years in a row that I got either 0 or 1 TT interview, and like I said in the OP I was worried that I was going stale. In fact, I was so dispirited by the market that I took a year off my job-search (in 2012 I think) to focus on improving my dossier. I didn't start to do well on the market until 2013 or 2014, when I started publishing more.

I started to do better on the market the more that I published. In 2013 (my 5th year post-PhD), I published 4 articles and think I got something like 3 TT interviews. In 2014, I published 5 articles. That was my second-to-last year on the market, and by that I point I had 13 journal publications. I believe I got 7 TT interviews that year, along with several flyouts. The next year (2015) was my final year on the market, and by that time I added one more article in a good journal and had my first book under contract with a pretty good press. I got 12 or 13 TT interviews that year, a bunch of flyouts, and several offers.

This was a while ago now (the market is even worse now than it was then), and I may not be very representative (among other things, I work in an area--ethics--where there are a lot of jobs each year). But it was nice to see publishing and improving the other parts of my dossier seem to pay off.

Anyway, long story short, my experience is that 1-2 publications a year may keep you competitive, but since a lot of candidates publish about at that rate, it may be a good idea to try to publish significantly more than that. For what it is worth, I think this is doable if you're not shooting for top-ranked journals. I wasn't much concerned about publishing in top journals, for reasons I've discussed on this blog before (I wasn't much in line for a job at an R1 after a few years on the market, I needed to publish quickly rather than endure 90%+ rejection rates, and my clear sense is that non-R1s care a lot less about things like journal rankings than people tend to think). It sucks that this is what the market has come to (trying to 'overpublish' your way into a job), but as they say, it is what it is. ¯_(ツ)_/¯


Marcus: That's very helpful, and encouraging. I made the mistake of getting wrapped up in writing a very long article, which I hope to publish in a top journal in my field. I'm very pleased with the article, but it's taken me over a year to complete. After this, it makes sense to build my CV with some shorter articles I can produce much more quickly. Thanks again.

serve the servants

This may or may not be the right place to ask this question, but I would be curious to read more about what kinds of service are specifically recommended to improve one's chances of getting a TT job. I suppose that I understand publishing and teaching as strategic CV improvers, but not service. Thanks in advance for any advice.


My TT interview count, by year on the market (Ph.D ranking between 30 and 40).

Year 1, abd: 1 (plus 4 non-TT)
Year 2, abd: 1 (plus 3 non-TT)
Year 3, at VAP: 5 (got offer)

stop it

Servile one,
You do not need to do service in order to be considered for a job if you do not already have a TT job. So do not waste your time. I helped someone once who was having a hard time on the market. He was sending a letter implying he would be a great asset with his computers - of course he was not getting interviews. You are supposed to project an image of yourself as a peer, not as support staff.

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