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04/19/2021

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Michel

I'm pretty much in agreement, but want to add a caveat: if you're in an AOS with just a few jobs a year (say, 0-1, although I'd expect the upper threshold to be a fair bit higher), it's entirely normal to have 0 interviews a few years in a row. Your best chance is in your AOS, after all, and if there are 0 jobs in your AOS most years, it's unlikely the open searches will wake up to new demand for your AOS.

At that point, I think you're waiting for a bumper crop year to give you better information about your competitiveness.

For my part, 2019 was a huge bumper crop year in aesthetics, and I didn't get a single interview for those jobs despite a pretty serious influx of very good publications. So even though I had a first-round interview for a value theory position, I was demoralized and going to give up. (If I couldn't even land an interview in a year with 8 jobs...)

Happily, a local gig panned out in the end, and it was just good enough that I decided to stick around for a little longer, and it's now become a permanent and *very* good gig.

Trevor Hedberg

Michel -- That's a fair point, though I would find it hard to advise anyone to keep probing the academic job market year after year when their AOS usually has only a few job postings per year. That's such an unfavorable situation that even exemplary candidates will often see no meaningful results for many years even if they apply for positions every job cycle. I suspect they will often be better off seeking non-academic careers or building up a second AOS that is more marketable.

aphilosopher

A point I think often lost when discussing the opportunity cost is that the transition gets harder every year. A 30-year old just-minded PhD will have an easier time transitioning to a new career than a 40-year old who spent 10 years bouncing between temp jobs. The longer you stay on the academic market, the more ageism comes into play, the more failure you accrue on your resume, the more psychological damage you take, and (probably) the less flexibility you have in your personal life.

So, the opportunity cost isn't just lost *time* making higher wages, but decreased probability of getting a good position that pays those higher wages.

Samuel Kampa

Having transitioned out of academia and into the private sector a few years ago, I'd like to second aphilosopher's point. The longer you're in academia, the harder it is to prove to employers (a) that you *want* to leave academia and join their company, (b) that you won't jump ship in the event that academia suddenly comes a'callin', and (c) that your head isn't "in the clouds" from so many years in the ivory tower. Add agism on top of that, and it's clear that the opportunity cost is more than lost wages; it's lost competitiveness and leverage in the non-academic job market.

All that said, folks who've been grinding through temp positions shouldn't succumb to the sunk cost fallacy. If the clock has run out on your academic dream (due to (1)-(4) or whatever), it's still probably better to leave now than continue squeaking by, even if it would have been even better to leave x years ago.

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