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SLAC Search Chair

At our religiously affiliated SLAC, we had around a hundred applications for our position this year. Maybe something like 8-12 of those apps presently held a tenure-track position, which didn't strike me as all that unusual a number. (A few of those people made clear they were looking to move anywhere, a few were looking to move to our area in particular, and a few made no effort to indicate why they were applying out of a TT job.)

Big public

The three finalists for our big public R1 job search all had jobs already.

Pleading the Fifth

I went on the market again from a TT position, for multiple reasons (none of which were salary). I did fairly well, but neither noticeably better nor noticeably worse than my first time on the market.

Associate Prof

I went on the market in 2018-2019, and for the job I took, 3 of the finalists were already in TT jobs and one was in a prestigious post-doc. I have no idea what the applicant pool looked like, but I think that if there is a bias towards people already in TT jobs, it probably happened before this year too.

some tenure track faculty member

I was both on the job market (I'm on the tenure track, not yet tenured) and on a search committee this year. On my search committee 3/4 of our finalists had tenure track positions already. We definitely didn't have any explicit bias in that direction, but I don't think we engaged in a lot of trying to peg people's work/success to their career stage (though we did do some of that). I was also more successful on the market than I was when I first went out. (I also went on the market a couple years ago from my current job in a much more limited way and was more successful than I was my first time out as well, and I don't think there's more hiring of already employed people happening this year than there was then (pre-covid), but that's just anecdotal impression.)


At an R1 in Canada on a search committee: we got at around 8-10 applicants in TT positions (some research, some teaching) out of about 150 total applicants; of the 4 finalists, 2 were in TT jobs (both research). I don't know if this is normal or not but I will say that I am very impressed with the number of people ABD or just graduated with strong publication records, and also a little shocked by the number of people from top schools with poor or non-existent publication records. Our committee passed over those people without a second glance, a small data point for those of you worried that pedigree trumps publications. Also a little depressed that the junior people with top publication records were mostly white dudes. Based on this limited experience, we really need to do more to mentor BIPOC students as soon as they enter grad school to help them get publications.

Bill Vanderburgh

We had very few tenure track candidates in our search for ancient philosophy at Cal State San Bernardino. In fact, many of our semifinalists, and most finalists, were fresh PhDs or a few weeks away from doing their defenses.

By the way, we are reopening our search (tomorrow, I think, with an April 14 reviews-begin date) because all our finalists ended up getting offers somewhere else. So at least those non-tenure-track folks got jobs this year!

Anonymous Assistant Prof

I’m on the tenure track and applied to 20-30 TT jobs (in my AOS and open), hoping to make an upward move. My publication record is a little better than as an ABD but not significantly better. I got 5 first-round interviews and 3 fly-outs total. That’s a substantial increase (by x2) in comparison to my job market successes as an ABD (when I applied to 60-70 TT jobs). As far as I know, many of people I ended up competing with at the final stage were postdocs or TT faculty.

more in heaven and synthese

@newb, off topic, but I don't think it's shocking that some people at 'top schools' (at least in the US) have poor publication records...I studied in a Leiter ranked department that actively discouraged graduate student publication and I have also interviewed at ranked R1 schools where I was told by faculty that they take unpublished work as seriously as published work because they trust their own judgment over peer review. I think faculty with attitudes along these lines tend to prepare their students poorly for the demands of the current market. Although, in contrast to your proposal, backing down from what (I find to be) the current over emphasis on publication could also be a route toward diversifying the discipline.


@Bill : can I ask why are you opening again the search, rather than doing flyouts with other the semi-finalists?

Another TT

Well, given what I'm reading here I guess there was something wrong with my dossier this year or I was badly out of luck. Bummer. (I'm the second commenter in the OP.)

non-white non-dude

@newb My impression is that the reason most people not yet in TT jobs with top publication records are white dudes is that non-white/non-dudes with comparable publication records are having an easier time getting TT jobs in the current market, given the (in my view, justifiable) pressure to hire non-white/non-dudes. You seem to think it is instead because junior white dudes are publishing more. Do you (or anyone else) know of evidence that might help us distinguish these two hypotheses?


At a lot of universities, the only way to get a raise (or at least a better than inflation raise) is to get an outside offer. So some TT people, especially closer to tenure, will apply elsewhere in hopes of getting an offer they can use to leverage a raise at their current institution.

Disheartened non-TT

Limited sample but I applied for a few Scandinavian jobs this year (and previous years), and they share the candidate list for such jobs with all candidates. I was surprised by the number of fully tenured people applying for these jobs. I think I saw at least one full professor applying for a Norwegian associate prof job in the last year (which is not equivalent to U.S. associate prof - it is a position that is (/was) typically taken up after completing a postdoctoral fellowship). A few years ago I saw a very famous prof from an extremely prestigious program applying for one of these jobs. Pretty disheartening to see as a non-tenured person.


One thing that might explain at least some of these cases: it's not uncommon for search committee members to actively reach out to people to invite them to apply for an advertised position. And it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if those people whose names got passed onto search committees/people whose names came to their minds were people who already had jobs and had already established some sort of reputation in the field. I'm only a few years into my first permanent job, but I've had this happen to me on a number of occasions, and on those two occasions where I did take the search committee up on their offer and apply, I made it to the final interview stage. (Though I didn't get the job in either case.) The reason that I applied for these jobs even though I already have one were (i) location closer to family and (ii) better pay and conditions.

Helplessly Hoping

@non-white non-dude: why do you think this pressure is justifiable? It strikes me that it's pretty rotten to allow people to invest as much of their lives as they do in trying to qualify for a profession, only to then disqualify them for biological factors over which they have no control.

a friendly Viking

I do not think you understand the Scandinavian systems. An associate prof in Scandinavia is a TENURED position. So it is the equivalent of a USA associate prof with tenure. Further, in some Scandinavian countries there are a limited number of Professorships, so there is no moving up until someone dies, retires, or quits. So most tenured faculty in Scandinavia are associate profs. These are NOT entry level positions, in the USA sense of things.

Disheartened non-TT

Friendly Viking: I know they are not entry level, but in Norway at least the norm used to be that they were positioned people took up after post-docs (i.e. not straight out of PhD like U.S. positions, but after a fixed term non-TT position). There is no such thing as a TT job in Norway, and no equivalent of the U.S. assistant prof. It is either fixed-term or tenured (associate prof). If you look at people who have actually landed recent associate prof jobs at Norwegian universities it is quite often people coming out of postdocs (although I don't know if that will remain the case given the number of international applicants from TT or tenured positions applying to such positions).

Perhaps I shouldn't have generalized about all of Scandinavia, but I am certainly not making the mistake of treating them as equivalent to U.S. assistant prof jobs.


@Helplessly Hoping: It's justifiable because of the history of racism and sexism that has created the current social world, a world in which non-whites and women continue to be marginalized. You ask what justifies the pressure, but then contend that it's rotten to disqualify someone on "biological factors". So is it pressure or disqualification? These two compeletly different things. No white man is being disqualified from being hired simply for being a white man, no matter how many white supremacist sympathizers may think so. And because, as you say, it is rotten to disqualify someone for "biological factors" which they cannot control (I assume you really mean race and sex), there needs to be pressure to try and hire more non-whites and women to address the way that the rotten white-supremacist patriarchical social world we live in 'disqualifies' them from having in an equitable manner the same rights, privileges, respect, and opportunities as white men.


I’ll be moving from one TT position to another in the Fall. I applied only to places where I’d seriously consider moving to, but I didn’t decide in advance whether I’d leave or use an offer to leverage for a better situation at my current institution. As Elizabeth notes, leveraging an external offer can be a vital way to get a raise. My institution is like that. There are only two earnable raises: from Assistant to Associate, and from Associate to Full. My institution also doesn’t do merit raises or regular cost-of-living raises. So it’s easy to find oneself eventually making less due to inflation.

I ended up accepting an external offer for straightforward reasons. To start, I’ll make a lot more money. The pay range for a Full Professor in the humanities at my current institution is where the pay scale begins for an Assistant Professor in the humanities at my future institution. But there are other benefits too. A larger research budget, a lighter teaching load, and one that’s not talked about enough: tuition benefits for dependents. My new institution will significantly contribute to my kids higher education tuition at any accredited college or university. My current institution offers nothing for dependents.

As a graduate student, I was frustrated by people who applied to and then moved between TT positions. Hopefully posts like this and some of the others in this thread clarify why it’s sometimes bonkers not to apply out. Because I applied out, I now have a clear path forward for paying off student debt, have to save less for my kids college fund, and can scroll through the inventory on Zillow a little more realistically.

Helplessly Hoping

@StopHopingStopReading: There are a lot o things to say here. One, "pressure" is de facto "disqualification," given the scarcity of jobs as a resource. If you think it's preferable to distribute jobs, as a resource, to non-white non-males in order to redress certain historical trends, fine. But that does, I think imply the disqualification of people according to biological factors over which they have no control.

I know of multiple examples, first hand, wherein individuals have been passed over specifically because they are white men. I suppose you take it that this is fine with respect to promoting equitability. I just disagree. I think this cuts against the very core of what it means to be equitable, and I don't think it's "white supremacy" (as you seem to suggest) to say so.

a data point from a tt candidate

To the questions: I am currently holding a tt job outside of my home country. I have recently applied to a tt job in my home country (and got the offer) because of family, tripled salary, little teaching, and many other financial benefits. Not sure if having a tt has given me some edge in the application, but it definitely gives me a better position in negotiating. From the list of all offers that is shared to all, I see no other successful candidates with tt position. For the record, I may not accept the offer.

Pleading the Fifth

@Stop, @Helplessly - I too was tempted to weigh in, but my suspicion is that you two are not going to resolve this issue in this comments thread. Can we keep this thread to the discussion of the particular experiences of TT faculty going for TT jobs or of SCs evaluating that?


TT person here. I have been on the market for a while (unsuccessfully) trying to solve a two-body problem. There are also other personal issues I won't share to avoid identification, but they require a move to address. This isn't "just" a preference for a different job.

As a TT prof with teaching experience, I had that in my favor, along with publications. But grad students are often getting practice interviewing and have an edge in that aspect. My interview skills waned over time, I think, since I wasn't focusing on them. I think I got first-rounds based on my profile, but when it comes to comparisons with grad student abilities in interviews and flyouts, an excellent record isn't enough.

So I wouldn't assume that TT profs have an inherent advantage in getting jobs.

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