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Archive for January, 2009

The job market sucks.  Just ask the posters at the Soc Rumor Mill.  It is an expensive, long, mysterious process, and this is before interviews start.  If you are lucky enough to get an interview, the market can be stressful, exhausting, disappointing, and even exciting.  But it is still mysterious.  And it still sucks.

As noted earlier, I applied for 45 jobs.  Some of the jobs looked like a perfect fit.  Others were an obvious stretch.  From most of the “perfect fit” schools, I didn’t receive any interest.  I actually didn’t receive any interest from most schools.  Even with a job lined up for the fall, it is hard not to feel crushed by the fact that forty schools didn’t even want to talk to me.

This is the mystery of the job market – why do some schools call when others that seem like better fits do not?  From the conversations I had with faculty members during my interviews, nobody knows the answer to this question.  Some small detail of your application might catch the eye of one member of the hiring committee when the others didn’t give it a second look.  That person might champion your application and lead the others to see you in a better light.  Similarly, rather than seeing the fact that you are also interested in the stratification of Russian language as a benefit, a committee member may see you as potential competition for SOCY 313: Stratification of Russian Language, which is only offered during leap years, and argue against inviting you for an interview.

Unfortunately, there is no telling what sorts of details from your application might stand out and how those details will be perceived.  I am probably not better qualified than the other applicants for the job I received, but something must have stood out to somebody.  That’s the mystery of the job market.  And for candidates seeking concrete advice, it sucks.

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This was my first time on the market and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have lined up a job for the fall.  In my program, going on the market ABD is the norm.  My cv featured a few publications, but nothing that was peer reviewed.  Because of the funding situation in my program, spending another year in grad school as a TA was my worst-case scenario.  With that in mind, I applied broadly but restricted my search to a specific type of job – small liberal arts schools.  This is my job market breakdown:

  • 45 Applications
  • 4 Phone Interviews
  • 4 In-Person Interviews
  • 2 Job Offers
  • 1 Job

I hope that my job turns out to be as good in practice as it is on paper, because I never want to do this again.

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