orgtheory.net

the new rules of getting a job

An article in Inside Higher Ed about the new realities of the academic job market. Although the article focuses explicitly on political science, I think the lessons and insights apply to most markets. Grad students are already well aware of the scarcity of jobs this year, but department chairs, advisors, and graduate directors should definitely read this.

Written by brayden king

September 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Posted in academia, brayden

16 Responses

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  1. […] universitaires (aux USA) Billet publié le 08/09/2009Un bel article dans Inside Higher Ed. (via OrgTheory). J’en retiens de long paragraphes sur les sites qui renseignent les candidats au recrutement […]

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  2. any thoughts by individuals in the know onm how the market is looking this year? it seems many of the top schools are hiring in OB (NW, Chicago, Harvard, Yale, UNC, INSEAD), but the number of positions available overall are lower, with obviously a great amount of competition.

    anecdotally, at AoM i heard from a colleague that it is ‘better than last year, but not as good as years in the past’ (though I am not sure where this person finds their info).

    pb

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    Peter Boumgarden

    September 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm

  3. The ASA job bank looks pretty grim this year. Many of the traditional big names do not have ads posted. However, my guess is that starting in fall 2010, a lot of schools will feel the need for additional faculty (though some state universities will not be able to hire until 2011). Interesting IHE article, though. It would be nice to see department chairs and search committee heads become a little more skeptical of the value of publishing while still in grad school.

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    bedhaya

    September 8, 2009 at 5:35 pm

  4. “It would be nice to see department chairs and search committee heads become a little more skeptical of the value of publishing while still in grad school.”

    One school of thought is that promotion and tenure is driven by the publication record and the best predictor of the ability to publish in the tenure track is prior (i.e. grad school) publications. The dissertation experience is a poorer predictor.

    I’d like to see department chairs become a little more skeptical of repeated classroom teaching experiences while in grad school, so as to leave time for writing for publication.

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    REW

    September 8, 2009 at 7:23 pm

  5. Bedhaya – I don’t think that the message we should take from this is to be skeptical of publishing while in grad school. Based on recent performances, grad school publishing ability seems to be fairly highly correlated with post-graduate publishing. That’s not to say that we should value only the number of publications – quality is pretty important here.

    For me, one of the take-aways from the article is that the departments producing graduate students should be mindful of the shortage of jobs out there and should plan to adjust accordingly (e.g., find post-doc opportunities, find teaching opportunities for advanced students). In the long term the poor job market might actually encourage some programs to rethink their Phd program missions and either 1) develop a practitioner-track for students who do not plan on going on the academic job market or 2) reducing the number of Phds they produce.

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    brayden

    September 8, 2009 at 7:54 pm

  6. To put this year in perspective–two years ago there were around 200 assistant (one of the best years in the last decade) jobs for 450-500 applicants–this year (so far) there are around 60 assistant jobs for 600-650 applicants (estimates, of course). Half of the jobs this year are teaching the rest research. Of the research, half are either crim or race/ethnicity. Grim to say the least.

    Seems the applicant onslaught is fueled both by folks not landing jobs last year and those in upper cohorts loosing funding due to budget cuts.

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    scott

    September 8, 2009 at 8:29 pm

  7. Just to be clear, I’m not saying I think publishing in grad school is a bad thing. I agree that it’s generally well correlated with publishing on the tenure track. But for some people, especially qualitative folks, writing articles can interfere with dissertation writing and book writing. And some projects lend themselves more to books than articles (this is an issue for many ethnographers). So I hope that search committees recognize these issues, rather than just scanning CVs for ASR/AJS articles. Anyway, seeing the figures in Scott’s comment, none of this really matters in a year in which there are only 60 jobs for assistant professors! I certainly hope departments are having discussions along the lines of Brayden’s suggestions.

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    bedhaya

    September 8, 2009 at 8:52 pm

  8. bedhaya-It’s tough though from the hiring end. If you get 150 or so applications with zero or essentially zero publications and near 100 applications with at least something meaningful published, how are you supposed to find that qualitative researcher with a terrific book on the way, but with no existing publication track record to assure you that s/he is worth the risk? How wold you even know which of the 100+ to roll the dice on?

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    Thorstein Veblen

    September 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm

  9. If I was the head of a hiring committee, I would want at least a publication (in print or forthcoming) for our position…if at a research university.

    With that simple opinion put forth, Brayden’s suggestion that departments should prep/assist soon-to-be graduates of their programs to seek and obtain post-docs given the hiring situation is intriguing. I would venture to ask how many of our department heads obtained a post-doc upon graduate rather than a tenure-track position. Moreover, how many of them had the need to apply for them? Even further, out of all the tenured professors in our departments, did any significant number of them face a paltry hiring environment close to this year which forced them to change their approach to the academic labor market?

    It may seem like simple questions, but I think it would make a difference in creating the important changes of graduate programs toward the realities of the academic labor market. How many programs right now have a “practitioner track” for future PhDs to pursue? Many of the programs that I’m aware of have only a master’s degree with such a focus which could indicate how seriously academics take the labor market trends and how stuck our PhD programs are on the “old ways.”

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    Hillbilly

    September 9, 2009 at 2:40 am

  10. “It’s tough though from the hiring end. If you get 150 or so applications with zero or essentially zero publications and near 100 applications with at least something meaningful published, how are you supposed to find that qualitative researcher with a terrific book on the way, but with no existing publication track record to assure you that s/he is worth the risk? How wold you even know which of the 100+ to roll the dice on?”

    Ummm… read the writing sample? You obviously can’t read everything in depth, but a good reader can zero in on what’s good fairly quickly. Otherwise, we turn journal editors in our hiring committees.

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    Fabio Rojas

    September 9, 2009 at 3:02 am

  11. For 300 applications, read the entirety of all 3 or so writing samples? That’s not realistically going to happen, though of course it would be ideal. The people who sit on these committees themselves have jobs that are 90+% teaching and research. Besides, getting something into a journal shows you didn’t impress just one person on a hiring committee with your manuscript, but 3-5 in the review process. The paper was probably revised successfully. All of this may have taken years. It’s a tougher bar than putting together a working paper or dissertation chapter of equal quality. Further, take the identical high quality manuscript, in one case it’s gotten all the way through the review process and is published some place respectable, in the other case it hasn’t and the applicant has nothing. Why would would anyone give equal credit in both these cases? In one case the applicant shows that s/he has some ability to navigate the peer review process, which is a *real academic skill* that people without publications yet by definition don’t have at high levels. Just as it is the case that a lot of academics never make the jump from doing cool research to successfully writing it up, navigating the peer review process is also a difficult skill in its own right, and a lot of academics never make the jump.

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    Thorstein Veblen

    September 9, 2009 at 5:16 pm

  12. Thorstein: The argument isn’t “unpublished dissertations are worth more than peer reviewed articles.” My argument is more like “don’t just go by publications on the CV, do some reading.” A few reasons:

    – stuff that is published quickly is likely to be normal science, new challenging work may only exist as a dissertation

    – published work may reflect the adviser/research team

    – some fields may have long review times and good work may still be unpublished at the time of the job market

    – some fields have short PhD times and there isn’t a lot of published stuff

    Also, you don’t have to read all 300 apps. Usually it’s a committee of 3 or so people. that’s 100 apps each. If I can “triage” writing samples (ignore book reviews, materials in fields you aren’t hiring in, and clearly raw stuff), I bet you can whittle down the plausible writing samples to about 100. And as any experienced editor can tell you, if you spend an hour or so skimming through things, you quickly develop a sense of what’s good.

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    fabiorojas

    September 9, 2009 at 8:55 pm

  13. Fabio,
    -I agree that you should pay attention to the unpublished stuff as well. I agree with the statement “don’t just go by publications on the CV, do some reading,” so maybe there’s no debate here really. And I personally doubt I’d have a job if people hadn’t done that for me. I guess my point is that, it’s hard on a hiring committee to read unpublished stuff in the same detail that an editor and a set of reviewers does. Could I see the difference between a future ASR article and a future Sociological Quarterly article? In 15 minutes giving a first pass to one of 100+ files, I’m not sure. Also, for the people who float to the top (i.e., the 40 or so people with the best CVs), their working papers DO get that extra scrutiny and weight….but all 300 won’t get that level of attention.
    -But really, my main point is that a publication record shows that you don’t just do competent work, but also have the ability to push it through to publication. Some of that ability is gamesmanship, but some of it reflects real academic skills (ability to understand an audience’s perspective, ability to be self-critical, ability to improve one’s work given feedback, etc.).
    -Also, most places don’t divide the applications that way (300/3 committee members=100 app’s each). Usually you want at least two sets of eyes reading all applications. No one spends an hour per app on a first pass through applications….that would be 150 hours or so before you even get to giving a closer look for everyone on your long list. People may claim to do that, but they don’t. You’ll be lucky to get 60-70….MAYBE 100+…. hours total from each committee member.
    -And I would say, if you’ve spent 5-7 years in a sociology PhD program and have no publications, it’s not a good sign that you will develop the skills to publish at a high level. From a hiring committee’s perspective, I’ve got 100+ applicants demonstrating some ability to navigate this process, a process which is critical to professional success and tenure. If I’m going to take a risk on someone with no, or next to no, demonstrated abilities in these areas, those would need to be some seriously kick-ass working papers!

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    Thorstein Veblen

    September 10, 2009 at 1:21 am

  14. You raise good points, which I’ll probably address in a post next week, so let me address the big one:

    “I would say, if you’ve spent 5-7 years in a sociology PhD program and have no publications, it’s not a good sign that you will develop the skills to publish at a high level. From a hiring committee’s perspective, I’ve got 100+ applicants demonstrating some ability to navigate this process, a process which is critical to professional success and tenure. If I’m going to take a risk on someone with no, or next to no, demonstrated abilities in these areas, those would need to be some seriously kick-ass working papers!”

    My response: Yes! Let’s look for awesome papers! Published and unpublished!!

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    fabiorojas

    September 10, 2009 at 2:47 am

  15. Here’s a question, I have easily found econ job market rumors sites and soc job market rumors sites, but why am I unable to find one for academic jobs in business management (strat, OB, etc…)?

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    Erica

    September 12, 2009 at 5:09 pm

  16. Erica,

    I think that all of those rumor websites were set up voluntarily, presumably by people who were on the job market and who hoped to get more info. One could easily be made for people interested in management jobs. It would just require some entrepreneurial individual to set it up and then get the word out via networks.

    If you’re seeking an explanation for the lack of a rumor mill site, I wonder if it has something to do with the relatively good conditions of the management market. The ratio of job seekers to jobs is much lower in the b-school marekt and so the anxiety level is probably much lower among b-school candidates than it is among sociology candidates. With less anxiety, there is less need for a rumor site (although my experience with the site was that it created anxiety rather than resolving it).

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    brayden

    September 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm


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