Job Tracking - Week 6

So even though this was a short week, and I had the advantage of an unexpected respite from life-with-roommate, I'm somehow more behind than ever. And that meant that this week saw no new applications put out (though I did request some letters be sent out). It's not much comfort that the market seems to have stalled in my area - there are a lot of new positions still coming out, just not for me. It's a shame, too, because this week brings with it a couple of looming specters for those of us on the market: how downturns in the national economy affect higher-ed.

It's with this in mind that I must pause and recognize the fortunate position from which I'm looking for jobs: having one. The links below open up food for thought about the institutional level of impact by the economy, but I think it's at the micro-economic level of the individual that we see just how "trickle down" economics really trickles down. In higher-ed, the people who seem poised to take the worst hit - to be trickled on, if we tweak the metaphor established so well by Regan-era economists and their advancements of deregulation (though to be fair, they didn't start it and it didn't stop with them) - are the people who don't have a secure job (included, of course, are those without a job at all). It's an interesting piece of anecdotal evidence that when the economy dives, grad school applications go up. But we can't forget that even as enrollments go up, the number of jobs goes down.

On the face of it, then, there are a few trends that I keep hearing about in faculty meetings and journal articles that are worth putting together. First, in most fields the number of full-time positions is in slight to moderate decline. Similarly, in many areas of the country, we're nearing the edge of a bubble of undergraduate enrollment. When that bubble burts, there will be fewer students to teach to (and hence, fewer sections needed, etc...). Combine this with higher grad school enrollment, and what you get is a crunch for positions. The longer the economic downturn, the tougher positions seem likely to get. It's an armchair analysis, sure, but it is worth considering.

And so, this week's post brings with it the addition of an unfortunate new category: positions that are canceled/unhired. It seems pretty likely, with the economy doing what it is, that universities will be one of the first places to feel the hit. As Dean Dad discusses here, universities will probably feel it harder than other parts of the economy, while this piece from Inside Higher Ed says that smaller schools that are driven by tuition rather than endowment are more likely to feel the pinch. Some schools are already planning for this. And having seen one position pulled - though thankfully not one I was applying for - it make sense to track how many spots either are pulled or go the distance only to not be filled.

I'd like to think that I'd get clear enough information that I could break this down later - schools that don't hire because of failed searches vs. schools that don't hire because of budget shortfalls - but experience tells me that level of detail is rare, at best, in rejection letters.

Here are last week's numbers for your comparison. And here are this week's:
Total # of academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified: 12/20
Total # of non-academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified 0/0
COST OF THE SEARCH
Total spent in U.S. dollars on applications: $92.42
Average cost in U.S. dollars per applications: $7.70
Total spent in U.S. dollars on travel, etc: $0
Total amount in U.S. dollars reimbursed: $0
WHERE THE CALL CAME FROM:
The Chronicle of Higher Ed: 3
HigherEdJobs.com: 0
Other online service (listserv, etc): 14
Friend/Colleague: 2
Personal Research: 1
THE JOB IS IN THE DETAILS
Total number of paper submissions: 11
Total number of e-submissions: 1
Total weight in pounds of application packets: 11.24
Total number of recommendation letters requested: 18
Total number of requests for references: 5
Total number of "proof of teaching excellence" packs : 7
Total number of requests for Teaching Philosophy :6
Total number of research packs: 7
Total number of transcripts requested: 2
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING
Total number of acknowledgments of receipt: 10
Total number of confirmed reference contacts: 0
Total number of phone interviews: 0
Total number of conference interviews: 0
Total number of on-campus interviews: 0
Total number of offers: 0
Total number of rejection letters: 0
Total number of canceled or unhired positions: 0
Next week promises more applications, and we're nearing the one month mark of the first set of application deadlines, which should be interesting. I've heard from friends at a couple of other schools that the downturn has prompted them to rush their hiring process in hopes of getting things through before the axe is taken to the budget. So perhaps it's time for me to start obsessing over why I haven't heard anything.

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profacero said...

Haven't heard anything: because universities are being more hesitant. Offers will come later this year than usual, I predict.

But also: for MLA interviews it's way to early to get calls - if English is anything like RLL or CPLT, anyway. It is far more fun to wait until during or after finals.

October 19, 2008 at 11:18 PM