The Academic Job Search: Some Stats

I don’t know that anyone is still reading this blog, but I didn’t want to post this directly to Facebook, because no one still on the job market should have to read this kind of thing if they don’t want to.

Now that I have a job (yay!), I thought it might be a useful exercise to provide some stats about being on the job market. I found it helpful to see this kind of information when I was a grad student, and I think we need to be transparent about exactly what our current system involves–and what it costs.

Years on the Market: 5.

My first year, I was ABD. I defended in October of my second year.

Applications Submitted: 168 (Year 1, 25; Y2, 76; Y3, 8; Y4, 28; Y5, 32)

My first year was a partial search. My second year, I applied for a lot of post-docs, visiting positions, lecturer positions, and composition jobs (as opposed to jobs in my field of Renaissance lit). After I got my 3-year post-doc at Georgia Tech, I did not apply for many visiting or post-doc positions, though I did apply for potentially permanent lecturer positions. I only applied for composition jobs if there was something extremely appealing about them.

First round interviews invitations: 28 (Y1, 3; Y2, 7; Y3, 2; Y4, 9; Y5, 7)

12 of my first round interviews were at MLA. The other 16 were phone or video interviews. In Years 2 and 5 I turned down at least one first round invitation to interview because the invitation came after I had accepted a job offer. In Year 3, I did the same because it came so late in the summer that I couldn’t back out of my obligations to my current school. Two first round interviews were horror shows (one by phone, the other at MLA). All others were completely professional and respectable.

Campus visit invitations: 6 (Y1, 1; Y2, 1; Y3, 0; Y4, 1; Y5, 3)

In Year 5, I  turned down one campus visit invitation because I had already accepted a job offer.

Job offers: 2. (Y1, 0; Y2, 1; Y3, 0; Y4, 0; Y5, 1)

My first job offer was for a three-year post-doc, the second for a tenure track position.

Costs: $4000 (approx.)

This doesn’t count several thousand dollars I shelled out for campus visits; I was fortunate that all of the universities that invited me reimbursed me fully and promptly. Of the five campus visits I went on, only one university made all the arrangements and made it so I did not have to do any major outlay of costs.

I went to MLA every year, though three of those years MLA was in a location where I did not have to pay for a hotel (in Seattle and Vancouver I stayed with family; in Chicago I stayed with a friend). When going to Seattle, Vancouver, Boston, and Austin, the timing or location was such that I did not count the cost of a full round trip ticket as an expense, because I was either already in the city visiting family for the holidays, or was able to make it a stop on my way back from visiting family. When I did stay in a hotel, I split the room with another attendee. Even so, I spent more than $2000 on flight and hotel costs, as well as more than $400 for Interfolio and $550 for MLA membership and registration.

Hours Spent: Countless.

So much of this is idiosyncratic. Even how much you end up having to spend is idiosyncratic, as my own costs show. I easily could have had to spend thousands more if MLA had been in different locations. Success on the job search, so far as I can tell, requires skills, professionalization, training, and experience–but that only gets you in the game. After that, success depends on a combination of all those things with the luck of the fit and luck in timing that is not under a candidate’s control.

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4 comments on “The Academic Job Search: Some Stats

  1. A. C. says:

    Sobering reading.

  2. Sigh. Yeah, that sounds very familiar. I was lucky enough to hit the market during the last few good years before the Great Recession, so it took me three years instead of five and I had a pretty good run of interviews, but the numbers on applications-sent and costs sound about the same as mine. (Not coincidentally, I think the year or so AFTER the PhD, while I had my first VAP job, was easily the roughest year for me financially, much worse than grad school.

    (This is Nora from FB, by the way, not some random stalker person. I didn’t even know you had a blog!)

    • Sapience says:

      Hi Nora! I technically have a blog, but since this is my first post in almost two years, I’m not sure I can say I’m blogging! I’m going to see if I can start posting more regularly now that I’m off the market and less stressed, but we’ll see.

      • Marcy says:

        If you do, you’re in my feed reader, so I’ll see it, even if I don’t see a link on Facebook. At least if I manage to more or less keep up with my reader, that is… 🙂

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