Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Noobie's Dilemma

Noobie posted a question a few days ago that brings up an interesting point. Noob said:
"I just got my first tenure track job, and I am very excited (obviously), but the job is by no means a dream job (5-4 teaching load, though the location is great). I found out that we have yearly review up until tenure, which I thought was a bit odd (and this is a serious review process, I have heard of several people who were not reappointed to their tenure track positions in the second, third, and even the fifth, year), but judging from the comments this is done at some places. Anyways, my question was about whether or not a person like me should be on the job market every year? It seems to me that if there is a real possibility that a person may not be reappointed then that person should have a back up plan (and there is no way to judge if one will be repponted. At least two of the cases mentioned above were ones where the department and chair loved the person, but the president over-ruled them and let them go). So it seems to me that I have ample justification for going on the market each year (I feel guilty for doing this for the obvious reasons, like I spent so much time convincing said department that I WANTED to be there)...will this sort of thing be held against me? My chair says 'don't worry about, you'll be reappointed', but I am sure that is what all the chairs say (even though they do not have final say)...so what is the proper/ethical thing to do here?"
Seems to me that the department doesn't have any standing to complain that you're keeping options open especially before they commit to keeping you... but who knows?

--Second Suitor

25 comments:

KateNorlock said...

Oh, no, Noobie, nonono, one must never feel guilty for wanting a better job. Geez, what have we done to ourselves, creating this fucked up culture in which we have to hide the fact that we all believe a 3-2 load is numerically better than a 5-4 load??!! FUCK!

I was on the market every year of my tenure-track, and my job is almost literally twice as good as yours. Let's all agree that none of us should ever feel guilty for seeing if someone else might want to pay us more and work us less. Now that I'm freshly tenured, I tell every junior fac on my campus that they ought to keep a hand in the market if they really want something different. I offer to write letters, I attest to their teaching, and I reject this culture of guilt and secrecy.

Culture, I reject you!!

Noobie, if your coworkers actually care about you as a human in the kingdom of ends, then they have a duty of sorts to see you better off and should celebrate your good fortune in being considered for less crushing jobs.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the moral thing to do, but the practical thing seems not to go back on the market.

Let's assume the basis of the TT renewal is that one is both a good teacher and philosophically productive (at least in later years). Then keeping the job requires doing those things. So the question is simply this: Could one possibly teach a 5-4 load, and be philosophically productive, and go on the market (in a full-blown job search)?

My instincts are no, and so going on the market again might actually diminish the possibility of retaining the TT job one already has. And as the saying goes, one TT job in the hand is worth more than 10 APA interviews.

Kenny said...

I think it would depend on what the yearly review amounts to - at many places it seems that if you're not reappointed (either after three years, or denied tenure) then you still have one more year at the institution, and it might mean that that would be the appropriate time to go on the market. I have no idea if that's the case with this yearly review, but it's something for the person to figure out. I imagine that going on the market can't really make it any easier to teach four classes at once.

Anonymous said...

I would tell N to take the next year off the job market. Ask the chair of the department when a retention decision will be made. Typically this will be before the last job cycle. But they should have every reason to keep you after the first year. I doubt that you will be kicked off so quickly. So, take a year off and try to get ready for it by publishing and having a good job talk ready for the next year.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

I used to be at one of those annual review places. The general policy was that if you weren't renewed on the tenure-track you did receive a one-year courtesy appointment terminal year. In other words, a chance to find another job. Check on the policy at your school.

In some ways the heavy duty annual review was good. It was good in terms of formative feedback and good practice for really going up.

Going on the market every year can be exhausting.

Anonymous said...

"To assure one's own happiness is a duty (at least indirectly); for discontent with one's state, in a press of cares and amidst unsatisfied wants, might easily become a great *temptation to the transgression of duty.*"

Anonymous said...

I suppose I would have to ask myself the following quesiton: "If the university found me unsatisfying would it feel guilty/hesitate to find someone else?" My inclination is that you should treat the university as it treats you. This is not a universal rule, but in terms of what we're discussing, it is the rule I would adopt. Of course, I might just be a greedy, self-interested a**hole.

Anonymous said...

If there are enough things about the job you like, then you should try to be happy there. Dedicate your time to publishing and teaching (rather than applying for jobs), since that's what you'll need to do anyway both to get tenure and to get another job if you do decide that it just isn't going to work for you there.

cw said...

Noob says

"I have heard of several people who were not reappointed to their tenure track positions in the second, third, and even the fifth, year"

and

"and there is no way to judge if one will be repponted. At least two of the cases mentioned above were ones where the department and chair loved the person, but the president over-ruled them and let them go"

This sucks! Is it at all common? That is, are there many places where TT people cannot tell in advance if they're doing the things they need to do to get reappointed?

I've heard of bad cases of this, of course, but I'm wondering if this isn't SOP in more places than I'd thought it was. Any guesses about how common this is?

cw said...

Oh, and Noob's question.

I know a guy who really alienated his department by looking for a new job as soon as he landed the first one. He never got that new job. He eventually got along well enough with his colleagues, but I don't think they ever truly forgave him for the (apparent) slight.

So my initial thought was that Noob should be careful about seeking a new spot right away. But given the situation that Noob describes, I don't see how Noob's department can complain.

That said, I think taking a year or two off from the job market, in order to focus on the job in hand, is good advice.

The Noob-ster said...

Thanks for all the comments, every one!

I guess the main question I had though, was whther I should tell the chair about my being on the market upfront? I don't wabt it getting back via the grape vine, but I also don't want them thinking 'person x is dissatisfied here...let's find someone who isn't' right at the yearly evalustaion (which happens right about the same time as the JFP comes out...)

Anonymous said...

They certainly have no right to hold it against you if you look: in fact, no employer has any right to be aggrieved at an employee looking for a better job somewhere else.

However, just because they have no right to resent it does not mean that they won't resent it.

Anonymous said...

Here's some advice, Noob. Divorce/break-up with any partner you may have, cancel your cable, and devote the next three years of your life to publishing out of your 5-4 nightmare.

Anonymous said...

anon. 12:46--I just misread your line. I thought you wrote, "If the UNIVERSE found me unsatisfying would it feel guilty/hesitate to find someone else?"

Anonymous said...

I think Kenny's comment is important. If you are let go, then you'll probably have another year during which you can search. I'd strongly suggest you concentrate on publications and teaching. Don't forget, btw, sending things to conference, incl APAs.

Not Jon Cogburn said...

A diff. view from "Jon Cogburn":

But Brian Leiter is well known now for his complaints about the way anonymity works on the Philosophy Job Market Blog. If I understand him correctly, he is not complaining about the bitch-and-moan-over-a-beer aspect of the blog. Rather, he is complaining about people with jobs anonymously dispensing very bad advice to job seekers. But why should anonymity lead to worse advice in this context?

I think it's that as a matter of human nature people pervasively try to rationalize their own decisions, and anonymity somehow makes this much, much worse. The big example in the Philosophy Job Market Blog concerned the issue of whether you should go on the market every year even after you have a tenure track job. The tenured and tenure-track people saying this is a bad idea (it's a recipe for unhappiness for most people, if you are good enough then people will come after you, trying to get out instead of investing in the place hurts your tenure chances in all sorts of ways, you can go on the market after getting tenure anyhow, etc.) all posted using their own names, and the tenure and tenure-track people defending the practice all posted anonymously. So what does it say that they were rationally defending something, but unwilling to put their name under the defense? At the very least it undermined the claim that it does not hurt your reputation to be seen as the kind of person who always goes un the market. But I think there is a deeper connection between the amount of unreasonable rationalization people will engage in when being anonymous. I can't exactly discern why this is the case though. If anyone has any ideas, I'd be interested

--Jon Cogburn's blog, April 3rd.

Anonymous said...

At leat the "youngest professor" in history does not have job market woes. I wonder what she would think of this site.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24273418>1=43001

PRT Dissertator said...

I don't know where to send this, and I don't want to hijack this thread, but I got a legendary PFO today and wanted to share. It's from a small liberal arts college in the West:

"Dear Applicant:

"As we discussed when you were here, the instruction committee has continued to interview candidates for the faculty throughout the year. Our appointment needs for the fall have become fairly clear. I regret to say we shall not be offering you a position on the faculty. We appreciate your giving us the opportunity to interview you.

"We wish you the best of luck."

What the heck does that first sentence mean? Can someone parse this for me?

Anonymous said...

prt diss.

translation:

"We told your sorry ass that we were not going to hire you then, and we stand by that claim now. We hope you land on your feet at a good community college. Seriously, they are looking for good people. By the way, those who try and persuade you from working at good and decent CCs are simply haters. Don't listen to the haters. xoxoxo"

Anonymous said...

"The tenured and tenure-track people saying this is a bad idea... all posted using their own names, and the tenure and tenure-track people defending the practice all posted anonymously."

Both claims here are false.

Anonymous said...

"As we discussed when you were here, the instruction committee has continued to interview candidates for the faculty throughout the year."

Translation:

"We lied to you big time. We enjoy dicking around and wasting time, so we have decided to go with a potential person to be hired at a later time rather than actual you to be hired now. Suck it."

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

PRT Dissertator,

Here's what the letter really meant:

"We told you at your on-campus interview that we didn't like you, and so were still searching for candidates better than you. Fortunately (for us), we have since found a candidate better than you and have offered the position to him/her/it. Sorry to keep you clinging vainly to the unsubstantiated hope that our continued search would prove fruitless, but you really should have known better. (Remember: we already gave you the heads-up.) So we have no regrets, except that you were wasting our valuable time by visiting us in the first place. It'll be awkward if we meet again; so here's hoping we don't!"

mr. zero said...

PRT,

I guess the thing of it is that you're in a better position than any of us to interpret that first sentence, since you are the only one who was there when you visited. Therefore, only you know what they told you when you visited, and only you know how to apply that information to your present situation.

(Also, the sentence parses fine, as far as I can tell. The problem seems to be contextual, not structural.)

That said, if they invited you out for a campus visit and told you that they were going to continue to interview new candidates after you left, that should have been a pretty clear sign that you weren't going to be offered the job. I doubt they lied to you.

Also, as PFOs go, this one seems pretty good. They don't offer you the job but they take responsibility for it--they are the ones who regret that they will not be offering you a job --then they close by appreciating you and wishing you luck. It's not as though they squashed a bug with it before putting it in the mail.

The only thing that's really strange about it is the second sentence, not the first. Why weren't their needs clear when they interviewed you? Why did they bother to fly you out if they didn't know what their needs were? What reason could they have had for suspecting that you would satisfy their needs if they didn't know what they were? That's your mystery.

PRT Dissertator said...

Thanks for all of the comments. I wasn't bothered by the letter at all, as I had fully intended to turn down the school if they sent me an offer. The construction of the sentences just seemed a bit odd, as did their assessment that their faculty needs were "fairly clear."

They had informed me that they always interview candidates year-round, so therefore their continuing to interview candidates after my departure was not shocking. They were also hiring based on enrollment for the fall, so the "fairly clear" faculty needs may indicate that they didn't need faculty at all.

Given this, my initial puzzlement over the letter seems a bit misplaced. Perhaps I shouldn't post these things immediately after I receive them...

KateNorlock said...

Aw, this is what I get for not checking my favorite blogs often enough. Thanks to Anon 5:33AM for correcting the Cogburn quote, which wouldn't have annoyed me so much if I wasn't the FIRST COMMENTER, damn!

Anonymous said...
"The tenured and tenure-track people saying this is a bad idea... all posted using their own names, and the tenure and tenure-track people defending the practice all posted anonymously."

Both claims here are false.

April 27, 2008 5:33 AM

YEAH! How many times does a gal have to sign her name!

Love,
Kate Norlock
That bold, never anonymous, tenured professor - who endorsed looking for a better job whenever one's little heart desires