Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's time to face the hole

There are some good jobs that call for 'open' AOSs.  I mean, yeah, I could work at MIT or Berkeley.  But seriously... open?  What department honestly has the resources to just hire, you know, someone who does whatever...

Don't get me wrong.  I'm officially taking them at their word for it and applying to all the 'open' posititions (becuase that could mean me!).   But this kind of feels like I'm wasting their time and they're wasting my money.

-- Second Suitor

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're right. In these cases I assume "open" means "hot shit." So really they should only be getting a dozen or so applications. Lucky for me, I have the following: AOS: Badassitude & Fucking A#1 The Shit, AOC: Asian Philosophy & Alternative Transnational Epistemelogy.

Anonymous said...

I applied to about 100 positions last year and although I received over 10 interviews, only 1-2 of them were from 'open' positions. There are two problems, first open positions receive so many applications you can simply get buried in 300-500 applications. Second, schools that do open searches are often top schools that won't even consider someone from a non-Leiterrific school. By all means, apply to some of the open positions, but ask yourself this question before applying to Princeton/MIT/Harvard/Michigan/NYU. .... "Do I honestly believe they will even read my application?" ... If the answer is no, then don't waste your time and money on the app.

Anonymous said...

ALL the open positions? Including MIT, Berkeley, etc.? What on earth for?

(I am assuming that you are not coming out of a "top ten" program.)

Seriously: how can one rationally determine a cut-off point in the hierarchy of prestige above which it is irrational to apply (given the location of one's own department in that hierarchy)?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that, and you're competing with, like, 300 or so other "open" candidates. It just screams "hey, we're just fishing for the smartest candidate on the market this year"

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Maybe this is what's going on at Leiterrific schools. But what about obscure state teaching schools with open AOSs? Couldn't it just be that they don't expect you to do much research, but rather to teach lots of intro. classes, in which case no AOS is really much more to be preferred to any other?

Ben said...

I'm not familiar with the US job market, but I'm surprised that so many jobs require a particular AOS rather than AOCs (particularly in departments without a PhD program). I see no reason why the AOS shouldn't be open, provided they can assume that you can teach a range of introductory philosophy courses or anything else specified in the ad.

Ross Cameron said...

"It just screams "hey, we're just fishing for the smartest candidate on the market this year"."

Ummm . . . yeah. Leeds is advertising open this year - with preferences in theoretical or history - but not restricted to that. We've tended quite a bit recently to advertise open, sometimes expressing preferences sometimes not, on the grounds that you generally don't *need* to have an AOS in an area to teach an undergrad course in it. We advertise open for exactly the reason anon 7:10 suggests - we just want the best philosopher we can get. What's wrong with that? And I can assure people that when we say 'open', we mean it - we'll look at you on your merits, no matter what your AOS. (Well, officially, we are asking for "open, within the areas of the department" - so we're probably not looking for Eastern philosophy. But still pretty open.)

Advertising open does result in us getting more applications. (Leeds is not MIT, but we still get a lot.) But we do read them all - it's an incredible amount of work, but it's worth it.

I've been a strong advocate of advertising open. It never occurred to me it might put off potential applicants who assume we don't really mean it. So let me hereby cancel any such implicatures.

Anonymous said...

If you couldn't get in to grad school at the program, then don't apply to the "open" position they have unless you need/want a rejection letter from Harvard for when you are famous!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't these positions be covers for cronyism, e.g. chair hiring her/his buddy from grad school or the head of the hiring committee hiring a new Ph.D. on the market who was the student of her/his old buddy who s/he owes a favor to? Why does everyone assume that they are fishing for the best candidate? If they fish too specifically for the same AOS as the person they have already predetermined will be hired for the position, then the whole thing starts to look fishy...eh?

Anonymous said...

Where's the cutoff in the "hierarchy of prestige" in applying for jobs?

I thought it was obvious: you can only expect to get jobs in institutions ranked lower than the school where you did your PhD.

As you move from student to professor, you slide down the scale. Even if you're hot shit, you're starting at NYU or MIT or whatever, and sliding down.

No?

Anonymous said...

At top schools, "open" does mean "hot shit". But at other schools, "open" means "we can't agree on what area to hire in".

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's not realistic to expect much from these ads, but it is rational, I think, to spend the relatively small amount of money/energy for even a slim chance at a very nice payoff.

Prof. J. said...

Wait -- is the idea that it might be pointless (for most people) to apply for a Berkeley or MIT job, or that "AOS Open" suggests you shouldn't apply? For instance, there are Open jobs at Huntington, Texas, Underwood International, Texas Tech, Johns Hopkins, USC, Bowdoin...

Sure, the odds are longer for an Open position, that's obvious. But when most jobs attract 150 applications, is it that much more daunting to throw your dossier into one that's going to attract 300?

Anonymous said...

Almost everyone I have talked with about the subject of AOS: Open positions has indicated that these are a waste of time. Unless you really believe, for whatever particular reason, that you would be a perfect fit with the faculty within the specific department listing the AOS: Open position, putting together a worthwhile application is probably a not worth the effort compared to putting together seamless applications for positions that are more specific to your specialty.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes an open position means "we're searching for the smartest candidate" but sometimes it (also/instead) means "we can't agree on what the %#!@ we want, and so we'll put off resolving this dispute until we've seen the pool." If some people think the department needs someone in ancient, some think its political philosophy, and some logic, (and some undecided) they might just say "alright, let's advertise open".

The general point of course, is that often times an "open" position is really one where they have certain areas that would be preferred, but they've just chosen not to say so. So it does pay to apply to such jobs, just in case.

My first year on the market, I had just three interviews, but one was for an "open" position, and that is where I ended up getting a job. So it can happen.

Anonymous said...

Second, schools that do open searches are often top schools that won't even consider someone from a non-Leiterrific school.

Sometimes they aren't from non-Leiterrific schools. I work at one. What they were looking for a good colleague and someone who did interesting research. They figured that they could learn to teach the classes they needed taught later.

So, what happened? As typical, they brought out a bunch of kids from fancy grad programs. The typical candidate brought to campus had nothing on his vita (no pubs and no particularly good conference presentations). The candidate would give a talk. If it was any good, they went elsewhere.

I'm wondering how low down the list you have to go these days to get a TT job if you don't have pedigree.

Anonymous said...

Let me be painfully blunt about a lot of the open positions that are being advertised; they are not going to be filled this year or next – yet admin is pressuring us to show the flag anyway.

At my university we are making a 5% soft cut right now – all hiring freezes.

Current searches continue…but no offers will be made.

Next year, we’ll look for cheaper adjuncts (and we will find them) and probably absorb another 5-8% hard cut.

Our positions won’t realistically be filled for another 2-4 yrs, until the economy improves – but we will continue to advertise and delay in order to show the flag.

Anonymous said...

Yeah... what total dicks. Can you believe them? Just fishing for a really smart person to add to their department? It's so transparent of them, all they want is a brilliant colleague.

When are they going to hire dumb people like us? It isn't fair. It's almost like they don't even care about my work.

Anonymous said...

"I thought it was obvious: you can only expect to get jobs in institutions ranked lower than the school where you did your PhD.

As you move from student to professor, you slide down the scale. Even if you're hot shit, you're starting at NYU or MIT or whatever, and sliding down.

No?"

There is occasional horizontal movement in the hierarchy -- it is possible for someone to get a job at a school ranked at about the same level as the department that gives her the Ph.D. (even if this happens fairly rarely). So I suppose that it is rational to apply to schools ranked at about the same level as your own.

Some argue that because in some exceptional cases, there is movement upwards within the hierarchy, it is even rational to apply above the level of your school. But this sounds a bit like "someone has to win the lottery" to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Anon 1:04 PM -- What??? That made no sense at all...

Anonymous said...

Yes, generally, you get a TT job (if you get a TT job at all) somewhere down the list from where you got your PhD. But not only is horizontal movement possible, vertical movement is too. Just off the top of my head...I can think of people who had TT jobs at (or still are at) Rutgers, Arizona, Michigan, Harvard, Brown, Stanford, and Pittsburgh who went to PhD programs quite a bit further down the food chain.

Anonymous said...

Yeah... what total dicks. Can you believe them? Just fishing for a really smart person to add to their department? It's so transparent of them, all they want is a brilliant colleague.

I agree that these departments are doing nothing wrong. I suspect that the sentiments expressed earlier are more indicative of the frustration with the fact that you can work hard and fufill all the literal requirements of the Ph.D. and look at the JFP and see that there's very little for you. That's not the case in other professions (e.g. people who do a passable but not-extraordinary job in law school have decent job prospects). And that *really* sucks. I really do think that there are simply too many grad programs, or at least too many that implicitly imply that you'll get to be a professor at the end of it.

So I hope everyone remembers, at this time, that getting a Ph.D. in philosophy can be awesome even if you don't end up a professor afterwards. In fact, many people who can get professor jobs might not prefer them: being a professor is pretty different than being a student - have you ever considered whether that's that you really want to do? Incidentally, I know that a lot of people with Ph.D.s do find high school teaching (especially at private or "advanced" high schools) really rewarding - and it has a similar summers off / sabatical policy as being a university professor.

But if you're still set on being a professor, a bit of advice: apply to all the jobs, including open ones, that you're eligible for!

m.a. program faculty member said...

Considering how few TT jobs there are at decent Ph.D.-granting institutions, compared to the total number of TT jobs, worrying a lot over whether you'll be able to 'move up' from your grad program is pretty misguided.