Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The job market, from both sides now

(Or should that be, from several sides now?)

As my faithful readers know, I was on the job market each of the last two years, and it's a game that I think I got to know pretty well. This year, however, I'll be undergoing a role reversal: no longer will I be playing the part of the hopeful candidate, but rather the somewhat confusing dual roles of:
a) the supportive consort of the job candidate, and
b) the hiring committee member
Yes. Not only is George Washington Boyfriend going back out on the job market, looking for an advanced assistant position (he's up for tenure this year, but his current institution has an early tenure review and somewhat lower requirements than the kind of place he'd like to end up), but I've recently learned that I'm on the hiring committee for one of the new positions that Regional U is looking to fill.

Since both GWB and the position we're hiring for are in fields radically different from my own, I guess I'll also have a third role this year: that of looker-on in the Renaissance market. I've taken a gander at the first crop of MLA listings in my field, and I have to admit I did have a moment (well, several moments) where I thought, "Goddamn! That's open? I know the fucking chair of that department, and she loves my work!" or, "Boy, there sure are a lot of jobs in appealing eastern cities this year...!" Aside from those reflex reactions, however, there's nothing out there that fills me with any serious regret; I don't know if I could have stood a third year on the market in a row, for one thing, and I'm genuinely happy with where I've landed and whom I've landed among.

Still, I can't not look; I have a fantasy-baseball-league-like interest in what's out there, who the players are this year, and in making idle predictions about who will end up where. Maybe it's a sign of how new I am to the profession, or perhaps of what an intensely nosy and gossipy person I am, but I like to have a scorecard. I've looked up most of the positions that I cared about that were in play last year to see who wound up where, and it was oddly gratifying to realize how many of the people who took those positions I knew or knew of (see, Mom? I know people! Which must mean that I myself am known). It's also interesting, to me, to speculate about the departments themselves--there are some places that have been listing the same position for three years running, or who listed it the first year, cancelled the search, didn't list it last year, and are listing it again this year. Was it a funding problem? An internally-riven or even dysfunctional department? Hard to say, of course. . . but ever so much fun to speculate about.

So I'm looking forward to this particular job season. I'm excited to be on a search committee and to get to see behind the scenes, and I'm hopeful that there will be something good out there for GWB (something that, ideally, will also bring him closer to me).

And as for all the other hopefuls out there? Knock 'em dead, kids. Maybe I'll even see some of you from the other side of a hotel suite.


Ianqui said...

I was also on search committees for the first two years after I started my job. That was pretty surreal--I barely knew how to be a professor myself, much less know how to determine the right qualities in someone we wanted to hire. I can tell you that the question "Where do you see your research in 5-10 years" sounds very strange coming from someone who's a year or two into their first job.

Mon said...

Oh you're good--I can't look at the job ads. It was hard enough breaking myself of that habit when I initially took my job!

Dr. J unfortunately is not having a lot of selection so far in his field. Best wishes to GWBoyfriend!!

Hieronimo said...

I was looking at the list today and there are an unbelievable number of Renaissance jobs this year. The most I've ever seen. It seemed like about half of all the Brit lit jobs were early modern. Weird. A good year to go on the market. Fortunately I will not be one of them.

Pantagruelle said...

I was on a hiring committee as a grad rep whilst still a student. It was quite the horrifying experience to see all those dossiers (and imagine all the lives associated with them) land so casually quite literally on the floor as we weeded through the pile. Not a reassuring feeling for someone without a job yet! Other assistant profs had a bit of a similar reaction (although not as strong since they now had jobs) as I did and found themselves more sympathetic to the rejected candidates than the more business-like established profs. I imagine that you're find yourself mentally wearing many hats at once. It's all very enlightening though, and I hope you enjoy it. Best part of all--all those free dinners out at nice restaurants and not having to be stressed out while sitting through them!

Anonymous said...

A scorecard? Well, as you know, you can't tell the players without a scorecard!


Oso Raro said...

Hey Doll,

How's tricks? Same old shit here, different day. Anyhoo, you are singing my song here. Last year I was on TWO hiring committees. Let's just say, get ready for the vertigo, and the ugly, ugly reality of what we do.

It shall, in the end, be quite the Vanity Fair. You, oh modern Becky Sharp, however, shall remain fabique.

Kisses, Sister Boom Boom

Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. said...

Well, as someone who, with grim eyes and clenched jaw, is throwing himself to wolves of chance this year (sorry, just got out of TITUS ANDRONICUS, and it's contagious), I will say that your side of the table at *least* has the virtue of knowing that your hotel suite is paid for. Mine? Not so much...Hieronimo is right; there're a lot of Early Modern jobs out there. So if anyone wants to throw me a bone, please do--I promise to work real hard and teach that one extra Comp. section that nobody else wants to take...

Anonymous said...

Nope, I'm through looking at the ads. I've been here 6 yrs and probably won't leave. It's not the best job but I have tenure and I'm reasonably happy. The one job I almost applied for last yr was non-tenure track, and afer agonizing over it I decided NOT to give up tenure -- and now it very likely will be eliminated in the spring, anyway. After sending out well over 150 apps and receiving a grand total of 3 interviews since 1996, I'm through. It really IS a lot better on the other side of the table (I've been on 4 searches and chaired 2). There are A LOT of hungry folks out there.

Pamphilia said...

Yep, I feel pretty much the same way. A kind of perverse desire, mixed with fear and envy, when I peruse the list.

I've also received my first few invitations to apply for jobs, which probably should have made me happy and boastful but instead made me majorly freak out, because I just got here and I don't know if I like it or not but it's supposed to be a good job but what if there is something better where I'd be happier but what if I can't ever be happy anywhere and what if I did apply and got a job at a so-called better school but then didn't get tenure like one of the scholars I most admire and that would totally suck. Basically I started having a panic attack.

Thankfully I told my old diss advisor and she basically said "Do not, under any circumstances, go back out on the market. It's too early, and you have a good job. Just focus on work."

Whew. So now it's bascially a mixture of extreme envy and relief coursing through me as I look at the list.

Best of luck to everyone out on the market. May you all get decent jobs in good departments. May you all be as lucky or luckier than me.