Okay! I'm back and ready to share a few more details. This will surely be only the first of many posts on Things Job Markety--believe me, I have A LOT to say--but I'm guessing that my adoring public wants the autobiographical part first.
The short version is that this was a weird year, and flukey good luck played an even bigger role than it does in most job market success stories. The biggest fluke was that both my department and Cosimo's wound up getting approval to hire in our respective partner's subfield. Neither position was intended as a partner hire--our institutions don't have a mechanism for that, and neither do they typically make mid-career hires (there isn't the budget for it, and, absent doctoral students, there isn't really the need). But although both lines were very much needed for curricular reasons, neither was either department's first hiring priority. So it was a big surprise that both departments got multiple searches approved.
This was obviously our luckiest break, but since both jobs were advertised as entry-level we tried not to get our hopes up; Cosimo is four years past tenure and I'm two, and we're well-paid for the kinds of institutions that we're at. Although living together has been a major goal (and would save our household a certain amount of money), we weren't willing to cripple our careers to make it happen. So we agreed that we'd rather turn down an offer--or even two!--if it involved one of us taking a big professional hit.
So we applied. . . and waited to see what would happen. Even though each of us had some inside knowledge about the department that we were applying to, we had absolutely no inside knowledge about the search itself; the waiting and wondering WHAT THE HELL WAS HAPPENING was pretty much as I remember it from job-market years past.
I'm not going to pretend that we didn't have advantages, but they aren't necessarily the ones that people think of when they carp about inside candidates. Neither set of colleagues had ever seen the spousal candidate teach, or read his or her scholarship, or heard him or her present a paper; I'm sure they were mostly predisposed to think well of us, but they only knew us socially and I think were perfectly capable of being appalled by our teaching or research if it had been appalling. Moreover, there were probably at least one or two members of each department predisposed against a spousal candidate.
At the same time, the reality is that no one else in those applicant pools looked quite like me or Cosimo because no one else with our experience, credentials, and publication records was going to be applying for an entry-level job at a regional public institution. When you don't hire mid-career, you just don't get candidates who have already made a name for themselves in their fields and who could be your next chair or help you redesign your curriculum from the ground up. You get great candidates with strong early track records--absolutely. But their strengths are not fully comparable. And funnily enough, the nature of our inside-candidacy helped guarantee that both searches were "real searches": even if one department had been hell-bent on hiring their existing colleague's spouse, the hiring committee had to know there was a real chance they'd fail, either because the institution couldn't make a good enough offer or because the couple might choose to go to the other institution. So all the finalists were strong candidates whom each department was genuinely excited about. They had to be.
At this point in the story, in the interests of confidentiality, I'm going to get a little vague about the details. So let's just say that although both departments were wonderfully supportive and strong advocates for a solution that wouldn't involve compromising either partner's career, only one institution was able to make such a solution happen. As a result, I'll be leaving my current job at the end of the 2014-15 academic year and joining Cosimo's department.
I'm still grieving the fact that I'll be leaving a department where I've been so happy, but I have no complaints about how any part of the process played out. Moreover, my new institution has made the move very much worth my while. My sadness is also tempered by the fact that I'll be returning to RU to repay the year I owe after my sabbatical. Not everyone would be thrilled about that--but frankly, I prefer it. We've been off living in a rented apartment for seven months, away from friends and colleagues, and next year will give me the chance to leave in a deliberative way. I need the time to say goodbye to the people and places I love. . . and also to get itchy and impatient to move on.