Bardiac very reasonably asks whether the job situation is worse now than it used to be.
I don't have the answer, but the MLA does:
This report has tables where numbers and percentages of jobs are broken down in most ways--by rank, by region, by month advertised, and so on.
Among the conclusions of that report are that things are (slightly) looking up from the 2008-9 low and that more jobs are being offered after the big October issue.
What about cohorts of previous Ph.D. graduates seeking jobs? Here's some older information from 2001-2002, from here: http://www.mla.org/professionalization
The Academic Job Search in English: A Statistical Representation for 2001-02
|New cohort of PhD recipients|
|Less new cohort members who accept postdoc positions|
|Less new cohort members who do not pursue academic positions|
|Total of new cohort who seek positions in four-year institutions|
|Previous cohorts of PhD recipients|
|From 1 year prior|
|From 2 years prior|
|From 3 years prior|
|From 4 years prior|
|From 5 years prior or earlier|
|Total of previous cohorts who seek positions in four-year institutions|
|Total number of job seekers|
Also, here's a comment that I left over at Historiann's post about the job market, addressing the issue of why search committees don't contact people at every step of the process, which would be more humane:
The thing is, no one on search committees behaves maliciously, I don't think, and certainly not in the ways that have been charged. We have a detailed and much-documented process to follow, and HR is right there at our shoulders, seeing to it that we follow it every step of the way. It's ultimately to ensure fairness.
Why don't search committees notify those who didn't make the short list? Let's say you have 350 applicants, a long short list of 40-50 for additional materials, and a maximum of 12-20 you can interview either at the convention or on Skype. What may seem humane--that is, notifying the 300--is, if seen through institutional eyes, 300 lawsuits waiting to happen, when even one would be too many. And what if there was a flaw in the selection metrics somewhere and all the files or some subset of them need to be re-reviewed after consultation with HR?
As Bardiac says, it may be that the search committee goes back to the longer short list or even the whole list, especially if it's a hard-to-fill specialty. In other words, it's not really over until it's over.The reality is that the job isn't filled until an offer is made and accepted.
That said, we need to keep trying to improve the process and do everything we can to make it humane and responsive to candidates.
Undine, thanks for the MLA information. That's really helpful. It does look like it's gotten really bad lately, but it's about the same as when I was on the market (93-95, and again in 98) though there may be more people looking, and I'm sure field distributions have changed).
Undine, this is great. I didn't see a comment from you in the Dec. 24 post (Peace on Earth!) but have put a link to this post now in the comments. I'm sorry, but perhaps your comment got caught in my Spam filter?
In any case: from what I think I know about history, I'm surprised to see that the number of jobs was on the rise in the 1980s. In History, as I recall, it was pretty flat & only picked up in the 1990s.
I agree with your point about the behavior of search committees. When I chaired a search back in 2004-05, I emailed candidates along the way to let them know that they would not have a first-round interview, and got a number of thank-you notes from people who appreciated being apprised of the process even as they might also have been disappointed that we weren't considering them any longer. However, from what I understand now about searches in my department, the Dean's office and EEO are permitting NO mid-search communication at all, whatsoever. So even when search chairs and committees want to be decent and humane, the asinine legal red tape cuts us off at the knees.
Bardiac, I'm glad it was helpful. It seemed to me that interjecting some stats into this discussion would help.
Historiann--I think your spam filter is catching my comments now; I've posted over at your place a few times and haven't seen the comments appear.
Someone over at your place mentioned not getting letters at the end of the search process, but we always send them (and not just a "Dear applicants" general message, either). It's too bad we can't do this in the middle of the process, but that's how it is.
Undine: sorry about that! I've added you to my whitelist, so you should be good from now on. If it still seems like a problem to post a comment at my blog, just email me & I'll look into it further.
Am I weird? I just always figured that from most places, I would not hear, and from others, I would hear when they were ready ... or not. No hear before convention, I figure I'm out. No hear soon after interview, I figure I'm out. I also don't look into real estate in towns where I've applied for jobs, etc., the way people seem to do now. I think being constantly told from this or that place, now we have you on x list, now on y list, would just be unnerving/ distracting, since things do keep changing until it's done. Do I, like, not exercise due diligence on market, or something? I mean: I've applied for 50 and 60 jobs, sometimes while also running searches for my own institution. With all that paperwork, how much extra communication do you really, really need?
Historiann--Thanks! I'll try again to comment.
Profacero--that's a sensible way to look at the process, and it's probably less stressful that way, if anything could make the process less stressful.
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