Academic Jobs Wiki

If the long-form discussion on the front page gets too unwieldy, I'll be moving it here eventually, with directions of course. The discussion is the best part . . .

A useful reminder: Remember, people, this wiki is not entirely anonymous. If you don't want your posts to be linked to your parent institution, do not post from work, or while using the network or internet access provided by your educational institution; your IP address can be traced to, at the least, your institution's name. Go to a coffee shop.

New entries and text moved here from the front page - for ease of reading, I suggest adding new items at the top of the page[]

[April 27, 2010] Q: are you all remembering to look overseas? The UK, Anglophone and EU job markets have quite different timing to the North American market, and now is peak season. I'm posting what I can, but there's more out there.

Q: Is it standard to receive notice after a campus interview in the case that you were not hired?

A: Yes, and usually by phone, though every so often (more frequently than you'd think) a department or search committee chair will be too cowardly to actually make the call. We don't become historians because we're brave, clearly. Also, if it's a particularly good position at a university or college with the resources to be flexible, the hiring process can involve protracted negotiations after the campus visit, which can cause a delay in the notification process.

VAPs do NOT always get the permanent position, especially if the VAP was only for one year.

Response to above: the truth is that VAPs very rarely get the permanent position, at least if my long experience is any indication, especially in departments that are not among the most prestigious but that have aspirations, however unrealistic, to rise above themselves. Because VAPs are known quantities (and worse, because they have already shown themselves to be willing to accept such a sodden table-scrap of a position) they are, in the eyes of most departments, already damaged goods. Anyone who has been a VAP, and experienced the total cold-shouldering that usually goes along with the position, viscerally understands what I mean here. The unspoken assumption usually goes like this: if the VAP were truly good, he or she would have gotten a "real job" the first time out. The insane structure of the job-search process only intensifies this sense: when a department has its pick of 100+ "real" applicants for a position, all of whom are blank slates onto which search committee members can project their visions of "promise" and "talent," the known quantity is inevitably much less attractive. Here, it is important to remember that above a certain level, "quality" in research production and spoken presentation is a matter of subjective judgment. This subjectivity often becomes a toxic yet decisive factor in the cases both of VAPs and of "trailing spouses." The assumption often is: if this person has not come to us by means of our "official" search process, their work simply cannot be "worth anything." I have seen this happen time and again. Humanities academics, sadly, tend to be too wedded to the fictions of "pure meritocracy" and "objectivity" in their evaluation of candidates to acknowledge this truth in a pragmatic manner. We cling to these fictions, of course, because to give them up would involve confronting the human wreckage that our current practice of graduate training produces. VAPs who don't get hired, like "trailing spouses," can be compared to civilian casualties in Iraq as presented in American media discourse: because they have no power, they are considered morally invisible and hence eminently disposable.

Doesn't it seem like more searches than usual already have a VAP in place? I'm concerned that the better-than-expected number of jobs this year may be an illusion: hiring freezes last year lead to temporary lines rather than TT ones, and now those VAP lines are being converted to TT ones. But there seem to be few actual "open" positions.

Lament here: 12/14 Okay, how is it that I have become a drastically less desirable candidate this year than last? I've applied for an equal number of jobs, all good fits, but gotten zero AHA invites, as opposed to 3 last year. All that's changed is that my book is now published, and I'm a year older. Hmmm, maybe I should reread that Perspectives article.

  • Same boat here except fifteen interviews over the course of last year and a grand total of ONE this year. I am kicking myself for turning down that job at Small-time Religious College. Ugh. Fundamentally discouraged.

Vent here: If I am an applicant for a position, and I’ve been informed I’m on a long/shortlist, is it so unreasonable for me to ask the administrator the timing for the search? My research is based in another country, and I need to go there for fieldwork, and it would be really helpful to know when you’ll be conducting interviews before I book my flights to Timbucktoo. (I have done too many jetlagged interviews, having just stepped off a 12 hour flight, and I don’t want to do that again). But when I write to ask, I don’t even get a reply!! WTF? Even if they said “we haven’t decided yet”, at least I’d be a little more informed, and gratified that you at least acknowledge my existence. Thanks to those SC members who do post here on the wiki, and fellow candidates for not leaving the rest of us in the dark.

To the venter above: No, your request is not unreasonable, and the fact that the SC chair didn't reply is just plain rude. It is possible that the committee "hasn't decided yet," or the chair recognizes that the best he can give you is a ballpark estimate, because there are a lot of uncertainties in a search, e.g. one SC member is slow to get through the files, some administrator insists on reviewing the short list before allowing the SC to set up interviews, and that administrator will take their sweet time doing that. All that is just to let you know that there are often forces beyond the control of the SC chair that muck up the best laid plans and schedules. But it doesn't excuse the Chair's non-response. S/he could have sent a quick reply giving you their best estimate with a caveat.

Has anyone heard about AHA interviews? So far, most schools seem to be doing phone interviews or going straight to campus.

Now it is November 3, the market is miserable and bleak . . . no new postings likely, right? A: It's bleak, but it's only over if you limit your horizons to North America. Academic jobs in Europe and much of the rest of the world will be advertised throughout the year - there's no 'season' out there. Signing up to would be a good start...

It's October 25: time to pack it up? I don't see a surge of jobs appearing between now and AHA.

Surge? No. But is is kind of a late-blooming year. Last week and this, you had postings in European history from NYU and Hopkins. Maybe a few more drips to come.

I am curious to know, has anyone read anything on the state of the job market? The AHA had a piece that paralleled this market with that of the early 1980s, but that is the piece that I have seen. Overall, it seems pretty quiet in the publications and on the blogs.

Well it was pretty great how H-Net recent postings went from 1 when I got to work this morning to a few pages worth by the evening, not that any of them are in my field, but at least things are being posted!

But what happens if even the one that is supposed to be "fit" is nowhere to be found in this market? And also if the job fits you, it will also fit many others. How can you be sure that you are entitled to this "fit" job?

OK but here's the thing, everyone always says it all about 'fit', so isn't the numbers game a bit deceiving? you only need one job... does it matter how many others were posted if the right one is?
"Fit" is the job market equivalent of "one true love" in the love market. Completely bogus concepts that distract from the realities of how people and systems work. There is not department out there waiting for you (or me) to walk through the door. This is not a puzzle and we are not a pieces. Most candidates are more or less equally qualified. Fit, frankly, is an excuse that departments, committees, and faculty use to generically refer to what are not proper (or in some cases legal) conversation. Fit is a cop out to refer to interest in topic, charismatic/engaging/attractive personality, and demographic needs. More searches=more jobs. Period.

I guess you're not married.

Only 9 years.
On fit: It depends on what you mean. While I agree it can take on an extremely amorphous (and to the outside eye) pernicious form, it is not always so. A small department needs someone who is primarily a modern Europeanist, but would also like that person to teach one class per year on Africa. And, because there is a vibrant Women's Studies Program, it would be great if the person also worked on gender. In that case, "fit" will really narrow the field, but assuming all of this is in the advertisement it's not as if the committee hid anything.

"Fit" also means that you've bothered to understand the nature of the institution, its student-clients, its values, and its mission, and that you have some idea of what unique thing you might contribute to that mission. It means being able to see beyond the end of your own nose, and understand that choosing a hire is not about some linear ranking "most" to "least" qualified candidate. A job is not a prize or award that goes to someone deemed smartest, best, or most accomplished on some scale detached from the real needs of the department. Getting a job is about making the best case that you can be a valuable, positive, contributing member to the department and the institution's mission.

New Post, November 2009:

The poster above seems to have imbibed a dangerously large quantity of Kool-Aid. I say this as a person who _has_ a job, has served on two search committees, and has participated in many department hiring processes.

"Fit" is a way search committees attempt to distinguish among a truly overwhelming (think _at least_ 85-100) number of applications, nearly all of which are equally excellent, and the majority of which make bright-eyed, snazzy, bushy tailed "best cases" for the candidate in question's potential to be "a valuable, positive, contributing member to the department and the institution's mission."

At the initial stages, this simple fact -- consistently high applicant quality, consistently intense applicant enthusiasm -- requires the imposition of steadily more arbitrary standards of judgment (is this person a member of professional organization x? could this person cobble together a course on early-modern Sweden, despite the fact that the advertisement stated a preference for modern Italy? etc.) in order to reach a manageable pool size. Once interviews occur, the nature of the distinctions drawn changes, but remains essentially arbitrary: while a few candidates choke in interviews, or accidentally say something that pisses off a search committee member, a large number do not, and therefore continue to convey equal degrees of enthusiasm, ability to indicate "smartness" through speech, interpersonal skills, and all the rest.

The brutal fact is that nearly any of the initial applicants would probably do a fine job in a particular position, and even that a significant number of those left out of the interview list would turn out to be "better" candidates -- in the sense of more charismatic in the classroom, smarter, more fun to be around, or what have you -- than those who are chosen. The applications simply don't provide enough information to tell, and the search committee's ability to stumble upon the "right" person is mostly dependent on the finesse with which it invents the arbitrary distinctions it draws among candidates. Some searches I have participated in, as a colleague or committee member, have invented distinctions wisely. Some have not. After all, think about this: given that the field is so insanely competitive, why is it that a good number of faculty members hired post 1975 (or whenever one wants to date the job-market collapse) continue to not make tenure, get low teaching evaluations, write third-rate scholarship, infuriate their colleagues, and all the other things that a rigorous selection process is supposed to avoid? This situation is ample proof that hires are never purely meritocratic.

We have a simple problem, here: there are far too many applicants for far too few jobs, and universities generally don't have the resources -- either financial or in terms of time -- to survey the throng effectively. The techniques we do use _appear_ to convey enormous amounts of information (what could be more "rigorous" than a two-day gantlet of constant meetings and interviews?), but in reality do not. They merely create the _illusion_ of information, an illusion compounded by the discursive illusion of meritocracy that search committees impose as they invent arbitrary distinctions to justify the candidate they select.

What this means, basically, is that jobs are all about luck. The system *is* meritocratic up to a point, but that point is entirely superseded by the sheer number of qualified applicants. The belief that jobs are assigned according to merit, which is so persistent among members of our profession, whether they are graduate students on the market or faculty members themselves, is gravely harmful, because for the vast majority of candidates, who will fail to get any kind of permanent position, it creates a false sense of personal failure -- when personal failure isn't what it's about at all.

Response to New Poster November 2009. I've got a job, too, and have been on both ends numerous times. I'm sorry that you don't have the capacity to make distinctions between candidates and that you believe "nearly any" candidate would do just fine. that is not my experience. Starting out with a clear sense of your own priorities regarding the skills, knowledge, and dispositions of candidates is a good way to try to bring some small bit of rationality an admittedly subjective process. The idea that search committees are incapable of making any meaningful distinctions and that "nearly all" candidates would do just fine is sheer anti-intellectual know-nothingism. You might want to reconsider that position. Still, I recognize that due to the sheer volume of applicants, it doesn't matter how hard the committee works to give each file a fair reading, many excellent candidates will not make it past the first cut. But that is very different from a belief that applicants are almost all roughly qualified square pegs that could be placed into perfectly square holes.

Response from New Poster Nov. 2009:

What I meant to convey was not an incapacity to draw meaningful distinctions among candidates, but rather a gut-wrenching sense that the drawing of such distinctions is a far less certain process than the swagger of the above response would indicate. I'll grant that my rhetoric about "nearly any" candidate was too extreme: I was attempting to describe the sense of vertigo a huge pile of applications induces. The above writer is correct that saying "many excellent candidates will not make it past the first cut" would have been more accurate, and I am grateful for the correction. To be honest, though, even that more modest statement still makes me plenty nauseous, since we're probably talking about at least 20 or 30 people here (assuming an applicant pool of 200 or so), every one of whom is at least as enthusiastic, as passionate, as entitled to a satisfying academic life as I am, and some of whom may well _never_ have even the one lucky break that would make such a thing possible.

Think, for a moment, about this: in all but the largest, most privileged departments, search committees hire faculty members in sub-fields that are not their own. This is inevitable. The candidate research that appeals to these committees, as a consequence, is not necessarily the most innovative or most intellectually rigorous, but is rather the kind that strikes them, on the basis of their inevitably limited, outsider's knowledge of the sub-field in question, as "sexy." Anyone who follows new hires and job ads can see this process at work by noting the very clear "bandwagon effect" in kinds of research asked for and kinds of research rewarded with employment. Why did everything suddenly go "transnational" in European history after Sept. 11, 2001, for instance? What _is_ transnational, anyway? Immigration? Diplomatic history? History of borderlands? Empire? For search committees, it appears to be like pornography for Justice Stewart, which itself was a form of "anti-intellectual know-nothingism."

What I am trying to argue against here is the smug belief that one's own judgment is somehow a reflection of simple fact, rather than a contingent product of socio-historical and discursive circumstances. Acknowledging this situation is the first step toward taking moral responsibility for the life one leads as an academic in the humanities. Even the trope of "mostly-functional" meritocracy, as presented by the writer above, strikes me (in my darker moments) as a "necessary lie" those of us with jobs at research schools tell ourselves in order to continue enjoying the perks of our good fortune: namely, TAs to do the grading, the intellectual stimulation of graduate seminars, the sense of satisfaction that comes from shaping acolytes in our own image, the professional prestige of being surrounded by a retinue of advisees. We are able to look ourselves in the mirror every morning because we tell ourselves, "well, if our students are good, they'll get jobs." If, instead, we told ourselves "we are exploiting these students, many of whom (even the 'best') are doomed never to be more than 'excellent candidates who do not make it past the first cut,' and to face the devastating personal and psychological consequences of that fact," then we would perhaps do the moral thing, which would be to close down all but a tiny number of PhD. programs in history, or at least to place a moratorium on the training of _any_ doctoral students at all in certain fields until the pool of job-seekers begins to match the number of available positions more closely.

To the above poster: You are surely correct in the assessment that it's not about personal failure, especially in a market where positions draw 300-400 applicants. I don't know, however, that it's any better for my sanity or self-esteem to think that I've invested a significant portion of my life in what amounts to a lottery ticket. Either way, it just plain sucks. On that note, though, if I do land a TT job, I'll be heading to the nearest Speedway to play the Powerball while trying to avoid a lightning strike....

Why isn't any job on CHE/H-Net this week (29/9)? Okay, can we declare this year a lost cause? I'm a Europeanist, and I have to say that this is very nearly a bust.

  • A Latin Americanist here, this year seems to be a complete wash. There are exactly six jobs that I can apply for. As context, three years ago there more than there were more than 70 jobs. A: For my own (European) field and sub-field at least, I'd say this year is as good - or as bad - as last year.
  • Then a bunch show up on H-Net today. (None for me, thanks.) I've no idea what this means. Maybe there's still some life in this year?
    • This gives me hope despite there not being a single job in my field yet.

Q: Is it time to panic? (9/21) I am beginning to feel awfully pessimistic about this year's job market (if we can call it that).

A: Ordinarily I'd say yes, but last week the AHA and H-Net posted a decent number of jobs. (For Europe, the AHA posted ten between the 18th and 20th.) Given things usually end with a whimper, I'm hopeful there may be a few weeks left.

A: It seems to be dependent on sub-discipline as well - my field is actually doing fairly well this year and the pace, if anything, seems to have picked up recently. (9/22)

Q: Is it OK to submit a bit more, in terms of application materials, than they ask for? I'm not talking about a lot, but say adding your writing sample if they don't ask for it? Or is that really annoying to the search committee - does it look like you can't follow directions? Thanks. (9/15)

A: Send only what they request for exactly the reasons you cite. If they like your letter, they'll ask for a chapter. A: I agree with this, but read an article (in Chronicle I think) where a SC member talked about receiving packets all an inch thick! How much to you guys actually send? I only send what's asked for, and I use interfolio. Is everyone else sending unsolicited writing samples, student evals, etc? A: Do not do it. Don't. Don't.

Q: Related to the above question about materials, how exact should one be with materials. For example, if the posting requests a teaching statement or philosophy, would be wrong to send a complete portfolio (with things like a teaching statement, sample syllabus, evals)? I suspect I know the answer here, but just looking for other opinions. A: The advice I received in grad school was to send what they ask for. Once they call for the interview, then send them everything you've got. Remember that you can't get the job by mail, only the conference interview. But you can lose the job by being the "Sent a bunch of crap we didn't ask for" candidate rather than the "interesting work on XYZ" candidate.

9/11: Curse you AHA for not posting any jobs today!

Seriously, WTF AHA?
I'm sensing a pattern (9/25)
Last year, after several jobless Fridays (followed by jobs on Tuesday) I sent an email saying, "If you're not going to post jobs on Fridays, at least take down that language so we won't go crazy." The editor insisted that they only posted jobs on Fridays, and nothing I said could change his mind. I
(9/25) Given that AHA posted zero jobs today, I'm almost inclined to think that the person responsible was out. Or at least to hope that's true.
(9/25) Sadly, no jobs on H-Net today either.
(9/25) That "only Friday" thing is crap, as the earlier poster noted. They posted nothing on September 11 (out of respect?) then posted them on the 14th. Over the last couple of years I've been on the market, I've seen ads go up on Saturday, and on different weekdays. In addition, advertisers can pay extra to have their ad go up immediately rather than wait for Friday. But it does seem like a really dry year.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed just changed its format, and their jobs page is harder to find and use. (They also just abruptly laid off several employees at their sister pub., the Chronicle of Philanthropy; like most publications, they're in a severe crisis. They're not handling it well, though, according to some employees I know.)

The Chronicle posted this semi-apology for their new jobs site, which is a disaster:

  • Once the first place to look, the CHE site is now the last place.
  • No kidding! And if you want to do something exotic like bookmark a page, forget it!
  • They have created a "classic view" which allows you to browse all history jobs, listed by date posted. But the Chronicle has always been annoying and cumbersome: why can't they list the sub-field in the title, like everybody else? Sometimes you have to click through three links to find out what field they are looking for.

A. Hi back! Let the people in each subfield craft their own wikis: there are different issues involved. Thanks for creating the main page!!

While waiting for job ads, try working on some publications, and update this page:

Can we get a Middle East/Africa category as well?

A. You see that button that says "edit"? Create whatever categories you want, then build the page they link to. You can create your own page for any subfield.

Q: A general question: It's now Aug. 16, and there are only a handful of jobs in European history (the field I follow most closely). It's likely that there will be fewer job openings this year, but my question (as a relative new-comer to the job market) is: when do most job ads appear? Probably in the next month, I recall from the last two years?

Q: I have a similar question as above but for U.S. history. Looks like it's shaping up to be a better year for early American and 19th century than 20th...but is it too soon to tell? Very slim pickings so far...

A: Postings usually begin in late July and peter out by the first of Oct. I think it's still too soon to tell how this year is looking. (8/23)

A: It's still really early. Lots of schools are just getting back into session, and if a department hadn't put together their ad in May, they're only starting to do so now. On another note we won't know if our search is a go until Sept. 15. I would say we'll get a 3-4 week burst starting Sept 1, and then you can reach for the bottle of pills. (That said, I'm at three applications already, and that's the same as all last year!)

A: Although it is still early, it's easy to tell that there are fewer big jobs in European history than there were last year. I'm an early modernist, and by the end of August 2008 there were several important positions posted versus two right now (8/28). That said, a lot of departments probably have the postings ready to publish, but are waiting for approval from the university. Our department has two searches in semi-stasis, waiting to see what happens with the economy. I have a hunch there will be a lot of VAP stuff this year that could turn into tenure-track positions later, once colleges have greater confidence in their financial position. Of course, that's only a guess. Any other opinions?

A: Another early modernist here. The hazard of making this sort of guess is that the sample is so small, it doesn't take much for a particular field to buck the broader trend or, God forbid, do even worse than the field as a whole. If you're talking about eight or ten really good jobs (though I realize that this is an extremely elastic term), it doesn't take much to turn an average year into a bonanza or a massacre.

A: I agree that it's too early to tell, but I also recall more ads appearing by now during more flush times. FWIW, one theory I've heard that seems to make sense is that this year will be about as bad as last year, as most budgets were probably set when the economy was teetering on the edge. As a result, this could mean that the next couple of years after this one are very good as a whole bunch of searches that have been tabled will finally be run.

A: I've heard the same analysis from professors at my university who agree that this year could be a bit of a wash with next year and the one after looking for hopeful. But I guess it's still early.

A: I think it is still a little early (9/3) but as a medievalist, I'm getting a little nervous. Only 4 jobs posted and most aren't particularly specific on the AOS.

For what it's worth, I've penciled in "Start to sweat" for 9/14, and "Panic" for 9/22.

Oh, I am so with you there. For Latin America, there has been one posting for the past two weeks. My total potential job pool is at a whopping five. For reference, there were three times as many jobs at this point last year. My potential panic is scheduled for 9/25.
Just one more perspective, but I'd add that this year won't have the same bloodbath feeling to it as last year (though it's looking like slim pickings right now). Because of when the economic crisis hit, searches were canceled left and right over the winter. I'd guess that what few jobs are posted this year are at least more likely to actually go through to a hire. (9/6)
I hope that's true. I was complaining today (9/6) to a friend about the small number of jobs posted now, and she gently reminded me that I've done this every September for the past three years. So maybe all will be well.
Of course, there is the backlog of applicants who didn't get jobs last year.

Yikes. What a miserable time to be finishing or just finished. There's nothing coming in this year. This past Friday there wasn't a SINGLE NEW JOB in American History posted with the AHA.

Yeah...kept refreshing AHA page thinking it couldn't possibly be true. Yikes is right.

I agree (9/24). The job market this year seems to be worse than last year. Hopefully, there will be more job adds in the first week of October.

Would someone please help me find Native American history jobs? I know they were advertised at Brown, UNC, etc. but can't seem to locate them on the wiki. TIA. (11/30)

There's just the Georgia Gwinnett Collegejob listed on the U.S. page. That's it for here. Why don't you add the Brown and UNC listings yourself and see if any commenters share information?

I tried to add a Native American page but only managed to mess up the bottom of the page by inserting a Native American category to the U.S. page--sorry. If someone else can figure out how to add a section for Native American history jobs I'm adept enough to insert the info. I would enter the current listings into the existing categories but most are not chronologically specific and thus do not fit into early Am, 19th c., or 20th c. I'd be grateful for some help because I'm wondering what's going on with my tiny corner of the job market. Thanks!

In response to the above request, I created a sub-section on the U.S. page for a Native American job listing. It seems appropriate to put it there instead of on the "Non-Geographical / Methodologically Oriented" page, since there is a geographical distinction in "Native American". I also removed the category tag. For future reference, the poster above might wish to come to this page earlier in the job search and start a page or sub-section; early listings tend to accrete more information over time. It's perhaps a bit late in the process to get much now . . . I'll come by in a week or so and move this discussion from the front page to the "Discussion" page for this article, accessible through the tab at the top right.

Is there a category for Diplomatic/Military history jobs? There are several postings that don't seem to be listed here...

* A : a page was created but needs to be filled in.
   * Thanks! I'm too technologically challenged to have added the page myself...