It seems the job ads are coming earlier and earlier. I've heard this is due to a push to secure good candidates before they can be lured away (in fact, I've heard of a few places that plan to make offers before Decemeber). I'm curious what others thoughts are on this matter. Is it better to get a job (any job) early, or would you rather roll the dice that a better job may come through in the Spring?
Date: 25 Jun 2012 12:26
Number of posts: 10
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For many years it has been a common tactic for some schools to accelerate their searches in an effort to recruit highly attractive candidates before other schools have a chance to do so. Whether this is a good thing for applicants depends. On the one hand, if an applicant is recruited in an early search, then it reduces the length of the wait and the uncertainty about whether one will get a job. On the other hand, it could put the applicant in the situation of dealing with an offer without knowing the outcome of applications to potentially more attractive schools. I think the best thing for applicants to do is to apply only to those schools where they would truly want to work. That way, unless there is one particular school that they strongly desire, they should be generally satisfied with an offer regardless of which school makes it (assuming, of course, it is a reasonable offer).
Personally, unless I have strong indications of a forthcoming offer from a more attractive school, I would likely take an early offer as long as I deem it to be satisfactory.
I had two "early" offers last year (in early December) and was pressured by both to answer quickly. I took one of them and I am happily headed there this fall. Though I am very excited about this job, I definitely was sad about some of the places that I had to give up on the way. I did end up hearing back about getting interviews from four other desirable schools immediately after making my decision. One reason some of these were desirable was because they were in better locations for my family.
Even if you knew you were likely to have an offer on the way at school B while you had to make a decision on school A, one tricky thing is that it's hard to decide without knowing the details of the offers. At first I considered my two offers equal but once I got the details it was obvious which one was better.
I just think the timeline is frustrating and it's very disappointing that our field does it this way.
I think the best thing for applicants to do is to apply only to those schools where they would truly want to work.
I second this!
This thread did start me thinking though, is there a trade-off for this kind of hiring practice? Are the schools that expedite hiring to capture the best people less likely to retain those people in the long term? I can imagine people wondering what might have been, feeling like maybe they could have done better, and in a few years going back on the market to try to move up. I really don't know much about retention rates in general, let alone how it relates to these sorts of hiring practices. Anyone have any thoughts?
It helps to weed out the people who just applied to the job without really wanting it. You probably should not apply to 50 jobs and only apply to jobs that you would be willing to take it if was offered to you. Then you can hope you have a job offer in December! Universities do not really want someone who only took the position to have a job because it was their only option. Everyone has started applying to every job that is posted without really thinking if they would want that job for the rest of their life.
"This thread did start me thinking though, is there a trade-off for this kind of hiring practice? Are the schools that expedite hiring to capture the best people less likely to retain those people in the long term? I can imagine people wondering what might have been, feeling like maybe they could have done better, and in a few years going back on the market to try to move up."
I am so, so, so excited for my new job. But I also think I'm going back on the market at some point, in a selective sense. Mainly because of location/family, but also because it could be nice to try for an "upgrade." I might have this job forever but I might not. If I had been able to consider all of the options from last year's market I might not have the feeling I'd be on the market again sometime.
I do think this "going early" strategy could cause a retention problem. A friend of mine got an early offer from a great school that put pressure on her to decide. She was very excited about, but meanwhile she got some other interviews, including one from a DREAM school. When she thought the first school wasn't going to give her time to see the other searches through, her psychology was pretty negative toward them and she felt like she'd be on the market again soon. But once the school did give her time and she did not get the dream offer, she was so much happier about where she is heading, and now considers it a permanent position.
Also, yes, the advice to only apply where you'd want to work is great. But, there is still a sliding scale. There are jobs that are enjoyable and sufficient for one's life, but then there are others that are even more fun and higher paying, with better students, lower course loads, better resources, more interesting colleagues, and in better locations. You feel stupid if you take one of those first jobs when you could have gotten one of the second kind. And you also feel stupid if you only apply for the second kind and don't get an offer. Or turn down offers of the first kind while holding out for the second kind, only to end up with nothing. I think that's the problem that we're talking about here, and why the "early offer" timeline is frustrating.
What seems different to me this year is that we're seeing postings now with deadlines of 10/1. So, these don't seem like schools trying to get people early. I wonder if this is more of an attempt to post it while the funding is there in hopes the university won't pull it.
I remember from last year places with 10/1 or 10/15 deadlines called people for interviews within a few weeks and had made their first offers as early as late November. Even for a posting that I knew of that had 500 applications, the faculty got their shit together and started to bring people in for interviews before Thanksgiving.
the advice to only apply where you'd want to work is great. But, there is still a sliding scale.
This is what I was thinking too. I made sure to only apply to places I would want to work, but there was definitely a hierarchy based on location, colleagues, teaching load, etc. If I knew I had missed an opportunity to get my dream job I'd probably be pretty down about the perfectly-fine job I accepted. It's the unknown that really gets people I think. Most places don't let you know that they aren't considering you until you get a rejection at the end of their search. You only hear if you are short-listed, and that can happen anywhere from October to March depending on deadlines and how organized a school is. So you just don't know what your other opportunities might be, or if there even will be other opportunities. Even if places just told you right away that you weren't on their short list it would probably help a lot.
I had one of those pre-thanksgiving interviews from a 10/1 deadline last year, at a school that was intending to make offers before Christmas (and was honest about trying to snag people before they got other offers). It was really stressful answering questions about how likely I would be to accept a position there when I hadn't even finished sending out all my applications. Fortunately for me, they weren't able to get offers out that early and I ended up having all my offers come in within a few days of each other. If they had forced me into a decision early I probably would have taken the job but been regretful and wondered if another place might have been a better fit, but since I chose it from all my options I'm really happy about it. Once you know what all your options are, it's so much easier to make a decision you will be happy with!
The downturn in the economy has certainly pushed many schools, even less competitive ones, to do their searchers "earlier" in the year. One problem is the discrepancy between the "academic year" and the calendar/fiscal year. Money that is available to hire someone in December might be taken away in January. So many depts are hoping to hire in the Fall before the University changes their mind about doing a hire.