Dear Search Committees,
As you well know, the past 5 years has proven to be tough times for both hiring committees and applicants. One recurring issue is that search committees seek the "top" applicants, a relatively small pool of "top" applicants consume the lion's share of interviews around the globe, these top applicants will ultimately only pick one job leaving remaining search committees at a loss. The smart search committees go back to the pool, and try again. This is an appeal to the other search committees that do not do this: please go back into the pool! I find it very hard to believe that we are now in an age where people who have been highly successful as postdocs for 5 years + with over 20 publications are not getting hired. There is very good talent out there, and sadly many of these people will be pulling out of the game very soon. Note that my position is secured, so I am not writing this appeal out of personal interest. I am simply tired of seeing good talent go to waste each year.
Date: 21 Nov 2012 18:24
Number of posts: 25
RSS: New posts
Dear Search Committees,
I'm in a similar boat as you, yet I fully agree. I am amazed at the quality of people who are currently jobless, not to mention feel incredibly bad for those grad students or younger post-docs trying to find a faculty job: I've been convinced it's not gonna happen. Makes me feel bad now when I take a grad student knowing the odds they'll later find a job are almost zero.
I completely agree — it is ridiculous that so many excellent candidates are not getting jobs. I hope search committees realize that they will still have a great chance of finding a suitable candidate late in the search cycle (e.g., March or April), so they should definitely consider dipping back into the candidate pool if their initial short list does not work out.
(By the way, I fixed the spelling mistake in the title of the thread.)
What I dont understand is why do search committee's bother inviting well established professors who are likely using them to get a pay upgrade in their current university.
I agree. As an applicant I find myself frustrated with this process. It seems ridiculous to me that we are now having to complete 5+ years of a postdoc to get an interview! I do see there are exceptions to this rule obviously, as I know several folks who got faculty positions right out of their clinical internship and did not have to do a postdoc. I find these instances to be more of a "luck of the draw" in that the position they ended up getting was a ridiculously good fit for them and they were exactly what the department wanted at that time. In comparing my record to these folks records at that time, we were very very comparable in most every way. I just decided to do a postdoc instead and not even try the faculty route. It seems well qualified candidates are not getting jobs or interviews and forced to do multiple years of postdoc which is causing a divide in the applicant pool, creating a vicious cycle. Thinking about my own record, I am constantly told by many well established academics in the field how impressive my record is and that I will have no troubles finding a job and will indeed need to fight off multiple offers—but this doesn't seem to be the case. I'm not sure what the disconnect is. Are SC more afraid of candidates not obtaining tenure now then they have been in the past? I think a lot of us in this field are amazing and would be very highly successful researchers who would easily obtain tenure, but it seems to me, as disgruntled prof says, the same handful of people are getting all the interviews. I'm not saying this handful of folks are not extraordinarily amazing and undeserving, but that doesn't mean the rest of us aren't just as amazing given the chance to be. Some of the things that make folks extraordinarily amazing also often include a factor of luck (e.g., who reviews your grant submission), which doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the rest of us.
Anon22, I agree with this, but there have to be a lot of established professors legitimately on the market as well (otherwise we will all have to resign ourselves to the idea that the jobs that we get— which may not be a perfect personal or professional fit— will be the ones we are stuck with for life).
What I really think is a problem is the fact that the only way to get a raise in many departments is to get a job offer from somewhere else. This is so bad for the field— it's bad for the profs, for their home departments, for the searching department, and perhaps most of all for legitimate applicants on the market. It seems indefensible on every level, so why can't universities enact a more reasonable system?
One problem is balancing internal v. market equity. Universities need to be fair (equal pay for equal work/experience or internal equity) but they also need to compete to attract and retain top talent (market equity). One legally defensible way to justify unequal pay is to match external offers. It also helps with fairness perceptions because these pay differentials reflect differences in job offers not (only) preferential treatment. Of course, you can debate about artificial market demand and the wasted time. But, people who go on the market sometimes do accept the offer… and this helps Universities re-evaluate general policies (e.g., why are we losing our best talent maybe we need to consider bigger raises or better resources for current faculty). Alternatively, you can consider systems in the UK (and many EU countries) where this simply isn't an issue because you get what you get based on regional/nationally established scales.
Are you all looking for R1 jobs? I know the market is bad, but there were five people on the market in my department last year (representing social, cognitive, and developmental), and we all landed tenure-track jobs. Only one got an R1 job, but the rest of us got respectable R2/SLAC jobs. I wonder if perhaps you are being to restrictive in your searches? (FYI, we all applied for between 50 and 100+ jobs.)
I can say for myself, a R1 would be the ideal placement although I'm not restricting myself to that exclusively. However, it is not ideal for applicants or universities for us to broaden our search so wide we are applying for every job out there just to be sure to get a job. Just like not everyone wants a R1 lifestyle, there are folks out there like me who have no interest in SLAC positions… just the thought makes me shutter….I would only stay until I found what I really wanted. Not good for me or that department. Further, I would think most of us either fall on one side or the other (research-focused vs teaching-focused) and interviewing on the other side of that spectrum would lead to some misleading applications and interviews. I'm sure there are people out there would could be truly happy with either, but I would guess that's a minority. I think not being overly restrictive is a good option, but I also don't think being completely unrestrictive is good either-that will just lead to unhappiness on all ends and the increased possibility of unsuccessfulness….