shhhh…it’s a secret (that everyone knows)

Based on popular demand  (n=2), I’m raising a question from today’s “ask a scatterbrain” comments thread from “off topic” to the topic

Is it possible to be on the job market “on the down low”? 

I often hear from others about people who are “secretly” on the market, so, I’ve never thought that keeping this hushed would really be an option.  That said, I’ve also never tried to do so.

Also — I’ve been curious for a while (for reasons I can’t tell you!) about what sociologists have written about secrets.  Any suggestions?   I’d be especially interested in anything from a social networks perspective.    On the role of secrets in break-ups,  Diane Vaughn’s “Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships” is quite devastatingly good.

10 thoughts on “shhhh…it’s a secret (that everyone knows)”

  1. My hunch is that the ability to do just about anything on the DL is one of the few benefits to those of us outside the center of sociology. Woo hoo!

    I also imagine that people are mostly understanding about their colleagues on the DL such that even when they do hear something, there are seldom hard feelings.

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  2. I hereby announce my secret presence on the job market. I will do no interviews. I will send no materials. I will only accept offers. Let the offers rush in! This time next year I will post on what has happened. Until then, shush!

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  3. Hmmm.. well, I didn’t necessarily mean that you can assure it’s a secret, on the contrary. But I did go out on the DL, sort of. As a courtesy, I told my chair that I was going to be applying for a 3-4 positions (and why), but asked that he keep it in confidence (as a reciprocal courtesy) since it was quite possible I would end up deciding to stay. He did keep the secret and I did the search, always assuming that the “secret” could easily get out through friends of friends and what not. Much to my surprise, it did not, and when I did decide to leave, I was able to go door to door and tell my peers 1 on 1.

    But, without question, it’s certainly pretty easy to get “caught.”

    But, more to the point of your question — books on secrets. Hmmm. Does the tremendous amount of research that is presumtively me-search count? j/k. Nothing comes to mind.

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  4. Related but not exact secrets, Gary Fine has done work on rumor and legend. There’s also been some work done about secrecy and intellectual property, and consumer research (mostly in marketing journals) has some interesting takes on secrecy and consumption practices.

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  5. As Tina suggests, “Can it be kept secret?” seems like it’s basically a social networks question, and so it’s going to depend on the social networks of the people involved.

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  6. it’s basically a social networks question

    I think it’s become more complicated precisely due to the type of example mentioned by Sara in the thread of the other post(I came across a chart made (and posted! online!) by a university (R1) at which I had been short listed when I was on the market). That is, in addition to whatever people might decide to discuss with others, there may be ways in which information is spread without people realizing it due to their limited knowledge of various IT services.

    When I was on the market, I got an email from one of the schools where I had applied with the email addresses of all applicants in the cc field. In addition to the usual suspects (others I knew who were on the market), it was interesting to note the email addresses of some senior people from various places on the list. Clearly some people had complained to the person sending out the message, because a few hours later came a follow-up instructing us to ignore the previous message and delete it (hah!) all the while cc’ing the entire list of addresses, again! Oy.

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  7. I know someone who was invited to apply for a job, said no, was invited to speak in a regular speaker series and then offered a job. In that case, teh secret was the other way — the school was keeping it a secret that it was a job talk from the applicant. What a surprise when a job offer is made!

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  8. It seems too obvious to mention, but Simmel wrote a great deal on secret societies and secrets in general. See the pieces in the book edited by Wolff and in Simmel’s AJS papers (translated by Small, I believe).

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