ask a scatterbrain (will jobs exist?)

how ‘recession-sound’ are universities?  I’m hearing rumors of hiring freezes and maybe previously open job lines being pulled in light of the economic crisis.  Since I’m on the job market this year such rumors make my blood run cold.  Is ASA going to be forwarding my “Contexts” subscription to the nearest tent city?  Can anyone tell me? See after the break for a great comic on this (also sent by the asker).

NOTE: For new readers: I present this series as if I were asking the question. I’m not. Many folks have asked, “Are you on the market?!?” or, “What is wrong with Columbia?” After one year at Columbia, I am not actively seeking a new job. I simply act as if I am asking all these questions so that others can be anonymous.

15 thoughts on “ask a scatterbrain (will jobs exist?)”

  1. We have a hiring freeze in effect right now but we also have an open hire for an assistant professor. Apparently, the hire just has to be authorized.


  2. my system has a hiring freeze now too but our budget problems preceded the latest crisis and if jobs were authorized prior to the freeze, i think they are still active.

    i can’t imagine it’s going to be a great year on the market but i would think u’s are somewhat insulated — you might see bigger effects at post-offer negotiations.


  3. We have been authorized to proceed on two searches. So, we’re hiring at West Virginia. Just in case anyone’s interested:

    Job 1: Sociologist focusing on social inequalities, globalization, and social psychology.

    Job 2: Social scientist who studies crime & justice. We are particularly interested in sociologists who focuses on punishment, incarceration, etc.


  4. cover letters for research universities: i’m on the job market and am wondering how interested research universities are in teaching experience. should i include a paragraph or two on courses i have taught? would they be interested in possible courses i could teach? i’ve been told by people to front-load my research for R1s; so how much space should be devoted to teaching? finally, how many pages should the cover letter be? is it a crime to go over 2 pages?


  5. My opinion: Devoting some space to what you have taught or would like to teach is good, especially if you can teach in areas that might not be obvious from your dissertation topic & publications. I’ve heard of 2 pages as the standard, but I personally would never downgrade someone just because the letter was long, nor have I ever seen anyone do it. However, people are reading a LOT of files in the first screening, and they may not read a long letter carefully. You don’t want to sound verbose. Making sure key qualifications show up on the cv helps; you can have a section on the cv for courses you have taught or are prepared to teach.


  6. My question is, should this economic crisis change our job seeking strategies? My advisors have always told me to apply somewhat selectively and do postdocs for a couple of years rather than risk getting stuck somewhere undesirable. But maybe in this climate, any TT job with a reasonable teaching load is better than no job?


  7. There’s a couple of posts today on rateyourstudents (a hilarious blog you should read anyway) of comments & advice about applying to “lower tier” schools. The main point is that if you think you are slumming and overqualified when you apply there, you won’t get the job. I’ve learned from the smaller schools that they actually get more applications than at the “top” schools because people screen themselves out of top-20 jobs. I don’t have time to do the links, but the general topic has been addressed often at scatterplot: if you are going to apply beyond the research departments that are your first choice, go to the trouble of learning about the schools and personalizing your application, or it probably isn’t worth the postage.

    Link to the first of two posts in response to queries about “broader” applications.


  8. Hmmm, I just got an email from the president of my (private) college informing the faculty of the following: “We must reduce expenses in preparation for a probable fall in revenues and recurring resources that historically have supported our activities. Therefore, at this time, it is necessary that we implement portfolio contingency plans (without layoffs), Institute-wide vacancy management (i.e., a hiring freeze), and attrition management.” Awesome.

    Maybe the $200 million performing arts center we just opened wasn’t such a great use of resources, after all.


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