Saturday, June 23, 2007


Carleton has posted a sociology job ad with a deadline of July 13, with the idea of conducting preliminary interviews at ASA. Is this unusually early, or is my understanding and recollection of sociology job deadlines wrong? I guess the ad doesn't ask for letters of recommendation, just references. I've never been asked to write a letter of recommendation for a position with a July deadline, but I don't know if that says more about my experience as a letter writer or about the rarity of July deadlines for positions open to new Ph.D.'s. Anyone?

(Part of me asking is that everyone in sociology seems to be complaining about how the job deadlines are getting earlier and earlier. If ASA kept records of their application ads over the years, this could actually be an interesting thing to study, especially in terms of how the sequence has gone of places moving up their deadlines. I don't think there would be any rule against ASA trying to impose some kind of guidelines to set the timing of the market, but that would require the ASA leadership to show leadership, and I'm not naïve enough to stand on the platform waiting for that train.)


Corey said...

There seems to be an "arms race" among departments to get out as early as possible in-order to snare the best candidates before they get competing offers. I know that we tried to get out earlier last year than my department has in the past.

But July is an awfully early deadline. My guess is unless the job is particularly attractive (prestigious, $$$, location, etc) closing the search so early will be counter productive.

But in re-reading the ad, I notice that they're not closing it in July. They're just going to start reviewing applications in July.

jeremy said...

Corey: True, they aren't closing it, but usually somebody wants to meet the "start reviewing" date. An advantage of the July date is it allows them to meet a small number of strong contenders at ASA, and save on flying people out only to discover they are freaks. In this way, it would make sense if the whole soc market moved to July, which I've wondered about. The econ market's system of using its January meeting to provide an in-person screen seems so much more efficient than how sociology does it. Then again, sociology departments will also offer funding packages far in excess of $100,000 to graduate students that they never would have admitted if they had a 15 minute interview with them first.

Ang said...


Chip said...

The job market for faculty in many management depts has featured preliminary interviewing, often informal, at its annual meeting in August (this year, one week before ASA) - then candidates submit formal applications due around Dec 1 with campus visits/job talks in Jan and Feb.

But in the last few years the arms race noted by Corey has begun, with earlier and earlier interviews and offers too.

My dept had a strong PhD student whose first offer came in October - leading to a daisy chain of about 6 offers - he would hold his best one while waiting for a decision from a subsequent interview. He was never without an offer in hand and finally ended up accepting a good job in February. Most drawn out process I'd ever heard for a new PhD (actually ABD).

Dave P. said...

I was on the market for the first time last year. Some of my profs were amazed at how much earlier the process was moving, as compared to even just a few years ago. I had my first campus interview in late October, and three campus visits before December. I accepted an offer in mid-Dec.

It was interesting to see the depts who had not caught up to the arms race -- a number of schools called me in January and expressed surprise that I was already off the market.

eszter said...

My experience from a few years ago (I guess almost five by now) is that it is really drawn out. Granted, I was on several markets. But even within Sociology it was interesting. I had my first offer in October. The deadline for the decision on that one was before I got a chance to go on any other campus visits. I ended up declining without anything else in the hand (!) although by then I think I had other interviews lined up. That said, the offer came back to me a month later (!). So even declining an offer doesn't mean the door is necessarily shut forever.

I ended up accepting the NU Comm Studies offer in January. But I still got a call (perhaps email, perhaps both) in March about a Soc job.

My experience has been that the top departments are the least likely to put this kind of pressure on people. But it could also depend on the case. If they know they don't want anyone else on the list then why bother pressuring the one person of interest?

On another note, I'm surprised how few departments decide to keep interviewing people even just a slot or two down on their lists after the first few people didn't work out.

Corey said...

Jeremy: Certainly, motivated candidates want to meet the "start reviewing". However, what I've discovered, both as a candidate and as someone on a hiring committee, unless the institution sells itself (say, a Northwestern University) an early closing date is likely to keep the candidate pool unsatisfactorily small. In principle, I think normalizing the market deadlines to early July will make things more efficient; but perhaps will be costly to those of us in the middle or lower tier of the market. You also have to consider that many ABD candidates are only in the early stages of writing their dissertation. This pushes the application process out a full year ahead of the start date... something that would seem odd in other professions, I think.

For the "less obviously attractive" schools (e.g., non-elite liberal arts colleges or mid to low-tier State Universities) the official ASA employment service is more of a means to attract candidates to apply than a means to pare down the applicant pool. As a candidate, I applied to several schools only after meeting with someone at the ASA service (I'm resisting the urge to call it the "meat market"... oops). Of those, I wound up with a couple of on-campus interviews and an offer (which I turned down). The point is I would never have applied for these schools (which had low applicant pools) without being encouraged to do so at ASA.

Despite the widespread fear among graduate students everywhere (and I shared this fear) that there are gazillion applicants for every job; there actually are a number of places that have trouble attracting solid pools of candidates (particularly in the Criminology and Methods areas). Eszter wondered why so many schools don't keep dipping into their pool after the first few candidates don't work out. Well, I can only speak as an n of 1, but sometimes there really aren't any viable candidates left.

Last year we tried to get out with the arms race and interviewed three people before Christmas (unheard of in the history of my department). We were outbid for candidate 1; turned down flat by candidate 2; we decided candidate 3 was not a good fit; reopened the search in January and many of the other top candidates were gone leaving us to ask permission to search again this year.

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If there are any JFW readers on the market with an interest in social control and like the sound of a 2x2 teaching load at a large State university, please feel free to send me a note.

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