If you’re on the faculty job market, or will be soon, you may find yourself explaining the real possibility of failure to well-meaning family and friends.
And an attitude of Hunger Games triumphalism isn’t going to he helpful, as The Chronicle of Higher Education explains in an article entitled “The Odds Are Never in Your Favor.” by Atlas Odinshoot:
“Doctoral students are usually type-A overachievers, and so your loved ones have faith that you’ll come out OK because, well, you always have.
“But the academic job market is a process that necessitates failure. Your application materials will end up in the slush pile at dozens of departments, regardless of how well suited you are for the position or how carefully you tailor your materials. Outstanding candidates can easily fail to find a position. And that’s why, when I can’t quite convey that grim reality, I tell my family and friends that if they want to know what the job market is like for Ph.D.’s, they should read (or watch) The Hunger Games.
“Whether you see yourself on the job market as Katniss Everdeen (plucky heroine), Peeta Mellark (sensitive but somewhat clueless), or Cato (ruthless killing machine), only you can say.
The odds are never in your favor. I recently asked a successful job candidate—hired as an assistant professor at a very good college—what he viewed as a good application-response rate. That is, how many interviews should you get in relation to the number of applications you submit? He said, calmly, “Talking with other graduate students, I’d say somewhere in the neighborhood of one in 20 to one in 30.”
“Those are your odds of even getting to the interview stage. That’s not an official statistic, but official statistics don’t exist for this sort of thing. The odds of surviving the Hunger Games? One in 24. Continue reading “The Hunger Games of academic employment”