Why It’s Always the Hirer’s Market in Academia

In a job-seeker’s market, candidates give emoloyers the taste of their own medicine:

In the hottest job market in decades, workers are holding all the cards. And they’re starting to play dirty… “You’re seeing job candidates with more options,” says Dawn Fay, district president of staffing firm Robert Half for the New York City area. “It’s definitely influencing their behavior.”

For us in academia it’s an inaccessible dream. And it’s obviously not the money that is attracting such competitive and desperate crowds to the profession. It’s the lifestyle. This is why companies and recruiters who are eager to hire work so much on the concept of company culture. In US academia, the most attractive company culture in the world is built into the concept. As a result, it’s always the hirer’s market.

6 thoughts on “Why It’s Always the Hirer’s Market in Academia

  1. Academia was a jobseekers’ market in the decade 1958-1967, at least for what are now called STEM fields. I got my Ph. D. at the end of this period, in 1968. I had no trouble finding a job. I put in three applications and got one offer. A 1967 Ph. D. who put in three applications typically received three offers.


    1. I remember listening to someone who was there during the collapse of the academic job market in Physics at the beginning of the 70s. He said that the situation went from “Anyone who can complete their PhD can get a job” to “Even the best graduates from the top programs in the country are struggling to find jobs” in the space of about 18 months.


    2. I don’t know the exact dates, but I’ve heard several people talk about this period in modern languages and it was also ridiculously easy to get jobs then. I’ve heard of people’s advisers just calling around to their friends and getting them tenure track jobs and that department chairs would just go to the MLA, interview people, and make jobs for whoever they liked. I know that one person (now retired) from my department got a job because he was passing through town and his advisor called a friend here and said he should meet with him while he was in the area. He never actually applied, but got a tenure track job that he kept until retirement.

      I’ve also found people from that generation to be extremely resistant to accepting any changes in the working conditions of the university or taking any financial considerations into account in the running of the university. I don’t think financial considerations should be the only thing we consider and we often go to far in that direction, at the same time, the dean is not evil and corrupt for cracking down on full professors teaching undergraduate seminars with only three students in them. It’s also not wildly unreasonable to occasionally update the majors and expect faculty to develop a new course every now and again. Fortunately, most of those types seem to have retired.


  2. I have nothing to say about your post, but…

    I’m sick and tired of all of those pseudo-articles about the so-called job seeker’s market. Another excuse to open even more the borders to decrease wages.

    Where are those job seeker’s markets? Almost nothing outside cheap labor, high precision manual tasks, health services and computer science, so there is not much for highly qualified college graduates.


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