Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Economist Job Market

Yesterday our department met and sent out invitations for interviews for two tenure track positions. For those of you have not had the pleasure of being on the economics job market. Here is how it works.

1. By December 1st applications are received, this year we received about 200 for 2 positions.
2. In early December the department selects its top 25 to interview at the Econ national meetings just after new years.

Now a bit about how this selection goes. Personally to pick my votes, I looked at publications and research potential based on letters of rec. Teaching awards or high evaluations went a long way. I was surprised to see how few people had done anything other than change a name to their cover letter to distinguish there letter to Towson from another letter. This may be because many econ PhD’s apply to 75-100 schools (I applied to about 30 both times I was on the market).

To sort out the noise of 200 applications the American Economics Association also lets candidates send out two signals to jobs they want. These signals are sent to the search chair. Since candidates only have two signals not receiving one does not really provide information. Receiving one tells you they are seriously considering your job, but feel their application might need another look to stand out among 200. For what is worth I and few other people signaled Towson last year. Signals did make me give candidates a second look, but only in one case did I recommend a person to interview who I would not.

After my colleagues interview 25 people, we will select a handful of candidates to fly out sometime in February. All I can say is it is much more fun to be on the other side of the market.


Game Theorist said...

I'm on the job market this year

Very stressful times. This week is way too quiet. Always a tough market for micro theorists.

Coming from a top 40-60 university, I sent around 100 applications. In retrospect, I should have tried to modify my cover letters a bit more. But it is difficult.

Game Theorist said...

Might as well ask a few questions about the process:

Do you consider if applicants (from top schools) would really come to your department before requesting an interview?

Do you expect such candidates to refuse/cancel interviews? If so, do you have a B-list you'll move to to fill the interview slots?

FWIW, I did not apply to Towson, just curious about the general process.

Seth Gitter said...

I can't get into too specifics numbers, but we received a handfull of applicants from top ten schools. I think there is some of the would the candidate actually come here. But no one applied with who I thought was amazingly above everyone else.

As for two, the way it broke down we had an obvious split, but on the high side of the number of interviews the job committee wanted to do. They anticipate some refusal/cancel, but I don't think the B-list will come into play.

I think a lot of calls will go out next week. Good luck and feel free to e-mail me if you have any job market questions.

Game Theorist said...

Got two more invitations. The market is an incredible roller coaster.

rjgitter said...

As Seth might have mentioned, he went into the family business. I am his father and teach economics at Ohio Wesleyan. We, too are in the market. A few thoughts, although perhaps a bit late for this year.

1. Why apply for a job for which there is no apparent fit? We are hiring an environmental economist and clearly state that in JOE. Why does someone without that as their field or any coursework in the area apply?

2. Changing a cover letter involves more than changing a word or two. Don't just state you can teach environmental if it is not your field. If you can, tell us what you base your ability on.

3. OK, a tip for the meetings. At small schools (we have five economists and are expanding to six) we each teach a field or two and there is very little overlap. If we had someone in your field, we would not be looking in your field. So, when explaining your work, don't overwhelm us with the details and models in your field that you THINK everyone knows. We aren't knowledgeable in your area. We want to hear how you explain things to bright people who are NOT experts in your sub-field.

Good luck to all!

Bob Gitter