Archive for Monday, October 3, 2011

Fewer job openings in higher education mean tougher search

October 3, 2011


Alicia Levin remembers what it was like to be looking around in the higher education job market. And it wasn’t much fun.

Levin is a musicologist, meaning she’s something like a music historian. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in 2009 and finally got hired on a tenure-track position in the Kansas University School of Music this year.

“It was a horrible experience,” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”

As universities across the country face state budget shortfalls and are feeling the effects of a slumping economy, it creates a backlog of qualified applicants to fill open professor posts. And for departments looking to hire new positions, the situation has meant they often can attract their top choices among the large pool of applicants to come to the university.

It was a lot of checking up on websites that tracked open positions in the field. Some of the sites allowed users to post updates on how the job searches were going, so she could watch as jobs she’d applied for moved to the phone interview stage, and then through the process until they were filled.

For others, including Jacob Dakon, a Ph.D. candidate at Ohio State University, the search went a little better. He was able to secure a position on the music faculty right out of his doctoral program.

“I just got lucky,” he said. He said put in 11 applications, and KU was the first to call. He was able to wind up with the position.

“I never heard from any of the other universities,” he said.

The market can vary across the disciplines. The Modern Language Association reported that the number of jobs advertised with the organization stabilized in 2010-11, increasing by 8.2 percent for English positions and 7.1 percent in the foreign languages.

But the positions are still down at about a third below their 2007-08 peak.

The American Historical Association reported that jobs posted with its organization fell 29.4 percent in the academic year 2009-10, to its lowest point in 25 years. The 569 advertised positions “marks a precipitous fall from the historical high of 1,059 advertised positions recorded just two years ago,” wrote Robert B. Townsend, the AHA’s assistant director, who tracks the jobs data annually.

While the available number of jobs were falling, the AHA reported that the number of people earning doctoral degrees continued to rise slightly, up to 989 in 2009-10, from 969 a year before.

Marta Caminero-Santangelo, chairwoman of KU’s English department, said the market has meant more options for her department.

“It’s a buyer’s market,” she said. “We’ve definitely been able to get our top choices.”

For a tenure-track assistant professor position, applications typically range from newly minted Ph.D. candidates to people who already have assistant professorships at other schools, she said. Tenured associate professor posts typically attract associate professors from other schools, she said.

KU hired two new English professors this year — one assistant professor, and one associate professor, Caminero-Santangelo said.

“We’ve got extremely high-qualified people competing for the jobs we’re offering,” she said.

Levin said that more qualified candidates in the pool can contribute to the backlog of people looking for jobs. The people who earned doctorates in 2009 typically will take a non-tenured lecturer position and then try again in 2010, 2011 and so on. Every year, they have to compete with a new crop of candidates, too.

“While it was a difficult process, it was definitely affirming,” Levin said. She said she got great support from colleagues and others along the way. “There’s no group I’d rather be a part of.”

Kansas University assistant professor of musicology Alicia Levin, and assistant professor of music education and music therapy Jacob Dakon are pictured Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 in Murphy Hall. Both are recent additions to the music department. However, the two have had different experiences finding tenure-track positions.

Kansas University assistant professor of musicology Alicia Levin, and assistant professor of music education and music therapy Jacob Dakon are pictured Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 in Murphy Hall. Both are recent additions to the music department. However, the two have had different experiences finding tenure-track positions.


Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

Employment change. Overall employment of truck drivers and driver/sales workers is expected to grow 9 percent over the 2008-18 decade, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. As the economy grows, the demand for goods will increase, which will lead to more job opportunities. Because it is such a large occupation, 291,900 new jobs will be created over the 2008-18 period.

The number of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is expected to grow 13 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is about as fast as average, mainly as a result of increasing demand for goods in the U.S. As the economy continues to grow, companies and households will continue to increase their spending on these products, many of which must be shipped over long distances.

Employment of light or delivery services truck drivers should grow 4 percent over the projections decade, which is more slowly than average. Though experiencing slower growth than heavy trucking, light and delivery trucking will similarly be closely tied to the state of the economy. As economic growth occurs, there will be an increasing need for light trucking services, from the distribution of goods from warehouses to the package delivery to households. The number of driver/sales workers is also expected to grow 4 percent between 2008 and 2018, more slowly than average, for the same basic reasons.

Job prospects. Job opportunities should be favorable for truck drivers, especially for long-haul drivers.


toe 2 years, 6 months ago

Good luck finding a job. The world needs more people like you, but it does not know that yet. Impoverishment of the pocket is problematic, impoverishment of the heart is fatal.


Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

Higher education is not vocational training. People know (or should know) what their job prospects may be. If all one wants is a 'job' go to truck driving school.......lots of openings; high demand for new drivers; pay about what teachers and some professors make if you are willing to work hard and travel. I agree with rtwngr; painfully obvious, LJW. Do a little investigative reporting sometime. There is lots to discover, but don't p*ss off any advertisers.


its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

Self-absorbed idealists/artists are not in too much demand nowadays. You can possibly become POTUS if you're lucky, but for the most part the success rate for them is probably somewhere between .05-1%, give or take.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 6 months ago

I have a solution to this. Vote for Governer Hair, the bigot from Texas. He claims he has the key to creating jobs! He has claimed credit for that state having a better economy thant the rest of the country, just nominate this guy and elect him to the White House. Rush Limbaugh and Sara Palin will be so grateful to you.


bootlegger 2 years, 6 months ago

Lol.........Would u like fries with that?? Now thats about a side of onion rings too..........???? lol


rtwngr 2 years, 6 months ago

Another typical LJW article.

"Please allow us to state the obvious". Blah blah blah blah.


engr 2 years, 6 months ago

“It was a horrible experience,” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”

What would she recommend?


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