+2 votes
asked ago in Job Market - Candidate Questions by (180 points)
I have heard some say that it's not a good idea to present your job market paper at conferences before you go on the job market, presumably because your paper is still "in the works" and is changing, and that you may not want people to see a "weaker" version of you job market paper as you are improving on it. However, it seems to me that one of the best ways to improve your work is to present it to others, discuss it, and receive feedback.
So is presenting your JMP at conferences before going on the job market widely seen as a bad idea or not at all?

3 Answers

+5 votes
answered ago by (1.6k points)
selected ago by
Best answer
It depends on how "weak." So long as you are posing an interesting question, the research is carefully done and error-free, the draft is well written, and you have some interesting results, the lack of many extensions, bells and whistles should not matter. If anything, you will get some good publicity. Some in the audience may take the information back to their home departments and say: "A grad student named Poulsen presented an interesting paper. He/she is on the job market and we should interview him/her." This will be more effective than just a routine application sent through the usual formal channels. And then, when your paper is improved by the time of the interview and fly-out, it will provide further evidence that you are an active mind and more than a one-off in research. It will be even better if the improvement is the result of feedback you got at the conference from some of the same people who are supporting you in their home departments; they will be doubly pleased and energetic in their efforts.
+3 votes
answered ago by (6.9k points)
I think that presenting at conferences, if you have a good paper and can present it well, can only help you.  Practice by giving seminars at every opportunity in your own department before going public, and then go for it.  Pay attention to the time limits, which are often quite short, and may only allow you to present a brief summary of your work, and stay and talk to people about it after your session.
+4 votes
answered ago by (1k points)
In my experience, as an unknown junior, the audiences' attention constraints work in your favor:

If nobody knows you and you give an unmemorable talk, then you will just continue to be unknown. People won't remember.
If nobody knows you and you give a great talk, then people will remember you positively.

So there's no downside but a significant upside --  as long as you can avoid giving a talk that is so ridiculously bad that it is memorable for that reason (which rarely ever happens).

Moreover, you can't anticipate unanticipated questions, and it's extremely hard to predict how the audience will receive your project, at what points they will have trouble understanding and so on. Being well-prepared on these dimensions is a key factor to success on the job market, and you can get that preparation only through presenting your work.