+3 votes
asked ago in Job Market - Candidate Questions by (160 points)
I am currently working in an industry job and have one year of experience there. I am aiming to apply to the academic job market in the coming cycle. Is there a negative stigma attached to people in my situation when applying to academic jobs? How realistic I can be of getting a job this cycle if I have not greatly improved my profile within the one year I have been out of grad school. If people on hiring committees can provide some perspective that would be helpful.

3 Answers

+6 votes
answered ago by (3.2k points)
(1) This is going to depend a great deal on what school you apply to. In some places, industry experience might be seen as adding to what you can bring into a classroom. In many, the implicit question will be why you are in industry in the first place.

(2) Most people one year out haven't much improved their profile. Nonetheless, lack of progress will hurt some.

(3) You also need to think about what your letter writers will say. (Well, don't think about it--talk to them.) They may feel you are terribly underplaced and be happy to write strong letters. Or they may want to spend most of their energy/capital placing this year's crop.

All-in-all, you should probably expect to do a bit less well than you did a year ago. But cast a wide net, there is a lot of randomness in this process.
commented ago by (730 points)
Agree with the comment above. In addition, if you can show the hiring committee that your industry experience brings research-relevant aspects to your academic job, this may bolster your case. E.g. access to special datasets that you gained through the industry job, etc.
commented ago by (610 points)
I'm tempted to suggest waiting another year or two to see if your profile improves. Related to (2) above, if you *have* improved your profile (e.g., you have some R&Rs from your dissertation chapters), then you will be doing better than "most people" who went right into an academic job, and so I think that could greatly improve your odds. One of my co-authors did this successfully (published his 3 dissertation chapters, and then he and I started a new project which became his "new JMP" when he went back on the market a few years later). This also appears to have been the route taken by some of the people who replied to my Twitter thread here (scroll to bottom): https://twitter.com/ProfNoto/status/968334313891815425

I also agree with the comment on "access to special data sets" -- that's obviously been a huge asset to people going to academic jobs from places like the Fed or the CFPB.
+2 votes
answered ago by (950 points)
Can you tell us anything about the status of your thesis? I don't think the one year gap matters much, but if you failed the academic market the first time around, it's a bad signal if you don't have anything more on the pipeline. If this is your first try, just get your letters and job market paper ready and make sure your advisors are on board.
+3 votes
answered ago by (3.3k points)
edited ago by
I started out in an industry job (one of the for profit think tanks in DC).  I think the broad reaction people had to me was wondering if I was an academic lemon so to speak.  If I was leaving industry after literally being at the job for a couple of months (I started in August and was applying in October or November), then clearly I wanted a research academic job but hadn't secured the last time around.  The truth was I liked the research job ok, but I was looking to move back to a tenure track job at a research university.  I was successful and have done ok there,  but I had done the following.  

1.  Submitted everything I could before hand, both during the market and after.  I got some good R&R's  after the market was over (I was lucky) so I looked MUCH BETTER than the year before on paper.  

2.  I applied only to places where I was a good fit (10 jobs total).  I had 4 AEA interviews, 2 flyouts, 1 offer with a 2nd on the way when I accepted.  A more selective search can be easier when the alternative is unemployment.  Especially because I knew I could spend 2 months flying all over the country and keep my employer happy.  When your in at will employment, this is a real concern.  I have know idea how one could ever apply 150 jobs while working a full time job.  

3.  I stayed in touch with people where I had flyouts the year before (when I ended up at the research job) and even started coauthoring papers with some of them.  This broadened my academic network and helped when people reached out behind the scenes to figure out if I was a lemon or not (the r&rs helped with some of that, but then people were worried maybe I was a jerk or something).  This also relates to my next point.  

4.  If you don't have any publications or R&r's this will be an uphill battle because your thesis committee will have moved on.  They have new students to place.  You are no longer their priority.  If you have a fantastic adviser who really cares, they might even update their letter or reach out to a few places on your behalf.  But realistically they have new students on the market every year.  

Some of these are things I discovered and I think did right accidentally.It also probably helped my first on the market was 2009 which was a weird year with the financial crisis.   Others were a combination of hard work and good luck.  But as the saying going, the harder you work, the luckier you get.  I don't think after 1 year there is a ton of stigma, but if people didn't fall in love with your job market paper last year on the market, why would they this year?  

Hope this helps and good luck!!!
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