AEA Guidance on the 2023-24 Economics Job Market Cycle
July 27, 2023
To: Members of the American Economic Association and Economics Department Chairs
From: Peter L. Rousseau, Secretary-Treasurer
Subject: AEA Guidance on the 2023-24 Economics Job Market Cycle
AEA Guidance on the 2023-24 Economics Job Market Cycle
The AEA Executive Committee, in conjunction with its Committee on the Job Market, recognizes that it is to the benefit of the profession if the job market for economists is thick, with many employers and job candidates participating in the same stages at the same time. Moreover, the AEA's goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion are fostered by having a timeline that remains widely known and accepted, ensuring that candidates can correctly anticipate when each stage will occur. The AEA has a role to establish professional norms, which includes ensuring fair treatment of job candidates, including that they have enough time to consider job offers.
With these goals in mind, and in light of inquiries from both job candidates and employers about how to proceed, the AEA asks that departments and other employers consider the following timeline for initial interviews and “flyouts” in the upcoming job cycle (2023-24).
Timing of interview invitations
The AEA suggests that employers wait to extend interview invitations until the day after job market signals are transmitted to employers (roughly December 1).
Rationale: the AEA created the signaling mechanism to reduce the problem of asymmetric information and allow job candidates to credibly signal their interest to two employers. The AEA asks that employers wait to extend interview invitations until those signals have been transmitted, and to use that information to finalize their set of candidates to interview. This helps the job market in several ways: it reduces the problem of imperfect information, it helps ensure a thick market at each stage, and it promotes the AEA’s goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Job candidates from historically under-represented groups may lack informal networks and thus may especially rely on the signals to convey their interest. Waiting to review the signals before issuing invitations promotes a fairer, more equitable process.
We also ask that all employers indicate on EconTrack when they have extended interview invitations. This allows candidates to learn about the status of searches without visiting websites posting crowd-sourced information and potentially inappropriate other content.
Timing of interviews
Initial interviews may take place any time after the AEA signals are sent (roughly December 1). The AEA recommends that all initial interviews take place virtually (e.g. by Zoom). We suggest that interviews not take place during the AEA meeting itself (January 5-7, 2024).
Rationale: In the past, interviews were conducted in-person at the AEA/ASSA meetings. This promoted thickness of the market, because most candidates and employers were present at the meetings, but had the disadvantage of precluding both job candidates and interviewers from fully participating in AEA/ASSA sessions.
Initial job interviews went online during COVID, and feedback indicated that the benefits of virtual first-round interviews (e.g. low monetary cost, zero cost in travel time, scheduling flexibility, convenience) outweighed the limitations (e.g. less rich interaction).
We ask that interviews NOT take place during the AEA/ASSA meetings (January 5-7, 2024) in order to allow job candidates and interviewers to participate in the conference.
Timing of flyouts
Flyouts have historically happened at times appropriate for the employer, and the AEA sees no reason to suggest otherwise. We ask that all employers indicate on EconTrack when they have extended flyout invitations. Unlike with interviews, the AEA does not take a position on whether flyouts should be virtual or in-person.
Timing of offers and “exploding” offers
In order to ensure that the job market remains sufficiently synchronized and thick, and that candidates have a chance to compare offers, the AEA recommends that employers leave job offers open (i.e. do not require candidates to accept or decline) until at least January 31.
The AEA also strongly recommends that employers give candidates at least two weeks to consider their job offer. We recognize that offers made late in the job market season (e.g., March or later) may be of shorter duration. In some circumstances, employers are under heavy pressure to give less time to candidates for various reasons. If that is absolutely necessary, we recommend that employers give candidates a minimum of one week to consider the offer, and that candidates be given advance notice of this (e.g. at the flyout stage) whenever possible.
Rationale: Recently, there is concern about a rise in “exploding offers” – i.e., offers for which candidates are given too few days to sufficiently consider the offer and their alternatives. This can prevent candidates from learning about their options or comparing offers, and at the extreme can be coercive. Giving candidates two weeks (or, late in the job market season, at least one week) to consider an offer is a reasonable standard.
We also ask that all employers indicate on EconTrack when they have completed or closed their search.
Job market institutions and mechanisms
Please keep in mind the various job market institutions and mechanisms created by the AEA to improve the job market:
- The JOE Network includes a database of job openings for economists.
- Employers may sign up here: https://www.aeaweb.org/joe/employer.
- Job candidates may search the database here: https://www.aeaweb.org/joe/listings.
- The JOE Network has an electronic clearinghouse for job candidates to submit job applications. Job candidates may register here: https://www.aeaweb.org/joe/candidate.
- The AEA Committee on the Job Market releases data and guidance on the job market here: https://www.aeaweb.org/joe/communications.
- EconTrack: a board on which employers can indicate when they have extended interview and flyout invitations, and closed their search: https://www.aeaweb.org/econtrack.
We encourage all employers to review and abide by Best Practices for Economists to Build a More Diverse, Inclusive, and Productive Profession, and in particular those for conducting a fair recruiting process.
Thank you for helping to ensure a transparent and equitable job market for new Ph.D. economists.