“Why can’t I just put my CV and a few other docs on PhilPeople, set a few parameters (geography, specialty etc.) then set my status to ‘looking’, then let the hiring committees browse the available talent, DM the candidates they like to see if they’re serious. Such an endless waste of time applying for jobs.”
It’s an interesting prompt for considering alternatives to the status quo.
In response, Matt Lister noted the similarity between what Hermias suggested and how the law faculty job market works for junior positions:
For what it’s worth, this is at least a bit like how the entry-level law school teaching market works (or worked—it’s been several years since I’ve been on it, thank goodness!) Would-be applicants submit information that’s uploaded to a central service and put into a form (The FAR, or Faculty Appointments Register) that goes to all schools that sign up. It used to be a big paper binder, but of course now it’s electronic, and people can search it. You can also attach a cv. It was also traditional to send “letters of interest”, often including publications and the like, to schools you were particularly interested in, though it’s debatable how important those were.
Schools make first round interview offers based on the FAR (and other materials they may ask for, in some cases.) These used to be done at a big conference in DC each fall, but I think they are now mostly done on-line. It has draw-backs—no matter how you do it, the form used will be such that it will make it hard to present some information, and it may make it easier to simply screen out some applicants. (Law is even more “prestige” heavy than philosophy, with the vast majority of professors coming for a tiny handful of schools. Supposedly some committees simply exclude everyone not from a small number of schools.) But, over-all it’s easier and less time consuming than the philosophy market. One thing to note, though, is that it’s now much more common for school HR departments to require people to fill out on-line applications early on, negating at least some of the value.
The system appears to be funded by institutional memberships. You can learn more about it here.
I think it’s worth considering such alternatives to the way the academic philosophy job market is currently arranged. The market in academic philosophy is relatively small and changing it is a real possibility. It would take the creation of a technological infrastructure, which is hardly an insuperable obstacle, and a few influential departments to lead the way, to get change started.
In thinking about whether or how to alter things, we might start by identifying what we think are the main problems with the mechanisms of the job market in its existing form; that will give us some benchmarks by which to check whether or how alternatives might constitute improvements. We ought to pay attention to factors such as costs in time and money, the distribution of burdens across applicants and hiring institutions, how existing technology could be deployed, and so on. And as usual, it’s worth keeping in mind that no arrangement is going to be problem free, so the question is: which set of problems should we decide are worth putting up with? This is the brainstorming stage of the discussion, so let loose.