Alternative Models for the Philosophy Job Market


“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.”

That was from “Hermias” in one of the comments on the recent post soliciting topics for discussion (further suggestions welcome there, by the way).

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.

 

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Matt L
5 months ago

Having spent time on both the philosphy and law job markets, I can say that I found the law market less burdensom and easier to deal with, not least because of the system I note above. Switchign to a system like the FAR for philsophy would require a good deal of coordination, but not, I think, more than was in the past necessary for making the Eastern APA the core of the hiring process. And, as the decline of the hiring conference (*) for law schools shows, it’s not actually necessary to combine the FAR process with a conference – it works fine with on-line interviews for the first round, too. No doubt there would be some down-sides. And, I should note, the fee for apply through the FAR wasn’t trivial. (I can’t remember what it was now, but it was at least a few hundred dollars. Probably it’s reasonable to make it lower for philosphers, if possible, given that, historically, it was practicing lawyers, not grad students, mostly applying for law school teaching jobs.) But, overall, I think it would be an improvement and more humane than the current system – perhaps both for applicants and departments.

(*) The law school hiring conference was literally just for hiring – there wasn’t any other conference that went with it. This, no doubt, helped people not feel bad in getting rid of it.

Matt L
Reply to  Matt L
5 months ago

I might add, with the FAR in law, people don’t apply for particular jobs through this process. One’s application goes to every school that is taking part, and the school filters accordingly. But, of course, schools still have particular interests, and traditionally these would be noted in a “hiring bulletin” that was published _after_ people applied via the FAR. I think that still happens, but also schools informally announce their hiring interests and committees via a list via the tireless and admirable Sarah Lawsky of Northwestern law school. You can see that here: https://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2023/07/hiring-plans-and-hiring-committees-2023-2024.html

People then often send informal/semi formal “letters of interest” to schools that are hiring in areas they work in or where they are particlarly keen to live/work, though as noted before, it’s debated how important these are for people who apply via the FAR.

David Wallace
5 months ago

I don’t think this is unworkable, but I have fairly serious concerns about whether it would be desirable in practice – even for candidates themselves.

Job ads often don’t fit into completely discrete categories: they say things like ‘would prefer X’, ‘interests in Y particularly useful’, ‘field is open but candidate will be expected to teach in Z’, etc. And geographical preferences can be quite idiosyncratic and difficult to break into simple categories – less ‘I must work in these states’, more ‘strong preference for one of these states, but of course it depends on the job description and the salary’.

The way the situation works at present, a department advertises and then the onus is on the candidate to (a) decide if they’d like the job in the first place and (b) make the case as to how they can fit the department’s preferences. On this scheme, the onus moves to the hiring department to trawl through hundreds of possible-fits and look for which ones might actually work.

I don’t have a moral problem with the department rather than the candidates having to do the work. But it is a significant amount of work, and the department is much less incentivized to do a really thorough job than the candidates. I strongly suspect that many people who would have applied for a job in the current system will be missed by a department’s trawl, because it’s not immediately obvious that they would be a good fit. I also strongly suspect that the people most likely to be missed are the ones not from highly-ranked PhD programs.

My suspicion is that candidates would try to alleviate this by actively communicating their interest to hiring departments: ‘look at my application please, I’m a better fit than you might think’. But if that happens, we’re pretty much back to the current system – perhaps with a further technological and bureaucratic overhead.

The fact that law does this is at least some reason to think it would be logistically viable for us too. But if (as Matt L says) Law is even more prestige-heavy than philosophy, that’s not reassuring as to its effects.

Alexander Guerrero
Reply to  David Wallace
5 months ago

It’s probably worth noting that on the law side, it is now common practice for candidates to write to many schools directly to ‘pitch’ themselves as a distinctively good or distinctively interested applicant for their jobs. (So, what David Wallace predicts is exactly what happens.)

And law professors (and sometimes judges for whom one has clerked) who are serving as recommenders will also often ‘back channel’ communicate with hiring committees and various faculty at specific schools to put their person forward in various ways, make the case that they are an excellent fit, attempt to gauge the actual area interest of the hiring schools, etc. This is mostly a ‘service’ offered by law professors at the very top law schools (Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, NYU, Columbia, and a handful of others), and not so much to others, which creates a huge additional prestige school advantage.

The main advantages of the FAR system seem to be

(a) centralization of submission: you send the bulk of your materials just to one place, uploading it in a fairly simple system

(b) non-idiosyncrasy: the materials required are the same for almost every job

(c) standardization of timing: almost all entry-level hiring takes place at the same time, with deadlines, interviews, and fly-outs proceeding on the same schedule across almost all hiring institutions

(d) minimal initial materials required: schools don’t request extensive writing, letters of recommendation, or cover letters (although people have started being expected to submit something like cover letters to their top choices)

All of those seem like important and valuable, even if they don’t address other problems with the job market.

I don’t know whether the law method exacerbates prestige effects. Somewhat anecdotally, I think law schools outside of the very top often do a pretty good job of doing a bit more of a deep dive into the pool. It’s hard to tell this from the narrow range of JD schools hired from, but that is significantly due to where people are applying from…

Alexander Guerrero
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
5 months ago

There are also advantages to the FAR system for the hiring department. Because it is an online, standardized system, one can search and filter in various ways. You only want to look at people who list an AOS in Logic? Filter and click. You only want people who have at least 2 publications? Someone who has taught at least two of their own courses? Etc. Filter and click. No need to sort through hundreds of divergently formatted CVs, research statements, teaching materials, etc.

Brian Weatherson
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
5 months ago

The ability to filter by publications makes me worry that publications would become more important in hiring than they are now.

I think as it stands most candidates overstate the importance of publications in hiring. But if everyone had 1000+ applications to look at, and the technology incentivised filtering by number of publications, that really would make quantity of publications a key factor in hiring.

Matt L
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
5 months ago

It’s been several years since I filled a FAR form out, but my recollection was that there were three lines for publications, and if you wanted to list more you had to say “see cv” or something like that. It was also possible to upload a writing sample along with one’s cv. Obviously, it wouldn’t be necessary or desirable to slavishly ape the FAR for for philosophy, even if people did want to use it as a model, but it would be possible to build such a for so that it didn’t make the shere number of publications an advantage in the first cut.

Cecil Burrow
Reply to  Matt L
5 months ago

But the point is that very junior people with 0 publications might end up never getting their dossiers even looked at.

Laura
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
5 months ago

I would love a system like this. Imagine one could go on PhilJobs or something and generate a list of every active applicant who fits a set of standardized AOS categories. Then screen for people interested in specific kinds or locations of jobs. This is everyone I’d like to consider; then could sift the list to see if any CV mentions an AOC of special interest, or see who has PhD already in hand. We could get it down to a few dozen people to invite to submit a cover letter and materials required by the university, if still interested, and spare everyone else the time and trouble.

Applying
Applying
5 months ago

One thing that would help applicants enormously is if jobs ads (and especially postdocs) would reduce the idiosyncrasy of applications. It’s a great relief when I see the standard request for a writing sample, references, CV, and cover letter. All I need to do in that case is make the case for why I am a good fit in the cover letter and send the rest of my standard package off.

Jobs that ask for 6-8 short answer essays with unusual questions or for lengthy, original research statements are an incredible time sink. One ad recently asked for a 4000-word research proposal about an applicant’s fit regarding a niche research topic. Imagine the labor of 40-50 applicants each crafting a mostly original 13-15 page research plan!

Even when a postdoc really does need to know what you propose to work on, an initial cut could ask for, say, 2 pages or so and then go from there. Lingnan University should be commended, in my opinion, for taking this approach.

Postdoc
Postdoc
5 months ago

I mostly want to echo Applying’s comments here: dramatic overhauls aside, it would be nice if departments just cut down on needless idiosyncracies in the application process.

One way to do this seems like a nice compromise is for departments to just require a standard set of materials — teaching, research, and diversity statements plus writing sample and CV — and then indicate any insitution-specific questions that the cover letter really needs to address. I’m (highly) skeptical that deparments that ask for more tailored materials than this are really getting anything out of doing so other than culling their applicant pool (and thus reducing the work on their end) by imposing an arbitrary labor requirement on every applicant.

Graeme
Graeme
Reply to  Postdoc
5 months ago

The UK process is much less painful than the US process in my experience. At its best, you send a cover letter and a CV, and only send a writing sample if long-listed. References only get checked after shortlisting.

The CV you keep up to date anyway, and so you just write a two page letter detailing your research plans, ability to fit teaching needs, and how you are a good fit for the department for each job.

Each University has its own vacancies system, which means you have to register with that. but increasingly you can autofill from your CV.

Hiring is a buyers market. The best reforms will be ones that take less energy for hiring departments. But making sure they don’t ask for stuff they don’t have time to read benefits everyone. It also benefits candidates to find out how often they get long-listed.

Preston Werner
Preston Werner
5 months ago

I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that philosophy should consider something like what is done with residency in medicine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Resident_Matching_Program). It sounds like law is doing something similar in some ways.
I think shifting to something like this would be great, but a real question is how? Like so many other things, it looks like we have a collective action problem, unless people want the APA to take on such a burden. (And even then, what about international jobs?)

East Coaster
Reply to  Preston Werner
5 months ago

There is one big difference between philosophy and these other fields: in those fields, the number of applicants and the number of positions are not wildly disproportionate. For instance, last year, there were (by some counts) more jobs than applicants in law. When that is the case, the problem is matching. In philosophy, the problem is desperation.

Preston Stovall
Preston Stovall
Reply to  Preston Werner
5 months ago

Without prejudice as to whether a job-market model like that of law or medicine would be better than today’s status quo, at this point I’d rather the APA be less involved in the academic job market, not more. And though I’m willing to entertain arguments to the contrary, I don’t think it’s healthy to reinstate the APA as a central clearing house for the process of applying for jobs in North America, or the initial evaluation of applicants.

Patrick Lin
Reply to  Preston Stovall
5 months ago

The only plausible way that North American philosophy departments would agree to streamline and centralize the application process, as well as to , standardize and minimize application materials, is for the leading organization for the discipline to spearhead the movement, and that’s the APA.

The alternative is a grassroots campaign that would work with each department to coordinate like this, but individual philosophers would seem to be less effective than an already-organized group/union of philosophers with the connections, influence, and means to run such a campaign.

I get the some folks might bristle at a central clearing house or adding to bureaucracies and processes, but that’s what you’re effectively asking for here. A laissez-faire approach is what we already have now.

Preston Stovall
Preston Stovall
Reply to  Patrick Lin
5 months ago

I don’t see today’s market as very laissez-faire. In fact, from the stuff we have real data on, it looks like thumbs are being placed on scales all over the place. But I wouldn’t have reached for economic categories. It’s decentralized, but it’s not laissez-faire.

At any rate, no doubt the APA could be run by people who deserve the charge of reorganizing the job market in philosophy. I don’t see it today, however. So as a matter of collective policy, I don’t think we should be investing very much authority in the edicts of the APA over the job market today. I’m open to being convinced otherwise, however, and certainly things may change in the future.

As a corollary, I don’t see a grassroots campaign among solitary departments as the important contrast. There are probably hundreds of professional societies in the Anglophone sphere of academic philosophy today. The APA — or the Eastern APA — isn’t all that important for most. If enough like-minded consortiums of those groups got together and drafted a memorandum on hiring in the discipline, we might see meaningful change that was neither grassroots nor directed from the APA. (And I hope one needn’t be a laissez-faire economist to appreciate this point.)

Last edited 5 months ago by Preston Stovall
Patrick Lin
Reply to  Preston Stovall
5 months ago

It sounds like you have a political problem with the APA? (Looking back at your post, it looks like you edited that bit out.) Not sure what “political ideology” you were referring to, but the APA doesn’t seem very political from where I’m sitting…

Anyway, what professional society in philosophy do you see as being more influential and resourced as the APA? Does it really seem easier or more effective for “enough like-minded consortiums of those groups” to get together and exert pressure on philosophy departments?

If so, good luck with that. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try if you like, but only that I’d put my money on APA making more of a difference, and more quickly, than to develop consortiums from the “hundreds of professional societies in the Anglophone sphere of academic philosophy today”, none of whom perhaps is focused on the profession of academic philosophy like the APA is, as opposed to some specific area of philosophy.

Seems that every consortium member would need to commit to sanctioning departments who don’t go along with the plan (the decision for which might not even be up to them), and that’s a very tall order, esp. for diverse societies that have little in common with each other. Without this commitment, there’s no much of incentive or threat behind the consortium’s demands or request.

And insofar as philosophy departments in general would count more members or supporters of the APA than any particular consortium of societies, the most effective lever again seems to be via the APA.

Ultimately, this is an empirical question, so if you’re motivated to start something outside the APA, I’d be happy to follow along.

Preston Stovall
Preston Stovall
Reply to  Patrick Lin
5 months ago

I’m skeptical about investing more authority in the APA over the job market today. I certainly wouldn’t want to grant them more authority to sanction departments. And the fact that it would be easier and more effective to exert that sanctioning influence through the APA is part of the problem. I have no doubt the people in question are, at least for the most part, operating in good faith. But I’m leery of calling on the APA — or any other institution, for that matter — to sanction departments that don’t adhere to its edicts.

Either way, I’m not convinced that a consortium of organizations producing a memorandum requires a power to sanction departments to be effective. I don’t see, for example, what is crucially lacking from an approach where the members of different organizations collectively go about thinking up alternatives, and convene to discuss them, with the aim of writing some discipline-wide memorandum to deliver to members’ departments. Particularly if the memo had the backing of representatives from the large subdiscipline societies — like those for the sciences, exact philosophy, large regional conferences, and the advancement of American philosophy — it would seem to have a good chance to cast a wide net across most departments in North America. And personally, I’d like to see a decade of academy-wide conferences in the U.S. devoted to reassessing higher education in the 21st century. But we could start with any of the societies that any of us pay dues to, or regularly participate in — including the APA.

Eric Steinhart
5 months ago

Over several decades, I’ve served on at least 10 hiring committees (and probably more that I’ve forgotten).

The Law – Medical Resident approach works only because (as others have mentioned) the proportions of jobs to seekers in those fields are roughly equal. In any field where seekers vastly outnumber jobs, it would almost certainly result in a runaway rich-get-richer feedback loop. Given that all philosophy jobs can be staffed by seekers from a small handful of prestigious programs, those will be the only programs looked at by hiring committees. It would save them a lot of time. The elitism in philosophy is problematic (to say the least), and probably just plain unjust and unethical. Anything that makes it worse is even more unjust. Probably the only way to avoid this would be massive redaction in application materials: remove the names of candidates, their PhD institutions, names of their committee members, etc. But such blinds are pretty easy to break just by googling. So, the Law – Med Res model is probably pretty good for hiring institutions, probably horrific for job seekers.

It sure would make everybody’s life easier if application materials were more standardized. This is not always easy. It’s often not hiring committees who demand all this extra stuff. Hiring committees rarely want to read more stuff from hundreds of applicants. Requests for unusual or extra documents often come from the offices of Deans or sometimes Provosts. An interdepartmental group got a grant, philosophy wants a new line, so the Dean says yes if the new hire can contribute to the grant. So now we need to ask seekers how we can do that. Or the Dean is starting an X-studies center or an X-studies major, philosophy wants a new line, etc. Lines are often given to colleges, not to departments, and so departments compete. They win the line by saying the new hire will contribute to X, Y, and Z on campus. So now the applicants have to show they can service X, Y, and Z, hence further paperwork.

It’s a lousy system on all sides. I don’t think any simple changes are going to make it better. But I think we should look for some non-simple changes that might make it better.

Phil grad student
Reply to  Eric Steinhart
5 months ago

For those cases in which nonstandard materials are necessary to gauge fit with nonstandard requirements, can such materials not be required only after the first cut has been made? Apart from the obvious advantage of saving an enormous amount of time for job applicants, it also has an advantage for the hiring institution (or probably it can be sold as such to the actors requiring nonstandard application materials): job applicants are likely to put more thought into those materials, meaning it will be easier to gauge fit.

One might respond that applicants are so desperate that they’ll invest all the time needed anyway. But I don’t think that’s true—many job applicants are as much overloaded as they are desperate, and I’ve witnessed quite a number of job applicants rushing in their application for a sheer lack of time.

One might worry that some good fits (good fits with the nonstandard requirements, that is) might be missed out during the first round. But it may well be possible to partially fix this by requiring a shortened version of the nonstandard materials during the first round.

Combined with requiring a longer version of such materials in the second round, this may well be a solution that works for all parties: job applicants will be (much) better off, without the hiring party being in a worse epistemic position regarding candidates’ fit (probably, hopefully).

Matt L
Reply to  Eric Steinhart
5 months ago

It’s absolutely not the case that the number of people looking for jobs in teaching law is close to the same as the number of people looking. Even when when you weed out the people who submit to the FAR on a whim (I think that’s been going down over time) there are many more applicants than openings. That’s so even though the number of people submitting to the FAR has declined a lot recently.

With medicine, the rough correspondence between residency openings and applicants is caused by the AMA limiting the number of spots in medical school. There’s good reason to think that’s bad on its own, but obviously enough it’s unlikely to happen in philosophy.

Applicant
Applicant
Reply to  Eric Steinhart
5 months ago

The benefit of the proposal under consideration is precisely that it would make everybody’s life easier. That’s the point. The profession has already maxed out the extent to which the rich get richer, so why not drop the charade and just save job applicants some time?

Kenny Easwaran
5 months ago

It’s notable that philosophy is already one of the most centralized academic job markets that exists. I think in most disciplines, applicants have to search multiple publications and websites to be sure to find all the job ads that are relevant for them, while people who are just searching in philosophy can get basically all their relevant job ads in one place. I think that even other disciplines that had centralized first-round interview conferences (like the MLA) often have multiple publications where job ads are posted.

JDF
JDF
5 months ago

I think that people are taking the analogy to the law/medicine market a bit too literally. Here is an analogue which has many of the benefits of that system but also keeps some of the better elements of the current philosophy job market.

(a) Candidates upload a standard set of materials to a centralized system. Call this system “PhilJobs”.

(b) Departments advertise jobs on that system.

(c) Candidates select to which jobs to apply based on those ads, click a box that says “apply”, and those departments gain access to that standard set of materials.

This system just cuts out all the repetitive busy work of inputting the same information into different websites and specifying a generic cover letter for each job.

Matt L
Reply to  JDF
5 months ago

For the record, this sounds like it could be a good idea to me. (No doubt there would be details to work out.) I offer the FAR as an example of what can be done (because it has been done), not at all necessarily as what should be done in philosophy. Something like this might well be better.

Kate Norlock
Reply to  JDF
5 months ago

JDF’s suggestion seems by far the wiser choice, since the original idea in the posting seemed to require those of us on search committees to read many, many more applications than ever before, which is not as possible as applicants might think.
(Quick explanation: I have been on dozens of search committees at two undergrad-only places in remote locations, and we do not get applications from everyone on the market in the AOS. I don’t know if I’m alone on this, but it’s my experience many (!) times over that not everyone with the relevant AOS applies to undergrad-only remote schools with high teaching loads. Even so, my coworkers and I are still reading at least one hundred applications, while our jobs are no less otherwise demanding (and at any/all times of year, given the whims of my province). If applicants thought we were overlooking the details of the contents of their applications when we only read those sent to us, imagine how much more we will skim when reading every application in an AOS.)

Tom R
Tom R
Reply to  JDF
5 months ago

This sounds like a great idea. There’s already something similar with jobs listed via Interfolio (although there aren’t many listed there). Just click the already uploaded materials and apply without any of the busy work.

Gorm
5 months ago

I think one thing that those asking for standardization are overlooking is the fact that not all jobs are the same. I have worked in three countries – so I have seen how different things can be.
Not all jobs are entry level assistant professorships. In Europe it is quite common for philosophers to begin their careers with a series of post doc positions. In some countries, these are funded by external grants for larger projects with a PI. The post doc is expected to work on a very specific topic. In such cases, the institution is not interested in hiring a philosopher of science – rather they need someone who works on modeling in ecology. That is the subject of the project – so the institution wants to see some sort of evidence that the applicants really can contribute to such a project. That is why, in these cases, very specific documents are requested.
So the American market – which I am most familiar with – does not line up at all with this. In fact, as a non-American, I remember being taken aback by requests for material explaining how I integrate issues of race, etc. into my teaching. I come from a country with a different history of race and racism – we never had massive numbers of slaves, and few people are descendants of slaves (unlike the USA where perhaps 10 % of the population are descendants of slave IN THE USA). To non-Americans this seems very foreign.

East Coaster
5 months ago

The law market is a tempting model, but be wary of the appearance of simplicity: rather than applying one time for all jobs, it is increasingly the case that each law job requires up to three applications for that particular job alone.

For example, UW is hiring this year. In addition to the FAR application, UW reports “all candidates must ultimately apply through interfolio … but sending materials to the Chair as well or first is recommended.”

Our current system is burdensome, but don’t take the law’s appearance of simplicity at face value.

East Coaster
Reply to  East Coaster
5 months ago

Or, as I discover these, see Hofstra, who is asking for a “Vision Statement.” The FAR is in addition to the usual set of headaches, not instead of it.

Matt L
Reply to  East Coaster
5 months ago

The university application is mandated by HR departments, alas. But, in most cases, at least in the recent past, schools didn’t ask applicants to fill them out until interviews were offered. This can still be time-consuming, but less so.

Sending “materials” is also time consuming, but as it is usually a cv, brief cover letter, and perhaps a writing sample, emailed, it’s also faster. It’s also unclear how important it is. When I was on the law market (not in the last few years, but not that long ago) I had interview offers from as many places that I did not reach out to as ones I did, and it wasn’t clear that doing so, in addition to the FAR, made much difference.

But in any case, the goal wouldn’t be to do just what law does (there are lots of differences in the markets) but to use what’s good as the basis for doing something better for philosophy. No doubt it wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be shocking, I’d think, if what we have now is the best we can do.

applicant's perspective
applicant's perspective
5 months ago

I’d like to emphasize that the application process is incredibly time consuming for applicants. It is also psychologically taxing in a way that might seem trifling, but is actually significant: you have to imagine how it would be at place X, write your text about place X and how good a fit you are, and then you do not get an interview. That is not nice but obviously okay when it happens three, four times. But it seriously dulls your psyche when it happens more than ten times. And now think of that multiplied several hundred times for the amount of applicants. And think of how much time of highly trained people is utterly wasted when the documents are anyway only skimmed by the hiring departments.

Yes, not all jobs are alike. But it seems to me that that applicants’ perspective is basically not taken into account at all when non-standard application materials are asked for at the outset. As a person who was recently on the job market, a suggestion as the one by JDF sounds very appealing. I am even tempted to say that such a solution is called for.
There are of course some downsides, but they seem to me to be strongly outweighed by the benefits.

East Coaster
Reply to  applicant's perspective
5 months ago

I am very sympathetic, but just as applicants’ might suspect that hiring committees are not taking the applicants’ perspective into account, the rest of us might (even more reasonably!) suspect that applicants, understandably upset, might not take hiring committees’ perspectives into account. After all, all hiring committee members (or, virtually all) have been applicants, but virtually no applicants have been hiring committee members.

I agree that the job market sucks as an experience. But don’t infer from that experience that those on the other side are morally insensitive.