I have spent two years on the academic job market and had only a very few first-round interviews, and one campus visit. I did not bother counting how many rejections; let us just call it a large number, nearing if not past 100.
Additionally, I have applied for at least 90 non-academic jobs in the same time-frame, probably more. There, the closest I came was the final three for a job I had to convince myself I wanted, and, in the aftermath, am (still) very glad I did not take. Admittedly, I have turned down many interviews, because I applied for the job without first investigating the company, and, investigating after receiving the interview request, said, “No thanks, charlatans/hucksters.”
But my heart has never been in applying for any non-academic job. I am not being an arrogant son-of-a-bitch–at least, not too much of one–when I say that I am good at the meat of academia: I have three published articles, two (soon to be) published books, two book reviews, and three articles currently under review; another article almost ready to submit, and a third book for which I have about 50,000 words written, all of this in less than a year from defending my dissertation. Granted, my articles are not published in “high-impact” journals. Being a mixed medievalist-phenomenologist-semiotician means I am on the edge of everyone’s acceptable content-range. Nevertheless, I think it’s hard to say that’s a bad publishing record; my books, at least, are both with highly reputable academic publishers.
I am also, from most of the feedback I’ve gotten (students and peers alike), a good teacher.
And yet, still, no one wants to hire me.
It could be that my doctoral program isn’t extremely well-known; but it is known somewhat, and respected–enough that I should receive attention from at least someone, somewhere.
It could just be that the market is particularly bad for my AOS/AOC this year–though the tendency away from metaphysical and towards “practical” topics of philosophy seems unlikely to ebb any time soon–and that, in a few months as the 2018-19 cycle starts, the market will be flush with jobs fit for me.
But I cannot wait for that. It seems I may have to break up with academia… and I mean really and truly. Not just “taking a break” and “exploring my options”. I think I need to acknowledge that she is a faithless bitch and cut my ties. Will this be freeing? Will it cause me to despair? Can I ever really be happy outside academia? My thoughts, my research, my writing, my teaching; in some sense these seem like children, to me. If I divorce the academy, will I still be able to be a father to them? Or is it that I can only see them on the weekends, perhaps the occasional weeknight?
I do not think I will really feel free, to be honest, because the commitment is not externally imposed, but the consequence of an internal desire. I would have to change myself; and I do not see that happening.
I interviewed for a last-minute, poorly-paying, one-year instructor position earlier this week. It is a marginal step up from being an adjunct. I’ll know their decision in a few days. I have a couple other, long-shot applications out on the market, for which I have no expectations.