Sunday, March 22, 2009

Economics Job Market “Scramble” for New Ph.D.s

To candidates on the economics job market (and to graduate placement directors): the scramble opens for registration tomorrow (March 24), and is open one week only (registration closes on March 30). There's no special benefit to registering on the very first day, but if you haven't registered by the last day you can't participate, so, if you're planning to register, don't wait til the last day (behavioral economist's advice).

The back story on this is that new Ph.D.s in economics have been busy since the first days of the year interviewing for jobs. The first stage of the interviewing process was at the annual professional meetings in early January. For jobs at universities, the latter stage of the interviewing process involves "flyouts," campus visits at which the candidate meets the faculty, and gives a research seminar or teaching demonstration, or sometimes both. While many jobs have been filled by now, there are both candidates and jobs still available. Many of the still unmatched candidates and still unfilled jobs are already engaged with each other in the courtship process, and are slowly working towards offers and acceptances. However there are also people and jobs still available who failed to connect with each other in the earlier parts of the market.

To make it easier for people and jobs to connect at this late stage of the market, the American Economic Association's Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market* started a simple "scramble" in the 2005-06 academic year. It is a pair of web pages on which candidates and jobs can list their continued availability. See the Scramble Guide for details. This year's scramble opens tomorrow, March 24, and stays open for registration for a week. After that it becomes visible to registered participants on both sides of the market.

It doesn't attempt to do any more than make the two sides of the market more visible to each other, and after two weeks it closes. Once registration closes on March 30, the site is passive, it isn't updated. It is up to candidates and jobs to contact each other.

There is one new feature this year, which I'm slightly ambivalent about. Some departments that entered the scramble last year complained that they were overwhelmed by the large number of new applications they received. Faced with the threat of employers declining to participate in the scramble, the Committee decided to allow employers to register but withhold their information from job candidates. So this year there will be some "invisible" employers registered for the scramble, who will be able to see the candidates and contact those they wish, but whose own contact information will not be available.

So far, the scramble hasn't been a giant part of the market; most jobs have (fortunately) been arranged earlier, through the regular process. Last year, in the 2008 scramble (following the 2007-08 job market) 100 employers and 361 applicants registered. We conducted a followup survey of employers and received 30 replies. Of those employers who responded, 22 contacted people in the scramble, 19 interviewed someone from the scramble, and 10 hired someone from the scramble (one hired two people from the scramble) . 17 of the 22 respondents who contacted applicants in the scramble were academic economics departments, as were 8 of the 10 respondents who reported hiring through the scramble.

Every economist is important. Good luck to those still on the job market.

To summarize. 2009 Job Market Scramble Important Dates:
March 24: Registration Opens
March 30: Registration Closes
April 1 : Scramble Website will open for viewing by registered participants only
April 11: Scramble Viewing will close

*American Economic Association Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market
Alvin E. Roth (chair), John Cawley, Peter Coles, Phillip Levine, Muriel Niederle, John Siegfried

1 comment:

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