How time-intensive is the economics job market? (And tips for future job seekers)

The job market process for economics PhDs, and those of other academic disciplines, is long and administratively intense. This blog post provides data from my own experience on the 2016–17 economics job market regarding the time intensity of job-market-related administrative tasks over the course of the season. My intent is to inform future participants of what (and when) to expect in terms of the job market’s time requirements, as well as to identify potential spots where the process can be streamlined.

Below I present data on how many total hours I spent on administrative tasks, with a detailed breakdown by date. I conclude with a few tips for prospective job seekers.


What counts as an “administrative task”?

I count administrative tasks as follows:

  • Meeting with home department administrators to plan logistics
  • Sifting through job listings
  • Preparing job application documents (e.g. CV, cover letters, teaching/research/diversity statements, etc.)
  • Submitting applications
  • Preparing for interviews (i.e. researching institutions, planning/rehearsing monologue, etc.)
  • Interviewing (phone, Skype, or conference)
  • Preparing for campus visits
  • Campus visits (both time spent on the visit as well as travel)

My idea is to include any tasks that are not research-related, because potential job market participants would presumably be engaged in research whether or not they participate in the market. Thus, writing the job market paper, preparing and giving practice presentations, and any other research-related tasks are not included in my calculations.

How many total hours did you spend on administrative tasks?

Overall, I spent 408 hours total from late August through early February. Fortunately for me, my market was finished by February 7. This is fairly early from what I have heard from others. This means that others might encounter heavier time demands.

What were the heaviest months administrative-wise?

January was by far the heaviest month, because of the amount of travel. About 45% of my overall time commitment was spent in the month of January. The rest of the load was spread fairly evenly across October, November, and December.

Time intensity by day

Time intensity by day, from Aug 31, 2016 through Feb 6, 2017.

How many applications did you submit?

In total, I submitted 143 applications. Over 91% of these were submitted in the 12-day period from October 27 and November 8.

Tips for job seekers

Here are a few tips for future job seekers in this market on how to ease the administrative load:

  1. Read Karen Kelsky’s book The Professor Is In. Read it as early as possible (even if you are a 3rd year grad student). This book will tell you all you need to know about how to produce competitive application materials. Most of what is in this book is not communicated to first-time job market participants in any other way. While the book is geared toward job seekers in the humanities and non-economics social science disciplines, there are many common themes that will help economics job market participants.
  2. Download and use my R software for programmatically filtering JOE and EJM listings. This will save you loads of time as you sift through listings. The time savings is largest once you have already downloaded a snapshot of job listings, because it will show you only new listings since the date of the previous batch.
  3. Prepare your application materials in late September or early October. As early as possible, you should write your research, teaching, and diversity statements. Follow the guidelines in The Professor Is In (linked above). You will likely be editing your job market paper up until the first application deadline, and you will want to have these other materials already complete so as to avoid stress and mistakes.